For our new Report In™ dev interview, we’re shifting up a gear to check in with Arma 3’s Senior Artist, Martin Valasek - the spiritual father of the Karts DLC!
We're often asked to let some of our people talk about what it's like to develop a game at BI. 'Report In!' gives you a more personal perspective on our team, a more detailed look at the way we go about our work, and fresh information about our ongoing projects.
Starting out as a personal project in his free time, Martin is the man behind Arma 3’s go-kart models, which went from an April Fool’s joke to an official (mini) DLC. To learn a little bit more about Arma 3 Karts, and his experience as an artist on Arma 3, we’ve asked Martin to Report In!
Please tell the people a little about yourself. What's your role? How long have you been with Bohemia Interactive? Which projects have you contributed to and what is your favorite BI game or mission?
Hi, my name is Martin Valasek, but everyone here at Bohemia Interactive just calls me Redstone, or simply ‘Red’. I’ve been with Bohemia now for five years as an artist. My first project was Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead and my first model was the S1203, which was a part of my admission test so to speak. Over the course of Arma 3’s development, I really learned a lot of Arma ‘know-how’, and more recently, I’ve also started managing our external artists, who help us develop a wide variety of content for our current projects.
And can you give us a random fact about yourself?
I like model trains (and own some myself).
Why Arma 3 Karts?
Well, somewhere in Arma 3's development process, our Environment department had the idea of adding a kart track on Altis – something which is not uncommon for Mediterranean islands. When I heard this, I told them that I would be doing a kart model in my free time – also as a way to improve my own skills. Later, when Bohemia Interactive was brainstorming about a piece of DLC that it could use to test Arma 3’s new DLC technology, we found there was quite lot of excitement for my kart prototypes, and one thing lead to another quite quickly.[thumb ]kart_prototype.jpg[/thumb]
Did anything change in terms of Karts’ development when it was chosen to be a test bed?
Yes, when we knew it would become official DLC content, we knew that it had to be more of a complete package. Thus, we created various additional objects, the driver and marshal, and even our Arma 3 Project Lead chipped in by making the Time Trials. Fortunately, as we also had some new artists joining our team recently, this DLC actually proved to be a great way for them to learn about Arma, since it’s easier to start with smaller models.
Any Easter eggs?
Of course! As you might have noticed, my nickname is Redstone, which we used as one of the fictional kart sponsors (the Redstone livery). Also, perhaps not so much an Easter egg, but the track in the “Terminal Velocity” Time Trial is a replica of an existing karting racing track near Prague, which a bunch of us visited a couple of weeks ago.
The Road Ahead
What are you working on right now?
At the moment I’m mainly repairing some of the art bugs in Arma 3, supporting my colleagues, and managing the new external artists working on Arma 3. Occasionally I also work on my own ideas for improving the game. For example, recently I added more steps for zeroing to our GL Launchers. This kind of stuff actually takes quite some time to set up, but I hope people can appreciate and enjoy these smaller refinements.
What’s the coolest thing about being an artist on Arma 3?
I think, for me, the coolest part is collecting the reference materials - such as photos, videos, etc. You can discover and learn many interesting things this way (e.g. about vehicles and weapons). But, of course, one of the mast satisfying things for us is to read the enthusiastic feedback from players.
And what's the biggest challenge?
As an artist, you have to be able to deal with a lot of feedback and criticism. Sometimes, when you think that your work is great, your supervisor or colleagues will come and say there is something wrong, weird, or stupid. Sometimes it’s even more difficult, and the only comment you receive is: “I don’t like it, but I don’t know why.” In such cases, you just have to accept it, say thank you, and try to look at your work from different angles.
Last but not least, since you started to work on the kart model in your spare time, what other sort of things have you made/are you making?
I’m currently working on a secret project with my friends. For now, the only thing I can say is that it’s a map, with improved Arma 2 and new content. On top of that, I’m also part of a large Arma community group, and I’m continuously working on a mod for our own specific purposes. For example, I’m preparing a new weapon model of the CZ BREN 805 according to the Arma 3 standards.
And after a long day of making games, what do you like to do to relax and unwind?
As I mentioned previously, I’m a member of a large Arma community for quite some time now. However, sometimes I also just want to turn off the computer, so I can work on my small cottage and garden.
What advice would you give to aspiring game artists?
Enjoy your work, be grateful for critics, and be proud to be a part of this amazing industry.
After a disastrous crash to desktop, all racing games are banned from the race track. Which game will you take to the underground circuit?
This is a tough one, but it will have to be Gran Turismo 3 :-)
One million Czech koruna from the Arma 3 Karts DLC sales has been donated to the Czech Red Cross (more info). To learn more about how Arma 3 Karts was used to test Arma 3's DLC technology, check out the Bohemia Interactive dev blog (click here).