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The Girl and the Robot – Introducing the Maze in all its glory

Happy new year everyone! During the holidays, I finally got the chance to finish the maze level.  The level is supposed to leave the player feeling lost at first. But unlike mazes in other games, the player can position either the girl or the robot on high ground and get a better view of the area. By using both characters effectively and by been careful for enemies, I believe any player can come out of it (maybe).
Thank you Monaka for making me a color palette and Nicolas for the quick concepts.

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Back from Tokyo Game Show 2015

I’m back in Montreal and my experience at the Tokyo Game Show was amazing! We got to meet potential partners and made new friends. As for the game, I took some notes on some things to improve. That been said, I always enjoy watching people at that feeling good moment when they get to control the robot for the first time. Thank you to Famitsu and also 4Gamers.net for nominating our game as well. Well, back to work now!

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More of Castletown’s level art

Sometimes I wish I could clone myself; either that or stop time, anything that would let me learn a new field of expertise without any consequences.
For the Girl and the Robot, I didn’t mean to start doing the level art; I just had to do it because of the limited resources that we have. It turns out that I like doing it, a lot. And I want to get better at it.

So today, I want to show you more screenshot of Castletown. It took me quite some time not only design the level but also to model and texture it. I hope it is to your liking!

PS: Thank you also to my team for helping on the various props and Monaka that made the color palette and paintings!

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Salim Asks: Nicolas, Master of Lines and Curves

Salim Asks is a series of blog post where game designer Salim Larochelle interviews his teammates and friends.

I’m usually prefer searching for people to work with using my own methods rather than just going through the various requests I get by email.

Needless to say I was a little skeptical when I got an email from an unknown art student called Nicolas Amoroso located in Nantes, west of France. Nicolas loved our game and wanted to contribute in his own way even if his skills were limited to doing landscape concept art without the use of colors. At first, I didn’t thought I needed level concept art because I was fine using reference images alone. But Nicolas proved me wrong and his concepts soon became an essential part of the levels design of The Girl and the Robot. His talent and potential became clear to me very early; here is my interview with him.

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Salim: Hello Nicolas, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and also the work that you do on The Girl and the Robot?
[Salut Nicolas, peux-tu nous en dire un peu sur toi et sur le travail que tu fais sur The Girl and the Robot?]

Nicolas: Hello! My name is Nicolas, I’m 22 and a student of concept art. I live in France, in the most beautiful town of this country: Nantes. I now study concept art online with the CGMA website. I also work as a concept artist for Flying Carpets Games. I draw landscape, building and furniture. I only work with lines and grey scale, I admit that I’m not very skilful with colors; I trust Monaka for that :)
[Bonjour. Je m’appelle Nicolas, j’ai 22 ans, et je suis étudiant en concept art. Je vis en France, dans la belle ville de Nantes. J’étudie le concept art en ligne, grâce au site CGMA. Voilà pour la formalité! Je travaille comme concept artiste pour Flying Carpets Games, je fais des concepts de paysage, d’immeuble et de meuble. Le tout avec des lignes et en noir et blanc, je laisse la couleur à Monaka.]

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Salim: What was your motivation in contacting me for the first time and why did you want to work on a game?
[Quelle était ta motivation pour vouloir me contacter et travailler sur un jeu?]

Nicolas: I found the game to be very beautiful and promising. 1 year ago, I followed indie game news every day. I found an article about The Girl and the Robot, I said to myself “I want work for them”. At that time I just finished my first course, Intro to Perspective, and I thought that work experience could be good for me. So I sent you an email, and you took my work seriously. I have always wanted to work on video games, it’s complicated and creative, and I love it!
[J’ai trouvé le jeu très beau et prometteur. Il y a 1 an je suivais beaucoup l’actualité des jeux vidéo indépendants. Je suis tombé sur une nouvelle du jeu et je me suis dit « je veux bosser pour eux ». Je venais de finir mon premier cours, Intro to Perspective, et je me suis dit qu’un stage parmi l’équipe pourrait me faire que du bien. Je t’ai envoyé un message et j’ai eu la chance d’être pris au sérieux. J’ai toujours voulu travailler pour les jeux vidéo, j’adore ça, c’est compliqué et inventif.]

Royal Bed

Salim: What are some of your favorite games? Is there a game in particular that is special to you?
[Quels sont tes jeux préférés? Est-ce qu’il y’a un jeu en particulier qui t’a touché?]

Nicolas: Dark Souls … I love this game. It represents everything that I love in the video games. We have the feeling of discovering a real world, much more than Uncharted for example, where we just walk in a nice decor. Dark Souls is different, we don’t know where we must go, and it feels like true exploration.
I prefer Japanese game usually, American games are too restrictive to me; I don’t like to only walk in a corridor, even if it’s a beautiful corridor. I find the Japanese spirit in The Girl and the Robot. The level isn’t just a set for the player, it’s just there and we play into it. This slight difference is very important to me.
[Dark Souls … j’adore ce jeu. Il représente tout ce que j’aime dans un jeu vidéo. Nous avons l’impression d’explorer un univers, bien plus que dans Uncharted par exemple, ou nous ne faisons qu’avancer dans un joli décor. Dark Souls est différent, nous ne savons pas où aller, et cela est la vraie exploration. Je préfère les jeux japonais en général. Je retrouve un peu cet esprit dans The Girl and the Robot. Le terrain n’est pas fait pour le joueur, il est juste présent et nous jouons dedans; la nuance est super importante.]

royal quarter 's house
Salim
: You mentioned Dark Souls, one my favorite also, and now I like you even more, haha!
What are some of your favourite subject that you like to draw and why?
[Quel genre de dessin est-ce que tu aimes dessiner et pourquoi?]

Nicolas: I love to draw monsters and horrible creatures. Since my childhood, I draw strange monster. I love mythological creatures; all the stories about a creature are also brilliant. In short, I love to draw something with a background and its own story.
For each concept in The Girl and the Robot, I create a little story; not very complex of course, just a background to help me create more easily. If it’s a piece of furniture, I imagine the craftsman’s story that made it. The buildings are also a story; in fact. every object or monster needs a story, even if it’s just for the purpose of drawing :)
[J’aime dessiner des monstres et des créatures horribles. Depuis tout petit je dessine des créatures que je m’imagine. Je suis passionné par les créatures mythologiques, les histoires sur ces créatures sont géniales. Pour faire simple, j’aime dessiner une chose qui a un background, une histoire qui lui est propre. Par exemple pour chaque dessin que je fais pour The Girl and the Robot, je m’invente une histoire derrière, pas super complexe bien sûr, c’est juste un background qui me permet de crée plus facilement. Si c’est un meuble, je m’imagine l’histoire de l’artisan qui l’a monté. Les bâtiments aussi ont une histoire; en fait, chaque objet et monstre ont une histoire, même si ce n’est qu’un dessin. ]

The Girl and the Robot - Castletown Concept (5)

Salim: After your experience with our game, are you considering pursuing a career in the gaming industry? If so, what position are you aiming for?
[Après la fin du développement de notre jeu, penses-tu vouloir rester dans l’industrie?]

Nicolas: I think that I want to stay in the game industry (I hate that word, industry). I want one day to make my own game; I have lots of ideas, but it just ideas for now. The possibilities are infinite. Nowadays, the game design process isn’t limited by the power of our computers. We can now create things that are totally incredible and complex; and I want to be a part of that “We”.
I hope to stay with Flying Carpets Games as long as possible! I like the team and I like the passion that you put into the game Salim!
[Je pense que je vais rester dans l’industrie (je déteste ce mot) du jeu vidéo. Je voudrais un jour sortir mon propre jeu (j’ai des tonnes d’idées, mais ça reste que des idées). Les possibilités sont infinies, de nos jours la création d’un jeu n’est plus limitée par la puissance de nos PC. Nous pouvons créer des choses encore plus incroyable et complexe que maintenant. Et je veux faire parti ce “nous”! J’espère rester avec Flying Carpets Games aussi longtemps que possible, je m’entends bien avec l’équipe et je vois que tu es passionné par ce que tu fais!]

Salim: And I hope to keep you as long as possible Nicolas; I want to thank you for the fine work.
[Et j’espère pouvoir continuer à travailler avec toi le plus longtemps possible.]

Nicolas: Thank you for the interview, I’m looking forward to see the game finished!
[Merci pour l’interview, j’ai hâte de voir le jeu terminé!]

Salim: Ouain, moi aussi…

Follow Nicolas on Twitter!

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Salim Asks: Monaka the Illustrator from the Blue Forest

Salim Asks is a series of blog posts where game designer Salim Larochelle interviews his teammates and friends.

It’s July 2012 and I’ve just left Gameloft Montreal in the hope of new challenges. I’m starting my own studio and making The Girl and the Robot, the first of many games that I want to make. I know that I can’t do the game alone, so one of the first things I do is search the world for a concept artist to help me out.

In my mind, this game need to have a specific art style; one that could transmit the idea of my fairy tale and be nostalgic, a little bit like a forgotten dream. After weeks of searching, I came across the Pixiv page of a Japanese artist called Monaka; I felt in love with her art style right away.

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I brushed up my rusty Japanese that I learned long ago and started emailing her; even if I had to takes hours to write emails in proper Japanese at first, I didn’t care because in my mind I knew that I absolutely needed this artist. Even today, her ability to choose colors and to draw character expressions amazes me. Here is my recent interview with her.

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Salim: Hello Monaka, could you tell us a little bit about your background and also the work that you do on The Girl and the Robot?
[こんにちはもなかさん。よければ、あなたの経験について少し話してください。また、The Girl and The Robotではどんな仕事をしていますか?]

Monaka: I’ve always loved drawing and painting since my childhood. I started to publish my work on the internet since 2008. On The Girl and the Robot project, I’m in charge of character design, promotional art and also doing the paintings that will be present in the game’s environment.
[子どもの頃から絵を描くことが好きでした。2008年から作品をインターネット上で公開しています。The Girl and the Robotではキャラクターデザインやプロモーション用のイラスト、それから現在はゲーム内で使われる絵も描いています。]

Salim: Which part of your work would you consider to be the most challenging, and which part do you like the most?
[あなたの仕事のどの部分が最も挑戦的であると考えますか?また、どの部分が一番好きですか?]

Monaka: My challenge is to paint pictures that make people enjoy the game. I feel like my work also express things outside the game; in that sense, my pictures supplement the game and players imagine the world of The Girl and the Robot more deeply.
My favorite part is that I can draw freely and with little limitation. Of course, I need to take responsibility for that, but I think I will gain much knowledge and this gets me motivated.
[ゲームがより楽しくなるような絵を描きたいですね。実際ゲームの中に出てくるできごと以外のことも絵なら描けるから、プレイヤーが想像して楽しめるような、ゲームを補完するような役割もあるかなと思います。
好きなところは、制約が少なく自由に描かせてもらえるところです。責任もあるけど、勉強になるし、やる気も出ます。]

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Salim: Is there a game that you played in your childhood that was special to you, and why?
[子供の頃に遊んだゲームの中で特別思い入れがあるものはありますか?また、その理由は?]

Monaka: I love games like the Harvest Moon series. The gameplay is about doing the same thing every day but the little change that occurs keeps the game fun and interesting for me. I also like PoPoLoCrois. I really love that characters and worldview.
[牧場物語とか、シミュレーションゲームが好きでした。やることは毎日同じだけど、毎日変化があったりたまにイベントがあるのが楽しかったんだと思います。絵が魅力的ではじめたものはポポロクロイスですね。キャタクターも世界観もとても好きです。]

Salim: Is there an artist that inspired you more than other? What makes this artist special for you?
[誰よりもあなたにインスピレーションを与えたアーティストはいますか?また、そのアーティストはどうしてあなたにとって特別なんですか?]

Monaka: It’s difficult for me to choose one person. I like so many artists. There is one person that I like among the Japanese writers: Miyazawa Kenji inspired me many times. I like his thoughts and feeling toward nature.
[絵描きさんだと好きな人がたくさんいて選べません。作家だと、宮沢賢治が好きです。自然の感じ方や思想が好きで、影響を受けていると思います。]

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Salim: How often do you draw each week? When you draw, how do you come up with new idea, what is your process?
[毎週どのぐらい描きますか?描くときは、どのように新しいアイデアを思い付きますか?]

Monaka: I draw for about 20 hours per week. I usually draw after my day job and during holidays.
I can think of a good idea for a drawing before going to sleep or just when I’m doing nothing. Otherwise, I keep drawing random pictures and after that I choose the best ones.
[仕事の後と休日を合わせて20時間くらいでしょうか。
アイデアは、たくさん描いてその中から選んだり、寝る前やぼんやりしているときにふと浮かんできたりします。]

Salim: How is your experience working on a game so far? Is it the same as you expected from the first time I asked you to join me?
[ゲームを作ることはどのような経験ですか。ゲーム制作に参加した当初と変わりありませんか?]

Monaka: When I was a child, I wanted to draw just like the drawing in game strategy guides. I’m happy that it’s now a reality and so I try the best as I can. I’m now working on the paintings in the game; I’m a little nervous but it’s good tension. I will work wholeheartedly so please look forward to it!
[子どもの頃にゲームの攻略本を読んで、こういう絵が描きたいなと思うこともあったので、実際関わることができて嬉しく思います。自分にできる限りのことをやれたらと思います。今は、ゲーム内で使われる絵を描いているので、とても良い緊張感がありますね。一枚一枚心をこめて描いていきたいと思っていますので、お楽しみに!]

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Salim: If you had an advice for other artists that wants to start, what would it be?
[アーティストの仕事を始めたい人に助言があったら、それは何でしょうか。]

Monaka: I think we should show our own works to as much people as possible. Also, it is necessary to make the extra efforts to improve our skill. I don’t always put up my work on the internet but I always feel good when somebody enjoys my work. I’m glad and grateful for that. I know that there are a lot of artists in the world and I want my place to be somewhere where I succeed. It’s important to keep painting. Your passion of painting day after day will be your own treasure.
[少なくとも、作品を人に見せないと何も始まらないと思います。もちろん実力を高めていく努力も必要ですが。私もネット上でしか活動していないのですが、見てくれる人は確実にいるのでありがたいです。絵を描く人はたくさんいるけど、絵を仕事にすることについては、私の席もどこかに残っているんじゃないかなーという気持ちで、作品発表を続けています。描いた作品はきっと全部自分の財産になると思いますよ。]

Salim: Thank you Monaka for the fine work, I’m looking forward to continue working with you.
[もなかさん、ありがとうございます。これからもよろしくお願いします。]

Monaka: Me too, thank you very much!
[ありがとうございました!こちらこそ、これからもよろしくお願いします。]

Follow Monaka on Twitter and on Tumblr!