and Introducing S&M Fridays
We all love the megatroplis called the internet, particularly it’s inhabitants of artists & technicians who fill it with wonderful things. For decades I’ve plundered this treasure for inspiration, information, insights, how-tos and everything in-between and lately i’ve started feeling little tinges of guilt… so it’s with this guilt and mountains of appreciation i’ve decided to create S&M Fridays and actually “try” to give something back on a regular basis. Time will tell if my duo of guilt and gratitude can topple my seemingly boundless procrastination!
Everyone seems to like software, me included, so to warm up I decided on a boring but easy run through of software I’m using to evolve the creative world of our game Bebylon. Beyond the usual software, we all know finding the right program for this or that task can be a fucking constant annoyance. Especially if your like me, extremely picky about every nuance of how an app fits my work style and more importantly, how it feels to spend time in… does it inspire me to want to use and so on. So the following is the results of years of hunting with a few new discoveries, though what I really dream about is a team of programmers who can write exactly what I want.
Hopefully a you’ll find a few nuggets.
Creative Development Software
There are 3 programs I use during the ideation stages all the way until the end of a project.
• Curio ( Freeform OSX Organizer)
• Pixa (Image viewer OSX)
• Evernote (Unwillingly)
• Confluence (Web based wiki’esk Tech Doc Creator)
• Shotgun (Web based VFX/Game production, tracking and management software)
• Slack (Real time messaging)
• UE4, Maya, Z-Brush, Mudbox, Substance Painter, Quixel, Logic Pro
• Soundcloud, Brainwave Studio
Let’s start with Curio, which is really an incubator where my brain dumps and evloves ideas. It’s a freeform organizer ( for OSX ) allowing a mix and match of images, text, tables, lists, etc… and it’s all wiki-link-able. It’s gold if your a visual thinker and like nice looking layouts. For Bebylon I use Curio to organize ideas on everything from character and level design to project and marketing strategies. On past projects I’ve even used it for building creative briefs though I’m switching to Confluence for this task. (See below) I’ll explain more of my process for using Curio in other software sections below.
Laying out different gameplay ideas
Lots of lists
Its great for dumping text and imagery together
I am a reference image ho and collect tons of references for even the smallest of ideas. I’m also a freak for organizing these references. Pixa is a great image viewing app for the mac and I use it’s live folders feature to link to my references which keeps it up to date. It’s super fast, clean and a joy to use. The beauty of vast, relevant references is diving into a folder of imagery that instantly teleports you into that topic and BAM, ideas start connecting and flourishing. Usually when it’s time to start refining an idea I’ll wade through a topic of references within Pixa, find the most relevant images and drop those into Curio. Within Curio I’ll start labeling those images, crop them as needed and start grouping sub topics together into specific areas of my “Idea space”. I also copy/paste in the relevant idea text from Evernote…. generally making a layout that embodies everything I want to infuse into that topic.
We all unfortunately know Evernote so I won’t elaborate. I’m not a fan because I think it never evolved, but it does do 1 thing fairly well which is store text thats accessible on any platform. I use Evernote to organize written ideas, a place to do creative writing (usually for marketing), blog posts, jot an idea down on the metro, code snippets, UE4 notes, Maya notes, etc… basically anytime i need to write something down I do it in Evernote. Like Pixa, when i’m evolving an idea in Curio I’ll copy and paste the relevant idea text from Evernote into Curio.
Ikrima rightfully despises Evernote and uses Onenote from Microsoft, which I tried desperately to like and use but to no avail. It does seem for the PC camp Onenote is a decent solution for both Evernote and Curio?
Production Organization Software
Confluence was a recent, much needed discovery. For us, a 2 man crew with a bad tendency for thinking we can chew the gigantic pieces we bite off, it’s essential we organize the mass amount of data thats pouring into our game. The growing list of components, systems, rigs, gameplay, assets, audio, etc… that all have to harmonize together is staggering and thats where Confluence comes in. It’s essentially a web based technical-document creator (though much more) we’re using to organize our entire game on multiple levels. It was cheap and a major pain in the ass to install on our Amazon servers and a little bit sluggish but so far it’s doing exactly what i hoped for. It’s too involved for this posting but I will elaborate on how we’re using it more in the near future. Some of you might notice it’s resemblance to the UE4 Docs … When I said plunder, i meant it 🙂
Shotgun is VFX/Game production software I’ve followed for a while and am excited to finally use for our game. We’re using it to track all of our assets throughout the production pipeline as well as a storage for our marketing media. We’ll continue to put it through the ringer over the next months and I’ll post more about how it’s working out for us.
(Not much of a screen grab I know)
Slack is simple and great for team texting. I happen to be terrible at keeping tabs on it which along with my lagging responses to emails, I attribute to this French laissez-faire lifestyle thats taken hold me! But It’s a better than email way to comunicate with freelancers and project related people, especially in different time zones.
No need to go into detail about my production software though I’ll list it out just for kicks.
• UE4, Maya, Octane, ZBrush, Mudbox, Substance Painter, Quixel, Logic Pro X, Photoshop.
Speaking of Octane, I have to take a moment and paint the picture of me dropping to my knees with joy upon watching the Octane V3 alpha bake one of my characters textures in near-realtime. Unbiased GPU baking… so simple and yet, so joyously about fucking time!