Sunday, March 8, 2009

Andrea Lam

Graduating Year: 2007 Character Design
Occupation: Pictomancer (Artist/Designer at Pho3nix New Media)

Last week we had casual gaming artist/designer, Andrea Lam
visit the character design class and give an excellent introduction to casual gaming. Andrea has been working with Pho3nix New Media since she graduated, a small but growing casual game developer located in Calgary.

I have summarized some of the topics discussed in Andrea's informative presentation.

What is casual games? Casual games are for people who aren't typically “gamers”. They generally have a simple game
mechanic, and can be easily picked up and enjoyed by anyone.

What is the artist/designer's role? The artist has to solve a wide range of problems on a daily basis, and do so quickly! These include but are not limited to, User Interface (UI) design, Environment Art, Character Art, Objects/Assets, Promotional Art/Materials, Animations/Effects.
Environment Art, in particular, was emphasized as an area of importance.

What skills do you need to be competitive in this occupation? Drawing/Rendering Ability at a professional level is needed but there are a lot of other skills needed such as, Stylistic adaptability, Willingness to learn and try new things, Endurance, Basic Graphic Design Knowledge, Problem Solving ability, Communication skills, Ability to work with people who have no idea what you are talking about, and Ability to work with people who talk about things you have no idea about.

How do you get hired? Put together a portfolio ON THE INTERNET (a proper portfolio, not a sketchblog, although you should also have one of those). Update it constantly, Learn about lots of different things! Learn how to multitask/be ADD.
Skill is important but:
-experience is more important
-adaptability is more important
-enthusiasm is more important

and just as important, Be Interested. In the industry, in the companies you apply to, in what other people do (artists and non-artists) in making things better (both artistically, and process-wise).

How has the downturn effected the casual game market? According to Andrea the casual game market has seen an upturn, she even came armed with quotes:
“Internet games, gambling and other forms of online entertainment have seen signifcant surges in use in the several months since the economic downturn deepened.”
“The number of visitors to online game sites jumped 29.9% during the fourth quarter of last year..."
“For Big Fish Games (...) business has never been better. Revenue jumped 70% to $85 million last year, and the best sales in its seven-year history occurred in January.”
* Wingfeld, N, and Tam, P, “Out of Offce: Job Loss in the Age of Blogs and Twitter”, The Wall Street Journal,
Feb 17, 2009, A11.

Artwork samples from Curse of the Pharoahs,