Speaking about video games quality, graphics is for sure one of the main factors to keep into account. Even though we were always told not to judge a book by its cover, it is unavoidable that readers base their choice on that too. Same happens with video games and visual impact; whether we are admiring pixel art or some hyper-realistic style, this can be the difference between success and flop.

For this episode of Beyond the Game, Maria Lia Malandrino, professional graphic artist, agreed to be interviewed about the subject.

A Long Path…

We begin asking Maria Lia how did she happen to make a profession out of drawing, her passion since a very young age. The girl talks with pride about her path: “After graduating at The University of Arts in London, I started working as a graphic designer for a couple years, but I understood I was getting far from my original aspiration to narrate stories”. After a sabbatical she spent teaching English in Asia, she then decided to return to Italy.

In this country she frequented The International School Of Comics, where got to learn the concepts of animation. Thanks to this, declares to have overcome the  “self-taught block”, starting to consider graphics as a possible career. Her story, as the one of many creatives, mirrors a research of their own place in the world; including some self-doubt and perplexities. Maria Lia Malandrino’s experiences are an example for all the young people who would like to follow her path.

… Towards An Innovative Job

We then move on to talk about graphics and the impact that this has on a videogame.

As Maria Lia reminds us, from recent polls has been found out graphics is the main factor, when buying a videogame. “After all- she adds- I agree that visual impact plays a significant role in choosing a videogame. In a store as on steam, a cover can capture with just a glance”. Maria Lia explains how a certain style helps the gamer to immedesimate and have a better experience.

To cure just graphics isn’t the right choice, to Maria Lia: “I believe graphics is just one of the aspects of a videogame; if these are not balanced, they do not offer the best of experiences. I think it might be compared to a good dish, where different tastes balance each other. There is not one that prevails; a videogame with awesome graphics but a poor plot or non-functioning mechanics will not still be playable”.

The Creative Process

How do you get to a finished product, starting from an idea? When we ask Maria Lia, the apparently easy answer reveals to be pretty complicated. To begin with, she explains that is useless to be impatient, as there are no short ways while creating. “I think the final result of a creative project improves when it has time to ‘breathe’. In developing a videogame, as in any other creative project, there’s a starting idea, that evolves and grows feeding from the vision of every team member”, she tells us.

The rule of 10 seems to have pretty solid roots to Maria Lia Malandrino; to keep high standards, usually just an idea over ten is worth to be developed. Inside their team, the game designer talks about his idea, on which the whole team expresses. The job of a concept artist consists in producing sketches to start “channeling the right mood”, she explains. At this point, a brainstorming phase starts, team members collaborate creating drawings and correcting them all together. Once reached a satisfying level of quality, 3D development and in-game implements can be done.

Concept for the video game Empathy

One Last Question!

For last, we asked Maria Lia an insight on women in the world of independent development. It is amazing to know she feels included and does not feel any discrimination under this aspect. Even if some people still are surprised by the fact girls play or develop video games, that never happened with someone who works in the field, on her experience.

She also believes discrimination is an issue that has been overcome. The previous generation does not see videogame industry as something to work or find a job, and that applies for both genders. “It is true that the girls involved in development are usually concept or 3D artists, rarely programmers or game designers” adds, confessing that she would love “to see the stereotype of a just-for-men engineering, and that more women would want to become programmers”.

We could not agree more with what she said!

We thank Maria Lia Malandrino for the interview! If you are interested in her works, check out her website, where you will find information and contacts.

The pictures featured in this articles are owned by Maria Lia Malandrino and part of her portfolio.

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