Language of the Soul Podcast

Story and Gaming with Ryan Chenier

January 12, 2024 Dominick Domingo Season 2023 Episode 14
Story and Gaming with Ryan Chenier
Language of the Soul Podcast
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Language of the Soul Podcast
Story and Gaming with Ryan Chenier
Jan 12, 2024 Season 2023 Episode 14
Dominick Domingo

This week, we had the pleasure of chatting with Ryan Chenier, as we journeyed into the world of 3D modeling and game development, a fascinating realm where art and technology intricately intertwine. Ryan shared invaluable insights into the complexities of creating 3D models, the breathtaking advancements in tech that fueled the industry, and the critical balance between technical and creative aspects that bring a game to life. We also explored the immersive power of storytelling in games, discussing its unique qualities and impact on Ryan's illustrious career.

Guest Bio: With a decade of experience in the mobile gaming industry, Ryan Chenier embarked on his professional journey as a 3D modeler and animator. Progressing through various roles in visual effects and technical artistry, Ryan co-founded the indie game studio Nevergreen Games. Spearheading the development of their flagship project, Mori Carta, Ryan undertook a dual role, seamlessly blending technical responsibilities such

as programming with creative tasks like visual effects. This hands-on experience illuminated the intrinsic connection between technical and creative facets. Ryan believes that possessing both skill sets enhances the versatility and capabilities of artists and programmers. Grounded in a passion for crafting compelling interactive experiences, Ryan employs modern tools to surmount challenges spanning the technical and creative realms.

Learn more about Ryan Chenier at the links below:
https://www.nevergreengames.com

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1570830/Mori_Carta

We would love to hear from you! Sent US a text message.

Support the Show.

If you would like to make a one-time donation, CLICK HERE, or you can click the support button for other monthly support options.

To learn more and order Language of the Soul: www.dominickdomingo.com/theseeker

Think you would be a great guest for our podcast; please submit a request at LOTS Podcast Guest Pitch Form.

Now more than ever, it’s tempting to throw our hands in the air and surrender to futility in the face of global strife. Storytellers know we must renew hope daily. We are being called upon to embrace our interconnectivity, transform paradigms, and trust the ripple effect will play its part. In the words of Lion King producer Don Hahn (Episode 8), “Telling stories is one of the most important professions out there right now.” We here at Language of the Soul Podcast could not agree more.

This podcast is a labor of love. You can help us spread the word about the power of story to transform. Your donation, however big or small, will help us build our platform and thereby get the word out. Together, we can change the world…one heart at a time!

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

This week, we had the pleasure of chatting with Ryan Chenier, as we journeyed into the world of 3D modeling and game development, a fascinating realm where art and technology intricately intertwine. Ryan shared invaluable insights into the complexities of creating 3D models, the breathtaking advancements in tech that fueled the industry, and the critical balance between technical and creative aspects that bring a game to life. We also explored the immersive power of storytelling in games, discussing its unique qualities and impact on Ryan's illustrious career.

Guest Bio: With a decade of experience in the mobile gaming industry, Ryan Chenier embarked on his professional journey as a 3D modeler and animator. Progressing through various roles in visual effects and technical artistry, Ryan co-founded the indie game studio Nevergreen Games. Spearheading the development of their flagship project, Mori Carta, Ryan undertook a dual role, seamlessly blending technical responsibilities such

as programming with creative tasks like visual effects. This hands-on experience illuminated the intrinsic connection between technical and creative facets. Ryan believes that possessing both skill sets enhances the versatility and capabilities of artists and programmers. Grounded in a passion for crafting compelling interactive experiences, Ryan employs modern tools to surmount challenges spanning the technical and creative realms.

Learn more about Ryan Chenier at the links below:
https://www.nevergreengames.com

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1570830/Mori_Carta

We would love to hear from you! Sent US a text message.

Support the Show.

If you would like to make a one-time donation, CLICK HERE, or you can click the support button for other monthly support options.

To learn more and order Language of the Soul: www.dominickdomingo.com/theseeker

Think you would be a great guest for our podcast; please submit a request at LOTS Podcast Guest Pitch Form.

Now more than ever, it’s tempting to throw our hands in the air and surrender to futility in the face of global strife. Storytellers know we must renew hope daily. We are being called upon to embrace our interconnectivity, transform paradigms, and trust the ripple effect will play its part. In the words of Lion King producer Don Hahn (Episode 8), “Telling stories is one of the most important professions out there right now.” We here at Language of the Soul Podcast could not agree more.

This podcast is a labor of love. You can help us spread the word about the power of story to transform. Your donation, however big or small, will help us build our platform and thereby get the word out. Together, we can change the world…one heart at a time!

Speaker 1:

Hi guys, and welcome to Language of the Soul podcast, where life is story. I want to take a few minutes before interviewing, introducing our first guest, or even our producer, which we're I think we're going to call her the lashless lady this week, because she's in need of new lashes, from what I understand. Before I do all that, I wanted to give you guys an update on the launch and invite you to check out our YouTube channel. I've mentioned it once, but not nearly enough. We have a lot of supplemental, hopefully inspirational content on the YouTube channel that we just don't have room for in this format. So please check it out. The link to our YouTube channel is at the bottom of every podcast and it's streaming on all the platforms. So wherever you're getting your podcasts, you will see the link at the bottom and, as a very last resort, you can just, you know, enter Language of the Soul in YouTube and you'll find us. So please follow that. And then, beyond that, I just wanted to say we again are so happy with the reception, with the feedback, the number of hits, literally from the world over, and I feel like we're creating a community here that we've been so blessed that our guests you know they all have their worldviews and their opinions and their voices but blissfully we are kindred spirits in a lot of ways. Nobody really that's come on has read my book and yet I feel so validated that I'm not crazy and my take on story is somewhat universal among those who self-identify as storytellers. So I just want to say you know, this week especially, I couldn't feel more passionate about this topic or its significance at this moment in time.

Speaker 1:

Without going into too much detail, we do have two wars waging and I take about 300 pages to make my case in the book. I won't do that here, but I do feel like storytelling is the means by which we transform and it always has been. Just wrap your brain around that we learn more in the narrative realm than we do in the didactic. So if we all did our work and recognized story and all its forms, how could the macro not be affected? It sounds simplistic, but you know there's a reason. Michael Jackson said start with the man in the mirror and I guess to be a little clearer, what I mean is we're inculcated with story all day, every day, in all its forms, right including advertising and propaganda. Regarding the two wars, which I won't go into detail. One of them incorporates thousands of years of storytelling and mythology.

Speaker 1:

What stories are we internalizing by default, like crabs in the boiling water right, and thereby shaping our world views? If you're I won't say the name, but if you're in that one country that's invading the other country and the, the fascist dictator, controls the media like they do in China, you have no choice but to believe the stories you're being spoon fed. I hope that makes sense. So when the stakes are a little bit lower, like here in the States, we get to pick and choose which stories we internalize. We get to choose confirmation, bias or living in a bubble, if we so choose, or right, we can be skeptical about the stories that are being offered and be discerning about those that we internalize. I hope that makes sense. I'll get off my soapbox, but this is why we're doing it.

Speaker 1:

I've quoted Don Hahn, the producer of Lion King, several times. And why not? He made a difference, not just in pop culture but in the world, and he said it is one of the most important jobs out there right now, and I cannot disagree. Okay enough, said. I'm going to introduce our guest, but first say hello to the folks. Virginia the lashless. Is it okay to call you the lashless lady?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I have lashes, but yes, but they're dwindling because, they're dwindling because I get extensions.

Speaker 1:

so there's my high maintenance, yeah you had to explain it to me. We naturally lose lashes, so of course the extension comes off with it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so, yep, so I am getting them redone for the holidays.

Speaker 1:

So I can yeah, be presentable. Will there be snowflakes on them, or what makes them holiday?

Speaker 2:

No, I do what's called a high bread. So they look like they're cross between people who don't have like. Some people have like very thin lashes, so a classic lash is just to help people who have really short lashes or very thin lashes. Look like they have more of like lashes that normally you see on most people and then the high bread is what's called volumizing. So as you get older because you know, as we like to always remind everybody, we're both getting up there in age that your lashes that naturally as you get older.

Speaker 1:

So I it sucks, yeah, so.

Speaker 2:

I do high bread, so I don't look like my lashes are thinning as much with age so no snowflakes but no snowflakes. Yeah, but I will have some long ones, and they're then a little bit wispy, just to add a little bit of drama, of course and you've got some yule tied cheer on your fingers, anyway on your nails, okay, yes, whoo, sufficiently festive.

Speaker 1:

Okay, without further ado, I'm going to introduce our guests. Sorry, ryan, you're waiting in the virtual green room. I'm so sorry, okay. So this is the part where I read our guests bio, and, ryan, if I butcher it, you can set me straight. That's the problem. Okay, that's the standard disclaimer. All right, with a decade of oh, I need to put my glasses on. How about that? Speaking of getting older, right cosmetics aside, okay.

Speaker 1:

With a decade of experience in the mobile gaming industry, ryan Chenye embarked on his professional journey as a 3d modeler and animator, progressing through various roles in visual effects and technical artistry. Ryan co-founded the indie game studio nevergreen games, spearheading the development of their flagship project, mori Carter, which I had a very small part of and hope to in the future. Ryan undertook a dual role, seamlessly blending technical responsibilities such as programming with creative tasks like visual effects. This hands-on experience illuminated the intrinsic connection between technical and creative facets. Ryan believes that possessing both skill sets enhances the versatility and capabilities of artists and programmers. Grounded in a passion for crafting compelling, interactive experiences, ryan employs modern tools to surmount challenges spanning the technical and creative realms. As a side note, I believe you studied animation and illustration at San Jose State University. Is that right? Right, yes, okay. And then you worked as a modeler and an animator as well yeah, I did.

Speaker 3:

You know a lot of various tasks. When I got into industry I did 3d modeling was the very first thing that I did. I actually worked for this place that did flight simulator technology for pilots and stuff, and so you would like.

Speaker 1:

Can you tell me the name?

Speaker 3:

oh yeah, that was called echelon technology.

Speaker 1:

I'm just curious because you know, I lived in the Antelope Valley for five minutes straight out of high school before college and one of my dear friends I'll drop a name, francis Ozur worked at link flight simulation. This is way back in like 88. Yeah, I got a little she.

Speaker 3:

She worked on flight simulation, similar right yeah, yeah, and I think that's kind of it was interesting for me, you know, as basically my first job out of school and I think it was really a good experience to be able to practice like all right it actually was. I think we had to move pretty quickly to get these things done like it was actually good experience for me. Making models, you know, you go on like Google Maps or Google Earth and you zoom into a section here and all right, we need to build out this section. Somebody needs to make this McDonald's over here. You follow this mall or they're supposed to be like you know this building over here and you put it together. Or this, like you know airport, or something like that it's come a long way, hasn't it?

Speaker 3:

it was, yeah, it has come a long way now I think a lot of that stuff is photogrammetry, where you fly a plane over and it would just take images of the things and then it would convert that into 3d models and use it. Yeah, in my neighbor.

Speaker 1:

I live in a pretty hilly, windy neighborhood, it's. We believe there are portals where you can just sort of disappear and then reappear in a different neighborhood. There's always like a new, coldest act to discover, put it that way. By walking around a bend in my really hilly neighborhood, a friend and I, a car passed really quick and it had cameras mounted all over it and we quickly saw that it read Google Maps or something like that, and we're like yeah, oh, I hope I don't show up picking my nose in the in the final render of that you know, yeah, someone you know.

Speaker 3:

I don't know if it's someone's job or if they trained an AI to do it, but someone blurs out like license plates and images of people's faces and stuff, and you know.

Speaker 1:

I've seen some. I've seen some pretty disturbing stuff that made it past so then it must be.

Speaker 3:

I feel like it must be somebody's job. That must be.

Speaker 1:

A rough job is just like right right, yeah and yeah, things that go on in dark alleys anyway. So you spent seven years at Zynga as well, right?

Speaker 3:

yeah, yeah, and you know that was um first job in the game industry and I got in there, luckily, doing 3d modeling for a game that was called hidden chronicles it's like a hidden object game and you know it was actually a really good opportunity. I got to work my way up in different jobs and I got to try a lot of stuff. I love experimenting with new technology, experimenting with new processes, that's sort of. I'm sort of like a tinker and I've always kind of I've always wanted to make games, and so getting into a company where I got the opportunity to try a lot of different stuff was great.

Speaker 3:

You know, I moved into, I did some flash animation, I did vfx like little particle systems, and learning how to do vfx shaders, which involves sort of like artistic and technical processes because you have to like make the artwork for the particles, like maybe you'll make like a star or a leaf or some sprite texture, and then also also you'll need to work with the particle system and engine, like maybe a unity or unreal, to make those particles move and sort of create certain visual effects. And so that sort of going into vfx and learning that naturally sort of led me towards technical art, which is basically a blend of both art and technical studies like programming, and so I kind of felt like that gave me perspective on both worlds.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. That's kind of why I wanted to go down that road. A little bit is, I think, we compartmentalize. You know again, deep canvas at Disney. I worked on Harzand. It was the immersive look. We were painting directly on the wireframe, which was cutting edge at the time. It's old hat now, right, but you know you had a technical director and you'd be. You know it's kind of one artist and one technical director, but when you've been in the trenches you're in way better equipped and you have both skill sets right to massage that production pipeline and I do think it's a unique skill set. But philosophically, I wonder if you don't mind defining, when you use the words technical versus I think creative was the word you used assuming they're not mutually exclusive what is the relationship between the technical and the creative?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it's kind of hard because for me, I feel like that line is very blurred and blended, but for maybe other people that I've interacted with and talked to, it's like a hard line, right, well, I don't think so.

Speaker 1:

I think I love just spouting my opinion. It's like the technical is there to support the vision right, the creative, yes out the desired outcome. So the technical is a tool, it seems like.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and at its heart I think that's that's really what I believe like you might have a creative director and they have a vision of how the game should look and you know how it should feel. And so then you have a lot of the artists that are maybe making artwork, they're making assets, animations, vfx for it, but those need to be implemented for a game, need to be implemented into a system that is run off logic and code right, the programming of it, whatever, whether you're using C, sharp or C++ or whatever system, or you're running your own game engine and using whatever language you're using but the artwork needs to interface with this system, needs to go into there and it needs to work and operate a certain way. And so one of the challenges that you find is you have the artists over here that are making. You know, let's say, it's a UI artist and they're making buttons and they work a certain way. Those buttons have multiple states. There's a down state, there's an up state.

Speaker 3:

If you, you know, if you're on pc and you have a mouse, there's a highlight hover over state and maybe there's vfx that play when you press down on it and somehow those need to be hooked up in the game so they function properly, and so you could give it to an engineer, someone that you know has, like, solely focused on learning how to code and program and work with the systems. But that person might not, might take those art assets and put them in wrong. They might not function correctly or they might look weird, like maybe the compression values on the artwork that comes into the engine compresses all the colors and such a way that it just doesn't look right, and so they'll put it in and you look at and you go, geez, like the down state looks wrong, it's all black, like what happened to the colors or what happened to the vfx. They're not playing correctly, they're playing behind this, and so it helps to have someone with an artistic eye but an understanding of how to implement the art assets in a way that they function properly.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah, I think when I said it's a unique skill set, I think it's interfacing between artists and technical directors, or you know, the technical side is a much needed position and it's often absent. You know, my brush with gaming is pretty limited. I did the characters for Silent Hill and a couple titles for Dimgy. Disney Interactive Media Group and.

Speaker 1:

I just noticed. Yeah, people tend to be in one camp or the other and they don't really see beyond their own skill set. So I think an artist you know there are not many artists can do a turnaround, understanding modeling I happen to model a little bit in Maya, I'm not a genius and sketch up just enough to know how to do a turnaround. That's best idealized for that purpose. Right, but even with UI elements, I just found that when I was hired at Jim Dimgy, for example a fellow Disney veteran, I didn't know her so it wasn't a colleague, but she was pushing for a really great artist and again the people on the technical side was like no, no, no, we need somebody who does UI all day, every day. It's like you know, just tell me what format to output it in it's it's not it's not that tough just tell me what you need delivered.

Speaker 1:

It might be more important to have you know, light, logic, color theory, perspective, composition, all those core skills under your belt, then being, you know, being a technical master.

Speaker 3:

I think it's a balance and I should mention too that there's a lot of different flavors of technical artists that have like very specific, like character TD, like if you're rigging a character, like how you have to study, like how the muscles work, how do? Where do you put the bone in the joint and then, like you know what's the orientation on that and how do?

Speaker 1:

I set up my pose and there's specialized skill sets with every position, right yeah? Yeah, and so at least, you have been in the trenches and you have an overview of all of that.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and there's like yeah, and that's why I say you know, I wanted to make sure, because one, you know, what I was talking about before was like implementing your sort of like a bridge between art and technical. But there's also positions where, like if you were doing shaders, where you're defining how a surface looks and reacts to light, right, and you might be looking at, okay, you might be understanding, all right, what is? How do I make a surface that looks like a cartoon shader, that still gets light, but maybe the fall off of it isn't as soft and maybe I'm still you tune, tune shading.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, like tune shading you know, and and for me actually, because I did some of that, I didn't get super deep into the shading, but actually a lot of the principles and things you learn on the technical side of understanding how light works like for now, absolutely.

Speaker 1:

You can't do minimalism unless you understand the nuances of how light affects form, right yeah.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, but I think that actually from approaching it from the technical side, it helped me understand. It helped me actually understand like painting better.

Speaker 3:

I see, I needed words and terms like for now to understand why does this look like this? Why, you know? Why is it that if I'm standing, you know, on a dock in the lake and I look straight down into the water, I can see the lake bed, but if I look out I can't. I see a reflection of the sky. Right, and what exactly is that? Right and like from a technical perspective? Understanding those terms and understanding, like how that affects the surface of the light, actually helped me with artistically like understanding if I were to do a like a plein air painting or something like that.

Speaker 1:

Well, it's a different vocabulary too. That's that's what I've noticed. Like if you're talking about hue value and saturation in the RGB realm, it's kind of a different conversation than talking about pigment. It's kind of a new additive and subtractive, you know. But I think the more robust your vocabulary is, the better off you are. What's the term for, like when you lose all light in a recessed area?

Speaker 3:

I think that ambient occlusion, I think.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, occlusion, I almost said occlusion. Yeah, stuff like that absolutely helped me in my plein air painting the balance between the two, Anyway, but at the risk I don't want to get too technical for our listeners, so I want to reel it back into storytelling, which is the spirit of the podcast. I am going to ask you to back up a little bit if you don't mind. And when you chose illustration and animation as your course of study, what inclinations would you say sort of led you to that? But I also want to ask you specifically about story and gaming as opposed to filmed entertainment or literature. I do know gameplay pretty much drives a lot in gaming, but I want to hear your opinion on how the role of story in gaming and I also want to hear what led you I'm guessing there was storytelling attracted you in the first place to visual storytelling.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, okay, yeah, this is a big story. I'll try to go fast. I won't.

Speaker 1:

No, no, no, Don't break your tongue. We don't want to just brain your tongue, please.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I definitely have a lot to say. So I, growing up, I loved video games. I think I probably have more connection with a lot of the games than I do like, even like traditional film or, you know, animated feature film. I think my first memory ever was playing Super Mario Brothers with my brother.

Speaker 1:

It's so funny. I predicted that would come up. I think we're just enough, virginia. Of course I mentioned my age because I'm trying to get over. I try to say 55 in advance, just so I can get over that hump. So I tend to add a year just to get it out of the way. But yeah, my just for reference. Like I'm old enough to remember Atari right when ping ping pong was it so I grew up going to literally pinball arcades and then I remember when you first had asteroids right and hack man the only exactly Frogger, but the only one I ever got good at was Centipede.

Speaker 1:

I would get the high score regularly. And then what's the animated one with the dragons dragons layer.

Speaker 3:

Oh, dragons layer, I love dragons that game's hard.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it wasn't. Yeah, the state of the art was pretty crude back then too. But anyway, point is, then I started college. So I had a brother in a lot that played Mario Brothers and took long hits all day, every day, and I was like, yeah, we don't have world peace yet, so I'm going to just go to college. I just didn't have time. Do you know what I mean? So so when I was at Art Center, leisure suit Larry was the state of the art. Do you remember that?

Speaker 3:

title yes, I do.

Speaker 1:

There's a company called Sierra graphics and they actually offered me a job of midway through and I could be in Yosemite right now. I could have gone the gaming route and I just didn't. But that's how old I am. Leisure suit, larry was the state of the art when I was in college.

Speaker 3:

Okay, I do, I do remember those and you know that back then I think maybe I didn't really understand what was happening in games. Like now I look back and I reflect what, like what I learned from my experience just playing games when I was younger and stuff, but I didn't really know, like, okay, I didn't necessarily think story was a big deal. I just like the gameplay part. I just like the fun, you know the the it feels fun, there's interactions that are happening. But looking back on it, you know I realized that games actually did a few things for me. One of them was they helped me understand and I have conversations with my buddy about this all the time but I think they help you understand risk in a way that's very interesting and the end and so the form of storytelling.

Speaker 3:

So, just so people know the difference between like games and other media movies and podcasts, radio, that kind of thing is the interactivity. Games are literally interactive media, which means that it requires that you interact with the game in a way that you need or advance, and so because of that, it means that games allow, have the ability to tell you a story and get your feedback or your input while the story is being told and it's kind of on a spectrum. Some games, you know, your feedback is very, very important and and it shapes the way that the story goes. Some games it doesn't really shape the story. You get the same story no matter what. It drops you maybe in a section where you play this section and then it tells you more story and I can get into the different types of games. But going back, so at the time when I was in high school, I was playing a lot of Blizzard games, huge fan of Diablo.

Speaker 1:

A lot of my, a lot of my students have ended up at Blizzard which is awesome, I think that's San Diego.

Speaker 3:

I think that's in San Diego. I think so. I think so is in San Diego. Irvine might be in.

Speaker 1:

Oh, maybe both, I don't know.

Speaker 3:

Maybe, but but I was a huge fan of Blizzard and it just so happened that at the time. So my folks own an apartment building in San Francisco Victorian apartment building and we were going there and fixing water heaters and toilets with my dad or whatever, when I was younger and we had a vacancy. So we would go there and we would sit there and wait to rent out, you know, like, show the show, the place, and people would come in and look at it. You know, fill out this form, whatever one day. And then an apartment artist from Blizzard came in and said hey, you know, I'm looking for a place here. And I got super excited and was talking to him about you know all this stuff. And I said you know, I'm getting ready to go to college.

Speaker 3:

I went to junior college because I was still trying to figure things out and he said you know, I'm kind of interested in making games. I've always wanted to make games. I'm playing the game you made. I'm playing Diablo two or the game you were talking about. What should I do? You know, I'm kind of technical. I have no art experience whatsoever. At that time I basically did not draw anything like I would say my art skills were at like a first grade level.

Speaker 1:

Oh, were you at that time.

Speaker 3:

Oh, I was like what, 1718 something yeah this is.

Speaker 1:

This is interesting because I have often, you know, I taught for 20 years at Art Center and, like I said, a lot of my students ended up at Blizzard or they end up in gaming. But I do find it fascinating when somebody has a love of gaming and that motivates them to learn light logic, color theory, perspective, composition, if that makes sense. The driving impetus is not being an artist and then finding a political expression, it's oh, I have a love of gaming, I'm going to learn the tools. So even at Disney we had a production, there was always a big, again, compartmentalization between production and the artists, right, but we would have PAs. For example, it went from PA to coordinator, to assistant production manager, to production manager, to producer, to executive producer. But on that side they got so good at talking about incident lights versus, like you're saying you know, or like I don't know, occlusion.

Speaker 1:

They would throw around that terminology and they would have not necessarily understood it but, as they say, couldn't draw a straight line. You know. I find that fascinating, anyway, but I want to know that guy's name because I feel like it's probably one of my students, an environment artist, at Blizzard at the time period you're in there. I probably know that person.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so I guess I can name drop here. So his name was Fred Vaught and there was a level in Diablo two which is, I think, in the expansion I think it was an expansion, and it was called the Neela. There's like the Neelothok, I think was the boss in that level and it was called the halls of Vaught. So like, basically, the level had his name in the, in the title of, and so I remember just a funny anecdote at the time he told me. So he told me we're using this technology called Maya and you should go out and learn this technology. And at that time they had the Maya six books out. So I went to the store about all of the Maya six books. It was like eight of them is thick, thick, thick books, this giant packet of stuff. And he gave me a CD and on the CD was textures, conch grass stone.

Speaker 1:

I have that and, and, and, and well, there was something called surfaces? It wasn't. Yeah, there was a CD in a book called surfaces. That's amazing.

Speaker 3:

But I think this was his personal stock. I don't know for sure, but I think this was his personal stock because they were organized and named and they were different sizes 1024, 512, 256, you know 64 and I'm going. Oh my God.

Speaker 1:

And then I like title textures or no.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, some are tileable. There was like a tileable folder. Some were just normal textures. I think this is like you know. Maybe he went out and like took photos of the ground and like different sections and and I was like wow, but at the time I didn't know like how important that was, because I had no knowledge of Maya or 3D or anything, and so I ended up losing. I was, I remember, trying to find it. I couldn't find it. I felt so sad that I lost this thing. But I studied those books front and back like I was just like I was doing the tutorials, I was doing all of the lessons.

Speaker 1:

How much was Maya back then? Did I mean? How did you know there was a?

Speaker 3:

If I remember correctly, there was a free version. I don't I don't recall paying for it.

Speaker 3:

I think there was a free version, or there might have been like a student version or something like that. I don't recall having to pay for it, though I might I might have. No, I think there was a free version. Yeah, not for, not for commercial use. And I just remember just going through every one of those tutorials and doing stuff. So for the next like couple of years while I was in junior college, I was just like every day doing those books right, and it was like the first one was modeling and then you know, rigging animation, and I remember from that time, like getting dizzy, ever used a 3D program before you flip the camera upside down and you get dizzy and you can't get back.

Speaker 1:

I thought you meant you got dizzy, because it's so much to take in. I feel like it's such a vast. I mean, it's right, every time there's a new version that comes out, there's more tools. It's like, is it going to do my laundry? I just, I just model. I don't texture and rig, I don't light, I don't animate, I just model.

Speaker 3:

And even so, I'm overwhelmed at the last couple of versions, right, there's so many tools, it can get extremely overwhelming, and you know they don't want to like decommission tools, because there's people that have learned you know, maya since earlier versions and they're like don't get rid of this part of my workflow.

Speaker 1:

Right, well, that's one of my beefs. It's like if it ain't broke, don't fix it. It's almost like you know, there's this obligation across the board to justify their jobs, and sometimes there was nothing wrong with the last version, you know.

Speaker 3:

Well, yeah, they always have to keep coming out with newer versions, but I think the reason the program gets so feel like you know, the menus just have buttons everywhere is because, like, oh, this is the new workflow we want new people to use right here.

Speaker 1:

My eyes I just my eyes are not good enough to see all the little tiny tools. That's my problem.

Speaker 3:

I have an enormous monitor and I still can't see them, so that's just right yeah, it gets crazy and you know, when you open up Maya, which you're really opening up as an entire studio, there's exactly there's something there for the 3d modelers, there's something there for the VFX artists, right, and like it's an entire studio in one package, and that's why they have like the drop down switch to the rigging. I think changes all to the reading tools and stuff. But, yeah, it can be, it can be very overwhelming and sometimes the tools you know there's tools that are like, don't use these tools, these are legacy, unless you have a word for whatever Right.

Speaker 3:

So so I was learning, I was learning my at the time. I got okay and that I knew how to use the tools, but I had no artistic understanding or training whatsoever. I only had software training that I was able to learn from these books, and so at that time I was trying to figure out okay, I want to work in games. I've been studying this thing. Maybe I should go to art school. I had some teachers that told me you actually have some like proficiency in programming, you could go programming route.

Speaker 3:

I said I don't know. I think maybe that I've been doing this thing. I'm going to look for some schools that have like some classes in 3d, like modeling and animation and stuff, and so I was looking at going to the art school in San Francisco what is it? Academy, and then, and then I saw San Jose State. I saw that they didn't have a portfolio entry like a portfolio review entry, because I didn't have one, didn't have a portfolio you realize again.

Speaker 1:

This is what fascinates me, because I've I founded the entertainment track at Art Center. You know they really were recruiting like Disney, feature animation or even imagining would come and recruit from Art Center, but they weren't seeing what they needed to see in their portfolios, which is why I went back to my alma mater and founded their entertainment track. I taught there for 20 years. I taught the portfolio class, but I remember the moment I first started encountering students that you know they would want to pick my brain about what school to go to and they didn't really even know that to get into gaming you actually had to be an artist with right eyeballs, with a temperament and disposition to observe and then replicate like they. They literally didn't make the connection of what it is. They didn't make the connection of what it is to be an artist. They come around.

Speaker 1:

That's what fascinates me. You came around right because of your love of gaming. But anyway, there was a moment where it's like you know, they just want to know what they're going to do for the rest of their lives. They don't want to wear a paper hat or work at the DMV or work at Del Taco. God love them for having a love of gaming, but it didn't even answer their mind that being an artist might be a slightly different skill set.

Speaker 3:

It was fascinating to me, but I love that they can learn that stuff. And I think that's one of the powerful things about really you know gaming or anything, you watch Disney movies and you're enamored by the animation and stuff and it drives you to want to learn these things right, and I think that's one of the most powerful things is when you can create something that inspires someone to you know well, that's what I'm getting at like.

Speaker 1:

There can be a love of craft, there can be a love of a given genre or a given format, but I do think, slowly, you realize you know what this is storytelling or there is. This is artistry. I do have a creative drive. I am expressing myself. I just think it takes time to figure out some. You know, in my case it was like I just didn't want to flip burgers. I did the logical thing. Everyone said I was a good drawer and I just did it. In my 20s I was like you know what? I've always been a storyteller, I've always written short stories. Takes a while to connect the dots, I think.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, and you know it's a journey, it's definitely a process For me. I, you know I struggled a lot to with just even basic stuff. I remember there was a for a long time I could not look at two lines and determine if the lines were parallel, converging or diverging. I could not. It was, it was sort of experience perceptual disorder.

Speaker 3:

I have no idea. I have no idea. It took me, like I I remember the day when the page became 3D, if that makes any sense, when it felt like when you're drawing onto a page, it's a 3D space that you can draw into, kind of, were you on shrooms or acid? No, no, it wasn't anything like that. I think it was just something where my brain could not perceive, it could not, I could not see how lines could indicate 3D objects right on the page drawing them.

Speaker 1:

It's just a. It's a, it's code, right, it's symbol.

Speaker 3:

It's a it's honestly it's kind of hard for me to explain. It was like a light switch. One day I couldn't, one day I could, like I could not draw cubes. I really struggled to draw cubes right. And one day I you know, struggling, struggling, trying to draw cubes, these lines aren't right, it's not right.

Speaker 3:

And then one day it was like I understood it, I can see it, so I struggled with a lot of basic like things like that colors pretty much everything, and I think, though, that was actually a good experience for me, in that I really learned how to push through.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, yeah really.

Speaker 1:

I mean, these are we don't need to go off on tangents, but I do feel like it's kind of the luck of the draw too when it comes to education. Like I happen to have gotten all the at Art Center back in again the late 80s, it was like there was this big standoff between, ooh, you're so rendered, or you're more expressive with your stroke, or whatever, and so it was the luck of the draw. I got all the tighter, they would call it or more rendered instructors, and so we're all meeting in the middle, right, Most expressive artists want a little more discipline and most really anal artists want to express themselves more. So I guess what I mean is I think some people understand form in terms of line, meaning contours, meaning the line that delineates the form shadow from the lit side. And I had instructors that would literally pile up shopping carts and do these amazing sculptures in the middle of the room and you had to define them with negative and positive and positive space is using just line.

Speaker 1:

If you got that card in your you know, dealt to you in your hand, then maybe you understand form in terms of line If you've got another instructor. They talked about light equals, color, equals form, and you did nothing but fields of color with a hue value and saturation. Do you know what I mean? You're gonna learn a little bit more about modeling and you're gonna understand form in that way. So, anyway, I don't think you're alone.

Speaker 3:

I think there's a lot of people. Well, actually this does tie to the AI thing, which we can all mention, and then we'll come back to this, but I remember during my time at school, I used to listen to. Like you know, I read a lot of stuff and was listening to a lot of podcasts because I was trying to like knowledge my way into drawing better which didn't really work.

Speaker 3:

But you know, like I read like the illusion of life, and I read like there was a podcast, I think it was called the animation podcast and it had a bunch of like the various, like Glen Keane was on there and Andrea Staja and all those people.

Speaker 1:

It's not Larry Whitaker's podcast, Was it? I think it was.

Speaker 3:

Clay Cates Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, he did a podcast where he interviewed a bunch of them and I remember-.

Speaker 1:

Actually I have to shout out to Clay. I have to tell you my supervisor, online King, that hired me 18 months early during the Latin. But I worked with him for three years, all said and done, on Tarzan Doug Ball walks on water to me and then I worked from again on Tarzan for three full years as I went on in early reproduction. So six of my 11 years were spent working for a gentleman named Doug Ball who, I'm so lucky, just walked on water, not just as a mentor, not just as an artist, but as a human being. He's never gotten that good again. So that's the downside. I've never been that spoiled again. Anyway, he lives in Hawaii now, but Clay is his son-in-law, oh, okay. So Clay married Monica, doug's daughter, and I'm still friendly with all of them. But yeah, clay is amazing. I didn't know he had a podcast.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, and I remember listening to that podcast a lot. I listened to like all the episodes and so it definitely helped me through some times when I was trying to figure out some stuff. And I remember he interviewed Glenn Keen. That was a really great episode and I remember- Glenn was my mentor during my internship.

Speaker 1:

Anyway, I learned from the best. I learned from Glenn Absolutely, and when I was in Paris, he gave me his assistant for the day and she handled my rental car to go to Mont Sémichel and my bed and breakfast. Glenn gave me his assistant for the day in Paris. Yeah, you're bringing back fond memories, I'm sorry.

Speaker 3:

So what did Glenn teach you? I'm glad I can. You know I feel like I, like you know, read about these people, learned, heard about these people. You know I never was on the inside, but it's great to hear a lot of these. You know stories with your personal experiences.

Speaker 1:

Well, the point is he's buried down to earth Like Glenn is amazing, and he's the most low-key guy you'll ever meet, anyway. So what did you learn from Glenn?

Speaker 3:

So what was interesting about this episode was he was talking about how he said he could never see it Like he was, you know, training with the nine old men and they were talking about you just have to see it and then draw what you see on the paper. And he was saying I never see it, I have to pull it out. I have to scribble and draw and like, pull it out, draw, like pull it out of these scribbles. And there's something about that process that kind of relates to the AI and that how it starts to pull out shapes and forms from noise. And we can get into that a little bit later. But the way that it kind of works is like starting from noise and then recognizing patterns and pulling shapes and things out, pulling patterns out of the noise to create something and doing a series of iterations through it, and so there's some kind of interesting tie there that we can talk when we get more into this.

Speaker 1:

Well, philosophically right. Yeah, those are loaded words you chose. One could argue that's what art is right. Is finding the order in the chaos or the meaning in the noise right? I mean not that you or I are about to define beauty or art, but we haven't been able to do it yet as a species. But I think your, on this little metaphor there. Am I crazy?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I mean recognizing pattern recognition is one of the ways that we learn and make sense of the world. Like your subconscious is constantly like there's so much information that we've taken just from seeing that our brain is constantly trying to make sense of the patterns we're seeing and either discards them like this is irrelevant. Don't even pay attention to that.

Speaker 1:

Well, but I would argue too, we reify the information, right? We all have supposedly the same sense organs and we take in the data, but our brain reifies them. So a big part of my book is like, well, what filters are being used to reify that information, whether they're conceptual filters or right variations that we have no way of knowing Right and sometimes you can pride in them.

Speaker 3:

There's I don't know if you've heard of this one experiment where they had like a video and there was a gorilla that would walk on, and it would walk off, right, and at the beginning they would tell people like, count how many times, I don't know, something happens or some other piece of information, and people would be so focused on counting they would not notice the man in the gorilla suit that would walk by. And so what they're actually doing is they're testing your brain's ability to filter out information that believes to be irrelevant.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah, and so in that way, you know, yeah, and serotonin levels differ between right, virginia this has come up before right. I mean, again, I've done enough shrooms and acid to know that perception is largely in the particular chemical balance and what you're capable of tuning out versus, you know, relegating to the background or putting in the forefront.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and I think it. You know, we're still studying. One of the things I really appreciate I listen to a lot of psychological podcasts and stuff on, like, you know, social science and things is we're still studying the human mind and we're making pretty big advances on how the brain works and in some ways, you know, that can be a weapon, like we can use it to exploit people. We know that the brain works a certain way. We can do these kinds of things or whatever, but also it can help us understand how we make sense of the world. And I think, going back to stories, stories are a big way in which we make sense of the world, you know, because we can encapsulate human experiences into something that's easy to understand but maybe is talking about, you know, complex ideas or complex things that we have to wrestle with, and so I think that's I think story really is a tool that we use to make sense of what's happening and it's a task that information on.

Speaker 1:

Well, it sounds a little bit too like we're finding the universal. If everybody's got their subjective perceptions and then right their subjective conceptualizations of what they're perceiving, we are finding the universal, the common ground, the human condition and then language of the soul right, and then we're speaking to one another on that level. I think that's part of what it is to be a storyteller. But yeah, I mean, I think you hinted at the order. I don't want to put words in your mouth, not order and chaos, but making shape of the noise. How did you do that?

Speaker 3:

Oh, yes, yes, making shape of the noise. Well, one thing I just wanted to sort of tie up the story of sort of storytelling in games before we jump into the AI is so after I graduated, I sort of didn't play any games during my time at art school, and so I had this huge gap in my gaming experience between it was like 2005 and 2011. So there were a lot of games that came out at that time, I think, like the Uncharted see the first Uncharted game. I think Last of Us came out around that time.

Speaker 3:

There's a game called Demon's Souls and some other games that like came out during that time that I had not played, and so I had this experience of like stepping back from this medium that I grew up with and coming back to it. I actually was a really it was a really good thing, because I used to play AAA games and games from, like big studios and stuff, but coming back to it, I actually started to experience indie games. There was this indie revival around 2010, 2011, where a lot of indie game developers were making games and doing something interesting with the medium, and the first thing I played after art school was a game called Flower, which is by Jenova Chen, that game company, which is, like, really famous for making games that are. This emotionally expressive experience and that game and a couple of other games I played made me realize that games are doing something different in storytelling. There's something different happening here that is not what you can do in other medium, and I'll talk about the game. To me, that sort of like in my mind, this is the moment when I realized that storytelling and games can do something different, which is I played this game called Brothers Tale of Two Sons, which I absolutely love that game and I think I heard they might be making a second one coming out soon. But that game is incredible and I can throw out spoilers because I'm like if anyone wants to play that game, it's a good game. I highly recommend it.

Speaker 3:

But what's interesting about that game is you play two brothers. You go on this adventure. You play two brothers where you control each brother separately using the left and right joysticks and you have action buttons, the left and right action buttons and you have to solve puzzles. So, for instance, the older there's the older brother in blue and there's the younger brother in red and the older brother might have to lift the handle and then the younger brother can go through a door, and then you're doing stuff with the younger brother and then the older brother releases the handle and goes through the other thing, and so, basically, you're going through this adventure with the two brothers and what's incredible is the game, the entire game, is training you that the older brother is on the right, I think, and the younger brother is on the left, and you're solving these puzzles and you're going through this adventure.

Speaker 3:

But what's interesting is so they're also telling you this story your dad is sick. You have to go get this elixir, and both brothers are going through this adventure to get to it. And at the beginning of the game you find out that the younger brother is afraid of water because the mother drowns and he sees her drown, and so whenever you encounter water, you have to use the older brother to get. The younger brother jumps on the older brother's back and you swim across with the older brother. Both of them get across. So water is like this thing that the younger brother is afraid of. So you go through this entire adventure. At the end of the game spoiler alert the older brother dies Thing happens the older brother dies.

Speaker 3:

The younger brother gets the elixir that's going to save the father's life, but the older brother dies. You go all the way back to the beginning of the game and you can tell that time is running out. There's a storm, there's lightning, the father is like dying and you have the elixir that's going to save him and the thing that stands in your way is a massive body of water. But now the older brother is dead. And so you go up to the water and you press the younger brother's action button, which you've been training the entire game that whenever you need to do something with the younger brother, you press this button. And you press the button and he does this animation of shivering and fear and nothing happens. And you're sitting there going, I don't understand, and you're walking around. So now you're thinking, well, is there a path around? So you look over here, there's nothing. You look over here, there's nothing. Time is running out.

Speaker 3:

You're pressing the button, nothing's happening. And then it hits you, it dawns on you in your head you go, wait a second. Whenever I encounter water, I press the older brother's button. But the older brother's not here, he's dead. And you walk up to the water and you press the older brother's button and you hear this ghostly sound of his voice and I think also the mother's voice, and then you see the younger brother dive headfirst into the water and start swimming. And it's like this moment, it's this incredible moment that the controls of the game facilitated storytelling, that I discovered, this moment that you cannot do in another medium because that button pressing the older brother's button and realizing that it's a spirit Because of the interactive aspect of it.

Speaker 3:

in other words, yes, the interactive aspect and that I discovered it, that I discovered I realized that I had to press that older brother.

Speaker 1:

By interacting, by engaging. Yes, it's not just a passive conceptualization of a theme, it's a discovery, an active discovery. Yes, exactly what was just to make sure I follow, though. What was the voice of the mother and the brother? What role did that play?

Speaker 3:

So what's interesting is in this game?

Speaker 1:

You conquer a fear of water, in other words, yeah, in this game there's actually no dialogue.

Speaker 3:

that's understandable. It's like gibberish voice, if I can remember correctly. So it's like gibberish voice. There's no, it's not actual language, and so that having their voices appear was basically an understanding of the memory. It's like the memory of those characters.

Speaker 1:

But it's almost like you transformed because you overcame some kind of trauma or the character did yes. Yeah, it's almost like we've talked about this in a lot of our episodes too, where the catharsis of the creative process it's often being able to look at the removing the emotion and taking a meta view of an event. Right, but removing the emotion from it, that's how you move on in a way. Yeah, that's transformation, but anyway, I saw you for the first time appreciated the power of gaming to what To transform the participant.

Speaker 3:

That moment made me realize that games can tell stories in a unique and interesting way, in a way that other mediums cannot tell, because you're interaction.

Speaker 1:

For a long time, though, like some of our. I was talking about Deep Canvas earlier, working on Tarzan the Deep Canvas A lot of people came from DimG or came from gaming and I was hearing, oh, better story, we need better story in gaming. As early as the early 90s, there was always a need for it, and by the time I did the characters for Silent Hill, I really sunk my teeth into that story. I thought it was awesome, but there's always been a need for not just more diverse types of storytelling, but I felt like it was lip service in a way, like what is meant by better story. It's always in the eye of the beholder right, and I think sometimes gameplay drives all.

Speaker 3:

Yes, and there's a spectrum, because there's a lot of games where there's no story or the story is just like whatever, and it's just about gameplay Get the shotgun, launch it, run around and blast enemies and explode and fly and that feels great and there's not really a story to it, right, there's whatever. You just run around, it's a power trip, it's the spectacle of having bodies fly everywhere and rockets exploding and stuff like that. But I think there's a diversity of types of storytelling in the gaming industry. Another example is the Last of Us, which I did play, and what was interesting is the Last of Us is a story that can be told in other medium. Why? Because they did. There's the Last of Us, right, you can watch the show.

Speaker 1:

It's beautiful. I've watched the entire show. Yeah, it's beautiful. Well, I think though, because it did observe this Western storytelling arc. It did observe, you know what I mean the want and the need and all those other comments in the character arc and the story arc. That's why it's really Exactly.

Speaker 3:

And that was a game where you get the same story, no matter what your actions are. You know it is telling you that story and the show followed very closely with the story. I was watching it oh yeah, I remember that part. And you're in the tower, this is where you do the sniping with the sniper rifle. And, oh yeah, ellie goes over here and this is what you do that, oh yeah.

Speaker 1:

OK, but it's not a choose your own adventure as much as the others.

Speaker 3:

in other words, yeah, it's more like you have story section and then they drop you off in this area and you shoot a bunch of guys. Or maybe you have to stealth through an area and you pick up the glass bottle and you throw it and then the clickers run over there and then you run to this section of the room and you crawl around here, right?

Speaker 1:

Seems like cinematics could be a crutch right. Are you getting a lot of your exposition in cinematics?

Speaker 3:

So it can, and there's a lot of games that get criticized for that. That a cut scene that you do exposition and a cut scene and a lot of players are like I just want to play the game, and so I noticed that a lot more games today have almost like opt-in story. One of my favorite favorite companies is from software. They make Dark Souls, demon Souls, sekiro and recently Elden Ring. And what's interesting about Elden Ring is you can actually play that game and not really pay that much attention to the story and it's OK. But if you want to, maybe you find a broadsword and the broadsword tells you that this was owned by the Skeleton King and he had whatever. And you can read through the items you find or through environmental storytelling. You enter a giant space and there's these stone statues of these weird bird creatures praying to this skeleton sitting on a giant throne, and it doesn't tell you why, it doesn't explain anything. It's just there, right, but you can find out why.

Speaker 3:

If you start looking at, maybe there's an item you find that explains about the creatures that are there or why there's rivers of blood going through this section that leads to a weird creature that's sitting Like. You can kind of figure it out and I think that's sort of like opt-in storytelling, where you can decide how much of the narrative and story you want to care about. Is sort of the direction where I've seen more and more games going.

Speaker 3:

And I kind of appreciate that, because sometimes I might play the game one time through just for the fun of playing and the feel of the gameplay, and then I might play again, this time paying attention to what it's trying to tell me and that.

Speaker 3:

And there's creative ways of giving away story. One fun example there is, I think, in the first Dark Souls I think it's in the first Dark Souls there's a weapon you find it's a sword and you equip. It's a one-handed sword, so normally you equip it in the right hand, or I think the guy equips in the right hand. It has a basic attack pattern and whatever. But if you read the sword, there's like some flavor text on it. It says this was by this legendary person who was left-handed and they had this special thing and whatever. And if you equip the sword in the left hand, it has a completely different attack pattern and it becomes like it has this powerful special attack and stuff. And so the story is actually enhancing the gameplay Because it's telling you the secret that you equip it in the other hand and use it and it does something else, right?

Speaker 1:

It's almost the parallel would be in cinema. You don't say it, you show it, right. So you don't use characters as mouthpieces for exposition, you just demonstrate it. You show it. Yes, but it also seems like intellectual curiosity pays off in that scenario, right? It's not just critical thinking skills or it's not just reflexes, like a lot of games. It's actually new and novel experiences that reveal the story.

Speaker 3:

Yes, that reveal the story and there's, you know I really like there's some designers that talk about that. You can reveal content and story to the player as a reward, by rewarding and being curious.

Speaker 1:

That's right. Well, see, I'm not a gamer, but I, that's what I got, clearly that we're actually training kids, kids today, we're actually nurturing intellectual curiosity in some way. I am not a gamer, I have to say that. And I want to back up a little bit. When you know, when I work in gaming, there is always this how much do they care? You know, some of them really value you. You got to be a gamer, you got to love gaming. Some oh no, we want fresh blood, like they wanted me on Silent Hill because I had no connection to gaming. They wanted a fresh take. But, of course, after the end of the 13 weeks because it was timed with the release of the movie, right, everything, just like oh, okay, we love what you did, but now let's conform it to what the movie's doing. Oh, yeah.

Speaker 1:

They wanted something new and different, but then they chickened out. But I joke just for this, is just for fun. But you know, I teach entire workshops on story-driven art direction, though your thematic content is 100% only there. Sorry, your design choices are only there to support not just the arc but the thematic content and I won't go too much into that. That's the only reason the visual style exists is to support the emotional arc of the story and there's a million tools and there's a million ways to support that arc.

Speaker 1:

When you come from that background it's almost a joke, like on Silent Hill. I joke. Well, the strongest piece of art direction I ever got was dude put a hook on it. Dude put a hook on it. So again, we would do these really cutting edge, funky designs, but it would always go back to gameplay Like oh no, when you're on that level, you got to hear the big boss in the area and maybe there's a sound cue that alerts you that the big boss is in the area. So give him an axe, let him drag the axe across the floor.

Speaker 1:

You know it's very backwards to me, but I do think it's evolving story's evolving all the time, and probably the art direction those stories demands is evolving.

Speaker 3:

Well, I think games have gotten more sophisticated in the way that they're trying to blend both. I think that the visual elements and the art direction should support the gameplay, but also there should be a reason Like okay, you can add a hook to a character and that's fine, but I think there's like games like Elden Ring have raised the bar on how sophisticated a game can tell a story without being like over the top about it.

Speaker 1:

Or derivative. I noticed a lot of it was just like mimicking what was already out there that was popular. It was very derivative and reductive. Actually, virginia, you're a gamer and your kids are gamers. I have literally, I'm telling you, I left at Mario Brothers, like that's it. That's where I left it behind. I have worked in it here and there, but, virginia, do you recognize any of the indie titles he mentioned?

Speaker 2:

I do. I haven't played any of them. I know my now college student has thought about playing the last of us. She hasn't played it, we didn't watch, obviously the show.

Speaker 1:

Oh Pedro, come on Pedro.

Speaker 2:

But no, my kids are gamers. It's the whole time you've been talking, even though we've mentioned Mario Brothers. And I'm like Nick, I remember Atari and I remember Really yeah, I played on Atari and it was like Nintendo Vision which was with the Frogger, so those two were the editors and of course I grew up as well in New Yorkade.

Speaker 2:

But I remember when. I remember when the first Nintendo actually came out, because I was exiting high school at that time, but when my son got into it, which is now my oldest daughter, but back then son, so he was really into Zelda.

Speaker 1:

This is Dominic.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, this is my Dominic. Who's now Dominic? But yeah, I was really into Zelda and the reason why Dom loved Zelda so much was because, even though you could go play it, just as like Ryan's been saying, there was also a story arc to who Zelda was and the whole reason why Link was trying to find Zelda. Of course, and all my kids actually love Zelda They've played every single Zelda game and it's because they will first, just like you said, ryan, they'll play through the game first and then they go back to really absorb the story and understand what was going on and it's interesting. The same thing we play actually Minecraft a lot and they love that creativity where they can either role play or there's Minecraft games that actually have story arcs and they discover new things if they use their critical thinking skills.

Speaker 2:

So it's interesting to see how gaming has evolved from my childhood to nowadays.

Speaker 3:

Yep yep, yeah, and even with experiences like that, I love Zelda.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I haven't played the latest ones, unfortunately I'm not as much. I don't have a Nintendo device but I know that those games are all about exploration and being creative, curiosity, exploring this vast world, and a big part of it too. Now a lot of games are doing like they'll either have a whole bunch of content, like a gigantic world with various places you can explore, and you can play the game multiple times and see stuff you didn't see on the first time, because there's so much to explore, and that's playing on the curiosity of exploring a world, what could be out there, imagine what's over here. And smaller indie titles do this as well, but because they don't have a big team, they can't build like a gigantic world like you can in, like Breath of the Wild or like an Elden Ring. What they'll do is they'll use randomness, controlled randomness, and randomness is actually something I think quite a lot about, having worked on Mori Karta and developed this card game. You use randomness in a way to make every time that you play it different.

Speaker 3:

And so your experience is slightly different. The challenge is how do you tell a cohesive story with randomness, and the way is, you have to be creative, you have to figure out, like that's one of the big challenges, right? And so one of the things we did was we put little snippets of the larger story on each card, and so, as you're collecting cards and getting cards you might not get you might get this snippet of the story over here or this snippet of the story over there, but you won't get the whole story. So you actually need to play the game multiple times to get all of the cards that have the, to be able to piece together the different elements of the story, and that's definitely one way that a lot of indie games tell stories using so it's almost cumulative, right?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you probably know more than you know. You know right, cause you're storing it subconsciously, but then the whole world becomes fleshed out by playing over and over again.

Speaker 3:

Right, exactly as you play more, you get a little bit more story and maybe there's like hidden things. One thing that I really appreciate and like about games is when they use edge cases to reveal content and story.

Speaker 1:

What's an edge? Sorry for my ignorance. What's an edge case?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, what is an edge case? An edge case? How to easily explain this? So games are built on rules. Rules are so important we have a special word for them. They're called mechanics. The rules of your game determine player behavior, and they determine. They're sort of like the walls of your. If you're building a house, the rules are the walls and they're the space that you cannot pass and they define your behavior, because the walls define where you can walk in a house, and so sometimes two walls meet, and where those walls meet, sometimes there can be an edge case, sometimes there's like an edge. So I'll give you an example.

Speaker 3:

There's a game I love called Loop Hero. It's an idle game. You have this hero that walks in a loop on a path and then they fight these slimes, and then your goal is you get these cards and you can place down these cards, which spawn enemies, and your hero will fight them and they'll level up. And your goal is to place enemies along the path that are weak enough that your hero will be able to beat them and level up, but not so strong that they'll kill your hero. That's essentially the game. Now, in this game they have these. Some of the cards require that they're next to another thing. So let's say I have the field card, the wheat field card. Well, I can't play that unless it's next to a village. So I have to play a village first and then I have to play the wheat field. But I also have this card called Oblivion, which can destroy a tile.

Speaker 3:

So let's say, I Oblivion the village, so I had this field next to the village and I destroy the village. Well, now you have this field that's not next to a village, and this is an edge case, because the game had said that a field cannot be placed unless it's next to a village. But now you've destroyed the village. So what should happen? And there's different things that could happen here One could be the field just remains there. One could be, it could be destroyed.

Speaker 3:

But the developers of Loop Hero did something very, very smart. They said well, instead of destroying the field which would be the lazy solution and it would also remove content from the player or not having anything happen, you just have the field remain there. We're going to create brand new content. If you place a village and then put a field down and then you destroy the village, the field becomes a barren field and it is a new thing and it has a different enemy that you fight, and so this is like a like it's kind of a dumb example, but basically it's the developers thinking about how to use edge cases to create new content. There's a bunch of games that do this, and sometimes it can be tough because maybe only 1% of your players will experience this. And there's always this weird challenge Like, should we do all this work so that maybe 1% or 5% players are even going to see this?

Speaker 1:

Right, well, my mind keeps going to choose your own adventure. You know, I did some covers that I'm not that proud of in the early 90s, or a bunch of choose your own adventure novels, and it just seems like that is the name of the game. Right, making sure everything not that all roads lead to the same destination, but everything needs to be interrelated. Right, you can't just reach a dead end road with a given storyline.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, you have to tie it up and you have to figure out if a player gets to this page, what happens? Well, we have to have something there. Most people won't get there, or maybe a lot of people won't get there.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's like almost like catering to the slowest link In my French class because we weren't being graded at Disney. They would go as slow as the slowest link. So it's like if 1% of your players are going to end up at that juncture, do you really want to design for that? But it seems like you almost have to right.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, and you have to. You have to tie up all those loose ends. But you know what? You get a lot of respect from players when they see that you took the time to think about that, because players know like, oh interesting, I didn't think of that situation or that possibility, but now that I've seen it and I see that you did something there, you have respect like much respect.

Speaker 1:

Well, I'm going to take that opportunity actually because I know that player feedback has been a big motivator, right, and the way you guys proceed. So I would love to talk about Maurek Harda, just in the interest of time.

Speaker 3:

What can you tell us? I know it's already out there.

Speaker 1:

So what can you tell us? I know you've been really kind of not just, I don't know, honoring your players or your fans, but really taking it in, taking the feedback in right.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, feedback is so important for any game, especially indie devs, especially with limited resources. It's important that we get feedback from our players and we are constantly learning stuff that we never expected, games being something where it requires player input to figure out what to do. We need to test those games against player input constantly.

Speaker 1:

And so there's also a community there too. It's almost like not catering to a fan base or pandering to a fan base, but really honoring the conventions and traditions and expectations of that community.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely, your genre is one of the most important things. When you choose a genre for your game, there are certain expectations that come along with that right off the bat, and so we are a deck building roguelike we're. There's one of them like Granddaddy. There's like a game called Dream Quest, which was based on some other card games, but then that spawned some other game. Anyway, there's a long line of card games in this genre. Slay the Spire and Monster Train are the big two, and those games established certain conventions. When we made MoriCard, we decided that we were actually going to break some of the conventions that they established. One of them is that you don't have a hand of cards, right? Most card games have a hand of cards and the goal is that you get to choose which one you play now and in what order, right?

Speaker 1:

Maybe I have the term handless. Is that a proprietary term or is something you invested?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that was something we came up with.

Speaker 3:

I've never seen that term before, and most card games in this genre have a hand of cards, because if you don't, it compresses the decision space, right, and these kind of games are really strategy games. We're asking a player to strategize what they should do, and usually that means what card will you play and in what order? What cards will you play in what order? And so when you take away the ordering and the choice of card, when you say you have to play every single card one at a time, it actually compresses the decision space.

Speaker 3:

But that was very much intentional. So then we had to decide how do we allow the players to be strategic while removing some of their agency and player agency, which is a fancy way of saying. Choice is a big topic of conversation in games and that's a whole other thing. But how do you? We believed that if we can still have the player feel strategic while reducing their player agency, that was sort of the hypothesis of this game, and so we've sort of treated it as an experiment and, luckily, our players have told us that they are intrigued with how much strategy they feel that they have.

Speaker 1:

You just described my life by the way. You just described the last four years of my life A dwindling agency, but more and more strategizing.

Speaker 3:

Well, I'm glad I did so well, I'll leave that alone. I'll leave it there. Well, I'm glad I could sum it up so clearly.

Speaker 1:

Well, you gotta do a little strategic dance when your agency starts to evaporate, right?

Speaker 3:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

You gotta be more inventive.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and you realize that your choices matter more. What happens is you have less choices, but they matter more. I love it, and at least that's what we've found with this game, and sometimes we get it wrong.

Speaker 1:

Well, I wonder again, our platform is in the building process but assuming we can steer, assuming we have the agency at some point to steer people toward the game, what would you want them to know about the game? The story primarily, yes.

Speaker 3:

So here's what I want them to know. So the deck building road like genre is incredibly niche and sometimes difficult to enter, because what happens over time is, as developers say, I want to make another deck building road like game. They make the cards incredibly and increasingly more complex. When you have three smite deal, four damage if this card is the first da da, da, da right, and you have to read a paragraph of text to even understand how to use this card. And so what we wanted to do is create a game that is simpler, much, much, much simpler. Our cards don't have text on them other than the title. They have symbols. The symbols represent an action that happens.

Speaker 1:

So the left and the right.

Speaker 3:

there's always two choices yeah and the cards are split down the middle vertically and you have a left and a right side and you, every single card, you see a card face up and you can either play the left or you can play the right, and that's it, a binary decision left or right on every single card, and so Kind of like Tinder or okay.

Speaker 3:

Tinder. Or there's a game called Reigns, which is another inspiration for us, which is more story based, a more story based game. Ours is more systems, mechanical based strategy, but basically what I want to say about it is it is an open door for people that do not play card games that struggle with the complexities of these deep, deep, deep systems and all this text and stuff.

Speaker 3:

It's an open door to say hey look, this game you can play and hopefully you'll have fun feeling strategic and learning the systems. But if you do, you will be able to play any of those more complex games, like the Spire, monster Train, any of these others, because we're teaching you those more complex systems but in a simpler way, right?

Speaker 1:

so is user friendly a good word for that. Yes.

Speaker 3:

I would say it's user friendly. I would say that we go out of our way to make the systems as simple and easily understandable as possible.

Speaker 1:

I like that idea too, though accessible, because, again, if I just want to dabble in a game, but I'm not a hardcore gamer, I want an entry point. Are you familiar with Big Fish out of Curiosity in Seattle? Yeah, my student, brian art, directed there for years and I think there are. I forget the term, but there are role playing games, basically right, but I remember them just being very, oh, scrolling games. That's what they specialize in. Does that term ring a bell for you? Scrolling games? I think that was the term he used, scrolling. Anyway, they vary much market to you. I'm gonna get myself in trouble. Housewives, yeah. Yeah, they're kind of middle of the road.

Speaker 1:

They're firms people that are just kind of dipping a toe in the water or that sort of thing. Casual games yeah.

Speaker 3:

There you go, casual Yep yeah many mobile games appeal to broader audiences. It's kind of one of the necessities of mobile games is because they're well one the mobile controls, the phone and stuff like that. I mean you can have like virtual joysticks and stuff, but usually tapping the controls are simpler but also because they can reach a bigger audience. Not everyone has a console, not everybody has a PC, but almost everybody has a phone. So if you design games that are more, have a broader appeal, that will reach more people, then it's gonna be more effective. And so you wanna make sure that your game mechanics are ones that are able to reach more people, that they're more easily accessible. Yeah, and accessibility.

Speaker 1:

Oh, go ahead.

Speaker 2:

I was going to say where can people learn more about your game, ryan, like where to find out more about it.

Speaker 3:

Oh yeah, so we. So our game is currently on Steam. I don't know if you guys so, uh, I don't know if you guys are going to post like show notes or something like that, but we definitely going to put links at the bottom of the description, the episode description. Okay, yeah, but if you guys, if you, if they want to search Mori Carter, M-O-R-I-C-A-R-T-A it's like a combination of Memento Mori and, uh, Magna Carta, Um, they can find the.

Speaker 1:

It means doesn't it mean death card?

Speaker 3:

Death card yes.

Speaker 1:

I'm no expert, but I got that much.

Speaker 3:

You're absolutely right. Death card, and actually the death card is a big part of, uh, the story.

Speaker 1:

Um the death. Who did I, uh? Who did I work on the spirit of death?

Speaker 3:

character. Um, yeah, the story. Um, well, I can talk about sort of our process to developing the story, but essentially, um, we are uh, the way we developed Mori Carter started from very gameplay focused. Um, we wanted to design the card game, the mechanics, make it easily accessible, and then over time we sort of discovered the story. I say we discovered it because we didn't say this is what the story is. And boom, that's it. It's more like based on the mechanics. How how can we discover the story that suits what is happening? Right, what, what, what is these mechanics telling us about the story here? And that that is sort of like my preferred process to develop.

Speaker 1:

Well it's, it's organic. I mean, I would say as a general comment, in the creative process you must discover right. If you were, if you remain sort of married to your initial impetus or your expectations, then you're all about outcome. Right, You've got to let things unfold organically, I think.

Speaker 3:

Yes, yeah, and I feel that true, especially with games, because I think that the story should suit the gameplay and hopefully be married to it in a way where, if you understand the story better, it reveals special content or it gives the player a reward for understanding the story, like some of the examples I talked about earlier. And so that is true. In our game there's definitely things, there's secrets hidden everywhere, and if you understand parts of the story, then it will. You will find certain things that might help you in the game.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, Okay, just cause we're. We've got to wrap it up soon. I've been trying to steer you toward giving us a synopsis of the world of story card. Is there a way, is there a quick synopsis of the actual story? Yes, you brought us along in the journey of how it evolved and then what your process was, you know, for developing the story in terms of gameplay. But if I wanted to peek somebody's interest to go and check it out on steam I know what it looks like, I know the world because I worked on it. But I wonder, is there not an elevator pitch?

Speaker 3:

but a synopsis you could share? Yeah, I'll give you the synopsis. Basically, mori-karch is a fantasy world that in the beginning it started out as a world without death. There was no death, so all of the characters in the game at the beginning are immortal. They don't die. And then this person, who we don't know his name, we just call him the fool. The fool found out about this tree called the ember tree. The ember tree that he said when it's lit on fire, it does not be, it's not consumed. So basically, it's this ever burning tree. And so he teams up with his friend, the scholar, and they go looking for the ember tree, which they do eventually find, and they light it on fire, which then releases this what was inside of the tree, which was actually the spirit of death, hal, which is the character that she illustrated, and it's now this ever burning tree that is lit on fire and weren't there other souls that were released as well?

Speaker 3:

Yes, and the other souls that were inside are released, and now, basically, death is back and things can die and so many of the immortal creatures that existed, that were accustomed to not dying, can now die because death is back. And then you go on this adventure and there's more story that ensues, but that's basically the beginning. That's basically the beginning of Mori-Karta, the only one.

Speaker 1:

Really poetic and evocative, maybe because the imagery's already in my head, but I think it conjures really strong images. You know you're tripping me out because I really, you know, the burning bush comes to mind. Obviously that's an archetype, right? The eternally burning bush, or even the Olympic torch, that sort of thing. But I am not kidding, I'm in my second and I'm not here to bitch my own trilogy. But in the Nameless Prince, the second book, there's a whole storyline around these elves that are immortal. Same thing, and I don't remember I wrote it but I can't remember exactly. I think they kind of trade in their immortality by trying to consume too much and take over other lands, so suddenly they're mortal. But there's a whole theme around what that means to be mortal, right, but anyway, then there's this last stand, this battle, and all the elves are slaughtered, but their souls go into this tree and they're living it, so anyway we're in similar territory, wow.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, and there's. You know, one of the things I really enjoy about the game is it gives me a chance to have many stories of little characters on the side and put them in cards. And I don't know if all of their stories, you know, fully pan out or if the players are gonna like fully get all the stories, but like there's one character named Issa, which is basically the Frost Mage that she is given the like a shard of ice to Is Mage the singular of Magi.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, mage is, yes, like. Mage is basically like it's kind of like a wizard, it's like a spell character basically, and she has all the frost spells. So every single frost card for the scholar has something that's pointing to Issa, this character, and her backstory is that she was basically stabbed in the heart and was dying in this field and she said make my heart as ice, that I won't feel anything, and then her heart freezes over and she stops bleeding and so she is basically alive as this, like undead, frozen person and all of her-.

Speaker 1:

I think I know her.

Speaker 3:

But what's interesting is, when she feels anything like, when she feels compassion or something, her heart starts to melt and she starts dying again.

Speaker 2:

So the pain of that.

Speaker 3:

So she basically cannot feel anything. But every single one for cards has some inspirational quote that she tells herself. So one of my favorite cards that I wrote was for a card called Flash Freeze, which is actually a really good card. Most players will get it on their first or second run and the quote says quicken my heart lest it freeze. Shield me from the winter's breeze. And it's like this inspirational quote that she says to herself and it has like multiple meanings, like the word quicken is like this whole little term.

Speaker 3:

that means to revive, but also the card is quick, which means that it appears at the top of the deck, and she's talking about her heart freezing right.

Speaker 1:

Beautiful.

Speaker 3:

Which is actually what's keeping her alive. I love it you know, and she mentions she.

Speaker 1:

Sounds too like there's projection. Obviously there's always projection on the part of the patron right when it comes to storytelling or art. I wonder do you discover things about the symbolism or the overall allegory as players play the game, you know, I think, our subconscious is always at work and your images are so loaded. I wonder if people have given you conceptual feedback on the story.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely yes, and sometimes they'll go in directions we don't expect, or they'll see stuff that wasn't there and we'll go, oh, actually that's better, a better explanation. Or they'll say why is this? I saw it as this right, we might think it's one thing and they'll think it's another, and so that's sort of the process of discovery I was talking about, where we are actually discovering the story too.

Speaker 1:

Through your players as well, right, yes, through the players through the players and it's funny.

Speaker 3:

I know we're running out of time. I was going to ask you how much play testing I'm using air quotes. Play testing happens in feature film. Is there a lot of you know? Showing audience, test audiences films and getting feedback on the story from the back or.

Speaker 1:

I'm sure you've heard the horror stories right Of. Like Aladdin, there was a whole opening sequence where he had a mother and showed his home life and it really got tossed out the window. So it does happen where there's entire, you know, composited scenes in full color that get trashed. I don't know cause I'm not involved in that part of it. I don't know how many times they go out to malls and show these things, but there's definitely a process for that. Yeah, yeah, for test audiences, but probably not as much as gaming. I mean, you're doing it in real time as you develop the game.

Speaker 3:

We do it in real time and we're in this thing called early access, which some people think is crazy to do, but essentially where people can buy the game while we are working on it, which is actually what we're in now. More cards isn't early access. So if you do buy the game we are still working on it you can join our Discord and you can say hey, we don't like this thing, fix it.

Speaker 1:

You know. Well, that's an incentive cause. You feel like you're part of the creative process, you know, and part of a community. I like that idea.

Speaker 3:

Exactly, exactly, and that's a big part of that. And I know we wanted to talk about AI, partly mentioned.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it can be a part too, if you don't mind, cause I mean I've. I definitely look forward to that, cause, as I told you before, I'm open to learning 100% and I'm also a little bit the devil's advocate, cause I'm a dinosaur, you know.

Speaker 3:

And.

Speaker 1:

I do feel like you can't stop the march of technology, no matter what, but I did gather a bunch of quotes from, especially during the writers and the actors strike that made me feel like you know what. I'm not alone in my holding out on certain things, but I think it's too big of a conversation. Should we do a part too?

Speaker 3:

I would be happy to come back and do a part too, you know, and we can talk about all that stuff. I'd love to also talk about sort of my processes.

Speaker 1:

Yes, well, that's what I'm saying as a primer for our second episode do you want to just quickly tell us about that arc of how the feedback you got from players changed the direction of the artwork? Just give us a hint of how that went down.

Speaker 3:

Sure, yeah, there's, you know, the controversy right now about AI, and a lot of people are concerned about the ethics of using models that have scraped images from the internet, and you know where that's going. I think everyone is trying to figure it out right now. I've been, you know, paying attention to stuff that's happening in terms of like the writer strike and all that stuff, and, to my knowledge, I think that people there's different sections of our players. We had some people that said that they were really concerned about the fact that we were using AI to generate artwork for the game, and there were other players that didn't. It didn't bother them at all and we had a lot of internal discussions on the team to figure out where we stand and how we can do that. Being a small indie team, you know we need to figure out how we can make the best product possible. While you know putting in, you know dealing with the resources, we have limited resources.

Speaker 1:

Well, that was part of your mission statement, and your vision as well was keeping it small, right, yes, keep it independent, so, yeah, so we developed processes.

Speaker 3:

We developed processes on the team. We've used a lot of artists, we spent a lot of money hiring artists to do various parts and anyway, I think if we do a part two, there's a lot here. It's very deep. There's a lot of discussions we've had internally and concerns about many of the things that our players have been concerned about and that people are concerned about.

Speaker 1:

Well, I like how you put it. You said just to remove the distractions, right, not to solve and create world peace, right, or alleviate all the anxiety around the implications of AI, but just move the distract, remove the distractions from the game.

Speaker 3:

That's right. Distractions and players did say that there were areas that felt distracting, specifically consistency. When you're used to, you get inconsistent artwork. It's almost like you have no art direction. You might have a piece that's pretty good Maybe it has some issues, you can clean it up but then you have another piece and it feels like it's from a different world. And then you have another piece and it feels like it's from a different world. Of course, yeah, and to be honest, there's still a little bit of that.

Speaker 1:

I think I mean I will say I was stunned by the artwork. It's really beautiful and I see more cohesiveness than I do disparity personally, but I get it. I mean part of it is technique how much line, how much modeling, how much rendering but I saw a lot of consistency. But I think it is interesting that it's not so much an ethical concern as it is that distracts from my gameplay.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and I appreciate that there's. What I'll allude to and definitely talk more about in part two is there is a lot of artistry and human intention that goes into it. I think anyone that thinks that you just type a prompt or boom, hit a button and it goes straight in. That is.

Speaker 1:

No, it's a tool. I mean, I think we would agree and we are opening account of worms here and we will talk about it later but it is a tool. It still takes intention, it still takes a concept, it still takes inspiration to drive those parameters right. We would agree to that.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, from the model to the prompt to image paint over intention. Human intention is there.

Speaker 1:

I'll leave it with a funny anecdote and we will absolutely hash it out next time, but I do. My saving grace is because a lot of the arguments are about the wrong things. In my opinion, it's like oh, royalties, oh, I don't want them to be able to use my image in perpetuity. It's all about royalties. I don't care about any of that. I care about that ineffable human touch that is so hard to define, you know, but again, save it for later. But the biggest regarding the parameters and that it still takes a human to enter them right.

Speaker 1:

And then Virginia pointed out in another episode that it's only taking from the collective. And what is the collective? Well, largely Western European, judeo-christian culture. So that's why you get all like the Nazi. You know the bot that turned into a sex loving Hitler, hitler loving sex obsessed maniac within 24 hours. Like it's taking from us.

Speaker 1:

But the best quote that I heard that kind of sums it up is we artists, we visual development artists, basically Our whole job is to just read the art director's mind, number one, but also just throw shit at the wall and see what sticks. Well, right, your whole job is to provide things for them to say no to. So I'm being facetious. Obviously I've had a good luck, but in general you just you're gonna be there eight hours a day, no matter what. So you throw a spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. Even the best art directors I had at a well-oiled machine like Disney they sometimes didn't know what they wanted until they saw it. That is your job. So we the meme. I forget what it said exactly, but something like if you can't even get an art director to articulate their parameters, our jobs are safe. Does that make sense?

Speaker 3:

Like I, don't know, that's yeah, that's great and I think, yeah, I'll just say you know, there's definitely. We're definitely gonna have an interesting conversation on the next time I come on and I totally agree with you that there's a lot of stuff. You know, if you go into stable diffusion and you type, give me an illustration of a doctor, and it gives you 10 white guys with a, you know, white male actors, that is, there's something wrong.

Speaker 1:

All right. And then how many of them have six fingers, though, at this point? Just getting better all the time, right, but do they still have problem with the finger count, or no? Oh, they definitely do.

Speaker 3:

That's the number one thing we fix is hands.

Speaker 1:

Okay, and then we'll talk about humor as well, oh yes, definitely, definitely. Yeah, not there yet, sorry. All right, that's the hint of what's to come. Anyway, any final parting words, we are gonna put the link to steam, and I love what you said about Morricarda. I would be intrigued if I didn't already know the world. I would definitely race on over there and check it out. Anything else you wanna get out there?

Speaker 3:

No, I'm just excited for the opportunity to talk to you more about AI art and where that's going, and I really appreciate the opportunity to talk to people about my favorite thing, which is games and interactive media, and how storytelling with games can be really interesting.

Speaker 1:

I love it. I think we did that for sure, but I'm not kidding about part two. I'm dying to talk about AI, as I successfully avoided it, as you know, until you and I started talking about it and then I had to come up with a policy on it. But I do think that's a can of worms. So I'm not kidding about a part two. I'll reach out to you if you're open to it.

Speaker 3:

Sounds good, sounds good.

Speaker 1:

All right, Virginia, are you still with us? Oh, I think we lost her. Yeah, I told you she had to skip out for her eyelash appointment. All right, we lost her. All right. Thank you so much, Ryan.

Speaker 3:

Okay, thank you.

Speaker 1:

All right. And to our listeners remember life is story and we can get our hands in the clay, individually and collectively. We can write our own story. See you next time.

Power of Storytelling
Art and Technology in Gaming
The Role of Story in Gaming
3D Art and Gaming Career Path
Exploring Artistry and Learning Styles
Art, Perception, Storytelling in Games
Gaming's Power to Transform Storytelling
Evolution of Storytelling in Gaming
Genre and Design Choices in MoriCard
Fantasy World Synopsis and Player Feedback
AI in Art and Games Discussions