Chuck Jones, Maurice Noble & Thomas Romain Are Giants
In terms of Inspiration. Some may not be immediately cognizant of their work, but we certainly are. Of course that also shows our age.
You know Chuck Jones from the classic look of Looney Tunes, Merrie Melodies, Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, and other wonderful animated works. His work is so synonymous with cartoons that you might not even realize you’ve been watching it. It’s hard to find someone who hasn’t seen something of his.
For us it was undoubtedly a part of our childhoods, how could it not be when we saw the name Chuck Jones associated with so much. Sure there have been other incarnations of Tom & Jerry, Bugs Bunny and friends, and now even two other takes on the Grinch. But there is something about those cartoons that is extremely applicable to game development, especially VR game development.
Maurice Noble is best known for his with Chuck Jones. It’s the flat, cartoonish backgrounds of these works that is one of the inspirations for the skyboxes. He really pioneered this style in American animation. There is a fantastic episode of 99% Invisible if you want to learn more about him and his work. His work can be seen on the left, below.
Thomas Romain, is the other inspiration for the art style of A Giant Problem. Best known for his work Ōban Star-Racers and the one for which many of the shapes of clouds and landscapes are a direct influence. As a parent what he does with his kids is also astounding and something some the team aspire to do in terms of sharing our love of creating. His work can be seen on the right, above.
Backgrounds or the skyboxes in our case may go unremarked upon. But they are integral to allowing the player to imagine more about the world. Even in a passing glance, a skybox can evoke something in the player’s imagination. They offer the opportunity for more, while never specifying what that is. And that ability to allow people to add to the story or universe, to play in the theater of the mind is one of the most powerful things we can do in storytelling.
Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants
Those skyboxes of course are supported by, and supplement, the low-poly style we’ve gone for with the environments. It has its benefits when it comes to running on lower power systems. But more importantly it helps make the game immersive. Which is key in a VR title like A Giant Problem. Minna’s chosen style does wonders for that.
Minna, has without a doubt, brought her own sensibilities and flavors to A Giant Problem and its art style. It’s incorporated the best of Noble and Romain, yet is still distinct.
Animation is a large part of VR. And when you’re playing a giant turns out you need the other actors to emote like they’re working in a theater. Meaning subtly goes out the window. Any character needs to have their actions and emotions readable from a distance. Much in the manner that Chuck Jones made his characters supremely expressive through their movements. Where most games aim for a cinematic feel, close-ups a technique common to cinema and TV are not necessarily what will work in a game like A Giant Problem.
Minna has taken this into account. And so as we progress through the development of the game, she’s ensuring that each character has a set of unique animations that convey the intent, emotions and personality of them. Something that’s even more important when you’re putting hordes of enemies onto a map for the player to encounter. If you think this troll is something, just wait she has some truly astounding designs we’ve yet to share.
More To See
There’s a great episode of Every Frame A Painting about Chuck Jones’ work. We highly recommend you watch it, as it’ll give you a new appreciation for what he’s done. And if you want to see more of our Art Director Minna’s work then head over to Art Station. And if you want to stay up-to-date on our work be sure to sign up for our newsletter below. Don’t forget to wishlist A Giant Problem either!