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#6 - Tarkko
The game design process has a very important aspect that, without it, very few of the great games we love to play would ever exist. That is teamwork. To make a game it takes a wide skill set encompassing, among other things; story, graphics, programming, sound and marketing. We've had the chance to catch up with an artist who has been working to take Cabals into the right direction of an optimised desktop computer experience. It's a privilege to share with you some more insights into our employees and who is making our high quality games look even better!
First, tell us about yourself.
I'm a general 2D/3D game artist in my thirties often jumping in haste between different game projects that need my attention, leading and visual input.
What is your role or involvement in Cabals?
I was tasked to make a more enhanced and up-to-date PC version out of the Cabals mobile game, improve its feel and look to an appealing new direction while being faithful to the original.
How long have you been working in this field?
I've been a game developer since 2009, started at Colossal Order Ltd. as an Environment Artist doing mostly 3D assets of buildings and other structures. As a quick learner and having some ambition for a career, I steadily grew my experience from there while gaining more responsibility. There's a number of people who've been patient enough to point me in the right direction that I'm really thankful for.
What made you choose this profession?
I got quite emotionally attached to game aesthetics and music as a child, I thought games were a great new unexplored artform for audiovisual expression. I do compose and play music also, but made the decision to focus on one thing professionally while the other I can enjoy more as a hobby.
What are the key skills you need to succeed in this area?
Always thrive for more. I keep saying that the art is never without its flaw and no artist is, in a sense, complete. The key is having a healthy amount of self-critique, because if you can point out things that could be better in your work, you'll know what you still need to work on to improve yourself. I think art strongly relates to perception, so when you improve, you "see" more than you did before, and that alone adds to motivation.
Technical knowledge comes to play when you have to be more efficient to meet the deadlines of projects and need to work in a group of people using the same tools. But programs do not do art, people do. No tool will replace the capability of perceiving your surrounding world and knowledge of it. If you understand how the light behaves, how different materials and surfaces feel and function, how muscles move under the skin, how an Art Nouveau building follows its own architectural principles, how sun rays filter through the leaves on a tree, etc, you know something real about the real world and can use this knowledge more purposefully in your art.
What would be your number one tip for people who aspire to work in your field?
Have an actual resolution to be an artist. Be efficient and demand high standards of yourself. Know your strengths and weaknesses as an artist and build upon that knowledge. Learn from your mistakes. Get experience working in projects with tight schedules and deadlines if possible. Get in touch with professionals and ask for their feedback. No school out there will educate you more than the real hands on job and it can't replace actual work experience.
Tell us a bit about your work process, for example how do you like to digitalize your art and what tools do you use?
I already ranted a bit about tools earlier, but I guess there are certain pipelines that make working more efficient. As a general artist I do work with all kinds of programs routinely. I mainly use Photoshop and Wacom Tablet for anything 2D (illustrations, concept art, textures, UI elements, etc), although I tend to try out other softwares and features, like Paint Tool SAI, for drawing from time to time. Whenever I need to tinker with fonts I use FontForge.
I use mostly 3ds Max for traditional 3D modeling but there are loads of small programs I use regularly in addition. Sculptris or ZBrush for high poly sculpting, Quixel SUITE for all things PBR (Physically-based rendering), Marmoset Toolbag to preview things, a small tool called Pixexix to create hand drawn textures directly on the model, xNormal to do some bakes, and so on... Programs and their features tend to overlap a bit, but usually a certain software is useful for a certain purpose.
For trailers and motion graphics I use only After Effects and no separate video editing software.
I still do occasionally use actual pencil and paper for sketching, too. Whatever makes the work the most efficient and productive.
What was the most challenging aspect of adapting Cabals visually for the Steam version?
Making the game more easily readable and cramping loads of information to the new layouts. We did end up breaking some old design and creating new UI design to match the card & board game conventions in use today. Also Cabals has some small exceptions to many rules on gameplay mechanical level, so those are always difficult to visualize to the player.
What's your favourite aspect of Cabals?
Art Deco design style, in my opinion, is underused art style in games and one of the strong points of Cabals world. Add magic-wielding secret societies that give the game that mystical fairy tale kind of feel and we have a really enchanting, rich, visual motif to create art assets for. As for the gameplay, I do like how the game is rather skill based, although I still kinda suck at it.
If there's one improvement you think everyone should know about the upcoming version of Cabals what would it be?
Expect it to be more usable, comfortable and look prettier. The changes are mostly cosmetic, so don't worry too much.
Tell us one funny thing that has happened to you whilst working at Kyy Games?
I did, by a mistake, send a message that I was busy getting drunk with "more successful" people (our friendly neighbours in the office from Aeonic Entertainment were celebrating their success on Steam Greenlight) to the important discussion channel for the whole company instead of just the management. It was funny, for a while.
What are the three things you least and most like about game development?
+ Every day is different, you don't really ever need to make the same exact asset twice
+ Getting to use imagination and creating things that no one has before, albeit there probably exists a lot of similar things
+ Working with motivated, skillful and insightful people and getting to know them better
- Deadlines, they can get pretty stressful at times
- When there comes up some new unplanned and unexpected ASAP task out of blue in the middle of all the development rush
- When things are done half-assedly to meet requirements
How do you spend your free time - apart from improving Cabals of course?
I'm kind of an otaku, so I watch and read a lot of really strange anime/manga. I play a keyboard/synthesizer for stress relief. I play games for short periods, too.
Is there anything you would like to say to the players of Cabals?
I think there will be an increase of new players along with the upgrade and thus we hopefully get more action within the community. Don't crush the hopes and dreams of these unaware noobs too hard...
"Between day and night, between animal and plant, between summer and winter lies the rotting sphere of fungi, dusk, debris and decaying dwellings." -Morgana Le Fay
The Archives sheds some developer insight on how specific cards were designed. Read more.