Thanks for tuning in this #Heistuesday! Last week we revealed some of our best kept game dev secrets. But a game is nothing without its graphics. And here to tell you more about how we create the imaginative art and characters of SteamWorld Heist is our very own guiding light of graphic design: Agnes Mikucka.
Julius: Hi Agnes! Tell us a bit about about yourself and your favourite games.
Agnes: Hi there! My friends call me Agnes. I’m an artist here at Image & Form. My main interests are arts, comics and creating self-published fanzines. My favorite games are the Fire Emblem and Legend of Zelda series as well as Final Fantasy VI.
J: What are your main responsibilities as a graphic artist on SteamWorld Heist?
A: I mostly do character concept art and then turn selected characters into in-game sprites. I’ll hopefully do some marketing artwork and illustrations later on in the project!
J: Do you have any other responsibilities at Image & Form?
A: I sometimes have the opportunity to create marketing artwork and comics for our games, and I’ve made all the employee portraits for our website.
J: From start to finish: What goes into creating a new steambot?
A: I first try to make up a background story for the character. It won’t necessarily be the official background story for it, but it helps me to sketch up some ideas and designs. I also gather a lot of different references to help me along the road. When I’m satisfied with a design, I open up Illustrator and start making it into an in-game sprite. A lot of changes happen during that process so I make sure I have a sketch book next to me, as I sketch to find better design solutions. There are times when I have to “kill my darling”, because the concept might be great and interesting but just won’t work as a sprite.
J: Do you have any influences?
A: Artwork from various games will always have an influence on me. For example, various Nintendo titles, early Final Fantasy, Suikoden, Ace Attorney and Mega Man. It’s hard to decide when it comes to artists since I discover new ones every day to be inspired from. Artists who still influence me greatly are Hayao Miyazaki, Akihiko Yoshida, Alphonse Mucha and J. C. Leyendecker. Quite the mix, don’t you think?
J: Yeah, totally! By the way, what’s the secret behind your creations?
A: Loads of tea, KitKats, my trusty unicorn mask and funny cat GIFs! Jokes aside… ah no… that was no joke. Great headphones, music and a peaceful working environment are also mandatory!
J: You have a background with writing/drawing comics and graphic novels. How does that benefit you in your work on video games?
A: It helps me with (as I mentioned above) creating a background story for a character that’s work in progress. There are times when I help out the team with creating storyboards or share ideas for the main plot. A few times I’ve been able to draw comics for our games. I hope to be able to join the story team one day, perhaps on the next project of ours.
J: Will we ever see an official SteamWorld cartoon?
A: Oh, who knows? A web comic would have been fun to see or perhaps even some fan-made ones! I’m a fan of 80s and 90s anime… I would have loved to see a SteamWorld cartoon created during that time.
J: The SteamWorld games are (until now) in a 2D perspective. Do you ever think we’ll see a 3D steambot running around in the future?
A: Hmm. I guess it depends on what kind of game we’re working on? I personally hope to stick to 2D as long as possible. There is something about 2D graphics that 3D simply can’t replace.
J: From a graphic artist’s perspective: What makes SteamWorld Heist a unique experience?
A: Compared to SteamWorld Dig, Heist is a much larger game that allows for more creative expression. We’re adding tons of fun and quirky characters, and we’re hoping the player will be able to connect with each and every one of them.
J: Awesome! Thanks for the chat, Agnes 😀
Feel free to ask Agnes any questions of your own in the comments below. If you enjoyed this interview, we’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by e-mailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thanks!