Presentation on theme: "Jon Jones presents… Now in HD, with high-res normal and specular maps!"— Presentation transcript:
Jon Jones presents… Now in HD, with high-res normal and specular maps!
Whos this Jon Jones guy? Art Outsourcing Manager. Builds and manages outsourced art teams Worked with 2K Games and NCsoft Blogs about it at 3D Art Producer. Runs a team of artists at Conceptopolis Contractor. Offers expertise on outsourcing, building and managing remote teams, art pipeline development, troubleshooting and more
Outsourcing Art: Benefits Can be cheaper than inhouse No overhead costs Not burning money while artists sit idle Access to a global talent pool Your pick of the worlds best artists Ease of scaling production up or down Firing slackers has never been easier!
Outsourcing Art: Drawbacks Lack of project familiarity Time zone differences Cultural and language barriers Collaborating remotely is tricky Keeping everything organized is hard Bait-and-switch tactics Unfamiliarity with game development Some artists just suck
Dont worry, theres hope! Many problems are preventable. Setting proper groundwork is crucial. I will show you how.
Documentation is EVERYTHING. Know your pipeline. Document your pipeline. Dont outsource until you do. This will save you time and money. Every minute you spend writing good documentation now will save you ten minutes later. Poor documentation breeds poor art. Dont pay for art twice! Write good docs!
The Contractors Disadvantage Art studios make art, not games Large knowledge gap between making art, and making art that works for games Less in the Americas, moreso overseas No institutional knowledge No frame of reference for your teams preexisting tips, tricks, scripts, and workarounds Good documentation fixes this.
Information Creates Its Own Context Everything in one place Dont make them hunt down info across many documents, s and IMs Avoid vague pronouns he she it that they
Prepare, prepare, prepare Spend 90% of your time up front. Plan for all contingencies. Plan for them to happen. Plan your way out. Create conditions that show a clear direction when decisions need making. Good process forbids indecision.
The New Guy Mindset Youre new. What do you need to know? Go through the entire process yourself. Step. By. Step. -In detail. -NOT from memory. All of this goes in an Outsourcing Kit.
Animation Outsourcing Kit Comes in two pieces: General Information Technical specifications, reference, etc Reusable! Specific Assignment Concept art for the job, description of job, etc
Animation Outsourcing Kit Contains the following: Documentation Overview of animation work required Style, Sequences, which skeleton, who rigs it? Technical specifications Master list of animations Style guides Scale \ units reference Exporter Tools FAQ
Animation Outsourcing Kit Reference: Animation source files from 3D package Samples of every type of animation (idle, run, attack, death, etc) Animation sample videos Add captions to the video noting what you like Use a popular codec, OR include the codec
Pre-built Animation Lists Four creature types: Melee, Ranged, Caster, Boss. Sequences in common: Idle, Walk, Run, Pain, Die Unique animations: Melee Attack, Ranged Attack, Caster Attack, Boss Attacks. Make each type its own list. Describe each sequence and cite the references. Copy-paste the descriptions of common sequences. Put those four lists in the Animation Outsourcing Kit. Copy and paste into new Specific Assignments. Time savings ahoy!
Take A Minute To Do It Right It doesnt take that much longer to turn a good job into a great job. Take the time. It will save you time later.
Documentation Should Evolve! A document is never finished... Just mostly complete. Whenever a contractor asks a question, document the answer. Why answer the same question twice?
Frontload all negotiation! Now the documentation is done. Most risk is now minimized! Next step: Contract negotiation. Establishing rates Creating a flexible contract structure Setting expectations of behavior
Partners vs Hired Monkeys Yes. No.
Partners vs Hired Monkeys Hire a partner, not a trained monkey. Partners want you to succeed. Partners will try harder to to ensure each others success. Good partners are worth keeping long-term. Monkeys dont care.
Benefits of finding a good partner: Faster turnaround Lower prices Better art The studios best artists Preferential treatment
Negotiate a fair rate Be flexible on cost on the first contract If the work is harder, negotiate a higher rate. If the work is simpler, negotiate a lower rate. If you change the specs, adjust the price. Karma aside, there are very practical reasons for this.
Dividing work into units Separate into as few meaningful divisions as possible. First, Asset type Then, Difficulty Small Creature, Medium Creature, Large Creature Divisions should only be as large as it makes sense. Too small becomes too granular to organize. Too large feels like nothing ever gets done.
Define what comprises an asset Price out the different phases Character: Model Texture Rig Round that total up to the nearest $100 – 200, depending on variable difficulty between assets. Thats your per-asset price.
Pricing Ambiguous Work Chunk it out into 1 – 2 day segments. Artists LOVE finishing subgoals frequently
Hot Tip for Contract Structure Make it invoicable bi-weekly. Artists LOVE getting paid on a 2-week cycle If theyre finishing something every day or so and getting paid like this, productivity will skyrocket.
Benefits of Modularity Pricing out everything per asset in advance saves time amending the contract midstream. Oh crap! We need five more creatures! Quick, lets renegotiate all this now! versus Lets add five more Large Creatures. Done!
But What About Revisions? Roll a preset revision number into the per-asset cost. I like 3 revisions per asset. Price out extra revisions as a separate percentage of that. If asset costs $1000: 25% of asset changed = $250 revision fee 50% of asset changes = $500 revision fee 75% of asset changed = $750 revision fee
Revisions as a performance metric If you document well and chose good contractors, no asset should need more than two revisions Three revisions or more means: I failed to spec well The contractors failed me If its my fault, I pay for rework. If its their fault, they fix it for free.
The Payoff of Expectation-Setting Setting expectations early and planning for everything makes a problems cause obvious and its solution simple: 1) You screwed up and need to fix the spec, or 2) They screwed up and need to shape up. No time is wasted pointing fingers. Honesty, humility, candor and fairness have been maintained from the beginning. If the contractor cant meet that standard, you cut them loose.
Ease of Amending Contracts Contractor succeeds, contracts can be expanded quickly. Contractor fails, contract terminates just as quickly. Bickering over how much to pay for a partially-completed asset when youre cutting a contractor loose is not fun. Speccing well makes it unnecessary.
Questions? Feel free to contact me offline via Or via my website: Thanks for listening! - Jon Jones