Top Tips

Game Art Tips from Game Artist & Designer Lucy Jamie

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By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

Are you a game designer, game artist or indie game developer? If so, welcome to my blog! I’m Ninichi and I’m a game music composer. I make music for indie games, films, shows and anything that needs music really! I also run this blog on my website, which tries to offer a place for people to learn, get inspired, share experiences, get tips and much much more.

I’m delighted to be sharing with you some thoughtful tips and insights today, from Lucy Jamie - a super friendly game artist and designer based in Melbourne. She has over 5 years of professional experience in the field and is currently

Who are you and how long have you been involved in game art and game design?

‘I’m Lucy (@LucyJamie3) and I’m a 22 year old Product Design student. I haven’t always studied this at Uni though. I use to study Social Psychology, however, at this point it was because I was scared of being rejected in the art field. Outside of this though I’ve been working freelance and contract for Indie Studios and Online Community for over 5 years. As a 3D modeler, graphic designer, photographer and concept artist. In this time, plus beyond in my free time I’ve built up a large skillset. This has helped me today find work in almost any art field, however my chosen areas outside of Product Design are Environment and Prop design for videogames and indie films.’ 

What top tips can you share with fellow game artists and game developers? 

‘1. Your work is not going to look good to you - you’re going to think it looks bad and that’s never going to change. However, don’t give up, keep pushing and working and it will get better. We as artists and developers are too critical of our own work. This can be a good thing and a bad thing, just don’t let it get you down. Never give up and you have already succeeded. 

2. Theory is important - what separates good artists and developers from bad ones is their extensive understanding of art theory. This is things such as light and perspective and anatomy. You can keep working and ignore these and you will get better, however you will always be held back from the great artists. Art is technical, study is required too, just like any other field.

3. There is no such thing as talent. This is a big one. Far too many people have a resistant attitude to starting art and design. Coming under the false guise of “I’m just not talented”, this is a lazy way out. Granted some artists start a bit better than others due to a whole range of unknown variables. However, everyone starts somewhere at the bottom. Just like riding a bike, you have to practice and practice. You have to increase your mileage and experience. It’s a process, you can’t just start good.

4. Self promotion is key - if you’re a freelancer or contract worker you’re going to rely heavily on self promotion. We don’t have the luxury of companies doing it for us, we must get out there. Showcase our portfolios and be constantly active in our field. This helps us to find work, increase our skills, network and even find full time work. Great services to do this are Art station, Twitter, Twitch and Discord. Yes, that platform that was built for gamers to connect with each other. A surprisingly large number of the gaming audience is interested in art and design and need work done. It’s a great place to get started and start people talking about you work’

What are the biggest challenges or mistakes you see people making? 

‘The biggest challenges come from your own mind and your doubt of your work. You can doubt your work and this helps you to get better. You must though realize it has to stop at some point you need to push past this and not let the emotions stop you from working. You must never give up if you wish to succeed, it won’t be easy and it will take years but it will be a fun and worthwhile journey.’   

What do you wish you knew before you started?

‘I wish I knew that art wasn’t a talent. This was a major hurdle that I had to get over. Realizing that even I can improve my skills and get better. I was stuck in the mindset of “I suck, I will always suck”. You might suck when you start, and realistically you probably do. But it’s unfair and unwise to compare yourself to top of the line artists. It’s just not realistic and it’s far too impactful on your mood.  It’s great to have goals but know your limits, just realize that you’re not going to be at this level forever. If you just keep going you will get better, and maybe one day you will surpass those you once admired’

Thanks for these awesome tips Lucy! I hope that everyone finds something useful from these. It’s great to have your thoughts and perspective given your growth and experience so far in your field.

For further reading - here are a few other articles from the blog that could be useful to check out:


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About the interviewer: Ninichi is a freelance indie game music composer who enjoys creating soundtracks for video games, film & media. She's composes in a wide range of styles & loves supporting indie game developers and indie filmmakers with their projects. Find out more about her game music or royalty free music and contact her to discuss your project and music needs.

Follow her @ninichimusic

10 Awesome Sources of Funding & Grants for Your Indie Game

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By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

Are you an indie game developer wondering how to fund your game? Perhaps some of these organisations and indie developer funds could be worth looking at. I’m Ninichi - a freelance game music composer (see my homepage) and as such have worked with many different indie developers and indie game studios on their projects. One big challenge that I’ve noticed is often the financial side of game development. There are many options available to you, including self-financing, crowd-funding, finding a publisher and so on, but one area that is sometimes overlooked or not really considered is that of grants and other funding sources.

Through this blog (see more articles), I try to offer as much support as I can to the game development community, where I can. Although I’m unable to help with all aspects, I have put together this list of potentially very interesting sources of funds, which I hope may help some of you with your next steps.

1. Indie Fund

http://indie-fund.com

Indie Fund was created by a group of successful game developers as a way to support new and up and coming indie developers with their projects. They offer investment in indie games and are an alternative to the traditional publishing funding model.

2. UK Games Fund

http://ukgamesfund.com

The UK Games Fund is a not-for-profit organisation offering support to the UK games development sector. They focus on games in early development and want their funding to help create jobs, promote diverse new teams and generally help to build the games community and IP in the UK.

3. IndieCade Foundation

http://www.indiecade.org

The IndieCade Foundation is a non-profit organisation known for its dedication to the discovery, development and recognition of independent game developers around the world. Although it is a California-based organisation, it was created to encourage and support indie developers all over the globe.

4. Creative Europe

http://www.creativeeuropeuk.eu/funding-opportunities/development-video-games

Creative Europe offers funding for the development of narrative video games, helping to take them from concept stage to prototype stage. The fund is open to companies that have been registered for a minimum of 12 months and that focus mainly on video game production and that have developed at least one video game previously.

5. Unreal Dev Grants

https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US/unrealdevgrants

Epic has a $5m development fund which offers financial support to innovative projects created in and around Unreal Engine 4. Anyone making something exciting using UE4 can apply.  You will keep your IP and can publish the game however you want to.

6. Cry Engine

https://www.cryengine.com/developer-fund

Games being developed using CryEngine are eligible to apply for their Indie Development Fund. There are two rounds in the selection process but if you don’t receive funding the first time you can re-apply every three months.

7. Wellcome Trust

https://wellcome.ac.uk/what-we-do/our-work/digital-games

The Wellcome Trust works with game developers and publishers to support the development of interesting digital games, in particular those that help to improve science and health research.

8. Ancient Games Fund

http://ancientgamesfund.co.uk

The Ancient Games Fund is a private games fund specialising in supporting indie developers making mobile games. The fund is open to solo game developers or small teams with a playable prototype of their game. Up to £25,000 is available, usually in 5 instalments and although the fund is a UK fund, it is open to all applications around the world.

9. Fig

https://www.fig.co

Fig is a community funding and publishing platform for independent video games. People invest in games on Fig in return for having access to certain rewards or revenue generated via game sales.

10. Creative England

http://www.creativeengland.co.uk

Creative England supports and invests in the games industry via their Greenshoots programme with Microsoft, and Gameslab Leeds, which focuses on supporting game developers and digital companies in the Leeds City Region.

The above list is in no particular order. I hope you’ve found some of these resources useful and if anything, they should at least indicate that there is support out there and various options open to you. Once you have established enough funds for your game development, don’t forget to allocate some to the music in your game – whether that is to be used to purchase stock music or to hire a composer. Make sure that some budget allocation exists so that the complete package i.e. your entire game is allowed to shine!  To explore working together on the soundtrack to your game contact me now.

Read next: 11 Places to Publish Your Indie Game

Also see my article on: 10 Crowdfunding Platforms for Indie Projects


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About the Author: Ninichi is an experienced indie game music composer and film composer. She has worked on the music to a wide range of indie games, films, TV shows and more. Check out her music to get a sense of her work and contact her now to explore commissioning her for your project.

Follow her @ninichimusic

10 Crowdfunding Platforms to Consider for Indie Projects

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By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

So, you have a great idea and maybe even an awesome team working on it already! That is an excellent start, however, the often tricky issue of financing your project may be something you have yet to decide on and to have set up for you.

Are you sure that you have the funds to see your exciting project through? If not, then crowdfunding may be something for you to consider.

I’m a composer (get to know me more!) and also a great supporter of indie projects. My work has enabled me to connect with many indie game developers, indie film makers and a wealth of other amazingly talented individuals and teams. One area that is often very challenging from what I’ve seen, no matter what stage you and your project may be at, is ensuring that you have enough funds to keep the development of the ideas and resources going.

From the work that I do, I can see that there are many challenges that one comes across when trying to pull together an indie project. That’s why on my blog I try to help where I can, and so I’ve pulled together this list of interesting crowdfunding sites for you to explore further…

Rewards-based Crowdfunding sites:

1. Kickstarter

https://www.kickstarter.com

This is the probably the most popular crowdfunding site out there. You will receive the amount that you ask for (minus fees), if you hit your target, but it is an all-or-nothing approach. Kickstarter is probably the most well-known of the crowdfunding platforms on this list and thus offers great marketing reach for your project, but there is a risk that you may not get any funding for your project at all, if you don’t reach the specified target.

2. Indiegogo

https://www.indiegogo.com

Indiegogo lets you choose between two funding options: flexible (where you keep what is raised), or fixed funding (all-or-nothing). The fee is 4% if your goal is reached or 9% for flexible funding if your goal isn’t reached.  It is less well-known than Kickstarter but does give you the opportunity to make sure that you receive all the money that your supporters have given to your project, should you reach your target or not.

3. CrowdFunder

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk

This claims to be the UK’s number 1 crowdsourcing platform and offers both flexible and fixed funding options. Similarly to Indiegogo and Kickstarter, it’s a rewards based platform and so backers pledge money in return for specific rewards.

4. Patreon

https://www.patreon.com

Patreon is a subscription-based crowdfunding platform.  Investors pay a certain amount each month in return for specific rewards set and organised by you. It’s a great option if you want to harness the on-going support for you and your projects.

5. Ulule

https://www.ulule.com

Ulule launched in Oct 2010 and since then has become the leading European crowdfunding site. They boast having financed over 21k projects and to have over 1.9 million members worldwide. They offer personalised coaching for all projects – before, during and after each campaign, and swear by this approach. They’re all about enabling creative, innovative and community-minded projects to test their idea, build a community and make it grow.

Equity-based Crowdfunding sites:

6. Seedrs

https://www.seedrs.com

Seedrs is an equity crowdfunding platform, meaning that supporters of your project are investing their money in return for a percentage of your business. The platform lets you choose how much equity is on offer and you have 60 days to raise the investment. You also get access to mentorships, networking and more. The ethos is around offering support before, during and after fundraising.

7. Crowdcube

https://www.crowdcube.com

With over 500,000 members, Crowdcube claims to be Europe’s leading equity crowdfunding platform. You can select your preferred fundraising option – of equity or mini-bonds, and then start pitching to investors. You can share videos, a business plan and details about why you’re seeking funding for your project.

Other options:

8. Fig

https://www.fig.co

Fig advertises itself as a community funding and publishing platform for indie game developers. I’ve put this one in the ‘other options’ section as it offers both the usual rewards-based crowdfunding option but also lets you earn returns from game sales. So investors can invest in the game title in return for a share of the profits.

9. Launcht

http://www.launcht.com

Launcht is a white label crowdfunding and crowdvoting platform which enables you to crowdfund on your own website. If you have a strong brand and following already, then you may want to explore going it alone! This option will definitely not be for everyone but it is one to be aware of if you feel confident enough in your following to use it. 

10. Thrinacia

https://www.thrinacia.com

Thrinacia is a platform that enables you to set up your very own crowdfunding website. They describe themselves as delivering the next generation of CrowdFunding tools and essentially let you create CrowdFunding Portals so that you can run your own set of campaigns however you wish to. 

Some of these sites you may already be aware of, but it can be useful to explore all of the options available to you when it comes to crowdfunding and also any other funding opportunities for your project. Combining options can also work well rather than relying solely on one of these to work for you, so get creative, do your research and make sure that you pick the right funding source for you and your project.


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About the author: Ninichi is an experienced game music and film music composer. She creates music for games, film and other media, and would be delighted to help you create the music for your game or project. 

Contact Ninichi to explore working with her now and follow her @ninichimusic

16 Indie-Friendly Indie Game Publishers

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By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

Have you been wondering whether or not to get a publisher for your indie game? It’s not always obvious whether it’s best to seek a publisher or to go it alone, but if you are looking then there certainly are many options open to you. You don’t need to decide now whether or not you want to publish your game yourself or not, but it’s always useful I think, to explore the possibilities.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any direct experience with any of these companies, however, I’ve worked with many indie game developers supporting them with the music to their games (I’m a game music composer, find out more about me if you want to), and I run this blog with the aim of hopefully offering some useful resources, tips and advice that can help the indie developer community along what is often a very challenging journey!

Here's my article on 11 Places to Publish and Release Your Indie Game, for those of you wanting to publish your game yourself. 

Otherwise, here are 16 indie game publishing companies which I think could be useful to be aware of:

1. Curve Digital

Curve Digital was set up in 2013 and now claims to be one of the leading publishers of games on PC and consoles. They offer development funding, internal production, PR and marketing support. In 2017 they were the ‘Publishing Hero’ at the Develop Industry Excellence Awards.

2. Ukuza

Ukuza is a publisher focused on bringing the best indie games to market. They’re a team of creative and marketers who are ex-Microsoft & ex-Amazon and they’re ready to hear all about your game!

3. Team 17

Team 17 publishes games for PC, console, mobile and handheld devices. They have over 25 years of experience in the games industry and so are probably one of the longest running independent publishers out there. They’re headquarters are in West Yorkshire (UK)

4. Devolver Digital

Devolver Digital offers digital distribution and marketing support for indie videogames and films. It’s a fairly well known indie game publisher and so it’s definitely one to take a look at.

5. Indie Fund

Indie Fund is a funding source for indie developers. It’s an alternative to the standard publisher funding model and has been designed to support indie developers to create amazing games and to grow financially independent.

6. Midnight City

Midnight City provides promotional, production and business services and support for independent game developers.

7. Serenity Forge

Serenity Forge is a game development studio with a publishing arm and wealth of other services dedicated to supporting indie developers with their game projects.

8. Noodlecake Studios

Noodlecake Studios is a small indie game studio founded in 2011 and based in Saskatoon, Canada. They make their own games but have also expanded into publishing and help to bring other developers’ games to market. They’re best known for iOS & Android games but are also interested in releasing games across all other platforms too.

9. Versus Evil

Versus Evil is a video game publisher focusing purely on publishing indie games. They publish across all major mobile, PC and next generation consoles and have worked with indie studios around the world. They offer a suite of services to support the indie games they publish, from marketing, PR, influencer outreach, social media, community, QA, localisation and development services to reach other platforms.

10. Mode 7 Games

Mode 7 was founded in 2005 and is an indie game development and publishing company based in Oxford, UK. They’ve been a publisher since 2016 and can offer support across a range of different areas including funding, PR and marketing, production / scheduling, game design, community management, business development, platform holder relationships, tech, porting and more.

11. Humble Bundle Publishing

Humble Bundle has a publishing arm, which can help you with indie game. You can connect with their 12 million customers, own your IP, get help with marketing and PR, leverage the Humble Bundle brand, get help with financing and more.

12. Surprise Attack

Surprise Attack Games is an independent games label focusing on games that bring something new or different to the table. They’re based in Australia and were created in 2013. They offer a full publishing team providing expertise and resources to the games they develop. They don’t own any share of the IP and state that the game developer always has the final say.

13. Headup Games

Headup Games has released over 100 titles since being established in 2009. They’re a hybrid games publishing and development company, always on the look out for new games to get involved with.

14. tinyBuild Games

tinyBuild helps indie developers to publish their games across a multitude of platforms, releasing games onto Steam, Xbox One, PS4, 3DS, VR, iOS and Google Play. They’ve been doing this since 2013 and offer support with funding, knowledge, production, artwork, guidance and more.

15. Steak Steak

Steak Steak is a full service indie game publishing company offering support at all stages of your game development. Whether you need help with trailers, PR, branding, development or anything else, they can help.

16. Whippering

Whippering offers marketing support and partnering relationship opportunities to indie game developers. They publish independent games and can help with the creation and execution of your marketing strategy from positioning, pitching, PR, social media and more. They can also initiate and manage platform relationships with the likes of Sony, Oculus, Valve, Nintendo, MSFT.

I hope this resource list has been useful to you. Do browse my blog for other interesting articles that may help you with various aspects of your game development. Feel free to use the search bar (on the blog homepage and on the bottom of every page) to help explore specific subject areas. A few articles that may be useful to be aware of include:


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About the author: Ninichi is a freelance game music composer and film music composer. She creates music for indie gamesfilms, podcasts, tv shows, commercials and more. 

She is an incredibly diverse composer with an extensive credit list to her name. If you'd like help with music for any project, feel free to contact her now.

Follow her @ninichimusic

How to Detect a Bad or Inexperienced Composer

If you’re thinking about hiring a composer for your project – whether it’s a game, a commercial, a film or anything else, it’s important to find the right person to work with. There are many composers around, however, unfortunately we are not all the same! As with other industries, there are good ones and bad ones and it’s important to know what to look out for when doing your due diligence and deciding who’s best for your project.

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