The art of Supernauts - Grand Cru Interview
Pocket Gamer: Who are you, and what is your role on Supernauts?
My name is Antti Pesonen. I work as a 2D artist at Grand Cru.
How did you help to make the finished game?
I've been working on Supernauts almost from the beginning of the development. I do concept art, illustrations and some user interface design and texturing.
During the pre-production phase I did mainly concept art and tried to nail the style of Supernauts. I did a lot of sketches about what the world of Supernauts could look like: what would the setting be like, what kind of lighting we would want, what the various materials would look like.
Also, the characters needed to be designed. We already had some cool designs done by Olli Juutilainen before I joined the company. I liked the designs and rest of the team liked them as well so I continued to design the characters based on those.
They already had the pill shape that all the humanoid characters in Supernauts still have. We wanted to keep the character looking simple but fun. We ended up using a lot of flat colors and simplified shading.
When the project has progressed the amount of concept work isn't as big as it was in the pre-production phase and I started to do textures and user interfaces. Now in the later stages we also need marketing illustrations, app store icons etc.
How did the visual direction come about?
The block based game mechanics have been inspired by the Minecraft and similar games but the theme and story draws from other sources like 60's retro futuristic designs, cartoons, superhero and agent movies etc.
We tried to make Supernauts look and feel unique. Also personal preferences played a part in the stylistic decisions. While I appreciate the block aesthetics utilized in many games that's not something I personally enjoy drawing that much.
Even though I was the guy doing most of the concept art the theme and look of Supernauts was a team effort with most of the team giving feedback and suggestions.
What were the particular challenges you faced when designing the universe of Supernauts?
The fact that the whole game environment is fully editable by the player imposed major restrictions what we could and couldn't do. The more soft cartoony style definitely was a challenge with our game mechanics. Of course our engineers did most of the heavy lifting by making the engine allow the game to look good but still be light enough to make it run on hand held devices.
On personal level I think situations where you have to design something completely new, while being exciting, can still feel daunting. Like the early stages of development of Supernauts: we had to design the world, the characters, the style, the whole package.
What's your favourite visual element from the game?
I like the supporting cast. Especially Captain Fabulous, Sinclair and Carrie Fish. It's also great to see all the amazing stuff players build using the tools we have made.
Peter Willington 2 May 2014