Talking experimental food art with game creator TJ Hughes – PlayStation.Blog

What kinds of explosive expression can one expect from a creator relentlessly driven to break away from the mediocre and mundane? We decided to ask video game designer and digital artist TJ Hughes, who creates under the pseudonym Terrifying Jellyfish, about work on the aesthetically up-and-coming adventure Nour: Play with Your Food.

In this profile, we talk with TJ Hughes about Noor, how he works with his team, his origin story, and the advice he gives to developers hoping to make their mark in games. Hughes’ first Feesh project, which featured microscopic gameplay and vibrant visuals, showcased TJ’s mold-breaking engine in an equally microscopic workspace, being designed and completed within 48 hours of a Ludum Dare game. With no tight time constraints, he’s amplifying the color and fun with his sophomore project, Noor: Play With Your Food.

PlayStation Blog: What inspired Nour: Play with your food?

Described as an “experimental food art game designed to make you hungry,” Noor gives players the space to play with their food like a kid but without any of the mess to clean up. Further evidence of the difference in the work on Noor and Fash, Noor’s development process was slow and methodical, with no ‘eureka moment’.

“I was learning how to do shading, and I was brainstorming the best subject to try to emulate,” Hughes explains. “I had just started traveling and eating more varied foods, so I thought it was the perfect subject. I started uploading my art tests to Twitter, where people told me how the images made them feel hungry. Intrigued by this response, I started trying more things like Using the technical art concept of scattering just below the surface to simulate the texture of a noodle and using deep blending to mimic the opacity of milk tea. I’ve begun to develop a library of technical art tricks to make something look appetizing.”

Hughes chose a physics-based experience because it “provides a sandbox to be as chaotic and funny” as the player wants without wasted food or mess. “

“When making a physics-based game, we often have one of two goals: to arrange things as neatly as possible, or to make as big of a mess as possible. I think the best physics games should allow you to do both!”

Noor team

As a leader, how do you motivate and encourage your team?

“It helps to have a team that shares many of the same interests and fascinations,” says Hughes. “It makes relating to each other and getting on the same page about designs so easy. A lot of us are friends before co-workers too, and we bring a lot of that trust into the project. Anyone on the team can suggest anything, which creates an environment where even your ideas are considered.” Most obtuse thoughts. We all love food too, I’ve noticed that before meetings we’ll often end up telling each other what we’re eating/planning to cook, if it’s not meeting in person at a restaurant already.”

Origins and inspiration

What is your first memory of falling in love with video games?

“Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is probably my earliest loving video game memory,” Hughes said when asked about his first gaming memory. “Being the younger brother, I was usually a two player which meant I had to play as Tails. I couldn’t help but collect rings and beat up enemies for my brother. Tails had infinite lives, which was cool because I wasn’t very good at video games as a kid. We’d like To fight the boss by sending Tails to attack while Sonic only focuses on dodging.We bought this book full of cheat codes for popular games and discovered how to cheat in debug mode, which allows you to spawn anything and go through walls.Such a fascination with how games work under the hood, we spent Hours tinkering with the game until it inevitably crashed from the number of items we produced.”

From there, Hughes would tell any adult who would listen that he wanted to be a game designer. Fortunately, he didn’t have to go far from home to find inspiration or support. Speaking of his parents, who were artistically expressive in their own ways, Hughes says that what he does “is a real blend of their passions; art on my mom’s side, technology on my dad’s side.”

“They were both so supportive of what I wanted to do which was incredible for me to build my confidence,” he adds.

When speaking on his journey, he gives a lot of credit to Carol Mertz, Ben Valente and Dana Valente of Rampant Interactive, who gave him his first job in games and introduced him to the industry.

“There are so many experiences I wouldn’t have had without them, including my first trip to San Francisco for the Game Developers Conference,” he says. “Joy Panello, who worked with me on the same job, taught me most of the code techniques that I use to this day as well. I’m so glad I’m working on Noor with him!”

Advice for game developers: Keep it simple and share your work

With his first game Feesh, Hughes ran into a roadblock as he noticed a lack of content. He thought his arcade title absolutely needed a multiplayer game, but after further research, he realized he simply didn’t have the skills or experience to implement it.

“I said to myself, ‘It’s artistic,’” he says, “and the game is a reflection of where I’ve been in my career.” , and it ended up being the right choice because he learned a lot from the experience and got his personal projects on the map.”Although it wasn’t anything fancy, the heart of the game shone through and was well received!”

Two key notes from that experience are the advice game developers want to steer clear of when they read this: Share what you’re working on and keep it simple.

Have deep conversations about [your projects] With the people you trust! It’s much better, Hughes says, than working on something in complete isolation. “A game is a constant connection between you and the player, and seeing the players reaction is vital to that back and forth.”

“A game developer can be a lot of work and you can find yourself with more workload than you can handle. Don’t be afraid to keep things simple,” he says. “Take it easy, don’t stress yourself out, just do what you can. Indie developers have to wear a lot of hats to get their business started, set your priorities, and over time try to structure things in a way that makes it less work for you. Also look into TikToks about being an owner.” small business and how to do your taxes and all of that right. Don’t ignore that stuff.”

I look forward

Panic Inc. is Noor’s publisher, a relationship Hughes says has been tremendous in making this unique project a reality. “This is the biggest project of my life and having such support from a reputable publisher makes me really excited to show everyone the finished product.”

When it comes to Noor or any project, in the end, what makes a game a “TJ Hughes” game?

“You’ll know when you notice small visual details that make it look like someone spent a great deal of time at work,” he says. “I’ve also been told that my use of color is somewhat trademark. I’ve been inspired by games like Mirror’s Edge that play with lighting in a unique way to achieve a certain subtlety, one that’s heavily inspired by realism, but pushes the boundaries in just one or two areas to achieve a whole new aesthetic.” Moving just a few sliders past 10 can be enough to give your work a ‘look’.

And then what?

“I want to do more games/projects that interact with spaces and create excuses to bring people together face-to-face,” Hughes explains. “At the moment I am really intrigued by the social concept of the third place; a community environment where you can spend time outside the home or workplace. For me, there are not enough places to just have fun without having to spend money. I would like games to provide such a place, or bring more From like-minded people to those spaces.”

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