This is an interesting question, funnily enough I was thinking about it the other day, before I even read the brief for this blog (:| I know, but I'm catching up fast!).
If ever games company produces different games, what do you show them in an interview? What do you specialize in? What do they need to see to want to employ you?
With questions like these whirring around my brain late on a Sunday afternoon, I decided to find out, from the horse's mouth so to speak, and e-mailed a games company.
Here is a copy, verbatim, of the e-mail I sent:
My Name is Guy Thomas, I am a student studying game art and design at Demontfort university in Leicester.
I am enquiring as to what you would like to see on a portfolio.
I'm still a first year student, and while I feel that I am quite capable (to produce 3d content) due to my long modding history, I would love to know, what you as a company would like to see on a portfolio for a 3D Artist. What skills you consider important, what is good, and what is bad. This will allow me, over the next few years, to build a portfolio based on knowledge gained not only from lecturers, but from industry itself.
One day, I would love to apply for a job at real-time worlds, I have played most of your released titles, and love things like the art direction on 'Crackdown'., Not only the Cell shaded shaders, but the oranges of the city contrasting with the blue of the player characters.
I hope you understand the nature of my enquiry, and I wish you all the best of luck in the future!
And, being the good company that RTW (real time worlds) are, they hastily sent me a reply, once again, printed verbatim:
Thanks for your interest in Realtime Worlds.
In a portfolio from a graduate we would be looking for their best work, please don’t include everything you have worked on at uni as your earlier stuff is unlikely to be as good as your most recent stuff, and would lead the Hiring Managers to conclude the work as inconsistent. Also do as much work as you can that is not course work and state which pieces of work and course related and which aren’t.
Also, if you are applying for a specific art role eg Characters ensure there are characters in your portfolio. People often apply for roles but don’t have examples of that type of work.
It’s also important to try and have different styles of artwork for different companies ie your showreel for us would look very different to one you used to apply to a company who make WII games. If you don’t some companies might not take your application any further, or others might send you an art test, which just takes longer for you to get to an interview.
I hope this information helps. If you have any further queries please don’t hesitate to ask.
So, a fairly generic reply, but worth noting that she stated 'It’s also important to try and have different styles of artwork for different companies'. Meaning that if a company specializes in mobile phone games, they want to see low poly artwork. if a company is making a cell-shaded game, they will probably want to see very stylized models, or images, depending on your area.
So, companies want to see something that 'suits them'. But with so many different and varying companies, how can a university offer a course that is set to satisfy all different areas?
It is dangerous to say that 'universities need to teach it all', for fear that being a jack of all trades makes you 'good' in all fields but 'excellent' in none. But it is also dangerous to suggest that a course specializes in a certain art style, e.g realism, as this will make 30 doppelganger graduates, of whom only one gets a job.
Personally, I believe that a University course should give the students the skills they need to use software and understand how to create good, low poly models efficiently, and to texture well. Give the students the tools that they need, to develop their own personal style.(sound familiar?, its not a kiss ass, I genuinely agree)
For a student to 'develop a new style' they need to be fearless of being wrong, they need to try new things, break away and be creative. Remember, there is no logical way to be creative, and as a result it really cannot be 'Taught', rather, it just needs to 'happen'. It can, however, be aided, by images, movies, and general 'stuff', which is all a university course can really hope to do. To set a brief task, and see what happens, let the students loose.
By developing this personal style, and niche so to speak, students will find a job that suits them. If a student falls in love with realism, and creating realistic characters from photo reference, they can apply at a company that also specializes in realistic games.
For a university to produce good artists, it needs to give them a 'reason to work' a.k.a Assignments. The Skills with which to work a.k.a 3d modeling tuition, perspective classes, Anatomy classes. Fill the students brains with cool stuff a.k.a movies, pictures, investigate all different fields. And then let the fuckers loose.