Hello all, and welcome to this new blog project, Crap Shoot Gaming!
We are starting this off right with an interview from a very talented freelance artist and indie developer.
Yaron Granot is a freelance Conceptual Artist, UI Designer, 2D Animator, and Indie Developer. He has worked with a variety of clients throughout different walks of the entertainment sphere from Yashinski Studios designing artwork for a Black Eyed Peas music video to Space Cowboy Studio designing 2D art for their mobile game “Backyard Shootin” before eventually going on to be a concept artist for their AAA project. His current Indie project is called Volcano Tower; an endless platformer telling the story of a remote tribe that is constantly raided by a Volcano God for their goods.
CSG: How did you get started as a freelance artist?
YG: When I was 15 or 16 I got my first freelance job doing pixel art for a mobile games company that contacted me after seeing work I had posted on pixelation.org.
After they paid, what seemed to me at the time an enormous amount of money for doing something I liked doing, I immediately fell in love with the idea of being a freelancer.
After that, I got some other freelance projects rather easily and I did that for a couple of years before I was recruited for the army (as is law in Israel).
When I had finished with the army, it had seemed right to start an office job, so I started as a graphic designer for a local hi-tech company.
It took me a lot of time and a lot of different jobs for me to realize I needed to get back to freelancing if I wanted to maintain a creative work environment. Having the ability to choose my own projects and having time to develop my indie projects on the side was a huge draw for me.
CSG: What made you transition to Indie Game Developer?
YG: When I was a little child, I remember my father buying me a game-creating app that was called klik&play (KnP) and I think that app changed my life.
Since I got to play around with it AND being an addicted gamer from an early age I was always engineering games in my head and trying to create them and their graphics in KnP.
As long as I can remember I was always developing games in my free time, even before I considered making it into something more serious in my life, so you can say being a game developer wasn't a transition for me but rather a given state and passion I always had in my life.
CSG: What kind of education does it take?
YG: For me, no school-like institution I know could give me the knowledge and skills you need for this profession. I'm not saying it is not impossible, I'm just saying I didn't have it to start my career.
I think it takes a ton of self-motivation and a true passion to express yourself in these mediums (games\art) and anyone with an internet connection could learn to be the best if they want to. There are endless Youtube tutorials and websites\forums that provide priceless information about how to craft games well, and eventually, it's just something you have to want to learn about and be good at and that's all you really need.
CSG: What project has been the most gratifying?
YG: I find my current project Volcano Tower is the best project I've taken part in, and that's always true at any given time—every project I'm working on is better and I am more experienced than the previous ones.
CSG: What is the most frustrating about what you do?
YG: For me, it was to try and find people you can really count on and have the skills to execute tasks efficiently. Being an indie means most of the time working on a wing and a prayer, and not hard cash, meaning all of the team members have to be committed to work based only on faith and motivation.
I found it to be rare ingredients that money doesn’t always solve and trying to maintain the rhythm of work and faith in the product has always been the hardest thing I encountered in game development.
CSG: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
YG: Unfortunately, I'm so busy with finishing Volcano Tower and providing for myself with the freelance projects that I don't have time to start something new. There are a lot of ideas and sketches though I'm always cooking up :)
CSG: What would you say to others just starting their careers?
YG: Always try to understand what it is that you love doing because the world is going to throw a lot of labels on you and in your rushed quest for money you will come across many different jobs that may not be optimal for you.
Try to understand what it is you are good at, where it's needed and evaluate how truly valuable you are with your skills in that specific market.
CSG: What is your take on violence in video games?
YG: Let me start answering that by saying I'm a vegan, and being a vegan I'm exposed to countless ways our culture makes us believe we are better than other living beings or smarter and that those attributes give us the right to do whatever we want.
Having said that I would never say that seeing an animal slaughtered in a movie\game or telling a story that involves killing an animal justifies killing animals - it's just a story, it's all conceptual.
So games or movies or TV shows that contain violence don't actually teach us violence, in my opinion, they tell stories and it's for us to judge them as we see fit.
I would never believe someone who would claim that he\she hurt or murdered someone because they saw it in a video game or a movie... violence in video games comes rather more easily than violence in real life, and having participated in a ****ing war in real life AND playing tons of war games I can assure you that they don't share a thing in common in the way you experience them.
Thank you so much for your time, Yaron.
Visit his website to view his artwork and to learn more information about his upcoming title, Volcano Tower.
Note: All images in this post are the sole property of Yaron Granot and used for this blog with his permission.