Inside the Vault: Josh Jones

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For this edition of Inside the Vault, meet artist, Josh Jones. He is the Lead Character Artist on Fallout 3. Josh is also our resident motion capture specialist — he also spends much of his time fine tuning our animation system.

What’s your job at Bethesda?

Lead Character Artist. I split my time between meetings and animation work. I also work a great deal with character rigging and other technical aspects of character art production.


What other games have you worked on?

10th Planet, Redguard, Morrowind, Bloodmoon, and Oblivion. Bloodmoon was the first game I worked on from start to finish; I only made modest contributions towards the previous titles.

What is the best part about being an artist? The worst part?

The best part? I get paid to be creative. The worst part? It’s hard to appreciate your work when you’re painfully aware of its flaws and inadequacies that 99% of people will never notice. We artists are always striving for perfection, but the reality of schedules means that we never get to put as much love and attention to detail as we would like.

How did you get into the industry? Do you have any tips for breaking in?

I sent my animation reel and resume around to tons of companies before finally accepting a job at Media Technology Ltd., the former parent company of Bethesda Softworks. My first position was in a sister division of Bethesda working on cinematics for 10th Planet and Redguard among other things. This was back in 1997 when my computer animation experience was limited to Alias PowerAnimator and 3d Studio DOS.

My tips for breaking into the industry: be persistent and patient. Constantly work on your artwork and refine your skills. Seek out internships. Going to a school with a strong program in digital art will help considerably, but a degree means nothing if you don’t have the talent and skill set to back it up. Make sure your portfolio and animation reel is polished. Have a website to display your work. Make sure the website is easy to navigate and professional looking.

What is it like working here?

Very busy. There is always some sort of problem that needs solving, but that’s what keeps this job fresh and interesting.

Ever play the Fallout games?

No.

What is your favorite type of game to play?

I enjoy a wide range of games from shooters to RPGs to sandbox games like The Sims.

What is your favorite game from the past year?

Hmmm. I’ve mostly been catching up on games that have been out for awhile. Of the ones I’ve played recently, Half-Life 2 stands out as being the most fun.

What games are you looking forward to?

Aside from Fallout 3? Team Fortress 2, Spore, and Mass Effect to name a few.

What are your hobbies and interests?

I don’t have too much time for hobbies right now. My two daughters see to that! But I do enjoy following politics, reading non-fiction and fiction, and of course playing games when I get the chance.

Reader Comments

  1. On the 8th of February this year, Chris Remo of Shacknews did an interview with Pete Hines. On page two of that interview, Pete Hines attempted to alleviate fans of the original Fallout by claiming everyone working on Bethesda’s Fallout had played the original. The quote is below.

    “Internally, we’re a bunch of Fallout geeks. There is nobody [here] who hasn’t played that game and enjoyed it.”

    http://www.shacknews.com/featuredarticle.x?id=236&page=2

    And yet, Josh Jones who is the Lead Character Artist of Fallout 3, and who has been with Bethesda for sometime working on such amazing RPG gaming experiences like Morrowind and Oblivion, has not played the original. I just thought I’d point that out.

  2. Hell, that was a short interview…But it’s always nice to know the people who are making the game! Just wondering, if you had the time, would you play Fallout 1 and 2?

  3. Wait, he’s the lead character artist, and he hasn’t played either Fallout 1 or 2? Well, I s’pose that that explains the appearance of the orcs — er, I mean supermutants, in Fallout 3.

  4. I’ve never played faloout 1 or 2 either…
    Fallout 1 and 2 on the other hand are great games and I’d recommend them to anyone.

  5. Lead character designer and he never played Fallout? No wonder we got those “unusual” supermutants.
    Mr. Jones… did you do any research of previous games in preparing for your job and what was it?

  6. Never played Fallout 1 and 2!? How can you than be the LEAD Character Artist? Charachters are importaint in Fallout, and if you never played it and you thnk that the best recent game is Half Life 2 than I MUST FEAR that charachters wil suck! I hope I’m wrong…

  7. Sorry, I made a general comment based on all the folks on the team I talk to on a regular basis in some way, shape, or form. I had not polled every single person on the team to see if they had all, in fact, played both games, or how much, etc. Sorry if you felt misled, that was not my intention.

  8. This is the greatest news. The guy never even played Fallout? Now I understand why the supermutants look like Uruk-Hai, why the jumpsuits are so baggy… and why the pulp comic graphical style has been erased entirely. But obviously that was all so 1998.

  9. Sorry, I made a general comment based on all the folks on the team I talk to on a regular basis in some way, shape, or form. I had not polled every single person on the team to see if they had all, in fact, played both games, or how much, etc. Sorry if you felt misled, that was not my intention.

    Pete, is that you? I don’t think so because the comment would be yellow. Unless I’m mistaken, but all your other comments are yellow, the only reason for this not to be is that it’s not Pete.

    Anyway, there’s NO FREAKING EXCUSE FOR THIS. From the very beginning I knew that, but it doesn’t really matter. Not even half of the team played the game before they acquired the licence, just face it. And I’m being VERY VERY kind by saying this.

    I’m not bothered by this as I’m used to this kind of lies, erh… things…

  10. Not like it’s the end of the world or anything, but did Mr. Jones at least get hundreds of screen captures, or access to the character concept art from the first two games?

    If not, it’s sort of like a an artist becoming head of Disneys art department, never seeing Mickey Mouse.

  11. Yes that’s me. I don’t know what’s up with the formatting. I don’t know if half the team has played it or not. Or 3/4, or 9/10. I haven’t taken a poll, I’m not going to.

    I know Morbus, it’s always about the lies with you.

  12. -

    Ohh my god. I want this Vault Boy in the background over the screen.
    Is there any fanshop where I can buy one of them ?

    Left by Bofrost^^ on August 30th, 2007

    -

    Yeah, me too, where can I get one ? Anyone know a Shop or something ??

  13. Aww man…
    Drop it with the lies already. It’s called PR. ;)

    But on the topic – for a lead designer ‘I’ would really make it an requirement to have played the previous games in order to make the ‘Sequel’ fit in with the ‘Prequels’.
    Come on, squeeze out a few bucks, buy the man the game and publish a photograph with him playing it under the heading ‘I’ve seen the light NOW’.
    It would make the fans happy. Or angry. You never really know until you try. :P

  14. Well Maverique didn’t played the games too, and Brother None was quite impressed with Protectron, one of the things she worked on.

    Still this is Fallout 3, a sequel to 1 and 2, if he works in the visual department he could try to play the games, it wouldn’t hurt, quite the opposite.

  15. After viewing several screenshots and the teaser trailer, as well as reading several informative articles, I think I can trust Bethesda with the Fallout License. Regardless of whether he played the originals or not, he’s done a fantastic job.

    Wombat The Mad
    “Black Isle Studios Lives!”

  16. Josh (if you ever read this :^) ) what rigging/animation suite primarily gets used there? ie 3DSMax, Maya, or something proprietary that goes with the NI system?

  17. I am one of the Bethesda Fallout nutjobs and I work quite close with Josh on a daily basis in the animation dept. Him, having not played the previous Fallout titles has not in any way hampered the animation team, or any other cells of art production.

    There are tons of job titles in the game art prison. Lead Character Artist is not the same as Character Animator, Conceptual Artist, Character Modeler, or overall Lead Artist. Josh is a tier in the design team. His duty is to keep the flow of the animation team smooth and on track and to oversee character models go from concept to model to animated actor…. while dabbling in some animation. And besides, without him around, I would stand around staring at the mocap system scratching my head. His technical skills with the tools we use are most useful and appreciated.

    Now, if you will…. cut the guy some slack so he can finish playing whatever random game he wants. :p

  18. Yes that’s me. I don’t know what’s up with the formatting. I don’t know if half the team has played it or not. Or 3/4, or 9/10. I haven’t taken a poll, I’m not going to.

    I know Morbus, it’s always about the lies with you.

    That’s not the case here, Pete. I admit I’m quite drastic in how I take this things, but it doesn’t really make a difference. When applying to the job, it should be asked if the person has played the games. It’s not like you chose him because of his nice eyes, is it? You say the team is made of Fallout fans and then you say you didn’t knew for sure? It’s not like this is the first time we know a developer didn’t played the games. Should that be the case, it wouldn’t really much of a problem, but when it comes down to it, I really can’t face it any other way. A lie, a PR half-truth/non-truth, call it whatever you want, but it’s not only me thinking the same way. I don’t know if half of the team has played it or not, but you should know. Why? Guess what, because you all are making a sequel…

    Once again, I really can’t see it any other way. Remember what Chuck Cuevas said back then? Remember they also said they were fans? It really didn’t make a difference back then, and it doesn’t seem to be making now. I think I know why…

    Uh… I’m sorry for the trouble. It’s really nothing personal…

  19. Double post, sorry.

    Anyway, I had to say this. Look at the facts: most of the team is constituted of industry newbies (as in young game developers), most of which enjoy to play a large variety of games, spanning from MMORPG’s to action games (FPS’s and the like). Specially considering their age and tastes (not to mention the games they make, as it would be biased of me, I believe), it is highly unlikely a large majority of the team has played the games BEFORE they acquired the license. And that’s what I’m talking about. I’m not even complaining about playing the game not being a must for everyone inside the team. The problem is the public relations inconsistency. And, with all due respect, Josh is the LEAD character designer. Lead… Consequences? Supermutants that don’t look like supermutants, supermutants that don’t act like supermutants, supermutants that are not supermutants. Brotherhood of Steel that don’t look like BOS, BOS that don’t act like BOS, BOS that are not BOS. From all the previews, I feel a bit worried about Vault Dwellers too. What else? Furry deathclaws?

    Am I being pessimistic? Yes, probably. Is that a problem? I don’t think so. All I defend here is that you, Pete, shouldn’t have said the team was made of huge Fallout fans when you didn’t knew if you were right. It’s like me saying the students from my university are all huge Oblivion fans… Do you know what I mean?

  20. Sorry folks. I’m disabling comments for this post. Trolling is getting out of hand. I’ve reached my deleting idiotic troll comments quota for the day.

    To echo Gary (VXSS), Josh Jones is one of the most talented, hard working artists on our team and he is capable and qualified to work on any of the project we have here — or anywhere else in the industry. To suggest otherwise is quite simply ridiculous.