This is so exciting! A couple months ago I would have never thought that I'd be in the position to actually reach out to the public and write a blog about my personal work. Crazy! This blog is about the development process of OMNO, but since some folks seem to wonder, here's the brief story about myself. So first things first:
who is this?
My name is Jonas Manke, I am a professional Character Animator for about 10 years (jeez!) working on games, tv series' and feature films. I live in Bielefeld, Germany, 32 yrs of age, along with my family (wife+three kids). Since my childhood I've been into games, but unlike my pals I was more interested into the "making-of"-side of things. I worked at an advertising agency right off the school but knew there was more to achieve. In college I studied "Cognitive Informatics" for a year which is cool if you want to build your own robot and all, but I was more into art than math. I did like the creativity in coding though. Education in digital arts was rare at that time in Germany so I ended up making a 18-month online animation course, which was a great experience.
I never had the goal to be employed in the usual way, being stuck in a studio without diversity or challenges. So after graduation I started freelancing. Being self employed, promoting myself to studios, meeting hundreds of AWESOME artists over the years, great people - some of them close friends by now - really shaped me as a person and as an artist. Having been part of so many production pipelines is really a big plus when founding your own company.
At first I started with Inkyfox as an animation service provider to be able to take bigger roles than just the usual one-man-character-animation gigs and then use my solid network of freelancing friends to split the work up. Also, to promote (and legally sell) my own stuff, you just need to be a company in Germany anyways. Without really noticing you have a company running and do things you feel like you have no clue about. Managing contractors, negotiating budgets, marketing, and such. Inkyfox is still in its very early days at this point but the ideal platform to reach for my goals (and dreams).
and because I am frequently asked, here is
how I became a game developer:
short version: selft-taught + really hard work ethic
While working for a game companies as an animator I often had to check my animation work in-engine to see how it feels ingame (compared to my standart 3d program view). That way I never lost the connection to recent industry standarts. I've been working on shipped titles made with CryEngine, Unity and Unreal. So over time I couldn't resist and started working on my ideas.
I was reading books about game design. Lots of them. No, I studied them. Learned them by heart. I did hundreds of tests about game art, finetuned my workflow and used every spare time to think about games. Everyone told me to keep it simple at first. To create a Pong or FlappyBird clone. I did not want that. I was home in the 3d arts industry already. Why should I neglect my previous experience? As an animator I am used to work hard on tiny details for hours and hours, working a week on 2-5 seconds of film is nothing special in that industry. So what I had to learn was beeing loose, rough and not be caught up into detail when it's about creating game ideas and prototypes. Months of heavy learning passed and I developed the awkward habit of creating one gameplay test/prototype a day. Yes, per day. Sometimes it was just a fun little jump mechanic, sometimes a more complex construction gameplay. It was an incredibly hard time for my family and me, but pushing boundaries of what you can do is more than necessary if you want to create your own game. I always knew that.
My friends often think that all this stuff is just easy to me, that I am successful because I am talented or simply "have a good eye for things". When I hear something like that it makes me kind of upset because I don't think so. My only talent is that I can work very very hard and don't give up on my dreams. That is the single and most important thing, in my opinion if you are striving for personal success. Everyone can create. It just takes training.
So if you are still with me, thanks! I'm impressed. Statistics say, barely anyone reads that far in a wall of text.