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Messages - AdamTierney
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General Discussion / Re: I am looking for Joshua Astorian.
« on: November 03, 2015, 02:16:18 pm »
To clarify, when I say "Don't pay the artist upfront" I'm speaking entirely as the person hiring (not the artist). The reason isn't just about not getting ripped off, it's also about maintaining motivation. If there's outstanding payment, someone will work to complete something. If all rewards have been collected, then there's no driving incentive. Even if the artist doesn't rip you off, they will (at least subconsciously) feel less driven to complete the assignment ASAP, and might prioritize other (yet-to-pay) assignments over it to bring in $$$ as quickly as possible. That's just human nature.

So if you're hiring an artist, I would recommend NOT paying them in advance. And if you do anywy, NEVER pay them the full amount until you're 100% happy with the work (that includes revisions).

Speaking as an artist now, definitely, if you can get some $$$ up front or get a contract or anything else that covers you, go for it. I've gotten ripped off a few times when this wasn't the case. But I will say that I was given any sort of payment in advance of the assignment's completion less than 10% of the time. So while getting an advance (or partial advance) on compensation is preferable for the artist, don't expect it, because I've found it to be a rarity.

General Discussion / Re: I am looking for Joshua Astorian.
« on: November 01, 2015, 10:11:23 pm »
Ugh, here we go again...

Since I'm getting called out by name here, I should probably respond. Let me clarify a few things.

1) I don't recommend or endorse Josh in anyway at this point. The last time he created art for me personally, I believe, was in 2008 on Aliens DS. That art was great, and I had no issues with him. But as I keep saying, I've never paid him upfront.

2) Since then, it looks like he's worked on a few projects for WayForward. This wouldn't surprise me. We have done a lot of pixel games, and there are a lot of directors at the company, several of whom know Josh and have worked with him before. I wasn't aware that he worked on the Transformers game, but it wouldn't surprise me. Since my company never pays artists before the work is done, there wouldn't be an opportunity for him to scam us.

3) Apologies to anyone who gets scammed by this guy. The whole situation is very sad. Some people seem to want Josh to stop using WayForward as a reference to get more work. Well first, I have no control over what he posts in his profiles. Second, even though it appears he is still actively ripping people off, if he did work for my company recently and there were no problems, then I don't see how that reference on his resume would be invalid. If it were up to me, he would not be citing us. But I have no control over that, and I'm not the last person he worked with at this company, so there's unfortunately not much I can do.

4) As I keep saying, never pay artists before the work is done. Obviously Josh is using the system to scam people constantly, but if it wasn't him, someone else will scam you. Don't pay artists before the work is done and you will not get ripped off. If they tell you they need to be paid upfront, that is unusual and unprofessional, and you should move on to the next artist.

5) If someone got scammed by him, they should by all means report him to the authorities. It's going to be difficult to prove that stuff, because unless you have contracts, or unless it was very formal how you went about things, I imagine it will be pretty difficult to lay blame on him. He can always just say that he's running behind and was still working on the art. But please feel free to try. If this is something Josh is still doing to this day, there should be consequences for his actions.

6) I'm going to talk to my bosses at the company, let them know what's going on, and recommend that we don't use him for any future projects.

EDIT: I just saw Josh's LinkedIn profile. It makes it sound like he currently works for WayForward. He does not. To my knowledge, the last project he worked with us on was Transformers 3DS in 2013. I've asked him to update his profile to reflect this.

General Discussion / Re: I am looking for Joshua Astorian.
« on: December 13, 2012, 10:52:48 pm »
"Um, what happens if the client doesn't pay the artist for their work? This is why artists ask for some payment up front. It's a way to protect themselves from getting screwed over as well."

They can ask all they want. But speaking as someone who's worked extensively in hobby and professional game dev, I've never, ever paid someone in advance. And I've never met a pro artist that has expected this. It's just not how it works in the industry.

Artists can protect themselves by asking for a contract specifying their workload and pay rates, or an informal agreement to the same effect. And just generally taking on projects with devs that seem to be established and have a track record. But actually paying an artist in advance is a terrible idea, not just because of potential ripoffs, but because it kills their incentive and motivation - they already have the money. If you pay artists in advance, watch - you will get lazier, less polished work, and you will get it later, because they will prioritize toward getting new money coming in first. It's just a bad, bad idea.

"With graphic design work, I read somewhere online that some people take payments in little increments. They do a sketch, get some payment; do the actual work, get some/the main payment; any revisions or further editing, get more payments."

Absolutely! This is very common and a great idea, especially for larger tasks. In fact I'll often price per image, and allow the artist to invoice at any time for the images they've finished (and had approved) up to that point. So long as payment always follow the tasks, assignments can be broken up however the artist and the company want to.

"When working with a new client, it's a good idea for the artist to arrange a small deliverable and bill upon its completion. This approach establishes trust and manages the artist's risk without having him/her to ask for money upfront."

More power to you as an artist, if you can get them to agree to this. I never would, nor would any of the other developer I know.

"Big projects often require some percentage of payment up front..."

I absolutely disagree. Honestly, I've overseen projects that are massive, with 50+ people working on them. Nobody gets paid in advance. That is not an expectation that flies in the industry, only in the hobby and small dev communities. You shouldn't ever need to do that.

Look at the situation with Josh, and don't see it in terms of 'Now I won't deal with this artist.' Look at it from a perspective of, 'How can I takes steps to ensure that NO artist does that to me?' Discuss and decide upon rates with the artist, give the assignment, critique and give feedback when the art comes in, and only when the work is 100% approved should the artist be entitled to compensation. It puts a little more pressure on them, but if you're someone that can't wait a few days for cash, you're in the wrong field. Especially when you get to larger publishers, where they work on 'net 30' or 'net 60' (meaning your payment doesn't even get PROCESSED until 1 or 2 months after completion).  :o

"I have seen the work that he has done and am very impressed with it. and I came to the conclusion that Josh is a very skilled artist and I want him to do some work for me, BUT, because of his history, I will not pay him in advance for his work. "

That's what is of course so frustrating. Josh is one of the most talented character pixel artists I've ever seen. It's just a shame he muddies his talent and destroys his reputation with scams such as these.  :(

General Discussion / Re: I am looking for Joshua Astorian.
« on: November 18, 2012, 04:23:35 pm »
Guys, please - never pay ANY artist money for work they haven't done. It is industry standard to receive the completed work, and all revisions, before the artist can even invoice (let alone get paid). I'm not justifying Josh's actions at all, but you should never feel like you need to pay someone before they can begin a project. That's just not how it works, and any artist telling you that you need to pay them first is taking advantage of you.

General Discussion / Re: I am looking for Joshua Astorian.
« on: October 28, 2012, 03:55:45 pm »
Okay, here's what I did (and I still don't appreciate your snarky attitude toward me, montonero). You can't edit a LinkedIn recommendation without the person's approval, which I'm sure Josh wouldn't give. So I removed the previous recommendation, then added this one:

Josh Astorian is one of the strongest pixel artists in the industry. He contributed character models, environments, and additional illustrations on several of our game projects. I can fully recommend him for any 2D game project that you are staffing. His artistry will elevate your product's visuals.

Note: Please do not pay in advance of receiving the final work from Josh.

It is up to Josh now whether he wishes to add this to his LinkedIn profile. I hope he does, because he is an incredible artist, and he deserves to get work, so long as he actually does the work.

I'm not being disingenuous. This is a person who can do fantastic pixel art, and continues to do fantastic art for the company I work for. His issue of skipping out on work does not affect me because I do not pay him in advance, which should be everyone's standard practice with ALL artists, regardless of their history.

General Discussion / Re: I am looking for Joshua Astorian.
« on: October 27, 2012, 10:03:21 pm »
Okay, I just replied to montonero via email, but since he felt the need to bring me into this publicly, I'll repeat here what I told him:

1) In 2009, I was brought into this topic here. I commented, but I have never personally been ripped off by Josh (I've only heard of others' situations).

2) I didn't work with Josh for a while, primarily due to the fact that my company wasn't doing many pixel games for a few years.

3) Last year (2011), my company brought Josh back on for some of our games (including Hotel Transylvania and Adventure Time on DS) and he did work for us. As far as I know, there were no issues.

4) I was asked to endorse Josh on LinkedIn, he was working for us fine at the time, so I wrote the following:

“Josh Astorian is one of the strongest pixel artists in the industry. He contributed character models, environments, and additional illustrations on several of our game projects. I can fully recommend him for any 2D game project that you are staffing. His artistry will elevate your product's visuals.”

Everything in there is 100% true, and remains true. Josh is one of the best character pixel modelers I've ever known.

5) DON'T EVER PAY ANYONE FOR WORK BEFORE THEY DO THE WORK!!!! Maybe this is the reason I've not had any issues with Josh on my own projects. It should be common sense. There is NO LOGIC to paying someone before they complete a task. If you're willing to do that, you should expect to kiss your money goodbye.


I am not removing my LinkedIn recommendation because it was accurate when I wrote it, it remains accurate, and because I've personally had no issues working with him.

General Discussion / Re: Aliens: Infestation (DS)
« on: October 19, 2011, 10:34:46 pm »
The art looks nice, though is the game design excellent? Hope they hired a Japanese action game designer.
Why? It's an American film and an American game developer.  ???

General Discussion / Re: Aliens: Infestation (DS)
« on: October 16, 2011, 06:09:56 pm »
Well it's based on moebius designs I think. Take a look at the 'Earth' tileset.

so, so good. Clean where it wants to be, dirty and rugged in other places. A huge inspiration, still to this day.

That's from the original game? Looks much more modern in pixel style than I remember.

I loooooove Flashback. In my top 5 games of all time.

General Discussion / Re: Aliens: Infestation (DS)
« on: October 15, 2011, 10:28:18 am »
I was so proud especially of the BG team on this game. You guys rock! I always try to work with the ideal artists for the job, especially on a license like this where it's critical to nail the style of the source material. I'd worked with Sven and Vedsten previously, but had only been a long admirer of Helm's style. The harsh, dark tones of his artwork seemed perfect for this project. I auditioned Helm and another (well-established but will-remain-unnamed) pixel artist at the same time, and Helm blew the other guy out of the water. Hopefully he doesn't mind me posting, but this was Helm's audition piece (sprites and HUD added later):

The instant I saw that, I knew we had our game's style. That image captured everything I love about James Cameron's aesthetics from the film, and what's more, it was a very dark and complicated environment, perfect for creating fear in the player and giving the aliens areas to hide.

Helm worked tirelessly to create the bulk of the Sulaco ship (which is massive and incredibly varied). Ptoing and Vedsten helped with a few areas of the Sulcao toward the end of art production. Vedsten collabed with Helm for LV-426, and handled all the organic xeno sections. His alien hives and derelict ship interior are just gorgeous.

Ptoing owned the Phobos facility, which has a ton of great details and easter eggs scattered throughout (all from Ptoing's brain). Jawsh also helped with BGs in a few areas, but primarily designed all the game's amazing sprite models.

Last thing worth mentioning - these guys didn't just act as artists, they constructed each world from start to finish. What you see in the game comes 100% from them. We didn't use tilesets on this game. Instead, I gave these guys limitations on tile count and color palettes, and then very simplified 1:1 floor layouts, and they pixeled everything over those layouts in multiple layers. I've taken that approach on a few games and while it can be an intense, draining process, I find it always yields the best results because the artists are in control of where they put their detail, and how the spend their tile budgets (as opposed to having a level designer work from a very limited tileset).

Anywho, congrats again guys! Some of the best pixel art in any WF game ever created, hands down.

General Discussion / Aliens: Infestation (DS)
« on: October 09, 2011, 07:09:57 am »
After many years the game is finally out. Congrats to everyone that worked on it, including the following Pixelation alumni:

Director: Sals (me)
Sprites: Jawsh, Gustav
Animation: Konjak, Paul Robertson
Interface: Panda
Backgrounds: Helm, Ptoing, Vedsten

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