Once upon a time, about 20 years ago, games would be made by roughly 4-6 people. They were in charge of the whole operation, from illustrations to sound and effects.
This however is something of the past as games have become multi-million dollar investments, who would have foreseen such an event?
With big budgets, one can get someone to work on one individual piece of the puzzle which is game construction. So this is how a company grows, larger budget, more contributors, more specialisation.
Its easy to look at myself when I think of specialisation. I came onto the course thinking I will become a digital illustrator, 2D artist and home my skills. This is still my motivation and driving force, despite constant weight.
However of course erasing my ignorance of the rest of the development process; I have been constantly swayed towards the 3D side of things.
If one focuses primarily on one subject, they are bound to become good at it, say if I studied like I used to, free from distraction I could draw all day every day of the week, and improve leaps. Which I would like. However If one trys to become a jackel of all trades, they will never meet the specialist. Having more arrows may be a good thing, but doesnt matter much if you cant hit the bullseye, if you follow me? There are always the temptations to distract you from your goal.
Now lets see what would happen if I went full out 2D artist.
If I became a illustrator, my job would be closer to the end of the project, in fact I wouldnt have much control over subject, I'd create the promotional work for the game, be it cover, poster, or other illustrated bits.
A conceptual artist would be needed primarily a the beginning of the project (at the creation phase), and through out the rest of the project. The primary goal to visualise the world, assets, style and any visual element of the game.
A 3D artist has alot more specialist areas. Not to say there aren't alot of areas in the 2D field, when it comes to ISO games, they have all the rolls of the 3d artist, when creating a full 2d game, as many ISO and hand-held games are.
From what I've come to learn is that there are many rolls for the 3D artist.
Enviroment artist, Character modeling, Prop artist, Weapon artist Special Effects and so on. All have different jobs, yet have the possibility to work on each other feild.
A enviroment artist could easily create the assets a Prop artist could make. Same for a character artist being able to create weapons, props or creatures.
As Ive learned from talking to character artists is they will often be used for other things after they have completed all the character art needed for the game. Like, after they have finished their characters, they were set a task to create animals. Makes sence in an employment state of mind, why hire a new person when you have a fully functional artist at your disposal? Artists are usual on contract for a set period of time, and having them do nothing after their job is done is a waste of money on their part.
So for the chracter artist, their job wouldnt end at charcter art, as chracters fill maybe 10% of the game if im being generous. If they were not given other tasks, they would be wasting time and money, only needed for the smallest amount of time in a company.
Unlike a enviroment artist, who would be needed for far longer, as they are needed to create the whole playable world, assets and whatever else needed in game.
When it comes to specialising, I have no idea anymore. Maybe I am a generalist at the moment, im stronger in the 2D department thats for sure. Its hard to say.