College for Creative Studies: Illustration
"How bad do you want it?" Jeremy Melton motivated himself to break into the highly competitive gaming industry by asking himself this same question everyday. Now he works as a concept artist at independent game developer Pandemic Studios.
"What's cool about conceptual art is that you get to make stuff up and watch it come to life," said Melton. "I do quite a bit of drawing and painting, but I also assist our director, art director and creative team in visualizing the world that they want to create. I design everything—characters, vehicles, props, environments and texture painting. Anything they need to make a great game."
Since transitioning from a career in film that landed him projects such as Resident Evil 3, Pandoras Yatch (a television horror movie) and the Tom DeSanto film Dinosapians, Melton has enjoyed the creative freedom his new position offers. He has been involved with the US Navy's Strike and Retrieve, F.E.A.R., Hercules, Everquest and a new project that he's sworn to secrecy not to reveal.
"All I am allowed to say is that it is a fast-paced third person action shooter game in a dynamic universe," Melton said. "I am working with the Star Wars Battlefront group and they have a ton of great ideas that are not Star Wars. It's projected to be released in the final quarter of 2010."
According to Melton, financial loss and the economy has had an impact on the gaming industry—especially in terms of the target user.
"Historically, the entertainment industry seems to make it through sour times—during the Depression the film industry boomed," Melton explained. "What do I see in the future? More family style gaming; think of the Wii. If you're going to pay $60 dollars for a game, it should be something that everyone can play and have that re-playability.
"I see companies like Nintendo and such capitalizing on bringing family and friends back together to share a visual enjoyment through multiplayer games, not just shoot and blow stuff up. The current target, 14-32 year-old male, has seen its day."
Getting paid to do what he loves is an obvious reward Melton enjoys. But he also finds fulfillment in seeing his work come to life and conquering challenges along the way.
"I do like a good challenge, and when you are able to come up with a solution to a potentially problematic area, such as a gameplay mechanic, it's rewarding when it finally works and everyone is happy," he said.
"Knowledge is key, and all of my instructors at CCS went out of their way to assist me in finding the knowledge I needed to succeed."
While he was a student, Melton learned from instructors and other mentors who he felt were in touch with their fields. He credits numerous members of the CCS community for helping teach him the ins and outs of the industry and establish the connections to achieve his goals.
"They made time for me and made sure I had everything I needed from the word ‘go,'" Melton said. "I can honestly say that I am where I am because of them."