Jean-Richard Beaudry: Going Indie


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Jean-Richard Beaudry is a 3D animator who has worked at several video game studios in Montreal. At 27 years of age, he's witnessed much of how video games evolved, and is as excited as ever to contribute to such a dynamic branch of entertainment. Now, he's a part of an ever-growing trend in the industry: indie games.

As a child, Beaudry watched and rewatched characters flesh themselves out on screen as they pranced around in The Lion King or floundered wildly in Toy Story. He also dove into games like Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong Country for hours on end. "I always liked to play with stories and characters," he says, "whether it was role playing or drawing, there was always something about giving life to a persona that I enjoyed." Beaudry confessed that he got the idea for studying animation when he cleaned out his room and stumbled upon pen-and-paper flipbooks he had made as a boy.

Beaudry earned his BA in digital arts at UQAC's Montreal-based Centre NAD, which offers a variety of programs for students interested in working in the video game or film industries. As a 3D animator, Beaudry creates anything from entire cutscenes to gameplay movements such as having a character pick up an item or launch an attack. Animation is a demanding discipline because each character feels entirely different, and observation skills are paramount to convey that to the viewer.

Of course, animators each have their own techniques and specialties; one may prefer dealing with quadrupeds while another may enjoy stocky human male characters. A prototype game Beaudry created as an exit project for Centre NAD featured more than a few ninjas, which are right up his alley, but he was quick to take to Youtube when the project called for a walking chicken animation. Artists like Beaudry must frequently go back for some more research, even if they've been in the industry for years. A simple inaccurate lip or hand gesture is what creates those awkward feelings players are half-aware of when they play through a non-polished game.

In his career so far, Beaudry has completed contractual work for Warner Bros. and Ubisoft, two of Montreal's largest video game studios. He was responsible for Batman's brutal moves in Batman: Arkham Origins' Deathstroke downloadable content, as well as for a number of cinematic animations in Far Cry 4, one of Ubisoft's heavy hitters for the 2014 holiday season.

In what he considers a pivotal move for his career, Beaudry recently joined up with Compulsion Games, an indie development team located near Place St-Henri. The company was founded in 2009 and released its first game in November 2013. Contrast, a 3D puzzle adventure, has the player control Didi's imaginary friend as she warps in and navigates a 2D shadow world across a dark Vaudevillian city.


Compulsion got started when Guillaume Provost had a great idea for the game that would end up being Contrast, and so he found a locale and hired the core team. The company now comprises a dozen developers, all of which are working hard to produce another unique player experience. Although Beaudry can't disclose any details on the current project, he already holds it as dear as those who came up with the idea.

Beaudry is very excited to be working with a smaller team, even though he found that fitting in can prove more intimidating than in a larger studio. The atmosphere more than makes up for this, he says, because all of the people involved in a smaller scale project are larger parts of the team. Ubisoft may hire one artist to work on mountains for six consecutive months, but indie studios the size of Compulsion generally assign one or two people to a game's entire scenery.

"You don't go to Ubisoft to bring your touch to anything," Beaudry explains, "whereas when you're working indie as an animator, you're the whole department of animation for that studio. You get attached to your game more easily; each team member gets the same feeling of ownership." Accordingly, Beaudry is now in charge of all animations in Compulsion Games' current project. Of course, this comes with more responsibility: If something goes wrong, he can't just walk up to a lead animator and ask for help. All in all, Beaudry likes the trade off--the tasks are more challenging, but they are a thousand times more rewarding.

Though the scope of the projects may differ from one company to another, what joins them is an overarching passion for games. Today's great balance of huge, open-world experiences and short, emotional games offer a great variety of video game products that's never before been possible. Indie games are revolutionizing the industry with teams like Compulsion cropping up on a regular basis, and the potential is very exciting. In the end though, what influenced Beaudry's decision was the opportunity to "meet and work with amazing people who enjoy making games as much as [he does]."


What a cool guy with a cool job. You're article is well organized, it has a good flow.

Thanks for your feedback, TKL! Don't we all which we could make our dream game?

So awesome!! I for sure wish I could make my dream game. Your article had me hooked from beginning to end!

Indie projects are always so interesting. I'm glad he's found a home with a smaller studio. Good article!

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