07/03/2018 : I see that you are credited as artist for their upcoming futuristic opus. Are you the one?
Yes, I’m the board tile artist behind their upcoming game.
There’s really not much I can talk about at the moment, unfortunately, at least not until after the game has released. 🙂
That is a date, then.
05/08/2018 : Is it too early yet?
I’m not sure what date they’re releasing the game, but I think it’s sometime next year, unfortunately.
And for your information; I don’t know anything about the game rules, I’ve only been involved with the art side of the game. 🙂
27/06/2019 : Zombicide Invader is getting closer as we write. Shall we resume our interview? ^^
Yeah, sure! Please let me know what you need from me and I’ll do my very best to accomodate you.
1/ First thing first: your personnal pop culture absolute reference ? And the one specific to zombie universes (if different)?
I can’t say I’ve got any specific or direct references that I’m referring to when doing my work. I would probably say that I’ve been influenced by tons of things throughout the years. I’m a massive geek and I love watching all kinds of TV series and movies which has probably coloured my take on my work today.
If I were to list my favorite zombie movies, it would be: Dawn of the dead (2004) and Shaun of the Dead.
2/ Could you present yourself in a few words?
I’m a Norwegian geek, currently working as the Art Director at « Rock Pocket Games« , ua medium sized computer game development studio that we’ve got running in the city of Tønsberg, Norway.
I’m also doing art for all kinds of board and card games for companies like: CMON, Fantasy Flight Games, Hasbro, Modiphius, Grimlord Games, Greenbrier Games, and many many others.
I’ve lost count on how many games I’ve contributed to so far, but I do know that it’s more than 200 if we count expansions.
2a/ Being Norwegian, are you the model for Invader’s Survivor « Magnus » ?
I was happily surprised to see my little country being represented in the game through Magnus. I’ve got nothing to do with him, unfortunately. But, he does look like someone you’d like to have with you in times of trouble, or at a rowdy pub.
3/ What kind of games do you like? Do you play Zombicide?
Even though I’ve worked on tons of games, but I’ve probably only had time to play a handful of them. My main challenge is finding spare time, as my days and evenings are usually fully booked with work.
I have, however, played “Dead of Winter” quite a bit, and find “Roborally” and “Betrayal at house on the Hill” quite fun to play in party settings, as it doesn’t require too much time. They are easy to get in to considering that most of our friends are not that into games as we are. I guess I’m into less complex games.
I used to play a lot of pen and paper roleplaying games back in the days.
It’s embarrassing to admit, but I’ve never played any Zombicide games yet. But as mentioned above; I’ve only had time to play a handful of the games I’ve contributed to.
4/ How did you end up working with CMON? What do you do for them (or with them)?
If I remember correctly, I was contacted by Eric Lang a few years back and was commissioned to do the board-art for Bloodborne. Since then I’ve simply kept on working for CMON, and they keep trusting me to contribute to the most awesome projects. It’s an absolutely amazing group of people and I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to work with them.
5/ What does Guillotine Games / CMON give as directions? How much freedom do you have regarding the (Zombicide) tiles?
I get a lot of freedom, and even though most of the tiles has established gameplay elements that I need to take into consideration, how I solve that is pretty much up to me. They know my style and pretty much know what to expect from my work, I believe. For tile based projects I usually start with one tile that I send over for approval before taking on the remaining ones. They usually trust me with delivering according to their expectations. If I’m stuck with anything, they are always very helpful and know what information to give me to put me back on track.
6/ There is an impressive video describing Bloodborne tiles making-of. Could you describe your process regarding Zombicide ones?
The process for the Zombicide tiles were fairly similar to the Bloodborne ones, but the grounds were less rendered and required more 2D painting work. It’s just so much more efficient to work in 3D for the base elements on tile based sets that needs to seamlessly fit together. It also saves time, as these games tend to have A LOT of tiles needing to be done.
So, to break things down:
- I usually first start off by creating props that I know will commonly used throughout the game, along with wall and door modules that needs to have a very specific standard in measures so that it’s efficient to create the tiles based on this later.
- Then I start creating the tiles based on the lay-out I’ve gotten from CMON; setting up the walls, and all the belonging props, etc. Here I’m trying to populate every area as detailed as possible and making sure each of the spaces makes sense according to their descriptions or simply looking logical. I love creating locations that somewhat makes sense. Adding props that tells a story and helps making the environments seem alive and seem believable.
- The last thing I do in 3D is adding light. I’ve always been considering light and shadows as being a major part in making something look believable and add the right mood.
- Then I render each tile in many passes; with and without textures, ambient occlusion, reflections, glass, masks, etc.
- In Photoshop I combine all of these rendered passes and adjusts them accordingly as needed.
- Next I usually work on the floors, adding the textures needed for each area.
- The last thing I do is usually adding dirt, grime, slime, blood, or whatever is needed before going over adding emissives and glowing elements look good.
6a/ What was the 1st prop you created for Invader?
Je ne m’en souviens pas exactement, mais je me souviens avoir travaillé les extérieurs pour la première dalle test. J’en déduis que l’angle de mur capitonné fut le premier truc créé de mon côté.
6b/ C’est peut être une ébauche ou un brouillon, n’empêche que ça ressort très détaillé. Bravo ! Je ne peux m’empêcher de demander si certains de ces accessoires 3D servent en illustration d’équipement ou pour les sculptures 3D de figurine ?
My work is not being used for any 3d sculpts of minis. CMON, especially are only using real traditional sculptors for all of their minis. None of my other clients have used any of my work for any physical 3D sculpts or printer either. 🙂
7/ Anything yourself came up with and that you are very proud of? What part of the tiles makes you proudest of?
JI’m usually never fully happy with my work, and time is always of the essence. So, it’s mostly about working efficiently and reaching a good enough result, and of course making sure my clients happy with my work. I’m always aware of things that I could have solved better or done differently, but I’m also aware that I’m probably the only one who would notice or know about it. I’m also pretty good at calling my work “done” at the right time, and not lingering or fiddling with any of the assets for too long, which I know many artists may seem to have difficulties doing.
8/ Which of your work is your favourite (without the « there can’t be » card)?
It’s hard to pick any favorite projects, but from the CMON games each of them has their own thing and identities. I do, however, enjoy sci-fi, so both Zombicide Invader and Project E.L.I.T.E were projects that I felt went fairly “easy” and were very much enjoyable working on. I’ve also got tons of fun working on Bloodborne, even though it’s in a very different genre.
Counting any other games made by other developers; I did enjoy a lot working on Mansions of Madness (Fantasy Flight Games) as I really love the combination of Lovecraftian settings combined with exploring a big mansion. I also had great fun making the board for Big Trouble in Little China (Everything Epic), simply because I’m a huge fan of the movie, and loved staying true to and recreating all of the locations. The same goes for Star Wars – Imperial Assault (Fantasy Flight Games), where I need to recreate known locations from the movies and still keeping them within the boundaries and limitations of the tile game design lay-out.
9/ How would you describe one of your typical work day? week?
I usually work full days at our computer game studio; Rock Pocket Games, where we’re creating games for PC, consoles, and handheld platforms. We’re currently working on the final stretch of our Lovecraftian sci-fi horror game; Moons of Madness, which is planned to release Halloween 2019.
When I get home, I usually relax a bit and have something to eat before going up into my home office and start working on my board game projects. I’m usually also working on board games during weekends.
10/ Do you currently have any Zombicide secret work in progress?
No! Yes! Definitely maybe! 😉
11/ What kind of zombie apocalypse survivor would you be?
Honestly; I highly doubt I’d be a survivor at all as I’m not a very “outdoorsy type”, but if I somehow made it without being zombified, I would probably be one of those careful and fairly prepared guys that are good at avoiding trouble by creating the perfectly hidden nerdy hideout filled with old arcades, retro games, and access to beer.
12/ Did you hear about our French Zombicide fan community?
I can’t say I’m familiar with any familiar fan communities at all, but it sounds like such a cool thing to have a community with shared interests where you can share experiences from play-throughs and follow new and upcoming products together.
Any last word?
Thank you SO much for the interview. It’s not often the board or tile artists gets to share their side of the creation side of a game. The only developer who’s actively doing this is CMON, which is both scary, yet much appreciated and fun at the same time.