Part 1 [11/12/2000]

·Odd Squad
Art Wrangler, Aimee Smith

What exactly is an Art Wrangler? The term “wrangler” certainly conjured up images of cowboys, lassos, and livestock roaming the plains. It’s a description not too far off from what I actually do, but I don’t wear cowboy boots or use a lasso (although sometimes I think it would help). Much of my day is spent making sure art files are named, rounded up, and corralled into the right place in our database, and then making sure the files move on to the right person in Production. At any one time there are mechanic, facility, and character files, all created by the Realtime Team, running in and out of the Database, and I make sure the files get to where they’re going smoothly and without incident. They’re really well behaved files, once you let ‘em know who’s boss.

But where do these files come from, and where do they go when they leave the security of the Database? The Game Design Team creates the original idea and passes that on to the Real Time Team to bring it into being. From the Realtime Team, the file moves onto the Program Team where it’s given the A.L.I.V.E.2 treatment or other coding. But the journey’s not over yet! The file then returns to the nest, coming home to roost with the Game Design Team once more where it’s implemented into the game.

Sounds pretty clear-cut.

With all this movement, a file could easily become lost, mistaken for something else or overlooked. A Game Designer may have intended the file to be one thing, but the Realtime Artist may have thought he wanted something else. A Programmer is waiting patiently for a file, but never finds out it’s sitting in the Database, ready and waiting.

My job is to make sure the ideas from the Game Designer are clear to the Realtime Artist, and the art is clear to the Programmer. Piece of cake, right? Except that Programmers don’t generally speak “Artist,” and Artists don’t normally speak “Programmer.” And the Game Designers? Well, they speak a pidgin language called “Designer.” The Wrangler kind of acts like an interpreter, translating “Artist” to the Designers and Programmers and then “Programmer” and “Designer” to the Artists. Much of all the languages are similar enough that everyone can communicate easily, but every once in a while…

Added to that I provide minor art support to my fellow Realtime team members, like texture conversions or simple geometry fixes, helping upgrade tools or the development station, and generally being an overall assistant.

Now that I think about it, I really should be wearing a 10-gallon hat!-The End