Alright everyone, welcome back. It’s Monday, and we all know how much Mondays suck. But guess what? Behind the Mask is now a full on weekly segment for PartyChat.org! Due to the amazing amount of feedback we received on last week’s entry, I have decided to continue this segment until the interviews dry up. Hell, maybe if this really blows up we’ll turn it into a podcast.
This week, we have Clement: a mobile game developer and pixel artist from France who took some time out of his day to talk to us about his journey into gaming, what it’s like working for a mobile game studio, and his plans for the future! Just as a reminder:
This is me.
This is Clement.
And this is a failed Old Spice commercial pitch.
Alright man thanks for your time today. Let’s get started with something easy: how did you get started into gaming?
So I had a Sega Mega-Drive 2 when I was 5ish, then my cousin gave me his SNES. I really fell in love with Pokemon Blue when I got my first GameBoy at 6, but I think the first game I ever played was Duck Tales on that Mega-Drive.
Oh god, you started off hard as fuck.
Yea I never passed the first level.
I was about to say I didn’t beat the first boss of Sonic the Hedgehog on Sega Genesis until I was like 10. So what do you play now?
Yea there was Sonic as well,but I played way more Duck Tales. Mostly online strategy now I think? I played a lot of League of Legends, then Hearthstone and Teamfight Tactics. I’m not a skilled player; I prefer titles that give me time to plan and think.
Ok ok I gotcha. Have you tried out Slay the Spire yet? That’s right up your alley. Came out earlier this year.
Yeah I played tons of it in early access, I’m really into roguelikes as well so Slay the Spire hit right on the spot for me.
I played it until I found out you have to beat the game with all 3 characters and then beat it more and more times to unlock the final level. So I quit, cause it took me 6 hours just to win with one character.
Yeah the game is kinda brutal when you start.
Ok so tell me how you got into game design. What came first: pixel art or game design?
Pixel art for sure. Started back in 2007 when I was 14. I always wanted to create games, but it always felt like a distant dream. It’s only been 3 years since I started learned and actually making games.
But you do it full time now though. How does that work? You don’t work for a studio right now right?
I actually do work for a studio. I make mobiles games for a company called Madbox, but I do work solo on most projects. I have some personal projects but it’s hard to keep motivated on game development when I do it at work everyday. It’s a blessing though really.
Oh ok I gotcha. So since you work for a studio, how do you decide what you’re making? Does the studio give you ideas? Do you pitch ideas to the studio?
Kind of a mix between both. We do have some strong guidelines, sometimes I’d pitch my own ideas (fitting the market), and we have a bunch of concepts laying around at anytime so I can always pick from that. We make hyper casual games, not really the games I’d make or play on my own but I’m getting so much experience and I have fun making them. The goal is to go indie at some point but I’m learning tons and getting paid for it so it’s all benefit.
That’s so awesome man. Good for you. What have you made that’s been released? How long is your deadline from concept to final product? How many games do you fully develop that end up never being released for one reason or another?
Haha that’s the funny/annoying part. Out of the 10+ games I made in 2 years, only one had the potential to be profitable enough to find it’s way on the store. It’s called Sausage Flip and sadly, it’s kinda riddled with ads. We used to be on a 2 weeks development cycle, but since I work alone I usually have more time. It’s getting way shorter now in order to be more flexible and iterate quickly.
Ok gotcha. So the dream is to go to indie? What’s the first game you’d make right now?
Yeah but I’m really not in a rush. It’s been a little while since I though of it but I’m thinking about this lore where it’s you have a typical heroic fantasy setup with elves and orc etc, and there’s an alien invasion. I always liked the idea of a clash between fantasy and sci-fi as a big burlesque mess. Would probably be a roguelike action RPG. But that’s the big project; I’d rather start small and get things out before I go into any massive project.
Ah ok I gotcha. Already got a story in mind or just the gameplay?
Mostly gameplay. I’m not big on stories in games but that’s a personal preference. A game’s way of communicating to the player goes through gameplay rather than story imo. Depends on the game of course.
So like Dark Souls or Hollow Knight? Lots of developers I talk to say the same thing. Guess that’s the new hip thing to do in game dev now.
Idk if it’s a hip thing that games are more about gameplay than story. I mean that’s the main focus of this media and most story based games I’ve seen look more like an interactive movie to me. I just feel there are more efficient way to tell stories, via video or literature for example.
More efficient ways yes I agree, but I think stories in games are more engaging that other forms of media. At least good ones. I don’t think you could make the BioShock story better in any other media. It’d never match the game.
Tbh I don’t play enough story based game to have a solid opinion on all that haha.
Oh then BioShock is a must play for you then. Check it out. So how bout pixel art? How’d that get started?
I think my love of pixel art started from Pokemon Gold and Silver. The sprites were gorgeous and the fact that you have to actually put a light above your screen to see anything made them way more real and solid. I started making some on my dad’s computer later, found a great community called Pixel Joint, which is basically deviant art for pixel art. Forum was super active back then, getting and sharing feedbacks and critique – also there were weekly challenge driving my competitive side. I mean it still exists but it’s not near as active.
I’ve got mixed feelings on pixel art. I think sometimes developers spend too much time on the art and not the mechanics. Take the recently released Blasphemous. I think it looks beautiful and its a great game, but I wish it was like 0.5x faster. Like Hollow Knight. Perfect pace, not pixel art, but very very good gameplay and graphics.
I do too haha. Problem about pixel art is it takes time. If you want to make a game with beautiful pixel art animations and actually release it, you probably gonna miss something elsewhere. I feel Binding of Isaac did it just right. It’s not overly detailed but it does the trick and conveys that sweet pixel aesthetic. Comparing Blasphemous to Dead Cells is interesting as well, since all character models and animations are done in 3D then rendered as pixel art. They had time to focus on gameplay and feel.
I haven’t touched Dead Cells yet but it’s on Game Pass so I will soon! What tools are you using to make the pixel art? And do you have to draw it frame by frame?
I used Photoshop for a long time and recently bought Aseprite which has been great so far. Yup it’s frame by frame, depends on what you want to achieve though. Puppet animation is an option but you kinda lose a lot. If you’re interested in the process there’s this great video showing the process of animating a character for Duelyst: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJOUTSy0fQI&t=
Goodness yea what a grind haha. So what’s next? A peek into what you’re working on?
Can’t really share what I’m working on at work, and most personal game dev stuff I post on Twitter. Here’s this new tft fanart tho. Do you play Teamfight Tactics?
That’s bad fucking ass. Love the wolf. And no I don’t really enjoy those games because they make me wish I was dead.
Yeah that’s why i stopped League mostly haha. Won’t last much on TFT either as I’m a big try harder xD. It’s more chill though.
Alright man thanks so much for spending some time with me today. Wanna wrap it up with some rapid fire questions?
Favorite game of all time?
The Binding of Issac.
What an indie response haha. Most underrated game of all time?
Osamu Sato’s LSD Dream Emulator. More like never rated than rated haha.
That game looks weird as fuck. What the hell lol. Most overrated game of all time?
Death Stranding looks over rated even before it’s out haha.
Ohhhh CONTROVERSY. No I’m thinking the same thing; I’m not sold yet that it’ll be good. Game you refuse to play?
Hmmm Battlefield ? I hate FPS games, I’m not big on realistic settings. Really not my jam.
Microsoft, Nintendo, or Sony?
Nintendo all the way.
Alright last one: do you think Fortnite is a good game?
Can’t get millions of players on a bad game. That’s my opinion. They got it just right. Not my jam either but it works.
Um there’s millions of players that bought Anthem so you’re absolutely wrong hahaha. Thanks for your time man! Great to talk to you! Keep me up to date with anything big that happens!
Alright everyone that was Clement from Madbox Games. You can follow him and all his activity on Twitter here! Stay tuned for another edition of Behind the Mask next week! And if you’re a game developer that is interested on being interviewed, DM me on Twitter here!