Monument Valley’s insider

Early April this year the game Monument Valley made a big hit in the mobile game community with its marvelous graphic and intuitive gameplay. The game is painstakingly beautiful with clever utilisation of awesome geometric rendering, playable optical illusion, and mesmerizing colours. It won an Apple Design Awards 2014 and Wired called it “might be the most beautiful iPad game of 2014″.

We had a great opportunity to talk with one of the game artists, David Fernández Huerta, about the role of art in this mobile game’s success. Here is the full story.

Kuvva: Hi David, please tell us about yourself.

David: Hi, my name is David Fernández Huerta, and I’m a game artist at ustwo in London. I’ve been making games since I was 13, and professionally for the last 7 years. I started my career in Barcelona, working as a 3D artist at Gammick Entertainment, making all the art in a cheerful Nintendo DS game called Animal Boxing. After that I helped founding Akaoni Studio back in my home town, Valencia, where we made a colourful shooter called Zombie Panic in Wonderland for Wii. That game was great success in Japan, but after a while I decided to leave the studio and started working as a freelancer making 2D game art for mobile games. I also taught video game art at a university and moved to France. I eventually got bored (and frustrated) with freelance work, so I joined ustwo studio about a year ago.

On a more personal level, I love old black and white films (my favourite being 1933 King-Kong), adventure books by Verne, Stevenson and Conan Doyle, and of course all kinds of video games, specially the ones that try and do something new and exciting.

Kuvva: Why do you work on Monument Valley?

David: When I decided to go back to a full time job, I was very sure I didn’t want a boring “game artist” job making 3D models of machine guns, orcs, or poker chips. The most important thing for me was to join a team interested in making unique experiences that blur the line between games and art. And certainly ustwo is the perfect place for that. Being surrounded by so many amazing professionals in such a vibrant and creative environment makes me feel very lucky, and I wouldn’t imagine making games in any other way.

Kuvva: What is your perspective about making mobile games such as Monument Valley from an illustrator’s standpoint?

David: It’s an interesting question, because I always say that the art part is not what makes games be art. Video games are a legitimate form of art in themselves, even if they don’t feature any art at all (like conversational adventures). But at the same time, I’m a game artist, so I obviously pay a lot of attentions to what the game looks like. I’d say that, from an illustrator’s standpoint, the difference is that I look at the whole picture. When most 3D artists care just about the assets or the characters, I care a lot about composition, lighting, colour, contrast, cameras (I studied film making), and a lot of aspects of the “game artist” role that most game artists -and probably not because they want, but because the way this industry is structured- never care about. It’s very important to me that everything looks cohesive, that you are convinced by the worlds you’re seeing not because they look realistic, but because they are believable. With my students I always take the emphasis away from the tools and back to the actual reasons why we do things. You always have to deal with technology when you make games, but you only deal with art if you actually care about it.

Kuvva: Thank you so much for an inspiring talk!

David: It was a pleasure!


More behind the scene stuff for highly curious readers:

(don’t forget to let us know what you think about the game!)

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