Welcome back to the part two of the second installment of The Modern Borefare Interview, an occasional series of discussions with up-and-coming creators, writers, builders and DIY’ers of the comics/video game/pop culture scene. This time we’re talking with Diego Garcia and EmmettButler of Sugoi Papa Interactive. You can read part one here.
Modern Borefare: Talk about your art style a little bit, it’s retro but exaggerated & unique. Has this been an evolution from a different style you started with or have you worked on refining an original, core style?
Diego Garcia: I didn’t start doing pixel art until about three years ago, but I’ve been drawing my whole life. I think my pixel art is basically a low-res translation of the way I used to draw in flash and on paper. I try not think about pixel art as a style. It’s not, really. It’s a medium, and I just try to apply its rules to however I want to draw.
Where does your inspiration come from? For both your games and your art?
DG: Everywhere. Short stories are great inspiration for games, because they’re simple and experimental. I follow a lot of amazing artists and read a lot of books and comics. Movies are great too. When I see a scene that moves me to laugh or feel nostalgic or sad or anything really, I tend to think “I wonder how I could recreate this feeling with a game?” Art is pretty much the same deal. You just need to ask yourself questions about what you want to achieve, and don’t give up until you’ve answered them or decided it’s time to move on to a better idea.
EB: A lot of what inspires me is the desire to do things that I can’t do. That is, I don’t know how to make something, so I learn how and then find that I’ve done it. I don’t know if that qualifies as inspiration, but it’s certainly the driving force behind most of my creative output – especially Heads Up. Also I’m inspired by systems. Figuring out how complicated systems work is something that I just realized I spend a lot of time doing.
Talk about your NYU program a little bit; what’s the basis, what’s the focus, how was the admission process.
DG: The Game Center focuses on “the exploration of games as a cultural form and game design as a creative practice,” and they stick to a pretty simple mindset: “games matter.” Basically, the thought is that games are relevant – because clearly they are. The MFA program offers a degree in Game Design, with focuses Game Design, Programming, Visual Design, and Criticism. I’m going to be focusing on Game Design.
The admission was pretty standard for a creative program. A statement of purpose, an analytical essay, resume, and creative portfolio. Most of the other schools I applied to had similar processes. Since I didn’t have a completed game I rushed to make Ultimate Flirt-Off, which was really stressful, but totally worth it. I submitted it along with my senior project from undergrad and this little thing I made when first considering getting into games. Applications are available now.
What do you hope the end result will be?
DG: Ultimately what I’d really like to do is start a small studio and build it up to a very slightly less small studio. I never want to be making game with hundreds of people. I think 10 sounds a little scary, honestly. 2-5 People. Mmm. Yeah.
What are you currently playing?
DG: Basically whatever I’m assigned in school for a given week, whatever I’m making in school as playtesting, and Johann Sebastian Joust whenever I can.
EB: Magic: The Gathering, Starcraft, Final Fantasy X, Dead Space, Jamestown. I just did a Magic draft for the first time last week, and it’s like standing on the edge of a deep pit.
What are your top 5 games of all time? Why?
DG: Wow. In no particular order:
- Animal Crossing: Wild World, because sometimes your neighbors have really intense arguments about whether it’s cooler to fill a pool with coffee or black tea.
- Shadow of the Colossus, because I love digital horses and eatin’ lizard tails.
- Katamari Damacy, because of the sound the pompadour punk makes when you roll over him.
- Crash ‘N The Boys: Street Challenge, because you can spend money to have one of the shopkeepers say something inspirational to you despite it having no effect on your character.
- Mega Man 2, because Mega Man 2.
EB: I hate picking top games. For every one I think of, there are ten more. Here are my first five.
- Mega Man X because it’s so innately replayable
- Silent Hill 2 because it introduced me to survival horror and is the most amazingly atmospheric experience I’ve had in a game (until Journey?)
- Magic: The Gathering because it’s such a deep and interesting strategic world, and because HELLDOZER
- Ikaruga because you can’t shoot the final boss
- Metroid Prime because it’s just as good a transition from 2d to 3d as Mario 64
MB: What do you think about OUYA? Is this something you’re excited to explore?
DG: I haven’t been paying a ton of attention to the OUYA, but from what I gather it’s a pretty amazing idea. Is it something I’d like to explore? Yes, for sure. That being said, I think a poorly executed free-to-play model can be really exploitative, so that’s a little scary. I wonder what kinds of guidelines will exist.
MB: When not coding, designing or working…what are you doing?
DG: I work, read, watch movies, go to shows (mostly chip music), and above all else I like to eat food, so I go out to eat a lot. I also play D&D with my non-NYC friends once every couple of months, and I’m DMing a few sessions now for the first time, so I’m spending some time on that. I read a ton of comics, and I tweet. Kind of a lot. I’m sorry.
EB: Gaming a lot, becoming more literate. Also still doing school. I’m starting to tech blog, and aside from that I love going to Barcade and grinding Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins.
MB: Diego, how many geography jokes have you had to put up with?
Too many. Yes, I know there’s an island called Diego Garcia. I’ve known that since the first time I remember someone telling me, which was when I was 5.
Thank you again to Emmett and Diego taking the time out of their very busy schedules to make us feel like journalists and to shed some light on a bit of the inner workings of the indie game world, art, inspiration, programming, Helldozer and a slew of games that you should probably investigate if you haven’t before. Do yourself a favor and download Heads Up! Hot Dogs for your iPad and your iPhone. I know you’ve been thinking about putting weiners on heads for awhile now, and this way you can do it while staying out of jail. Also check out Dokideux Panikku and play a game as difficult & yet addicting as QWOP.
Have any questions for Diego or Emmett? Leave them in the comments below or ask me on Twitter at @imperviousrex and I’ll try to get them answered.