It’s the first Sunday of the month so it’s time for another edition of Meet the Team! This round, we meet Kaj our 2D artist working on Travian: Legends!
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Kaj. Can you take a moment to give us a quick background of your career and why you decided to pursue the career as an Artist? We all love an origin story. How did it all start?
It’s the classic “As a kid, I was always drawing” story I guess. However, due to a multitude of factors, I let it lie by the wayside during high school and kind of lost sight of art.
I was a decently smart kid, so with my parents’ recommendation and the fact that my brother was an engineer it only seemed natural to study engineering myself – bad idea! After a year of failing and lacking the motivation to try harder, I called it quits. I wound up going to a game development school after that, and it’s where I got my first actual art classes. These managed to really reinvigorate my love for drawing and painting, and eventually brought me to where I am now!
Could you describe to us how your average day looks at Travian Games?
First thing I do in the morning is to boot my pc, make a cup of coffee, then I curse because I forgot to put the damn pad in the coffee machine again, make another cup of coffee (with pad) and get started on my day.
I spend my coffee time reading my emails and checking if I’ve got any meetings lined up for the day. By the time I’m done, we usually have a standup meeting where the team members discuss what they did yesterday and what they plan to do today. After that, it’s draw, draw, draw until lunch, eat whatever deliciousness our cook prepared and then back to drawing until the day’s end.
So you’re given a task to create concept art, what’s the process that needs to happen before the art is in the game?
Well, it all starts with a request from the designers or the product owner outlining what they need. Then I make some sketches, discussing with some other member(s) of the art team if it works, then the product owner gives it his stamp of approval (or doesn’t) and it gets cleaned up and colored.
After another check by the product owner it gets handed of to the developers to be implemented in the game, Sometimes some unforeseen issues pop up and it’s necessary to do some tweaks or reworks, but that’s basically the process.
What would you say is the most interesting thing about working on the Art for Travian: Legends?
Hmm, I think what makes working on Travian: Legends interesting is the fact that it’s a rather old game. There’s a constant balancing act between wanting to make cool new stuff for the players, but also not wanting to destroy the long legacy of Travian by moving too far away from what the players know and love.
When it’s time to put that idea on to paper. How do you get into that artistic “flow” state? Do you listen to certain type of music? Green tea and light some candles?
I don’t think there’s really anything specific I do. I have the 170-hour playlist that I listen to, but that’s about it. For me the hardest part is just to get started, once I get going it’s not that difficult to keep going.
What helps me is to just tell myself that my first sketch of the day is a warm up, and I won’t be using it and then just draw something absolutely terrible. Once that is out of my system and the seal is broken, I can start working on the real stuff.
Outside of your professional life, what kind of art do you like to create in your spare time? Do you prefer creating 2D or 3D art?
My personal style is actually quite far from the Travian: Legends art style, so when I have time and energy I try to put the random things out of my head on paper. Usually some kind of dragons or fantasy warrior, but now and then some sci-fi stuff slips through.
What’s the piece of work you’re most proud of?
There’s a lot of issues with this piece, and every time I look at it I find more, but I’m still proud of it for a couple of reasons.
First of all, it was one of those pieces where everything suddenly clicked. And it really marked I big jump in my skill level at the time.
Secondly, I just really like the costume design I did for some reason. I keep coming back to it and drawing the character in different styles, and it always feels a little bit like coming home.
Other than games, where do you go for inspiration?
Movies are of course the second big one. I’m also a big fan of all the Magic: the Gathering stuff out there, and my facebook feed is always filled with art from classical masters to people just starting out.
I try to travel to some cool place with my brother at least once a year, which always winds up giving me some ideas and fresh views on drawing and painting.
Speaking of games, which games are you playing these days and what are your top three all-time favorites?
These days I spend most of my time crying because I don’t have a ps4 to play Monster Hunter World…
I played quite a bit of Warhammer: Total War in the past couple of months though, and used to be really into titles like Dota 2 and Overwatch but got kind of burned out from the online communities. These days games are more about hanging out and talking to my friends over the internet than anything else, to be honest. I do expect my social life to disappear once Monster Hunter World gets released for pc though!
Thank you for reading this edition of Meet the Team, we hope you enjoyed it. If you have any questions for Kaj, drop a comment. Otherwise, we hope you’re looking forward to meeting the next team member of the Travian: Legends development team!