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GamingI'm Richard Pince, AAA Sr. video game animator, including Uncharted 4 and Last of Us. I'd like to share my current project Unearned Bounty and my experience in the industry! AMA!

Oct 27th 2017 by rpanimator • 16 Questions • 564 Points

Introduction: Hi Reddit! I have had the pleasure of being able to work in the video game industry for the past 19 years; I've been working with an indie team over the last 1 1/2 years as creative director to build a pirate ship arena combat game called Unearned Bounty. Its currently on Kickstarter. If you would like to see my animation and illustration work please visit my artstation page. Artstation

Ask me anything! proof

Q:

Thanks

A:

Well there are many facets of game development. I would say most fields in the game industry pay well enough to support a family. I would focus on doing the type of work you enjoy and cater it to the studios you would like to work for.

Here are some careers that loosely match different personality types

Producer - organized, go getter Artist - creative, productive Hr - caring, nuturing Animator - class clown , loves to work Programmer - number and logic oriented

Ect.

A good place to start would be a great school that teaches the fundamentals of game art/design or a business school that is familiar with the gaming industry. If you can’t affairs to go to school just start googling the topics your interested in. There’s a ton of free knowledge out there!!

Hope you find the perfect job!


Q:

What engine and why?

A:

Unity, the programmers that I work with felt more comfortable with C# and their ability to use Unity as a framework to extend the custom parts we needed.


Q:

Hi Richard. Do you think AAA games are unsustainable with regards to hours, delivery dates, and crunch? Do you see a solution? Thanks!

A:

Wow that’s a tough question and I think the situation varies from studio to studio. I have worked for servers studios that were great in terms of hours and really valued their teams work life balance, and I have worked for others that were not afraid to crunch for years on end and burn people out. I do think that AAA game development has a future and can be a great experience for all involved. In my opinion the solution lies in scheduling and pre planning. Games love to have the freedom to change design, scope and content on the fly but that is a slippery slope to long hours and burnout. I would say a studios strongest defense against burnout is a sold game plan where all content story and gameplay is decided upon before the production begins of course this is a best case scenario but I have seen company’s that work this way and they are very successful!


Q:

Where would you say these scope changes come from? Chasing market trends?

A:

Many places, sometimes its just people changing their minds on the team. Other times a studio will receive feedback from execs or investors and this causes big change as well. Also when there isnt a clear plan and design people can just kinda make stuff without a larger story and goal in mind.


Q:

First, I love your Naughty Dog work and look forward to your new game. Do you fear for the future of gaming regarding lootboxes and microtransactions?

A:

Good question! I don't mind loot boxes and micro-transactions when they are tied to a free game that is not pay to win. As long as the loot crates they are offering are mostly cosmetic and dont tip the game in favor of paid players, I think its actually great to have games that have no barrier to entry. Its great for players who dont have a lot of money to spend up front. The views I discussed above are extremely important to our team at Extrokold games. We want the game to be fun for everyone to play. Regardless of how much money a player spends or doesn't spend on the game.


Q:

I do 3D modelling in my spare time from work and my studies, so should I think about learning animation too? I have a lot of character models I'd really like to learn how to animate.

I figure that if I'm ever going to end up working in the game industry, should I start learning about animation?

These are just a few examples of my work.

Princess Allura from Voltron Legendary Defender.

Korra from Legend of Korra.

Ruby Rose from RWBY.

Custom gun for Fallout 4.

A:

I think it’s a great asset to any studio to be familiar with the many different disciplines found in game development. However I would say most studios need very specialized people who are the best at what they do. My recommendation is to be the best in the world at what you enjoy doing. Then once you get your first job you can start to branch out your knowledge and learn from those people around you who are the best at what they do as well! So if modeling is what you love I would say become a world class modeled and put all of your focus on that for now. Best of luck and I hope you find that job you’re looking for!!!


Q:

How will Unearned Bounty fair against similar games like Sea of thieves and Skull and bones?

A:

Sea of Thieves, while in the pirate theme is different genre wise / being more akin to Guns of Icrus. We hope as a free to play game that takes a more Arcade approach we'll have more staying power compared to Skull and Bones Our primary game mode is free for all and has midmatch upgrades, having a different appeal than "I have a bigger boat"


Q:

Why do you think it is so hard to get (break) into the industry nowadays, compared to, say, 15 years or so ago?

A:

Competition and education. 15 years ago the computers that were required for development were over 10,000 dollars to purchase. There were no online schools offering degrees in animation, 3d modeling and game design. In today’s day and age you can learn to be a developer on you tube for free! There are thousands of art schools and online workshops that offer world class knowledge and information. People have access to professional critique and mentor ship opportunities for not much money at the touch of a button. When I was starting out no one in my town even knew what animation was let alone how to create it. I’d say do what you love and do it better than anyone else and that alone will make you stand out!


Q:

Hi Mr. Pince,

Considering you've got experience with online networked games (and presumably have hired people responsible for that), would you say that a games programmer should spend time learning networking? I hear it's a complex mess. Would it bump up a paygrade or increase job desirability?

A:

Network programming is one of the most difficult parts for games programming along with Shader development.

You should learn about topics that interest you most. There are definitely a spot for networking developers, but it is often a more senior role.

The paygrade and increased opportunities do exist, often times this and backend server/database programming can translate to other industries as well.


Q:

Hello Richard. I have a few questions I would like to ask you.

  1. Will I be able to customize the look of my ships and my ship's crew in this game?

  2. Do you like chocolate milk?

  3. I noticed that you were the animation director for the Ghostbusters game. How did the animation process work for that title? Did you have reference footage to animate to of the original actors doing their lines?

Thanks in advance.

A:

Unearned Bounty has a flag system to change various colors on the ship. In the future I'd like to add in more detailed skins and cosmetics. As far as crew goes, our current plans is for having more emotes and voice acting to go along with it as part of taunts towards other players. The ghost busters game was a really great collaboration. The animators got to create all of their shots from scratch and imagine the acting, dialogue, and camera work with only very rough thumbnails to work from. After the animation was created we were all tasked with implementing our cut scenes into the engine and see the results in real time. Sadly I never got to work directly will bill Murray but his lines in the game were often hilarious to work with.


Q:

Hey Richard! Excluding games you've worked on, what games do you still go crazy about in terms of art inspiration?

Also, you're really talented! Hats off to you and your team, definitely going to check out your project.

A:

Horizon zero dawn had me sitting in awe in front of my tv. The level of technical and artistic achievement in the game is just off the charts. Plus giant metal dinosaur robots in ancient times with indigenous people who kill the dinosaurs with spears. But then it’s in the future!?! What a twist! Please just take my money lol


Q:

Fantastic man, that was interesting. Thanks for sharing! Although it looks prohibitive for someone like me starting out an amateur game developer.

A:

I would say if it’s your dream jump in and make it happen! I’ve watched a lot of people who thought it was impossible succeed in just a couple of years!


Q:

How many hookers can you fit in a Datsun?

A:

No idea!


Q:

What did you have to do to in order to get to Sr. Video animator?

A:

Usually the sr. Role is achieved by working in the gaming industry for a minimum of 5 years and up. Usually takes longer. I’ve been working for 19. I think it took me 7 years to get the title. It’s also a sign of your ability to create your own work without having to be heavily directed.


Q:

Hiya! I've worked professionally in making game engines, but I've been out of the AAA loop for a while. What are the current reasonable specs for rigging a main character as far as bones in the body/face, weights/vertex, keyframe blend count, blendshape count, and other techniques that didn't exist a few years ago?

A:

11 second club is a great place to see inspiring work from students and professionals. It’s a great place to see where you stand in the grand scheme of things.


Q:

I'm not against a low poly games but you worked on a AAA company that's creates 1 of my favorites game of all time so you already have the idea. Was it really hard to create a game that has an AAA label? I'm just disappointed because at your level you should be creating a realistic waters/ocean, islands, realistic pirate ships, etc that is close to an AAA game. Was that really hard?

A:

Yes. The water took us a really long time. The big difference is on AAA titles we had teams of over 750 people. Doing something like an ocean simulation would most likely involve a team of 20 or more talented professionals. Unearned bounty was made by around 7 people start to finish.