Community Spotlight: Polycount

By Ozzie Mejia, Aug 16, 2012 9:00am PDT

Polycount has been home to a large number of video game artists, both professional and amateur, since 1998. Like Shacknews, Polycount has deep roots in Quake. The site was once known as Q2PMP, an outlet for fans to create and show off Quake 2 skins. Since then, Polycount has grown to nearly 45,000 members and encompasses all aspects of game art (3D, 2D, concept, animation, and FX) across a full range of platforms.

Adam (familiar to Shackers as eonix) has frequented Polycount since his high school days in 1999. Now known as Shacker eonix, He now runs Polycount along with Drew "r13" Risch, and Polycount's team of editors and moderators. While the administration has changed, Polycount's dedication to cultivating a generation of video game artists has not.

Adam's portfolio includes Stacked, The Outfit, Wolfenstein, Ghostbusters, Army of Two: 40th Day, Dawn of War 2: Chaos Rising, and Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. He is currently working on Splinter Cell: Blacklist as a level artist.

While his personal portfolio increases with each passing day, one of Adam's biggest contributions is to Team Fortress 2. Polycount was at the ground floor of the Mann-conomy Update that saw TF2 move to the highly successful microtransaction model. Polycount accompanied the game's landscape shift by holding a contest for artists to design hats and weapons for what would be known as the Polycount Pack.

"I headed up the entire project, while working with Robin and the rest of the TF2 team on ironing out the details for the contest," said Adam. "The Mann-conomy Update and the idea of in-store purchasable items entirely fell on Valve. The Polycount Pack was a fantastic way to kickstart that idea and it was a great opportunity for us to gain publicity with launching an update to our site, as the contest and the update to Polycount launched around the same time."

The contest was a huge success for both Valve and Polycount. TF2 players still get frequent usage from many of the Polycount Pack items, including the Soldier's Black Box rocket launcher, the Sniper's Bushwhacka kukri, and the Pyro's Degreaser flamethrower. Since the Polycount Pack's release, Polycount's TF2 forums have seen a jump in visitors and members.

"As it stands right now, our TF2-dedicated forum thread is our most populated thread on the entire site," said Adam. "Needless to say, the contest brought in an incredible amount of new talent to Polycount, of which were people creating 3D art for the first time -- and for their favorite game, it seems. Since I, myself, am a huge TF2 fan, seeing those two worlds collide has been very exciting. I love seeing people excited over ideas then executing on them successfully. Right now, I am loving Vonwilbur's 'the Costanza Complex'."

I asked Adam for some of the best 3D art he's seen in the Polycount forums over the last couple of years, to which he replied that they're far too numerous to list. Fortunately, those interested in seeing some of the best of Polycount's work can check out their weekly recaps. As for what the forum's members are working on, Adam notes that Polycount's presence can be found everywhere.

"Our members come from virtually every studio making videogames right now, and we have a ton of indie developers posting at Polycount," said Adam. "From the big hitters like Valve, id, Epic, Naughty Dog, DICE, Capcom, and all the major publishers, to the smaller teams like Nimblebit, whose Tiny Tower was Apple's iPhone Game of the Year for 2011. One of my favorite teams posting on Polycount right now are the guys making 'the Other Brothers'. I'm a huge fan of old school LucasArts games -- the artwork in them was inspiring. Watching The Other Brothers' development over time has been a mix of nostalgia and awe -- and a bit of jealousy."

Polycount members have shown an affinity for their community, as evident through a story that Adam told on Chatty about finding Polycount's longtime unofficial mascot, Greentooth, on a front-page Reddit story.

"Reddit is part of my morning routine," Adam explained, "so needless to say it was quite the surprise to see Greentooth up on the front page. Having said that, it's been no secret to our community that he's been secretly placed in many of today's biggest games. We never did any sort of 'call to arms' asking artists to drop him in the games they are working on. It's just something that took off on its own, and once we started sharing pictures of 'sightings' in games, it took off like wildfire."

So what's next for eonix? "I'm always working on new things for Polycount and I am hoping to announce a few big things very soon," he said. "As for my own personal projects, I've got one on the go right now that I can't wait to share with Polycount. It just needs a bit more progress to be made before I'd like to share it."

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