Yahtzee with Buddies / Dice with Buddies – Parallel, a Scopely Studio – iOS, Android
Scopely’s oldest game is still going strong, performing among the top 3 games in the company. I Art Directed a team of over 20 artists and had several areas of focus:
- Develop new features that would elevate the visual bar of the game: Kingdom, Paint N’ Roll, Dice Derby, Prize Pass Bowling, Dice Swap and others where part of this intiative. All produced within a few months with small dev teams.
- Improve the quality and delivery of a very aggressive Liveops content cadence. When we joined the team, outsourcing assets were delivered days before the live date at a low quality bar. We quickly established a 3-6 month buffer for outsourcing delivery, established new review guidelines and increased the quality of the deliveries by a substantial margin.
- Yahtzee is build on old tech that has been in the hands of more than 3 different dev teams. As an art team we found a project were artists could not implement or preview their own work, a game where texture memory was causing crashes and performance issues and an art style that made it very difficult for our core audience (an older demo) to have a good experience. This meant a significant investment in rebuilding and adding pipelines to development, from making new implementation tools, to committing to extensive Unity training, to overhauling existing UI and UX in real time and developing a new artstyle that could slowly work its way through the existing game. We tackled all these challenges and more as we continued to develop new content for Yahtzee.
We worked on a lot of features you wouldnt expect from “just a Dice game”. Bowling, Horse Racing Match 5, a Coloring Book … heck we even got a 4x Strategy mode in there. Here’s a collection of screens:
Below is a random selection of our Vanity offers while I was on the team, presented through Interstitials to our players. We focused on making the designs memorable and each ad stand out as well as create templates for easier art production
STAR WARS: GALAXY OF HEROES – EA CAPITAL GAMES – iOS, Android
SWGoH, as the community calls it, is one of the most successful Star Wars games of all time having (by now) surpassed 1 billion dollars in lifetime revenue. I was the Lead Artist on the team and during my tenure I contributed as a production artist in all areas of the game, managed the art team as a mentor, manager and problem solver, handled communication and review sessions with Lucasfilm personally, collaborated with design and product for upcoming content planning, releases and feature production and also interacted with our (very!) passionate community, including being lucky enough to represent the art team on the Star Wars show.
I developed and concepted a fair amount of characters in the game, including the brand new Geonosian Brood Alpha who is an all new addition to that faction. For the Knights of the Old Republic characters I had to concept them practically from scratch since the source assets did not provide enough fidelity or they no longer fit the current direction for the franchise, Canderous Ordo, for instance, was given added flair and details to his outfit in order to get him close to Mandalorian fashion.
I was heavily involved with our cinematic work. Storyboarding every event, building them in Unity myself with our own custom tools. Below you can see the boards for the Kylo and Rey intro cinematic along with the final result in-game, the Chewbacca Legendary event cinematic is a good example of the marketing team recreating our in-game cinematic for promotional use, there are plenty more in the YouTube page
Under my tenure I focused on increasing the fidelity of our character models. As devices improve we could afford higher polycounts, bigger textures and strived for a better likeness. Below you can see several comparisons between the older models and the newer versions.
Galactic Legends represent the highest tier of unit in SWGoH. They are the only units with an Ultimate Attack (which has its own cinematic), unique UI to differentiate them visually from other characters and we also gave them a higher budget so their model, texture, animations and VFX could represent the character at their best. Rey and Kylo were the units that launched the feature and I was deeply involved from ideation to release, including the unit details, animation choreography and building the cinematics in Unity myself.
The below environments were produced by Joe Gomes, I handled direction, ideation and approvals.
The Relic Amplifiers feature was a big ask, to make a unique item for each unit in the game under a 2 month deadline. We had about 170 characters at the time so the work was split among the 3 main 2D artists.
SWGoH also has a strong LiveOps component, we had to produce illustrations frequently for each unit or feature release, here are some I contributed myself
INDIVISIBLE – LAB ZERO GAMES – PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Indivisible is a hybrid platformer/RPG developed by Lab Zero Games, the studio behind the critically-acclaimed fighting game Skullgirls, and published by 505 Games. Indivisible shipped in October of 2019, check it out!
As a contract 3D artist on the team, I modeled and made base textures on various props and other game objects.
The in-house team then polishes the textures further and composes the assets for in game use. You can find some of these assets in the screenshots below.
STEAMBIRDS ALLIANCE – SPRYFOX – PC
A F2P Co-Op MMO Roguelike (phew!) experience from Spry Fox!
I was brought in to give the game a complete graphical overhaul. starting with swapping the 2D environments and ships with full 3D art.
The art team consisted of an art intern (Ally Overton) and myself. I handled Visual Development, concepting, modeling, coloring, lighting the environments, playtesting, pipelines .. you name it. Incredibly fun project and team. Available on Steam.
TOTAL CONVERSION FROM 2D TO 3D
With a 6 month timeframe, my primary task was to convert every level into 3D. This involved creating a pipeline from scratch, focusing the proper tools and methods for one artist to convert 20+ environments.
TASTY TOWN – JAM CITY – mobile (cancelled)
A mobile, free to play experience that combines cooking games with city builders! I served as Art Director on this project for over a year.
We knew we wanted Tasty Town to have a unique artstyle. Chef/Restaurant games were particularly popular at the time and we wanted to differentiate ourselves, here are some of the (very) early ideas we had
Eventually, CJ Guzman joined the team and brought with him a very clean, pleasant visual execution we felt was a strong step in the right direction
We narrowed our focus and ended up with a Visual Target that resonated really strongly with the team and we could reproduce in Unity fairly easily
SCREENSHOTS (PRE ALPHA)
For the restaurants and their indoor stylings we went through a similarly rigorous process of revisions. Finding the right amount of detail, perspective and theming proved difficult but extremely rewarding. From the more “literal” designs to something that feels more pleasant and celebratory
These designs, while were somewhat effective, felt entirely too safe and sterile. We didn’t want the player to feel like a line cook, we wanted to be more playful and aspirational. You can start seeing how we deliberately transitioned to the style that we ended up with by giving each restaurant a distinct, strong personality that carried it both outdoors at a more macro level and indoors at the micro level
To bring it all home, we added building animations that would play to let the player know the restaurant was ready to interact with, this way we had the player interact with the world and stay in it without the need of a UI layer. Disclaimer, the game would never be this bouncy, this was also a performance test, haha
As the Art Director, creating a style guide is crucial for a game like this. Posting all of it here would be a bad idea, but here are some good examples. Jam City ended up using it as an example to help other projects get started
We were lucky to have Stephanie Liaw as our character concept artist, we focused initially on our title character, which went through several iterations
And of course, the customers! design called for a strong cast of VIP customers that would have a personalized story for each, so each time you would see them walking around town youd make sure to give them your full attention
HEROES: ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE – KIWI – mobile (cancelled)
Heroes was a real time Action RPG for mobile devices. For this project I pulled double duty as Art Director and Lead Artist. I managed a team of around 10 artists and 3 outsourcing groups for the year we were in production.
Our launch trailer was produced by Exodo, I created the storyboards and supervised production of the trailer
It took us a while to find our style. Kiwi had not ventured into the fantasy RPG genre before so this was unfamiliar ground
Eventually, we found our niche. A tighter camera angle that could fit our budget, a more intimate experience that would be clearly visible on a small screen. Fun, bold, colorful shapes. The following visual taarget gave the team a clear vision to pursue
Next came the challenge to be able to pull off this look in our interface-less, self made Java engine (libGDX represent!) with 3 artists. The following pipeline is something we could manage at a high quality bar
Using that method, we completed the Forest tileset, seen below
This ended us giving a final in-game result that we felt was extremely close to our Photoshop mockup
We used this throughout the game as we built several more tilesets
The heroes also went through several concept phases. I tried a lot of different styles in order to find something our players would connect with
For the enemies in the game, I created a new race of creatures. Simple charming designs that described a tribe with their own history and customs