1: Hello, who are you and what are you known for?
My name is Leonardo; I’m originally from Italy from a city near Venice, I’m currently living in the UK in Newcastle. During the day I’m an Environment Artist at Ubisoft Reflections working on the franchise of The Division. During the night I’m Batman haha joking aside during my spare time I’m working as a freelance collectively with other talented artists under the name of ConteNano so if you are looking for a contractor artist, don’t hesitate to contact ConteNano or me directly. And btw we just change[d] our website, and soon we will release a showreel in the meanwhile we made this challenge for you 🙂
Not sure what I’m known for. I think colleagues know me for the way that I present things, like flow, maps, tutorials, presentations, etc. because even if I don’t do graphic anymore I still pay a lot of attention to the details, such as fonts, colors, alignment, etc. in order to make what I’m doing stand out better 🙂 They know me for this:
2: How did you get your break into games?
From the window of course ahaha
I think that I broke into the triple-A game industry mainly just by doing personal projects, at the beginning those are your only weapons to prove your future employer that you know stuff. Well not only at the beginning, I think personal projects are also beneficial both to showcase your skill set and for learning or master new things. So my advice is to keep doing stuff, when you have time, also it’s one of the way to stay up to date. So in a nutshell my br[e]aking into the game industry starts when with some colleagues we started doing some mobile games, and real-time related applications after I reached that point I set another checkpoint which was a PC quality game so I moved into an indie team called Lka where I worked on The Town of Light which (available on Pc, Ps4, Xbox) after I got that trophy I set another checkpoint and was to work in a Triple-a Company so I went to Sony London Studio and from there after Vr Worlds has been released I moved to Ubisoft Reflections which is where I’m working right now, my next checkpoint? Explore US 🙂
3: What are the worst mistakes you see from interns or fresh hires? Advice on how best to mentor them?
Sometimes interns or fresh hires don’t know how bad the business can be and everything they have been doing for the last month can be changed or cancelled. So first thing first, tr[y] not to get attached too much to what you are doing. Sometimes even if you have done an astonishing job, exactly like the concept and you are proud of that. Remember that someone with decision-making power might want to iterate something, or even decide to go in another direction which doesn’t mean that you did a bad job, it just means that the concept was working good in 2d but not so good in 3d, or in any way not in line with the main artistic/narrative/design/etc direction or whatever other reason. So don’t get touchy when they leave behind your sweet sexy piece of art, or they ask you to change something 🙂
Another thing that interns of fresh hires can improve is to listen more. it’s very frustrating when you talk to someone that is not listening but waiting to answer you back, just for the sake of saying something 😉
4: What was the worst review or gamer post you read about one of your projects? How do you react to that?
Well, gamer posts and comments are the best, and I pretty much laugh at all of them instead of cry, of course 🙂 Here are some example of The Town of Light and to understand some of them here you should read at least this short description of the game.
The Town of Light is a psychological adventure told in the first person. The story is set in Italy in the first half of the 20th Century in a place which really existed and has been meticulously reconstructed. Exploring and interacting with the environment you will relive the history of the main character through her confused viewpoint and on the basis of your choices, the story will develop in different ways.
Here there are some example that I found hilarious like this guy for example that played for 18 hours when the game usually lasts from 5 to 6 hours, and he says it’s boring. I mean he probably wanted to check every single corner of the game to find some fun during those 18 hours of the game. Otherwise I don’t see how can you play a boring game for 18 hours 🙂
This Scottish guy fel[l] in love for the game instead, and he said he would eat his kilt if you have any regrets after playing it. Ahah ❤
Well, some reviews are a bit sad. The content of that game is really serious and kind of sad. I’m sorry for this guy 🙂
5: What has been the biggest difficulty you have faced during a project? Publisher demands, team meetings, attempt at perfection, anything else?
The hardest thing that I had to deal with was about life/work balance during the first mo[nth]s after I started to have two job: full time during the day and freelance during my spare time. But then, when you get the ball rolling everything is all downhill from there.
6: As an artist, what are some of the silliest questions you get asked at a party? Do people think you just play games all day still?
Usually, I’m going to party where other people play games more than me, and I’m usually the noob guy, the guy that when someone asked: “Did you play that new game?” or “Did you finish that other game?” I usually answer no… because guess what? When you start work in this industry, you don’t play much. Buuuuu I know… And I don’t think it’s just because you don’t have much time, but more because you want a break from what you do most of the day all the days all the weeks, on the other hand, I play a lot the game that I’m working on 😉
The silliest question?… mmm. Wasn’t really a question but at the first date with a girl she thought environment artist had something to do with nature, trees, etc. was kind of hilarious.
7: Most interesting level/environment design you have worked on or have seen?
When I said you don’t play too much, I didn’t mean you don’t play. I was so excited with Uncharted 4 that I played from the start to the end in one go, with some friends, you know, popcorn, some beers and I remember a lot of jaws were dropping to the floor haha.
And answering the question, I think Naughty Dog made Libertalia an impressive masterpiece. When I finished the game, I was experiencing the same feeling that I have after a journey or a trip. For me, Libertalia was one the best vistas of the game but every other place it’s exemplary made.
8: How do you see game art compared to other art related fields? Graphical/UI etc? And how do your non-game dev friends think about it?
I started my career around 2011 doing graphic: flyers, magazines, posters, logos that kind of things, also do you remember MySpace? O God I was doing some template for some singers or brand for their pages hahaha btw here some example:
Then I experienced a bit of video making, motion graphic, as well as some 3d integration and very important here is when I started doing 3D I think it was around 2012. Here some examples:
And in 2013 I made my first showreel I was so proud of it, now if I look at it I’m like:” omg what was that? 🙂 ❤
I wanted to get involved in something more intricate and challenging, and that was the video game industry, so I joined it, easy as it sounds 😉 I started to develop some mobile applications and games, etc.: until I got into triple-A game industry.
And here I am, working as an environment artist at Ubisoft Reflections:
So at the end of the day, what I think about other art-related fields? I believe they are all cool, by experience I think video games industry is one of the largest and interacting fields, and from my point of view the coolest. It’s like in video games there are all the components of every other art related fields plus all the coding and gameplay department and last but not less important the side of the player If you think about it video games, so far, are the only way to entertain people [who] make the player active. And that’s what I felt in love for.
9: What has been the biggest zinger of a problem when working on a multi-platform title?
There are alway[s] technical limitations that you have to deal with, and when it’s about many platforms with different hardware, it’s even harder. So in order not to blow everything up, you create some rules/best practice/limits/, etc. to make the game running smoothly and safely for multi-platform. Some rules can be things like such as the size of the spaces, number of materials, sizes of the textures, how far you can see the world, how many assets you can see and if there are the transparent meshes. From what I understood so far, windows (transparent meshes) are the evil, long story short they make the engine draws the pixels on top of what you see through the transparency twice, so you are overdrawing every pixel of the window. It’s not a big deal if it’s a small window but as soon as the camera can see through the windows in a, let’s call it “full-screen” mode, that’s the boss of the evil. Also, when you can see a transparent mesh through another transparent one, the engine will draw every pixel in that area three times and sometimes with some artefact. I call that the God of the Evil haha anyway that’s one problem, but when there are problems, there are also solutions. One solution?
Apart from that… haha, engines do the rest, I mean art-wise I haven’t done anything different to make assets working on various platforms. However I’m just a poor environment artist, I’m not a tech artist…yet… So take what I said with a pinch of salt 😉
10: Finally, VR hardware and gaming, a fad or here to stay?
Definitely here to stay, it’s going to be a big thing in the future not only in the entertainment fields, but I also think in the how do you call it? Therapeutical field? I mean VR can become a weapon to treat conditions such as Claustrophobia, Acrophobia or whatever other phobias. I don’t know how, I’m not a doctor, but we all know that VR can make you experience extreme, or dangerous situation safely.
Now we are in the b/w display on a cathode ray tube of TV, well maybe not b/w anymore 🙂 I think when we fix sickness, resolution, dimension and mobility it will explode. As well as the augmented reality I think. Man, how cool would be properly playing a realistic video game on top of what you see with your eyes… awesome!
Thanks Leonardo, for a great Q&A and your insight into getting into the industry and working as an environment artist!
Gamesmith, is a unique network of over 200,000 gaming professionals worldwide. If you have shipped a game, this is the place for you to connect with top-flight game studios or with other gaming professionals.
You can discover new job opportunities – no matter your discipline within the games industry. Check out our forum to network, discuss the industry as well as your discipline and don’t forget to read other stories on our blog, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.