Collaboration is a vital part of every workflow, be it working within a team or simply delivering a finished project to the clients. However, when cooperating with an external supplier, the importance of effective collaboration is even more difficult, important, and tricky. To make sure that you and your chosen game art studio meet all the deadlines and requirements, we put together a small guide on how to successfully collaborate with an external game art studio so that your players can enjoy your game to the fullest as soon as possible!
This step might be obvious, but it is often overlooked or underestimated. We cannot stress enough the importance of having researched as much information as you can about your given task/requirements etc.
Imagine that somebody came to you and asked you to create a game for them – only that, “a game”. Surely, you would have a thousand questions – what style? 2D/3D? A shooting or a racing game? What platform? Etc. That is exactly what happens fairly often in the game art industry.
You need to approach the studio with as much (realistic) detail as possible. Only then can they give you an accurate estimate and only then can you be satisfied with their work which will most likely arrive on time. Otherwise, you are getting yourself into a serious risk of missing deadlines or receiving unusable assets.
This should be a part of your research – do you have a sufficient enough budget for what you need? Does your partner have the resources necessary? While it may be difficult or even impossible to tell, you shouldn’t take too many risks and your budget shouldn’t be on the edge of running out. Easy peasy, right?
You may find yourself in a situation where you need to set a very strict deadline. And that is fine as long as you and your hired game art studio are completely open and honest about it. Would you prefer a shady promise or an honest confession that your given deadlines are impossible for the studio to meet, so that you can adjust?
Always ask the studio if the deadline is truly realistic for them and be ready, if possible, to make compromises. It is much better than having to delay your project just weeks before it is due only because of a silly guesstimate that was impossible from the very start. You may also find out that your project will be more costly than you expected or will require a more experienced studio to meet your requirements – and again, that is fine, as long as both parties are open and honest.
The same goes for your requirements – you need to be clear and you need to talk about all the aspects of your project. Don’t withhold information, don’t forget any important details – the more they know, the better! Be realistic and help your partner(s) do their work so that you are all satisfied.
This point is slightly in conjunction with the first one – if at all possible, check if your partner can truly deliver on everything you need. It has become a sort of a standard to find out too late that you are asking too much of the studio that you chose, and it gets very costly and ineffective.
Learn about the studio’s specialization, capabilities, experiences, technologies, etc. Ask them as many questions as possible, make your requirements clear and don’t forget about any of them. Trust us, the studio doesn’t want to let you down – so help them with it! There is no shame in admitting that a given task is too much for somebody to handle. A good art studio will be frank with their capabilities and while it is awesome to see ambitions and willingness to try new things and experiments, there needs to a sensible line in the sand.
We hope and believe that this guide will help you make the best project possible and deliver to your clients/players the experience they want and deserve. There are additional, more subtle aspects to collaborating, but these may be discussed in a future article. For now, stick to these basics and remember – research, be open, talk to each other! And have fun doing it.