Influences come in many shapes and sizes and from a variety of sources, with even, what seems on the surface, the smallest incident able to have a profound affect on the character and development of individuals.
Those in igaming are undoubtedly no different, but one segment whose reach throughout the sector can’t be denied concerns the many generations of video games platforms and the seemingly unending spin-offs that ensue.
The early successes of Atari, development of Nintendo and today’s all too often PlayStation/Xbox debates have spawned an endless supply of entertainment, from board games to the thousands of apps many now have at their finger tips, and everything in between, also contributing.
Continuing our new series CasinoBeats is asking those across the industry to elaborate on their own gaming influences, Konrad Nykiel, art director at Kalamba Games, picks up the conversation.
Why I love it
Chronopia was a table-top miniature figure game. Its beautiful world was set in a Dark Fantasy styled realm where different nations were fighting each other in epic battles. Impressive, dynamic and very climatic illustrations adorned every page of beautifully printed rulebooks. It consisted of eight nations with each possessing its own collectible metal figures with lots of details. It was a true paradise for imagination.
The game sparked great discussions with friends about the epic battles, the different strategies and how to best prepare the armies and the battlefield. It required hard decisions, problem solving and sometimes having to work as a team to achieve victory against your foes. This game was a big part of my childhood and the endless times playing it is something that I will never forget.
In the late 90s when the internet and computers were not yet very common, gaming took place around table-top, role-playing and LARP activities, and that’s how I started out. I think that games like Chronopia offered a very unique opportunity for young creative people to explore their creative side. Do you want to try sculpting? Maybe a little bit of painting and drawing? Bored? Let’s create a whole battlefield! Endless possibilities were just around the corner. By playing this game, I learned a lot.
Painting figures taught me how to paint on sculptures and make an army that visually stood out on the table. Without proper team play, you would be easily defeated in this game so it was important to learn how to communicate and work with others. As an art director at Kalamba Games, I very much enjoy making strategic decisions, working under the pressure of deadlines while remaining creative.
Knowing every aspect of the creative process and communicating with my team and supporting it until the game is released is awesome. I have this unique opportunity to overlook all artistic assets and see them come together on this battlefield of creativity. Exactly like I did years ago in Chronopia.
Why I love them
Imagine a world where you can make your own games in the comfort of your own home. It is happening right now. It’s a present and also the future. Along with free game engines, great artistic software and services like Steam, it allows creators to make their ideas come true without the backing of established games studios. The whole process is still very time-consuming but with every year it is improving and becoming more simplified.
Beautiful Indie titles such as Fez, Braid, The Deer God, Shelter or newer titles like Dead Cells, Graveyard Keeper or Undertale are all very inspiring. Unique colour palettes never seen before in the industry has been created and gameplay that was never played before. Beautiful, yet sometimes a little bit kitschy art that shows a great understanding of the need to look at the game as a whole big organism.
It was the big return of pixel art and it was all accepted by the gamers community. It was a fresh breath in the industry which was filled with games that were trying to hit hyperrealism or recreate another Blizzard-styled game. Looking at assets designed without the sometimes very strict design rules that exist in big companies was a truly special experience for me. It just confirmed to me that everything is going in the right direction.
I have been playing games since I can remember and big titles have been important to me as a player and an artist. Big companies were pushing the industry and the technology to the next level. I remember when I was forced to change my computer just to be able to play Quake 2 with OpenGL.
The Voodoo 3dfx graphics card was a dream come true, improving the quality for the whole industry. Yet, when I look back, I see that those big titles were not the main and only reason for me to stick to the industry. Somewhere between 2007-2012 there was a culmination of indie games on the market. With every year, more and more unique titles were trying to surprise the industry.
As for me, a player and an artist that was a little bit bored with constantly repeated ideas, this was a big step forward. It was something that approved my thinking that there are still a lot of awesome, not yet explored ideas. It was great to see that such a complex process like game development was becoming user friendly.
Why I love it
I was always a big fan of side-scrollers. These kinds of games have been around from almost the beginning of digital game development. In 2015, a pearl appeared on the horizon, Ori, a game series developed by MoonStudios and published by Microsoft Studios. In 2020, the second part of this amazing game was released called ‘Ori and the Will of the Wisps’.
In these games, the player controls the guardian spirit Ori and the quest is to save the ones he loves. Beautiful concept and promo art is the focus on these two titles. Breathtaking environments, superb character design, 3D art and insanely dynamic animations merged with a heartbreaking story and a gorgeous, very climatic soundtrack which makes this game unique among other titles.
The movement in Ori and other interactions are similar to most of the games from the Metroidvania subgenre. The story is also built on a popular theme. In the second part of the game the player gets a more advanced progress system and a different skill set. The rest however stays the same as the first part and that is what makes this game so unique from an art perspective.
In this kind of approach, a lot depends on the art and quality of other assets. That is why it has been such a big influence on me. The genre used here by the developers needs to be even more focused on how the visual side is presenting than other genres and MoonStudio is doing this perfectly. There is also a lot of pressure on creating a unique style when you are creating games that are using the same patterns in mechanics and the story line with only small tweaks here and there. And this is where the content comes in.
Content is needed to become unique and to stand out from the crowd. In my opinion, the exact same thing is true when it comes to creating slot games, like we do here at Kalamba Games. There is still a lot to be done in the online gaming industry and still a lot of unique approaches to take on art, design, content, mechanics and features. Believe me, at Kalamba this is something we are constantly working towards and we just can’t wait to bring new unique titles such as Sky Hunters to our audience.
If you would like to participate and elaborate on your own gaming influences contact [email protected].