Lucas (a.k.a. Midio) is an architect and game artist/designer from Brazil. And wow, he creates AMAZING backgrounds (among other things, obviously). Here he answers our questions!
1. How long have you been making games?
Hmmm, I think it’s been 5 years since I “officially” started working with games. I always wanted to do that when I was younger but I really had no idea where to start from. Most of the stuff I used to do back then were notes, drawings and game ideas that were written on paper. In 2009 I got the chance to work as a QA at a studio while I was in Architecture school, and that’s where it all began
2. Where do you find ideas for your games? Tell us something about your creative process.
Ideas come from all kinds of places and situations. Most of them come from everyday stuff, talking to friends or thinking about how I’m feeling. I think a lot about many things all the time, so there’s usually one or two things in my mind worth transforming into drawings, art, or a game. They can come from a story I remember, from childhood memories, from grief, sad stuff, or other games I played. I usually write down these ideas on a notebook (or my private tumblr account) and I scribble and sketch and try to imagine the whole thing working. At this step I usually talk to friends and show my idea because I have a huge need to discuss that with other people. I’m very team-driven, so I need to hear some different opinions and see that first concept growing by itself. If we find out it’s not working for a particular reason or situation, we just store it for some other time or rethink it all over. I work better when collaborating, I’m very social and this plays an important role in my whole process.
3. Alpaca Team is “is a tiny indie group that develop games on their free time”. How did it start and what are your plan for the future?
Alpaca was created in 2012 when I was still working fulltime at a game studio in my hometown and… wow, so many things happened at that time…
(Disclaimer: long answer ahead)
That was my third year working at the company and I was already feeling tired. I couldn’t see growth nor the direction I was going to. That lead me to join Amora & Pedro at 2012′s GGJ- an epic GGJ- where I got to meet most of Sao Paulo’s indie groups and studios and for the first time I felt proud of a game I made. We worked together on Trapped! In the Chamber of the Eternal Darkness, and I had the chance to understand what it felt like to work on a personal game project for the first time. I remember feeling “this is what I want to do, this is how I want to work”- not the stuff I used to do at the studio!
After GGJ was over and my post-jam depression was getting stronger, we received some news at the studio that we were going to work in another crappy advergame project and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I started to discuss with some colleagues about beginning some parallel personal work and that’s how Alpaca was born. Completely out of insatisfaction!
We were still working at the studio during the day and developing our stuff during the night, but we couldn’t solve some technical aspects of our first game idea and I had to face some terrible, terrible personal issues that year, which led us to enter in stasis mode until lots of people got fired. Then we all decided to quit our jobs for good.
We do stuff only in our freetime- I’m usually under a pile of projects and ongoing freelances, Camis has started just now working independently as well and Bruno is working in his master thesis. I really don’t see any clear plans for us in the future and this sometimes bugs me a little, as they’re great work partners and I wanted to have more time with them!
4. What do you think of game jams? Are they important? Any particular story you remember from one of these jams (weird bug, crazy feedback, etc.)?
Game jams are great to develop a small idea that was hidden in your notebook, strenghten the bonds between the participants and learn to let go and think small. Joining them was a particularly life changing experience to me so I love them! We had the craziest feedback with The Chainletter Massacre, done in a local gamejam we organized here in Sao Paulo. This game was so unpretentious but we still get emails of people saying they loved it and wanted to play a bigger version of the game. There are lots of people that were scared of the game, even though it was done using a gameboy’s 4 color scheme and screen resolution! Another thing I love are the crazy unfolding ideas that pop up in chain reaction once you start thinking about a theme or the game you’re making in a gamejam. They’re usually so priceless because there’s lots of people thinking together to make that happen and freethinking is a constant, so there’s this synergy that not only is amazing to experience, but often produces amazing outcomes.
5. Among many other things you do, we really love your background art. Do you recognise any influence from other artists? What are your favourite games in terms of background art?
Aw, that’s really sweet, thank you so much!
I think my BGs and other art are influenced by many different things. My architectural background gave me plenty of references at first place: I see the world not only through the lenses of a game designer, but through that of an architect as well. This means that I try to understand space and its vocabulary whenever I need to portray something in a specific manner. I always drew buildings and the cityscape, so that was pretty much a natural path: through observation and drawings of real life.
I’m also heavily influenced by anime/cartoon: Miyazaki, Taiyo Matsumoto (& Tekkonkinkreet‘s Takaramachi) -I love the huge amount of stacked buildings & their subtle color palettes- by cartoons from the 50/60s (specially Pink Panther), Alexei Nechytaylo (Triplets of Belleville), Illustrators like Miroslav Sasek & Tadahiro Uesugi -love the lineart and simple color use. Floriane Marchix (Floony), Joakim Sandberg (Konjak), Anton Fadeev (from Duelyst), Johan Vinet, Vic Nguyen, JenZee & Pedro Medeiros (Saint) are constant fountainheads that I try to keep an eye on as well!
I love the background art of Rayman Origins, Duelyst, Super Time Force, Chasm, Jet Set Radio & Journey (even though they’re in 3D), Bastion, Machinarium, Sword & Sworcery, Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga, Don’t Starve, etc, etc, etc. (this list could grow huge!)
6. How is the indie scene in Brazil? Note: We’ve already asked this question to Amora B.! And yes, you can check her answer
It’s quite difficult to define it properly because the country is huge and geography plays an important role to understand the question of identity. I have the feeling, though, that the indie scene is growing and becoming more diverse, energetic and steady in Brazil. We hear of more and more individuals and groups showing up and creating awesome stuff, and I’m quite happy to be part of the community. Here in Sao Paulo the group is quite close to each other and we usually hang out, collaborate, or work with one another. We all have our differences, but this is part of what gives the flavor to a diverse community like this.
7. If you have to choose three and only three game developers to follow their work closely, which ones would you choose and why?
Man, this is a ridiculously hard question, haha! I definitely wanted to avoid repeating Amora‘s entries or sounding unfair by only choosing three, but I’d say Pedro is a huge inspiration to me as well. He’s a fountainhead, really. He’s not only extremely talented but really fast in his feet. His ideas always get me excited and sharing apartment with Amora and him has been an amazing experience so far, so much to learn and share with each other! I’d also follow Keita Takahashi, because I think his work is brilliant and I’m quite attracted to his silly and simple mechanics. His games ALWAYS make me laugh and have a great time! I’d also follow Kris Piotrowski, from Capy. I think his creative direction is part of what makes Capy games amazing and I’m a huge fan of their work.
8. Are you a heavy gamer? What games are you playing now?
I used to play a lot more earlier, when I was not designing games. Most of the time I’m playing something is to gather references, to study or to just cooldown my mind a bit, vent off a little, stuff like that. Even though we do it for fun, love and passion, game designing is still work, so playing is still very connected to the activity of learning. I’ve been playing a lot of Lethal League, from Team Reptile and Crawl, from Powerhoof. They are awesome multiplayer games whose art and gameplay mechanics are completely off the hook. I’m also playing Minimetro from Dinosaur Polo Club. I’m all about cities and subways, and this game is AWESOME to clear my mind after working for long periods of time!
9. One last random question. If you could turn into any monument in the world and somewhat remain conscious, which one would it be and why?
Man, such hard questions, haha! I’m a bit stuck between being The Temple of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, a Gargoyle of the Chrysler building in NY or the Gare du Nord station in Paris. I’ll explain each of them: It would be awesome to be slowly constructed and to be forever growing like the cathedral -even though I’m not religious myself. Plus the huge amount of details and beautiful architectural vocabulary makes me think about this monument as something special. I’d love to be a Gargoyle at the Chrysler building to be able to see NY from above, and the Gare du Nord… well, it’s pretty much like hell inside that station -so crowded, noisy and confusing. But so many people pass by that place everyday and those halls surely have seen many beautiful, sad and interesting stories of other human beings. It definitely pulses with energy and the contrast between the solid structure and the overflow of human traffic is something worth living. I’d choose the station