Developer Diary: A Background Check
28 January 2003

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Daniel. I am currently a part-time Graphic Artist for the work-in-progress adventure game, Flummaxed. I am also a casual Story and Design Engineer, but that is only a minor part of my job.

I signed on to the team just over a year ago. I believe I was one of the first people to join Big Cheese Productions after the completion of the company's first major project, Barry the Bum.

My fascination with Video Games started back in 1986 when I was a lad of no more then 4 years of age. I'll never forget the day my cousin handed me the controller, or 'JoyPad', of his Nintendo Entertainment System and let me play what would become my most favourite video game of all time, Super Mario Bros. The 16 colour graphics and "BEEP BEEP BOOP" sound effects entertained me like a Guinea Pig in a spinning wheel. In the next few weeks, my Dad introduced me to our home PC, the XT with 64kilobytes of RAM and a 256 Colour Monitor. He pulled out the 5.25 Floppy discs and loaded various Adventure games onto the machine. By the time I was 5 I had completed classics such as Kings Quest 1-3 and Space Quest. Now, 20 years old, I still spend all my days either in front of the PC or in the living room with my PS2 or GameCube, wasting away my youth, minimising the time I spend outdoors and crippling any chance of ever getting a girlfriend.

Anyway... long story short, I like drawing, I like computers and electronic entertainment, and I have now found my dream job as a Graphic Artist for an exciting and under priced, upcoming Adventure Game. Big Cheese Productions may not be Lucas Arts, but they have damn good coffee.

As a Graphic Artist, my primary function, this early in the project, is to create background art.

This process involves the following steps:

1. Get the background concept art and study it very carefully
2. Re-drawing that background, so it fits into the style of the game
3. Inking the artwork
4. Scanning the completed drawing
5. Cleaning up the scan
6. Getting the Go-Ahead from Big Cheese (Stu)
7. Drinking some Coffee
8. Colouring the line art, in Photoshop or whatever software we use
9. Showing Stu the complete work
10. Getting shouted at for making mistakes
11. Being locked up in a cage for 3 hours
12. Correcting the mistakes
13. Finishing the Art
14. Get the all OK from Stu
15. Creating objects and such for the background
16. Submitting the Final Work

Then all is done. If everything is ok, the cycle repeats with the next background. Sample backgrounds can be viewed here.

Despite the sleepless nights, creating these backgrounds is always fun and challenging. When I first work, my backgrounds didn't fit in too well with the style, but with a bit of fine-tuning, they eventually worked out to be good. Now I'm churning out backgrounds like a drunk 16 year old vomits. I've recently been using 3D software to model the scenes, to help me work out perspectives and sizing of the scenes. This helps add that extra bit of realism to a scene, which is essential if you want a believable 2D world.

I'm having a great time working with the team on the game, and flexibility allows me to help out in other areas of the production. BCP is an excellent place to gain valuable experience in the industry, which I hope to aim my career path, towards. I love working for them, even though I am still waiting for my first paycheck.

Well, it's been fun kids, look forward to more Development Diaries when I get off my arse and write some.

Till next time

- Daniel

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Screen Shot 1
Screen Shot 2
Screen Shot 3