Emberwing: Lost Legacy – Developer Interview

Hidden object games have always been art-heavy, so we’re lucky to have very talented artists working with us. Meet them in this developer interview we did with All About Casual Game about our newest franchise, Emberwing.

Emberwing: Lost Legacy – Developer Interview
by All About Casual Game on March 29, 2014

Emberwing: Lost Legacy continues to rise on the Big Fish Games top downloads chart after its release on March 15. Its beautiful artworks have drawn the players into the game and brought the dragon story to life! To know more about the making of this fantasy adventure, we interviewed Boomzap artists Janette Ramos, Vania Oei and Lesia Khvorostina of the Emberwing team.

Hi there! Can you please introduce yourselves?

Janette: Hi! I’m Janette Ramos from Manila, Philippines. I started making games in 2009 and joined Boomzap as an artist in 2010. I was the art lead on Otherworld 1 and 2, and then became the art lead on Emberwing: Lost Legacy.

Vania: I’m Vania Marita Oei from Yogyakarta, Indonesia. I started working as a game developer when I joined Boomzap as an artist in 2012. I worked on Otherworld 2, Antique Road Trip, Botanica 1 and 2 and currently I’m an artist in Emberwing.

Lesia: I’m Lesia Khvorostina, from Kyiv, Ukraine. I have been working in game industry since 2006 and since 2012, I worked at Boomzap as a senior 2D artist. I worked on the Dana Knightstone and Awakening games before joining the Emberwing team.

How would you describe the art style of Emberwing: Lost Legacy? How is it different from other games?

Vania: It’s dark compared to other Boomzap games, but rather than scary, it has a colorful fantasy theme.

Lesia: Yes, it’s a beautiful fantasy game with its own world, full of kind and not-so-kind creatures. You meet dragons, kings, elves, magic and technology all in one game. We found our own style and hope our players will like it.

Since there are several artists working on this project, how did you make sure that art is consistent all throughout the game?

Janette: All the artists in our team look at each other’s work to give helpful critique so that all the artwork are consistently nicely done. At some point, we step back and look at all the art together to make sure they are all harmonious. Sometimes, it is necessary to go back to earlier scenes or close-ups to make the lighting or color more consistent.

Vania: We go back and adjust what fits best for each room and close-up. We also made rough concepts at the beginning, which includes colors, composition, etc. This made it easier for us to imagine how everything will look like. Like Janette said, we also show our works to others, giving critique and advice.

How was the experience in creating a magical world full of dragons? What techniques did you use to effectively convey this theme?

Janette: I think most artists love creating dragons because of endless possibilities. Your dragon could be a rogue animal mindlessly destroying villages and eating people, or it could be a wise elder creature who has lived for centuries protecting an ancient treasure with its magical powers. It could be a tiny baby dragon or a massive colossus in the sky. We enjoyed creating a world for this particular dragon story.

Lesia: Honestly, it’s one of the most exciting projects I’ve worked on so far. We really wanted to do it. The dragon theme opened new opportunities to us. We used all our talent and experience as the artists in the Emberwing. The magical world, dark cities and villages, the dragons – what can be better for an artist?

Vania: Yes, working on a magical world gave us a chance to explore our imagination and also helped me draw what’s inside my mind. After watching a lot of movies and reading children’s books, I’ve always wanted to make a fantasy game with dragons, mythical creatures and magic.

Speaking of magical creatures, how did you design the appearance of the characters in this game?

Janette: The designs of the characters are largely based on the story. There were many different races in the game, so we had fun experimenting with different appearances for them, such as armor for the elves, the various characters in the Crossings, the bear dwarves in the spire, and of course the three (and a half!) dragons.

What kind of challenges did you encounter while creating them?

Janette: The challenge for me was working with a mix of 2D and 3D art and animation and how to make both work together consistently for these characters.

Lesia: We also wanted our characters to have their own temper, be unique, and avoid having the standard look that you see in other stories. It was not easy, but I hope we succeeded doing it! When I think about it, it’s all really complicated. The funny thing is that even giving the names to our characters were a big challenge.

Did you have the same attention to detail when it comes to the game’s user interface (UI)? What improvements did you implement to make sure that it is both user-friendly and visually appealing?

Janette: Other games, like Awakening, have beautiful and very ornate designs on their UI. We wanted to make a simpler and more modern-looking screen, so we came up with clean layouts with simple frame designs, frameless buttons, and very simple fonts. A simple interface is easier to look at and understand, and also lets the viewer focus on the artwork in the game itself.

Speaking of artwork, how did you make the different places in the Emberwing world like the mountains, the forests and the dragon’s lair? How did you create its fantasy feel?
Vania: To make the scenery have a fantasy feel, we always add something different to it. Shapes, colors, structure and items are all part of the fantasy theme. We used more vibrant colors instead of realistic ones. I made a 3D low poly model with textures and lighting to help me imagine the finished scene. Having dramatic lighting and angle helped me achieve the fantasy theme. I also did paintovers and added details using Photoshop to enhance the mood.
Lesia: Most of us love the fantasy world style and we had some ideas before we started working on this project. Our game designers gave us the freedom to do everything we can imagine in the dragon world! My trick is to create fantasy versions of sceneries like the beautiful Chinese Zhangjiajie area for the mountains, and the snow valleys from the European Alps. We took something from the real places and made it into the fantasy city and dragon ruins that you now see in the game.
What is your favorite scene in the game that you think players should watch out for? 
Lesia: It’s hard to have only one! I love all of them. But if I had to choose, maybe the one on the mountaintop with the snow and ruins is my favourite. It’s almost the end of the game where we see sunrise and then a new day is born.
Vania: My favorite scene is the way before we reach the boss’s room. It feels more intense since we meet another dragon, but we made it beautiful. For me, the art is how we try to communicate what we think and imagine to the players. I hope Emberwing’s players will enjoy the game as much as we enjoy the making!