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#746038 22/12/20 09:34 AM
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Hey there!

A bit of an introduction is in order, I think, so here we go:
I am a young italian architect, fresh out of university (got my degree on July).
Since it has always been a dream of mine to..."commune" my career choice with the virtual world-building in video games, I wanted to learn what it would take to work in this industry (and if it would actually be possible, that goes without saying).

So what better place to start asking questions, I told myself, than one of my favourite game developer forums?
I admit that so far I only managed to play Divinity Original Sin 2 among Larian Studios games, but I have been absolutely stunned by the environments, atmosphere and the absolute attention to detail.
Divinity perfectly embodies the quality I generally seek in games and, pardon my naivety, would strive to achieve if I ever were to develop one.
Before making this thread too long (and a fool of myself), I will get to the point.

I would really appreciate any kind of advice, Digital modeling programs I should learn to use, Courses that would be worth attending to, ways to get in touch with the developers, you name it.

Thank you all in advance smile

Last edited by Sedgar; 22/12/20 09:35 AM.
Sedgar #746297 23/12/20 10:18 AM
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I am quite definitely not a very artistic type so my advice may be of marginal use! I am a programmer and sysadmin by trade, though I suppose I did actually do very well at engineering drawing back in the Dark Ages.

To do pretty much anything with video games you need tools to work on textures and meshes. The no-budget approach to these is nearly always Gimp and Blender respectively, but people with a budget (or who already use the software) will use the likes of Photoshop and 3D-Max or some other equivalent. I don't use those so can't comment about them.

Those two tools will also need add-ons to convert between the relevant formats. Most video games use DDS files ("DirectDraw Surface") and most applications don't support it natively, helpfully. I forget offhand which plugin I use; I think it is the nVidia one but I'm not certain. I have a feeling it's a bit older, but most games use the older formats anyway, typically DXT5 if there's transparency and DXT1 if there's not, and with mipmaps (i.e. decreasing ¼-size copies of the image) for files that are displayed in the 3D world but without them for 2D stuff show in e.g. menus. The textures often have at least three components: the base or diffuse map (i.e. what colour it is); the normalmap (how bumpy it is, to give the texture some, well, texture) and a specular map to control reflectivity and stuff.

Blender is something that takes a bit of getting used to and in over a decade that still hasn't really happened with me. biggrin But I figured out enough of the basic so create and alter models. It can be used for static things such as architecture and movable things such as characters and what they're wearing. The exact implementations vary from game to game but typically your moveables will need an armature (skeleton) and your statics will need a collision box. Hopefully the game will be documented somewhere in sufficient detail (usually by the modders) for you to figure this out.

For BG3, you need two main tools: Norbyte's tools over on Github, which convert between the GR2 "Granny" files used by BG3 (this is a proprietary format popular with developers and unpopular with modders) and an intermediate one which can be read by Blender, in this case Collada (.dae). As well as converting the files it also deals with unpacking the archives they're stored in and decoding the "binary XML" configuration files it uses. Laughing Leader's tools are not essential but useful for finding problems and so on.

I think that explains the basics... very poorly, so I do apologise for that! And something you probably already know but which is always a good reminder, most of these files are not suitable for actually storing your work: DDS is lossy, and alongside MP3 is a sort of digital equivalent of cassette tape, so keep the originals in Gimp/Photoshop or at least PNG format. Similar with Blender: though Collada presumably isn't lossy, saving your stuff in Blender's own format makes life a lot easier. Oh, and backup, often!


J'aime le fromage.
Sedgar #746429 23/12/20 04:00 PM
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Phew, thanks a lot for your reply!

Ironically, during my time at university I had the chance to learn to a very (emphasis on very) superficial degree both Photoshop and 3D-Max and, obviously, with different goals in mind. I never heard of Gimp and Blender and I will definetly try to mess around with them (moreso now that I know they're free platforms, hehe).

As far as the rest goes...I'm sorry but bear with me, my knowledge of programming is far too limited for me to understand most of what you said xD
I tryed to search for Norbytes and Github and, from what I could understand....are these tools to sort of "reverse-engineer" BG3? (which I am assuming is Baldur's Gate 3, hopefully I got that one right at least)

On an unrelated topic, do I need to get any...."official certificate" that testifies my mastery of any of these programs?

I was looking on Larian Studios main page and I noticed that there are open positions (to be honest, I don't even know what kind of category would I fall under).
I'm really tempted to just try and apply for one of them but maybe I'm dreaming a little too big.
Do you think they have formation courses for new arrivals to learn the tools they should use to work? Or do I need to build some experience and learn to use programs/tools first to even think about applying?

Many, many questions to be asked, sorry if I am being a bit overwhelming and thanks again for your time.

Sedgar #746710 24/12/20 06:17 PM
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From my rather limited experience, Gimp and Photoshop are broadly similar in terms of functionality; Gimp may involve more effort to get stuff done in certain circumstances, e.g. its selection tools can sometimes be of marginal usefulness, but it works well enough and people who are far more creative than I am seem happy enough with it!

You don't really need to know much (or indeed anything) about programming to use the stuff in question. I mostly use it to automate tedious tasks though it's questionable whether I really save myself any effort in the long run! Blender does use quite a lot of Python scripting but it seems most people pick it up easily enough if they need to; but in my experience, the need to do so rarely comes up.

Norbyte's tools are largely (if not entirely) reverse-engineered. In the case of BG3, modding is not yet officially supported and won't be until the actual release happens; and as such I probably shouldn't really be encouraging it, but on the other hand there's no prohibition of modding it either. Just that they won't (yet) offer help to modders nor of games that misbehave due to being modded.

There is no official certificate! If you wish to use the programs and indeed publish mods, just go ahead and do it. The only rules are to be aware of stuff like copyrights and credits. In terms of professional or vocational qualifications... I've no idea. I worked for many years as a programmer and sysadmin and have no pieces of paper saying I can do either. Well, other than whatever it was I got from college years ago, and that doesn't even have my correct name on it.

As for positions, it can't hurt to ask. I can give no further advice on that front as I am not an employee but it might be interesting to see what they say. All I can say is to repeat my own experience of looking to work in a particular career which is to keep trying and not to be put off by any knock-backs and non-responses: it happens all the time and is just the way of things. Also remember that applying for any position is a two-way process, it's not just about whether they want you to work for them but if you like the look of a prospective employer: don't feel that you have to accept the first thing that comes along (I mean not unless you really want to).


J'aime le fromage.
Sedgar #749702 07/01/21 12:01 AM
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Hello again.

Sorry about the long wait, new year festivities got me a bit side-tracked.
Happy 2021, by the way!
I decided to follow your advice and tryed to apply for an apprenticeship anyway.
They were quick to answer, there are no openings for someone with my experience at the moment, but they might contact me if the need arises in the future.
I don't hold much hope into this but I do realize that I was probably dreaming too big.
I will keep messing around with the programs you talked me about, just in case.

Sedgar #761376 01/03/21 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Sedgar
Hello again.

Sorry about the long wait, new year festivities got me a bit side-tracked.
Happy 2021, by the way!
I decided to follow your advice and tryed to apply for an apprenticeship anyway.
They were quick to answer, there are no openings for someone with my experience at the moment, but they might contact me if the need arises in the future.
I don't hold much hope into this but I do realize that I was probably dreaming too big.
I will keep messing around with the programs you talked me about, just in case.

The best thing to do, is download Blender, and register for a couple months of Blender Cloud. The tutorials on there are incredible. These range from character modeling (including sculpting), rigging, world building and more. The 2 most broadly used programs are Blender (for small studios) and Zbrush for larger ones. Not many use 3D studio anymore. If anything they use Maya. I say it is best to start with Blender because of the community, and their incredible rigging. Once you learn blender, it is very easy to migrate over to Zbrush because they are very similar.

If you want an apprenticeship, you need to work on a demo reel. This could include some of your world building, cityscaping etc. Just do a search on Youtube for 3D demo reel to get an idea. But without at least some kind of demo reel, no one will really consider you.

Although I use Gimp, the truth is, compared to Photoshop, it is crap. It is hard to learn, in no way intuitive and just terrible. It gets the job done, that is about it. I still use Photoshop CE because I refuse to pay a monthly sub for Photoshop, and frankly I can do what I need to do in CE.

Video editing software is needed, I mean you have to be able to edit together your clips right? Add a nice little sound background and some fades, Honestly a lot of people use Premier, but the industry standard is Avid Media Composer. But the basics of video editing is pretty standard among all of them. there is plenty of free ones available. Once you learn how to properly cut a good video, how to balance your audio, it works the same in them all.

I am actually getting back into 3D modeling and game development, and I have to say the tools today are SOOO much easier than my days of 3D studio max. I mean Blender is so intuitive and as powerful as the most expensive 3D modelling software. My personal favorite game engine is Unreal 4 (which btw you can make impressive city scapes and worlds in there as well), and it is basically all GUI. I find it funny when people think it is all code, but it is not. Unless you are modifying the already installed physics or something, it is very easy to pick up, and has great tutorials as well. Not to mention it is free to use (just if you publish a game they get a percentage of sales).

Hope this info helps...

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Apologies for the slightly late reply, but I apparently have yearly rebounds.

For starters, thank you so much for the very detailed tips, any info helps and I really appreciate the kindness.
That said, I came to realize that trying to learn a new program without an established objective is very hard for me (much worse when I try to cram it after work, in my free time).
During this year I kept trying to further my knowledge with blender with very modest results. (I have a decent understanding of how 3D modeling and shaping works now, but that''s about it).
And that is only because I started to use it to model structures and building intended to be used for my current job. (I used to do it with Autocad and Rhino, the transition was most welcome anyway).
So I just gave up on the dream for a while, but I kept coming back to Larian's career page from time to time, just to sulk over it.

Although, I recentlly noticed they were opening some internships.
I thought that they could be worth a shot, given my complete lack of experience, so I even applied for one - specifically to their HQ in Québec (Canada).
Considering I live in south Italy, I probably should consider myself lucky they didn't further my application since they're not taking any applicants from abroad.
Now I hear there are more opportunities in Guildford (England) for this winter/spring/summer, but I don't have the mental strenght to try again.

So back to sulking, for now.
I'll keep you posted in case you're interested to hear more about this whole fiasco. (hopefully it won't take a whole year again xD)

Last edited by Sedgar; 07/02/22 06:08 PM.
Sedgar #811652 15/03/22 11:21 AM
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My dream career would be being able to create visual scenes/ world building and stories in games though I have no training in any programs but am pretty quick to learn the software. I know there are some jobs where you can use the developed items to create a world (think a more in-depth version of the sims or dungeons and dragons maps) it would just mean learning the software they use for it.

I did squeal a little when I saw Larian studios world designer ad though, also applied regardless because it's something I would give my left arm to get into :P

I would suggest for artists, making a portfolio page where you can show your projects and work would be a great addition just make sure you watermark them because of the internet. I still need to make a portfolio but it's pretty hard to do as I work as a group to make campaigns and complete worlds for D&D. Only thing I could put in there would be buildings/scenery made inside of games at the moment.


Now where's my pet Goblin?
Sedgar #839534 03/01/23 11:12 AM
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Many people today want to become an IT specialist or something like that. I feel like a nobody because I've been dreaming of becoming a locksmith since I was a kid. It's what I can do best, and I really like this profession. If you compare the salary of a video game developer and a good locksmith, there's not that much difference. You can look here: https://www.howtobecomealocksmith.org/ . Being a locksmith is not as prestigious, but someone has to do the job. Right? If you ever come up with a program to simplify the work of locksmith, I'd really appreciate it.

Last edited by ONoland; 04/01/23 09:07 AM.

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