"Having a hand in making stuff for something that you love, like games, something that’s fun and everyone enjoys, is pretty damn awesome. We are lucky to have been able to carve out our niche as a small studio in such a big industry. The fact that we’re still here today, publishing our second volume of commercial work, is a testament to the dedication of our artists, both former and current, to the craft. Making cool stuff is something we all take very seriously, and is the reason for our success. It’s what keeps us together, putting Wacom pens to tablets and saving out files. We’ve worked on lots and lots of great titles over the last four years, of all shapes and sizes in probably just about every genre at this point. What you see here in the subsequent pages is only a cross-section. Fortunately, some of our best clients were gracious enough to allow us to present to you the fruits of our labor for them. We can’t be more thrilled to do so.
The Siege by Jason Chan. The Seige animation and concept design produced at Nexus by concept team Smith and Foulkes.
Every now and then one of those jobs comes in that’s fun, awesome, and kind of insane in the level of exposure your work gets out of it. Such a job came across Jason Chan’s desk when Nexus productions approached him to do some concept storyboard illustrations for their commercial, which was to air during the 2011 Super Bowl. Like all advertising jobs the time-line was short. The story behind the scene was that a large and terrible approaching army of Orcs is threatening an ice castle of hearty ice-dwarves. The Orcs are accompanied by a mighty and terrible dragon that they intend to use to melt the dwarven hold and possibly some dwarves as well. Luckily, the dwarves are cunning and have a plan, and time to make ice sculptures. Having constructed a beautiful ice sculpture of a dragon (with delicious Coca-Cola inside), they present the gift as a sort of good-natured Trojan horse. The dragon melts the sculpture but feels compelled to drink the soda that’s hidden within it. The unlocked magic causes the dragon’s breath to be rendered harmless, putting on a delightful fireworks show instead of a burning stream of flaming dragon mucus. Jason worked up some boards in Photoshop, then got some feedback from the client. Two options were explored for how the delicious Coca-Cola would affect the Orc/ dragon’s breath using both harmless fireworks, and balloons. Unfortunately the direction didn’t survive the final production, but it makes for an amazing illustration. Nexus did an awesome job and all of us were thrilled to see the almost one to one re-creation of Jason’s work on the TV.
Zombie Playground Kickstarter
One of the most original works is saved for the back of the Massive Black 2 book. In a section tucked away behind the big players is where the MB team venture into the crazy world of creating entertainment from scratch. Kemp takes up the story again. “We think making things is great. We’ve always been trying to venture into making our own games since the beginning, but over the last two years our hopes for embarking on the treacherous journey have been fueled and bolstered more than ever before. Thanks to the magic of Kickstarter and Crowd-sourcing, our Zombie Playground Kickstarter campaign was a success. With $167,000 worth of seed funding secured we’re able to begin the even more treacherous road of developing a fully playable demo. We’re up for the challenge like never before. The success of the Kickstarter demonstrated that there’s an interested and growing fan-base and a source of support that would like to see us make our own games. For this, we are in total honor, love, respect, and affection for the loyal fans that helped make our funding-goals a success. Our efforts in game development were helped in no small part to the collaboration with Unity on the Mothhead Unity-tech demo. Fortunately, Unity Technologies was interested in developing one of our properties as a demonstrator for their robust game engine.”
Zombie Playground Kickstarter
”Needless to say we were thrilled and jumped on the opportunity to flesh out a beginning stage for our Mothhead microverse. The end result is fantastic and we’re looking forward to developing the idea further when the opportunity arises. In the following pages you’ll see our concept for a multi-player FPS called PROXY with awesome battling robots. Also, a preview of Coro’s competed graphic novel Transient, which chronicles the tale of our favorite scuzzy homeless- guy-turned-hero. After all these years we are still a small but tight group of game enthusiasts that would like nothing more than to develop our own properties. After years of continuing and fruitful client-side work, at MB we’re devoted to creating unique and interesting independently developed games that are cool and fun. A simple formula for happiness for everyone involved.”
“I was hoping that it might be possible to expand the character class system,” says Jason, “and make a game with a great role- playing element. Character customization keeps you engaged on a personal level and is something I always look for in games. That, and a big part of childhood adventure is living out the role of the hero, being able to craft that is part of what makes good games fun. ”Along with the characters, they needed a setting. Jason blocked out this scene using 3d elements and artwork to begin a classroom. “Everything started with the classroom,” says Jason. “We said if we could make a classroom, and a character, then maybe we could make a school, and lots of characters.” So the 2D and 3D teams set out putting all of their ‘D’s’ together, at first on a classroom, but eventually expanding to a gym and interconnecting hallways. Production on building a playable demo for Zombie Playground was in full swing. Using the Unity engine experience gained from building the Mothhead demo, our small team of five guys fleshed-out a school hallway that connected multiple styles of classrooms. Work began on a gym and the all-important task of making the 3D mesh for the Playable Character was underway. “At this point, as a studio, we decided that we would throw our full weight behind ZPG,” says Chris Hatala.
“For Massive Black, this idea for a new property was too good and seemed like a culmination of all the knowledge Jason had gathered as a commercial concept artist. We were born to make this game and everyone was in agreement, so we decided to go for it. That’s when the decision was made to plan a Kickstarter campaign. We needed additional funding to get this off the ground, and Kickstarter had recently been in the news for raising real money out of the blue for indie developers. So we gave it a shot and everything seemed to fall into place.” Along with Kickstarter came the expanded universe of ZPG you see here—Randy the Raccoon is the school’s lovable mascot, that is of course, until he’s infected by the zombie hordes. Then his mind becomes twisted and his only desire is to grab children in the clutches of his sharpened claws. The player will have to be quick witted to defeat this guy, who has more than a few surprises up his sleeve.
Every ounce of the art in all of these projects have that distinct Massive Black flavor of awesomeness, translating beautifully in the pages of Ballistic Publishing’s Massive Black volume 2, a visual tour de force that chronicles many of their artistic achievements from 2008-2012.