Entre os vários visitantes estrangeiros que estiveram presentes no Indie X 2019 contámos com a presença de Anna Kolstova, artista 2D no Lesser Evil Games e artista principal de The Executioner.
You came to Portugal to the Indie X to show your game, how was your experience here? What did you think of it?
Awesome! Thanks a lot for the invitation and support. It was a very useful experience to visit the event as a developer with my own project and I just had a good time talking with people.
Our game was released shortly before the event and I was very worried about negative reviews on Steam and it was hard to focus on the other things. But I got many positive reactions from players on the event and it was helpful to handle the stress. I’m very grateful for that.
Although you were here only for a few days you had contact with some Portuguese developers and public, how different was it from Russia?
I have never been before at conferences in other countries and to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. Here I met many friendly and interesting people who also love games and are eager to create them just Russian developers. Russia and Portugal are two emerging markets that will present many wonderful projects in the future. The only difference is that we speak different languages and perhaps developers in Russia are more interested in mobile games.
Each of the members of Lesser Evil Games does something specific, right? You are a 2D artist and were responsible for the image of the game. How much of it is yours alone and how much was coordinated by the team? Did you have full creative liberty?
Yep, we formed fairly clear areas of responsibility (game design/producing, narrative, programming, sound, and art). Each one of us is responsible for their part of the work and decides how-to on the implement stuff and deadlines. We coordinate work questions and tasks in chats and weekly Discord meetings where we discuss results and plan next week.
I think for an indie team which worked on game on enthusiasm and their free time we had very cool self-management.
About creative liberty: yes and no. It didn’t work like everybody creates what they want. We had a clear vision of the project and we worked within this framework. But for me developing “The Executioner” was already creative freedom from regular paid work.
Anna, how is it working on a game like The Executioner where most things are dark, realistic and gritty? Did you have to go out of your comfort zone as an artist?
When I came to the team the foundations of visual style have already been laid: paper, inks, blood. First concepts had been developed, and when I saw them I actually invited myself to the team. For me, it was rather an opportunity to return to the comfort zone: at university, I was obsessed with drawing, graphic art, and printmaking techniques. Once I even went to printmaking art residence in Venice, there was a half-meter etching cylinder press and I could make giant prints. But then I retrained as a digital artist and began to work with games and other media. I was lucky to get on the project where my love for black and white graphic art and natural drawing materials were in demand and my vision fit perfectly into the atmosphere.
There were difficult moments, they were not about drawing, but were connected with another part of the art process: collecting references. In our game, we don’t have photo realistic images they just have a few references so for understanding what exactly I am drawing I had to research photos with violent content. For example, character injury illustrations, every 30 points of mental or physical damage change the avatar of a victim. Now I have a folder on my PC with photos of injured faces. I imagine someone will find it and I will have to explain “it’s fine. I’m just an artist.
The Executioner is all about choices, how do you show those different possibilities that into 2D art? How does your art and what you show change depending on the player choices?
The player makes choices in the text, illustrations help to get a full picture in their imagination, to feel the atmosphere, get visual keys, and accent player’s attention on important moments in the narrative.
As an artist that works in video games what advice would you give to others that are trying to do the same?
You have to learn 3D and anatomy. Haha. But you already know it.
Actually, if you are in the beginning I would suggest to think: do you really want to create games or you just like to draw. The process may look the same (you sit in front of the tablet and try different brushes in Photoshop). These are different professions. And artists in game dev especially concept artists mostly work with ideas and tasks, drawing is not a target itself, but an instrument of visualization
If you still want to create games you would visit as many game events as you can and talk with other specialists for industry.
What are the plans for you and Lesser Evil Games now? Something you can tell us or is it all a secret?
Our first priority is to find an opportunity to continue the story of our Executioner. At the moment we fixed all critical bags and complete text editing. Meanwhile, we are thinking about a new project. But what it will be, yes it is a secret :)