Talking game design, user interface, and industry with Evgeny Viitman.
This week Creative Chair is in Barcelona talking about the practice and business of game design with Evgeny Viitman.
Evgeny has a really bold engaging style, with a lot of character. In this interview, we discover more about working in the games design industry and take a look at some of Evgeny’s projects.
You should check out more from Evgeny Viitman on Behance his projects are beautifully presented and truly inspiring.
Tell us about your career path and how you got into designing characters and user interfaces for games.
According to my diploma, I am a physicist, but since both of my parents are artists (they are theatrical artists, scenographers, and character designers), I consumed art from a very early age. I always loved games and was longing for to make my own, but in Tomsk, where I am from, there was no possibility to enter the game development community, as it is hidden in the “taiga” (that’s how we call forest) of Siberia.
And for me game dev was associating first of all with 3D, so I started to learn 3D as a hobby. It was difficult though, as there were only a few people in Tomsk who actually knew something about 3D, but they were really haughty as they had this mysterious knowledge.
I also didn’t speak English, at all, and all the software was in English. So, my first attempts in 3D looked mostly like gambling. Nevertheless, I couldn’t give up and was improving my skills through the pain of lacking English language skills. Then all of a sudden Unigine (unigine.com) popped up, and I started to work for them as a 3D artist.
That’s how it started my path in game dev. When I left Unigine I had several attempts to organise my own indie company, but I was very unorganised myself, so it didn’t work out. When I moved to the Czech Republic, I was looking for a job when I got an offer from Disney Mobile Games Studio, where I really started my career as a 2D/3D artist for mobile games.
There I learned some basics about composition within the mobile screen and the logic behind how this all works. Then there was a very curvy path among other companies, and I had to move from country to country in order to stay on the wave. I used to work in Russia, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany. Now I am jumping between Malta and Barcelona :)
In my vision, a game is like a big installation which has to be consistent from all points of view–an organism that has to function well. Therefore, there is something which is binding everything in the game – it is UI, mysterious organ which holds everything together, which could be, from the first look, even impossible to hold together. UI is a connector! That’s why it is so interesting for me.
Characters, from the other hand, are the communicators for they make the player to sympathise and empathise. I express myself through them translating the reflexions of my friends and myself and my emotions.
What has been your most challenging project?
My most challenging project is to be a husband of my wife and a father of two kids, little rapscallions :)
Also, the recent one which happened in GameDuell and continued in Studio49. It was a big project which was called “Neverdale Park”, where I was leading a team of 8-6 artists, which was really a big challenge as I had to learn how to communicate with people, how to motivate them and keep them deliver graphics in the directed frames.
Also, we had a very talented and energetic art director; he was fountaining the ideas I had to collect and feed to artists. It was really stressful in the beginning, but I love it, and I feel this is my way.
Unfortunately, the company had to shut down, and I had to look for a new spot. Sometimes I think this is my destiny to jump from a company to a company because of shuts down :).
Your projects are beautifully presented on Behance. How would you rate the platform for showcasing your sort of work?
Amazing platform! A lot of inspiration and so many fresh ideas!
However, Behance can be beautiful and nasty at the same time. It motivates you, gives you a lot of exposure and possibilities to get freelance, for example. But it drastically spoils you at the same time.
Behance never gives you critical feedback, only the good one, or nothing. Which is sometimes really scary, if you know what I am talking about. It brings you up to the skies, and then real life brings you back to dirt. I learned not to be really excited about the feedback on Behance, because it is basically only praising, even though I am absolutely in love with the platform, and I spend hours and hours surfing it.
What advice would you give to readers who are looking to pursue a similar career path?
Never give up, adjust and learn, as our path is to learn constantly! You can’t say “I know everything now, I am cool!”, there are so many talented artists you can learn from.
So, this is the most exciting thing about art in game dev, as there is a never-ending challenge to improve: “whaaaat? I want to do even better!”, and this is a sequence of unstopping attempts, searching for the perfect stroke.
It is like the truth! One said: “looking for the truth is like looking for gold in an absolutely dark room full of gold”. Our profession is full of obstacles, such as employers, investors, users – all of them have their own vision what is good and what is bad, let’s say it is a potential energy barrier, and we have to absorb enough of energy to shoot ourselves through it.
And finally, if you died and got reincarnated as a song, what would that song be?
It will be Tom Waits “Anywhere I Lay My Head”.