Creating Monsters with Sam Boucher
After seeing these screenshots from his upcoming game, we had a few questions for Sam Boucher. He’s the creator and designer of GNOG: a wondrous journey through a universe of playfully interactive monster heads.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. When and how did you become a designer?
In 2009 I finished my multimedia degree in college and went to work at a design agency as an intern in Montreal. I always loved packaging design, cool experiential flash websites (when they were popular), logos, and typography. So I worked there for a couple of months – they even hired me. It was an amazing place. I also got a couple of contracts and went freelance for a while. I got hired to design graphics for a big clothing company, too. This graphic design route lasted around 3 years.
You’ve worked in print, web, mobile games, and now console games. Is this the progression you had in mind?
Not at all!
But I knew I wasn’t satisfied with the work I was doing in design agencies or with contracts. I was always a big fan of animated films and video games (except shooters or MMO’s) and I was looking for something more interactive, with a story or a created world. Luckily, I got a contract to be an art director on a mobile game and it really convinced me to make my own games. I still have a lot of love for graphic design though and I still take contracts from time to time!
Your sense of color comes through loud and clear in your work, as well as your app, Ranpal. Can you tell us a little bit about your approach to color?
Colors are weird and they appear randomly most of the time. I start with one color and add others to it. It’s a pretty subjective process. Sometime I think a color matches with another one so I’ll go with that. Sometimes it comes from a mood. For the submarine GNOG it was obvious to me that it was going to be shades of yellow and blue. I also steal palettes from images I like that I keep in my Pinterest boards. I use Pinterest a lot for mood boards.
What new medium would you like to try next?
I think I’ll be in video games for a long time. I’ve never felt as good as I do now. I can fully express what I want and even if it’s super hard, I still really love it. I might craft some little VR experiments here and there, too!
GNOG will offer virtual reality support on Playstation. What unique challenges has VR presented for you as a designer?
For GNOG we wanted it to be available on a lot of platforms so we had to design around that. For VR, nothing much is gonna change in terms of design. It’s more about moving things in space so it makes sense when you look around. So, I guess what’s unique is to get a sense of the space around you and make it compelling. Are the GNOGS around you? can you see them? What happens if you want to interact with a GNOG behind you? These are all new questions we need to answer.
You’ve designed lots and lots of monster heads for GNOG. Where does one go for inspiration when designing lots and lots of monster heads?
That’s a hard one… I think it can become a bit esoteric. I was usually just randomly picking moods I liked and I still do that a bit, but now it’s more about my deep feelings. I try to find things that I’m passionate about or have strong feelings about. Subjects that are fascinating to me but also things that I want to play with and interact with. I draft a couple of ideas of interactions and movement and try to match them to the subjects. Like I said I pin a lot on Pinterest, I browse a lot too. I create mood boards even if don’t really need it and then come back to it for inspiration.
For interactions, I get inspiration from old wood toys, synthesizers, machines and all sorts of things that have a lot of buttons!
What advice would you give to graphic designers who are interested in trying their hand at game design?
They can and should do it now without waiting for a programmer to show up. With tools like Construct 2 or Twine, you can easily make something cool without programming knowledge. I made Ranpal from scratch with Construct 2 and had no programming skills at all! The video game world needs a lot more variety, don’t be afraid to start weird and unusual things and keep experimenting!
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