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Use limitations to make great game art: Advice from the 2015 Game Career Guide

In this edition, game developer and artist Randy O'Connor offers advice on making art for games within the limits of your abilities, budget and time. Those limitations are actually a great strength!

Looking to hone your game development skills and advance your career in the game industry? We've got some good news for you: The annual Game Career Guide for 2015 is available right now for free!

In this edition, game developer and artist Randy O'Connor offers some advice on designing striking, functional art for games within the limits of your abilities, budget and time. Those limitations are actually a great strength, he argues, because they can force you to focus your efforts and drive you to achieve goals.

"You can't break barriers or defy expectations without first defining those barriers and expectations," writes O'Connor. "A limit gives you something attainable. Setting reasonable goals means you can accomplish your task."

"I made all the art for the puzzle platformer Escape Goat 2, as well as some level and story design. Starting out with the genre of 'puzzle platformer,' I could already begin thinking about limits. First, the game would be 2D, presented from a side view. Then, I could start asking other questions: Is it close in or zoomed out? How big will characters be, and how detailed?"

"I also knew it's a game about a goat, and animating a quadruped is a challenge. Ian Stocker, the designer, wanted controlling the goat to feel like controlling Alucard from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. One of the reasons Alucard is fun to control is because each movement has a unique animation. Turn left, turn left from a run, turn left from a crouch. So, how many animations does my character need? Run, turn, standing idle, jump, land. Limits are valuable because they allow you to focus on the big-picture tasks. For me, the goat was definitely one of these."

"When you start a game, you may want to think big, but you should narrow your focus -- and cut, cut, cut -- as quickly as possible. Is your role to create the enemies for a dungeon crawler? Sketch 30 bad guys, choose three ideas, and work the hell out of them."

"There's a tendency to want a huge number of enemies -- but wouldn't you rather create one kick-ass troll than ten mediocre goblins? How many major triple-A games have more than five cool enemies that you can remember? Skyrim has a wonderful, huge world. And Bethesda, one of the larger companies out there, made around 30 unique creature models, with maybe half as many skeletons/rigs. It's quality over quantity!"

"Ultimately, it's important to set goals. You don't have to hit them all, and some you might surpass, but it's important just to have goals to strive to meet! It'll feel great when you do." 

There's much more advice from O'Connor and many other game industry experts in this year's Game Career Guide. Download it today!

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