Game Artist Benjamin Rijsdijk Gives Advice to Aspiring Designers

A part of the new look at BiasBear.com is supporting young developers and extending their advice to aspiring game developers. This time around, I got to talk to Benjamin Rijsdijk. Benjamin just graduated from Grafisch Lyceum Rotterdam in the Netherlands as a Game Artist. Congratulations Benjamin!

For his graduation project, he had 3 months to create, design, and develop a game demo of his choice. Being a fan of racing games like Trackmania and Wipeout, his natural choice was to create a futuristic time trial racing game. From this decision, the idea for De/Ascend was born.

Enlisting in the help of 2 others, a developer and a sound engineer, De/Ascend was built in Unity 4. The demo includes 1 track, with the option of racing in day or night, and 1 car available in 4 different colors as well as specifications. He decided on a time trial based game because of the time frame to complete the playable demo. AI drivers was something that they would have wanted to do, but wasn’t feasible given their restraints.

#PowertheindieBenjamin wanted to create a racing game that was viciously addicting as well encompassing everything he liked about previous racing games. He also wanted to stay away from the steampunk/grunge look of modern games and instead chose a sleek, futuristic look for the track and the cars. It kind of reminds me of the movie Speed Racer – which was an awesome movie…just sayin.

Not being completely familiar with game engines, I asked Benjamin to explain Unity and why he chose that over the other available game engines. “Unity is a great engine for beginning developers,” he says, ” It’s easy to understand and supports a lot of different workflows.” He also spent a lot of time using Unity while he was an intern at Paladin Studios and Xform games. He went on to explain that the biggest downside of using Unity is the restrictive visuals, but was still a better decision than trying to use Unreal or Cryengine.

On one of our previous PodCasts, we had discussed the importance of graphics and how realistic CG was killing the budgets of developers, so talking to somebody who actually did graphics was a great way to get a new perspective. Being curious, I asked about his workload vs the developer and sound tech. Since Benjamin was not only the game artist, but also designed the game, he estimated that his work load was probably the largest as well as joking about having to say good bye to his social life for a while. But who needs a social life when you’re creating the future of gaming, right Ben?

Classes for a game artist also included programming, but there were very few of them and what was learned couldn’t really be applied to modern game design. He admitted that sometimes the lack of understanding could get frustrating especially in the beginning when he was learning the basics of everything but not how to use them. Once Benjamin started his internships, he was able to see how the bits of knowledge he learned could be applied towards making a game.

#Powertheindie

Benjamin has barely been out of school for a week and has gotten offers for freelancing work. He really loves the games industry, however, and hopes to find a full time job working for a studio. Only being 21, he mused about how it could get overwhelming, but he’s done amazing work and I don’t think he has anything to worry about.

The De/Ascend demo version will be available on Wednesday May 8th for download. According to Benjamin, they don’t plan on taking it any further than where it is unless there’s a huge amount of interest in the game. Huge thanks for Benjamin for allowing me to play the demo before the release and I think De/Ascend has an awesome amount of potential. Check it out, play it, and then convince him that his full time job should be working for himself finishing a game that’s just the right amount of different from the rest of the racing games.

To finish our conversation, I asked Benjamin if he had any advice for aspiring game artists that are starting to get discouraged. “I would definitely start out with the basics of all the software first and start making some easy assets to understand how it works,” he replied, ” Always look up images/videos or whatever you can find on what you are going to make. Not only does it help improving your own work, it’s also very inspirational.”

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