KatsBits Community

General Category => Blog => Topic started by: kat on April 08, 2010, 10:55:53 PM

Title: Content creation fundamentals
Post by: kat on April 08, 2010, 10:55:53 PM
I keep coming across this problem, mainly in the virtual world and 3D chat space, where User Generated Content seems to constantly ignore generally accepted and industry standard concepts behind properly optimised content. This is especially so where texture making is concerned, presumably because they are the most immediate way novice users can get involved with the process of making 'stuff'. However, no one appears know about, let alone understand, these concepts; that "less is more" isn't a new fangled dietary system; that "power of two" isn't a super-hero duo; or that "size" really does "matter" ("the smaller the better").

As someone who's been writing all manner of tutorials on 3D, textures, level design et-al for years, I've come to find the same fundamental problem constantly cropping up; just how do teach someone something when they don't know that's what they're supposed to be learning - how do they know they're supposed to be looking for a particular subject when they don't know what subject it is they're looking for. Catch 22. If you're already making textures ('thank you very much' .Ed) for that 3D chat app or virtual world you use, why would need to know about texture sizes, compression algorithms or indeed bandwidth issues when all you want to do is make stuff, and the stuff you've already made, works fine.

This isn't so much a 'creators' problem as it is a 'providers', by that it's meant that although users exacerbate the problem because they either don't know any better, or as is more often the case, aren't really that interested (they just want to load textures and make things), providers don't seems to be alerting their user-base to the fundamental requirements and importance of knowing about the basic principles behind what they're doing, they're all too quick to push out a shell of a business idea with an incomplete amount of information that simply gets creators creating without thinking too much about the underlying process. It seems in the 'virtual world' space at least, your typical venture capitalist or online entrepreneur's pursuit of profits undermines the fundamental skill-set and knowledge Netizens should be learning to make properly optimised content for the systems they enjoy, simply because the 'business' itself isn't in the business of providing that type of information - all they're interested in is getting users to cough-up the dough and fill up a virtual catalogue or store, all the while not realising they're undermining the long term health of the service itself. Want to know why that favourite 3D chat or virtual world doesn't run as well as it used to, slows to a crawl and constantly crashes? All things being equal, creators are the source of the problem because of poorly optimised and implemented content. But then, as already mentioned, they don't know any better.

So how do you fix the problem? It has to be done at source. Service providers need to be proactive with regards to the provision of more complete information on texture formats and requirements, encouraging a 'better' or 'best' practice procedure else, if they leave it up to the user-base, they will most certainly make things up as they go along to the detriment of the system itself. Provide information that will make sure your creators know about the restrictions applicable to texture size and their respective dimensions, that they're not supposed to be arbitrary for a reason (you don't need to get technical). And make sure to explain so they understand how file size can detrimentally effect performance and content management in terms of download speeds, render times and system overheads. For everyone's sanity and the life expectancy of the industry sector itself, get to it!
Title: Re: Content creation fundamentals
Post by: ratty redemption on April 09, 2010, 03:34:40 AM
@ kat, I agree in principle, I just hope that proposed system wouldn't end up with the service providers charging content creators based on the number of textures they ul to the service.
Title: Re: Content creation fundamentals
Post by: kat on April 09, 2010, 10:37:19 AM
Yes, a valid point. I don't know of any 3D chat/virtual world programs that don't charge users in one way or another, for the privilege of being able to sell UGC though, most already have some form of subscription system in place for 'creators' - they either pay a fixed one off fee or a regular stipend to pay for their ability to sell, it's a bit like the various business 'rates' you'd be liable for in the real world. That is of course not forgetting the percentage cut providers take on each sale.

Having said that, not all systems necessarily charge users directly as there are other ways to generate income simply by monetising website traffic and/or selling on users demographic data; that's why you see Google Adverts plastered all over other websites (not here mind you) and so on.
Title: Re: Content creation fundamentals
Post by: ratty redemption on April 09, 2010, 02:49:55 PM
@ kat, understood and agreed.