Game Design From Outer Space

Pinterest is one of the tools we use during the preproduction phase because it allows us to collect pieces of art, sketches and graphic styles.


Pinterest: Our Visual Inspiration Archive

As game designers we are open to any kind of input, and we’re eager for inspiration. We try to watch as many movies and tv series as we can, read many books (even if I can do a lot better), and obviously play a ton of digital and not-digital games. Most of the times, you cannot predict when a single piece of inspiration will be useful, you feel it’s good but you don’t really know when. That’s why I love to keep them archived in an accessible and ordered profile on Pinterest, the visual bookmark tool.

If you go to Pinterest.com/Urustar – at the time I’m writing this – there are 810 pins archived in 51 different boards. Obviously you can find a board with sketches and screenshots of our released games. We have some thematic boards dedicated to architecture, colours, animation and drawing references, for example. Also we have another kind of boards, more like a library: our favourite games, some old board games, or infographics. Every time I found something beautiful, weird or creepy I pin it on a board so I’m sure I’ll be able to find it later in the future. I often ask myself what makes an image interesting and why it hit me (a good inspiration for future environment design, the colour palette, the graphic style?), and then I archive it. And that’s why I rarely pin an image to more than one board.

Every time we start a new project I create a new board on Pinterest exclusively dedicated to that game. It’s one of the first thing I do during the preproduction phase. I invite all my team to the board so everyone can collaborate – if they want to – with their own account. If there’s something appropriate for the game, I repin a few images previously posted on our thematic inspirational boards. Often who’s in charge of the art (and the creative director of the project) is the one who is responsible to search for inspirational images, pieces of art or drawings.

We look at the subject and at the graphic style, as well, but the first goal is to set the mood of the project. It’s like a virtual corkboard: you can pin photos and postcards even if they’re not useful for the artist, but that board is a reminder of what feeling you’re searching for. You can check the Zwan inspiration board, where I collected details of Hieronymus Bosch’s paintings, low poly 3d art and modern surrealist artworks altogether.

I usually say we have more Pinterest boards then actual projects. But as long as we can find ideas and inspiration around (and within) us, I think it’s ok.