Developer Interview Series: Jeff Liang and Myls Bunagan

Last week, Boomzap Entertainment released Otherworld: Shades of Fall, the latest installment in Fiona’s quest to defeat the Shade. Let us go behind the scenes and chat with two talented artists who were part of the team that made it happen.

Jeff Liang and Myls Bunagan both joined Boomzap in 2011. Aside from Otherworld, Jeff has also worked on the Awakening and Dana Knightstone games, mostly making sceneries and landscapes. Myls designs characters and rooms for several projects including Awakening, Botanica and Otherworld.

1. What do you do in Boomzap and when did you start making games?

Jeff:  I’m an artist, and mostly I make landscape scenes. I just started making art for games since i joined Boomzap.

Myls: I’m an artist at Boomzap – My interest in game development and art started when I played several MMOs renowned for their beautiful art styles. The aesthetic and environments inspired me to start painting digitally and soon I ended up working in Boomzap!

2. This is the third game in the series. How long have you been working for Otherworld and did you feel any pressure given the success of the earlier games?

Jeff:  I joined the team in the making of Otherworld: Omens of Summer, when the game was going to be released in the next few months. I was afraid that I can’t maintain the atmosphere of the Otherworld series, but teammates helped me a lot.. and I think we did pretty well.

Myls: Yes! Because Otherworld had built up a reputation for its hauntingly beautiful art, it was always going to be a hard fight to live up to those expectations in a sequel. I’ve been with the team since the first Otherworld project.

3. It’s fall and the Shade has become more powerful. Did this change the way you created the art for this game?

Jeff: The Shade looks stronger than the previous Otherworld, but I didn’t make much art improvements on him. Actually what I did much is showing him in the past, such as how he was caught, when Fiona released him accidentally, and so on.

Myls: Making a menacing villain even more so, even in his weakened state, was a challenge. We had to find a way to ensure that his control over other fay creatures was believable somehow – they would’ve be scared of him if he was weaker than they were, after all! Also, as the threat of the Shade drew closer, we had to find a way to ensure the player felt the bleakness that the Shade’s influence brought with it, and were more inspired to defeat him.

4. How do you maintain the dark fantasy theme in your art? 

Jeff: Luckily, right before I joined the Otherworld team, I’ve worked with the Awakening team. Both games are fantasy games, so I have experience creating a fantasy-themed artwork. I like so many genres, including this genre quite much. And sometimes I also play games made by other teams.

Myls: We maintain a consistent colour scheme across the game. We keep a style guide that helps us maintain the aesthetics. We also constantly refer to the previous games to keep us on track.

5. What is your personal art style or trademark and how do you incorporate it in a game that has its own theme?

Jeff: In the past, I usually did photo realistic artworks. But now I’m more interested in making less realistic, more like hand-painted artworks, which I find is an easier style to incorporate in a fantasy game.

Myls: Our characters have a unique art style. I enjoy painting believable characters who look just a bit stylized from a real life person. I’ve been able to incorporate elements of my style into the characters over time as the art itself evolved and distinct traits in the series asserted themselves.

6. How do you make the scenes unique, realistic and consistent all at the same time?

Jeff: I always look for references. Sometimes, I also use 3D for making a low poly version of the scene, which is very useful to find the best angle.

7. Where did you find the inspiration for the characters you’ve made and how are they different from the previous Otherworld games?

Myls: I play a lot of other games, and gain inspiration from the vision of other artists. The best is of course playing games with similar themes. These help me create ideas of my own that I can incorporate into the Otherworld universe.

8. As an artist, what is the most challenging part in creating a game?

Jeff: The most challenging part is putting all necessary items naturally in your scene, while at the same time keeping it interesting. It’s quite difficult because probably the first idea that pops in my mind is the most generic, so I have to make sure other artists aren’t creating the same looking scene.

Myls: Ensuring the design of the world makes sense, the characters belong in it, and that the constant ‘otherworldliness’ of it all is maintained.

9. What should people look forward to in Otherworld: Shades of Fall?

Jeff: We go deeper into the story, have added more characters and improved a lot of visual quality in this third game… including animations and cutscenes.

Myls: More unique locations, different and interesting characters, a new deadly menace and more beautifully haunting art that is the Otherworld hallmark.

Otherworld: Shades of Fall is exclusively available on Big Fish Games. Download it here: www.bigfishgames.com/download-games/24899/otherworld-shades-of-fall-ce/index.html

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