AuthorTopic: Payment  (Read 17538 times)

Offline Tourist

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Re: Payment

Reply #20 on: March 03, 2011, 02:25:51 am
I'm not a professional pixel artist.  I do however, have some experience in program management in an unrelated technical field.  It is very common for the expert to underestimate the time (and budget) required for any chunk of work.  I see the same thing in this thread.  It's not that the expert doesn't know the stuff (the pixel artist has art skills, the engineer understands the technical aspects of the project, etc). 

But when making an estimate, the expert assumes:
  • Ideal working conditions, with no distractions or interruptions
  • no time allocated to meetings and communication, including waiting for email responses and so forth
  • ignoring or underestimating rework
  • everything is planned out at the start; no time is spent figuring things while in the middle of the work

What happens in reality is that on longer projects:
  • There are some interruptions that not only eat up the schedule, but disrupt the work flow.  You lose 'the zone' and it takes some time to get it back.
  • There are some meetings that eat up the clock.  Or time spent waiting for a response that has to cross several time zones.  The example would be sending one set of images and having to wait for feedback.  Do you start the second set at the risk of additional rework, or do you stop for the day?  Both can cost time.
  • The person starts the work and there are quite a few things that are undefined. "I know what I'm doing!  I'll figure it out when we get there! "  This can be ok, but you have to account for the time spent filling in the unknowns.  Also, doing this in the middle of work, with time pressures, can result in bad decisions.

    An example would be if the project said, "make some tiles with an ancient Egyptian look, maybe some hieroglyphs or statues."  When estimating what this would take, do you remember to include the time researching actual hieroglyphs or Egyptian symbols?  Most people forget that this sort of thing takes a little time, even if it's just a 20 minute read on Wikipedia, and it adds up.

Assuming the expert is an expert and has the skills (art in this case), they are usually off by a factor of three on the overall time estimate.  Sometimes it's as much as five.  A good plan should have equal chances of getting done ahead of time or of taking extra time (but almost nobody plans like that). 

That's not to say all the extra time is billable, but it does eat into the time available to complete the overall work,

Tourist
« Last Edit: March 03, 2011, 02:27:33 am by Tourist »

Offline Geti

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Re: Payment

Reply #21 on: March 03, 2011, 07:52:42 am
I would call 8 tiles "a few" tiles though, CodeGeorge. Polishing that many tiles of a similar style in 3 hours seems like a fairly reasonable estimate, but I could very easily have a different workflow or be talking about a different type of tile. The aim with any project is barely to get tiles that "work seemlessly with all past present and future tiles", as that seems fairly impossible. The aim is to produce tiles that work cohesively together (and with existing assets), are aesthetically pleasing in the context presented, and do not interfere with gameplay (by removing contrast or w/e)

Regardless, I suppose I could likely be jumping the gun a little, as Tourist has suggested (though, I'd hardly consider myself an expert). I might take you up on that challenge tonight though.

Offline Helm

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Re: Payment

Reply #22 on: March 03, 2011, 12:45:08 pm
George, a whole NES-style tileset could be 5-6 hours of work from start to finish but as I've said this isn't an accurate description of how one works under the direction of a client. The issue isn't that there aren't people fast enough to make your eyes bleed. There are. I'm a very fast pixel artist, for example. The issue is revision fatigue, interruptions, stop-starts, backtracking and all the other things that occur as Tourist said, in a managed relationship.

Offline Tourist

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Re: Payment

Reply #23 on: March 03, 2011, 07:30:52 pm
Ehh, to be clear, by expert I meant someone who has sufficient skills to accomplish the work.  If you also have to spend time learning skills (example: making a seamless tile), then the time required greatly increases. 

To get a better measure of your productivity, I suggest we make this a proper challenge.  The goal is not to compete for speed, but to give yourself a better idea when estimating for jobs.

Step 1: Note the current time on your computer. Write it down somewhere.  Write down the date, too (in case this takes a long time).

Step 2: Choose a tile size: 16x16, 32x32, or 48x48.  You will make 8 tiles at this size.  For optional added fun, make 7 tiles of this size and one tile at 64x64, because the game needs UI and/or title screen.  Or maybe the customer doesn't really know what he needs.

Step 3: Head to one of the random generator sites:
http://nine.frenchboys.net/index.php
http://www.seventhsanctum.com/
or any other random source that you like.

Select one place generator.  Generate no more than two places.

Select one character/monster generator.  Generate no more than 4 monsters or characters.  Select three of the four.

Select two categories of items, clothing, or treasure.  Generate no more than two items from each.  Select no more than one from each category.

If you chose to make a larger 64x64 tile, then go to http://chaoticshiny.com/tarotgen.php and generate no more than two tarot cards.  Select one.

This is to simulate someone else controlling what needs to be made.  You get to make some selections to avoid totally bad results, but you don't get to pick and choose until you get really good results.

4) Draw the tiles.
Note the time to complete a first draft of all the tiles, and the time when they are all finished.  You may also track the time spent actually working separately.

For the map locations,  draw either one tile for a map icon for each place, or 2-3 tiles as a sample for one of the places.
For the characters, make one tile each of them.
For the items, make a tile for each.
For the tarot card, if you chose that option, make a larger tile that incorporates the result.  It doesn't need to be a tarot card, but it needs to include most of the elements.

Optional fun: If you just want to restrict this to terrain type tiles to emphasize seamless tile building, then select one of the locations and build all 8 tiles based on that.  Even the larger tile if you chose that option.

5) Tally the times.  Compare time spent making pixels vs total calendar time, including eating, sleeping, and whatnot.  Time spent on the web sites above count against the total time spent. 

If you think, "this might be fun, but I'm not sure I have the time right now," then this challenge is for you.  Real life interferes.   If you set aside dedicated time to pixel and isolate yourself from distractions, you distort the results a bit, because you generally can't do that on larger projects.

If the generators give you results that are incomplete, you can 'ask for clarification' by supplementing the results with the results from a different table, blending the results.  Character + clothing for example, or equipment + room.  If you do this, generate no more than two results and select one to include.  Also, add at least an hour to the total time, up to half a working day (3-4 hours) for a more realistic response time.

If you really want to add to the fun, after you have made the first draft of the tiles, add a half a day to the total time, head back to the generator sites, generate another round of choices, and blend one additional separate result to each of the tiles you have just made.  This simulates the customer requesting a revision or changing his mind.  Don't replace what you have done entirely, but incorporate one or more elements for the revision.  If round one says 'man with red shirt' and the revision is 'woman with blue shirt' then change the sex or the color, but not both.  For places that only generate names or titles, add some detail based on a different generator instead.

Again, the goal is not to compete to see who can pixel the quickest, it's to give yourself a more realistic estimate of your productivity when responding to job requests.

Tourist

PS  Should I post this to the challenges board? 

Offline Gemini166

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Re: Payment

Reply #24 on: March 03, 2011, 09:28:40 pm
Tourist, that post just made my day. I am SUPER indecisive when it comes to pretty much anything, so those generators are just what I needed to jump-start my imagination.
Thanks a TON.  :yay:

Offline Geti

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Re: Payment

Reply #25 on: March 03, 2011, 10:29:07 pm
Now this is a challenge I'm quite keen on. Let's see how it goes.

Offline Geti

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Re: Payment

Reply #26 on: March 04, 2011, 12:52:39 pm
Well, I did a small sheet as a practice for this.

The colours are off (too dark on my monitor, probably too saturated on others), but I've got to get faster at that as well so it's relevant. Probably getting closer to three with upload times and a cup of tea. Time for bed, this was a relaxing end to the week. I'm looking forward to some textual inspiration.

I can't decide whether to work on just environment or do the whole kit and caboodle with some characters and items. I haven't done map icons in a while, so I might go for the latter.

Offline big brother

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Re: Payment

Reply #27 on: March 04, 2011, 08:21:51 pm
Those certainly are 8 tiles, but I'm not sure what I'm looking at. They look so noisy. I don't think the 2x2 blocks of pixels work in this case. Lots of banding, too, which definitely won't fly in tiles so small. There are also contrast issues with the palette, which further exacerbate the readability problem. I think they fall short of the "as beautiful as possible," easily-attainable goal you mentioned earlier.

By assuming the worst case scenario (32x32, few recolours) and making a realistic estimation from there.
I wasn't aware that 32x32 tiles are the biggest usable size. Even just looking at this thread alone, you will find that Ptoing posted some 64x64 sized tiles.

Offline Geti

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Re: Payment

Reply #28 on: March 04, 2011, 10:15:38 pm
Those certainly are 8 tiles, but I'm not sure what I'm looking at. They look so noisy. I don't think the 2x2 blocks of pixels work in this case. Lots of banding, too, which definitely won't fly in tiles so small. There are also contrast issues with the palette, which further exacerbate the readability problem. I think they fall short of the "as beautiful as possible," easily-attainable goal you mentioned earlier.

I wasn't aware that 32x32 tiles are the biggest usable size. Even just looking at this thread alone, you will find that Ptoing posted some 64x64 sized tiles.
Cheers for the criticism. I agree with you, but do understand that I wasn't talking about making the tiles as beautiful as possible, I was talking about making the clusters as beautiful as possible, which with 3 hours to work and a cartoon focus (something like this or even this), which is very feasible.
With a more detailed focus, where you're using small clusters much more often and have more clusters in total to manage, the task becomes quite a bit more difficult. I've fallen short there as well, and I'm well aware of that. I'm going to have to step up my game, surely. :)

However, keep in mind that aesthetic beauty is in the eye of the beholder, for example "green" on TIGSource, while I would by no means consider him an authority, posted
Quote from: green
I love these.. Those colors as well.
If he was my client, I'd be able to simply clean up a few of the more glaring issues from what I can see (some of the banding, though I think sometimes with vegetation at this scale the banded solution is the only way to prevent it being so harsh, as well as tweaking the greys a little more) and send them off as final. If you were my client I'd be in strife, obviously, as you don't like them, but from my experience a client generally has some images at hand for a style "target", or can at least mention a few games they like the look of.
Cluster beauty comes from your placement of pixels and is a little less subjective, which is what I was aiming for.
You seem to have latched onto that phrase from the beginning and it's been bugging me, so I wanted to clear it up. ::)

In response to your comment on 32x32 not being worst-case, that's true, but due to most of my experience being with smaller assets I'd likely turn down a job offer if it were at 64x64. Surely it'd be more practical to paint the tiles once they hit that size?



Regardless, I'm quite keen to get some fresh inspiration. If I get time, I'll tackle this tonight, but I suppose I start counting from now. 9:20 AM 5th March 2011.

I decided to use the "Lost Civilisation generator" on seventhsanctum, as it gives you a more verbose description.
Quote
This just wide-ranging imperium was noted for its advanced tactics. It was destroyed by a neighboring country because of the people's extreme immorality, leaving behind only relics and methods of transportation.
Second click. I'm going to do 8 tiles, as before. 6 terrain tiles, 2 relics, and 1 "Set Piece" transport object which will be 64x64 at largest.
I decided to "ask for clarification" on the transport object and got
Quote
Rockdigger
so I guess the civilisation was subject to rocky terrain. The relics will probably be broken weapons and coins.

I'm not sure whether to do 32x32 or 16x16, what are your thoughts? I'm going to do some sketch design and research now, and then I'm going out for the day, so I'm anticipating this to take the weekend, possibly into monday. We'll see how it goes. I'm leaning towards the smaller size at the moment.

Off to have breakfast :) I do hope some other people do this, it's quite an interesting challenge.

Offline Geti

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Re: Payment

Reply #29 on: March 06, 2011, 02:33:54 am

I've still got some cleaning to do but it's coming along. Not sure where to go for the "relics", I'm going to have to ask for clarification on that one, or should I do a character instead? Choices to make, though if someone here "assigns" me a task there I suppose I'll go with that, as not having much leeway on the choices is part of the idea.
I asked someone online to point me to a random page of Arnes work as an "artistic sample" and they chose EXILE, so that's where the sci-fi influence has come from (I've interpreted "imperium" and "relics" in a more scifi sense than general fantasy sense because of it)

5 hours of pixelling/sketching in, a day and a half in on the calendar. This exercise is fun :y:

8 16x16 tiles and one 128x64 set piece.

Issues:
-The rockdigger is a bit slapdash. I'm glad I played around sketching possible designs first, (though that took a good chunk of time) or it'd be even more so. Cleaning time, there, especially on some of the plantlife.
-The mockup layout doesn't make much sense, I'll have to shift it around a bit.

I'll likely build some background tiles so I can have a cave entrance in the mockup, to make the set more versatile. Probably in the realm of 12 tiles at most by that stage.

Criticism welcome.