Higher Eclectic Ground affiliated multimedia designer, Antonio d’Amore, officially began work on Pointless Button Studios’ upcoming post-apocalyptic adventure, Are We In This Together? (A.W.I.T.T), on the 31st of last month. In his capacity as a functioning UI/UX artist of the development team, the United Kingdom based Italian artist’s role is currently that of crafting various aspects of the game’s upcoming user experience and interface.
A 2D choice-driven adventure, A.W.I.T.T’s dystopian view of 2059 sees the world ravaged by Nanites; volatile, untested mini machines that although created for the advancement of science and robotics, end up turning half of mankind into a murderous, savage breed.
This infectious outbreak culminates in the Nanite War of 2064, before all sense of society, government and order is lost. From the chaos of dormant, lifeless cities emerges a group of ragtag strangers — Exiles — that players will follow across multiple, unique play-throughs thanks to the game’s structure of dynamic scenarios, strategically manage resources for and venture into uncharted territory with by means of an RPG-like, turn-based combat system.
‘When A.W.I.T.T was being conceptualised, we wanted to create a game that didn’t follow conventional rules.’ explains PBS founder and Technical Director, Amina Khalique. ‘We aimed to form a heavy RPG game structure that was dynamic enough for re-playability but at the same time able to be constrained in a controlled game design environment.’
With this emphasis on unique game-play experiences driving A.W.I.T.T’s core mechanics, its narrative bases itself on multiple short story events rather than one extended backstory. Players will be able to dive into hundreds of short scenarios, the outcome of each of which will stand influenced by player choices; so much so, that this underlying story structure alone has been complex enough to warrant the development of a Story Content Creation Tool to provide for maximum flexibility in game and story design.
Supplementing each play-through will be a unique list of Exiles, whose various skills and abilities one must utilise across the game’s Real-Time Turn Based Combat System in their defence against enemies, while also manipulating a Character Trust System to attain the highest probability of survival.
‘Character design was also a very important component to us as game developers, as we wanted to portray diversity in our characters’ ethnicities, genders, professions and really break some game character stereotypes,’ continues Khalique. ‘Our game dev team is a heavily diverse group with large skill sets and unique backgrounds too so we wanted A.W.I.T.T’s character’s to be a reflection of that diversity and really celebrate it.’
Pointless Button’s core team is largely online based, comprised of three talented Artists situated in Britain, two Story Designers based in Canada and the United States respectively (the former of whom, Indigo Doyle, is also a freelance artist affiliated to the Higher Eclectic Network), followed by a Sound Designer, Game Designer and Programmer all housed in the Canadian city of Toronto.
The company’s founding traces its roots back to real-life couple, business partners and current team members Amina Khalique and Bradley Widner in the year of 2015. Once students and now graduates of a Video Game Design Program offered by the Toronto Film School, the duo’s first steps produced Prison Air for a local three-day game jam; a casual adventure infused with slapstick humour and rag-doll physics, Prison Air was quickly Greenlit, is pending release and can now be downloaded as a demo for PC.
‘Production on A.W.I.T.T had already taken off with such an unexpected force with the new team, that time and resources prompted the decision to pause a full-release of Prison Air and focus on A.W.I.T.T instead.’ the team states. ‘We have been so enthusiastic to create a game with a much deeper concept — something thought-provoking in multiple arenas — and demonstrate that in A.W.I.T.T’s art, story and music, aiming to create an iconic indie game experience.’
With all progress documented on the game’s development blog, A.W.I.T.T is currently aiming for an October 2017 demo release with participation at the the next Independent Games Festival in mind. As one would imagine then, Antonio d’Amore’s role will be that of fleshing out numerous screen layouts and associated effects for both the upcoming demo and eventual, as of yet unscheduled, final release.
The collaboration with Pointless Button Studios is the first of several Higher Eclectic Ground has helped effect for d’Amore, whose specialities lie in both, the 2D and 3D design of illustrations, characters, assets/props, environments, storyboards and animations, since his joining the Network in February, this year.
Originally a Flash animator and illustrator by trade, the artist brings to the table more than a decade’s worth of experience in the creation of diverse visual content for a variety of e-learning applications, casual indie games, fables and animated cartoons, as both a freelancer and multimedia designer within the digital art industry.
‘Antonio’s upbeat attitude and excitement about A.W.I.T.T is awesome! He’s a big fan of the project and we can already see that coming through in his work!’ Pointless Button writes. While similar announcements of d’Amore’s collaborations will follow, one may choose to learn more of his professional history, portfolio of work and modus operandi via the designer’s Higher Eclectic Space.
Native to the Italian town of Aversa and based within England’s Reading, Antonio d’Amore infuses Higher Eclectic Ground’s roster of professional, freelance art talent with more than a decade’s worth of multimedia and graphic design experience this month; as a digital artist affiliated to the Network, he’ll now be seen offering a plethora of services in the realms of 2D and 3D design towards the development of independent video games via the same.
Building upon a childhood anchored in the fascination for comic-book, cartoon-fuelled storytelling, the now 37-year old has rendered for himself a career that stands immersed in the creation of illustrations, character designs, assets/props, environments, storyboards as well as animations on a regular, if not daily, basis.
Fluent in the 2D and 3D aspects of both, although admittedly less experienced in the latter, much of this skill-set has been provided towards the production of eLearning applications, serious games, animations, music videos and numerous other small-jobs for various Italian companies on a freelance and full-time basis.
Deciding to fully employ his expertise in the field of video game entertainment in the year of 2016 however, the Italian moved to Reading, United Kingdom where he continues to further a career in game design. Operating as a remote freelancer therein, d’Amore prides himself in being able to carry out tasks in both digital and traditional pen/pencil based media as need be.
Much of his digital workflow is based in the use of Adobe’s Creative Suite; ‘A confident user of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Animate CC/Flash, After Effects and Premiere, I can start tasks in Photoshop, finish them off on Animate CC, or just the opposite — it depends of the kind of job.’ he states in the case of 2D media.
‘I mostly use Photoshop for drafts, digital illustrations and for retouching/compositing. Animate CC on the other hand plays various roles — from character designs, environments, props and sprite sheets, (both cutout and frame by frame), to multimedia designs, user interface designs and animations.‘
With Illustrator used for vector art forms, d’Amore is further working on integrating Spine 2D into his pipeline for sprite animations. 3D Modelling meanwhile bases itself in his use of Autodesk Maya or Cinema 4D, the latter of which is also employed in motion design.
Furthermore while associated textures have involved the use of Adobe CS, he’s gradually begun transitioning towards the use of Substance Painter/Designer for the same. And as if that simply wasn’t enough, he continues to work on building a familiarity with the Unity and Unreal Engines while being an enthusiastic ZBrush user.
‘All my rates are flexible, negotiable and subject to project size; revenue share agreements are also considered depending on a project’s goals and likelihood of being finished in the near future.’ declares d’Amore. A team-player by nature, he naturally seeks to incorporate periodic checks, discussions and exchanges of feedback with his clients during the tenure of an assigned job.
Post attaining a degree in Multimedia and Graphic Design at the Consorzio Editoriale Fridericiana in 2000, followed by a study in Illustration & Animation at the Scuola Italiana di Comix in Naples thereafter, d’Amore moved to the city of Rome to employ his newfound qualifications up until 2016 — following a brief period of employment at Aversa based communication agency, Mau.
‘I was so lucky to work at Mau; the owners are some of the most creative people I’ve ever met and I learned a lot from them.’ he recalls.
While in Rome, d’Amore would go on to work at establishments such as that of Pragma (Multimedia Designer & Flash Animator, 2006), XCorsi, StaffMedia, Pubbliedi (Illustrator & Flash Animator, 2007-2008), Biogroup (Illustrator, Character Designer, 2D Animator, 3D modeller and Animator, 2008-2009) and Media Engineering (Senior Designer & Art Director, 2009-2016), even nurturing a freelance career in the years between 2002 and 2005.
‘I’ve truly dedicated myself to my passion for everything related to visual communication; I love to tell stories, aiming to immerse people in them by making them interactive and emotionally-driven through my designs.’ he writes.
While his year in Reading has already involved a brief stint at Nomad Games as a beta-tester and a quick yet intense period at UrbanVoyage as a 2D artist, d’Amore is also currently involved in the re-styling of Android poker game JokerManiac, and the development Italian upcoming casual/puzzle/platformer Tiro al Rosone.
As the artist now looks to documenting his progress with regards to both on his sub-forum on Higher Eclectic Ground, clients, enthusiasts and independent developers of games wishing to reach out to d’Amore with their feedback, job/commission requests and other queries may do so by creating a thread within the same forum.
An in-depth look at his professional services, portfolio of work and relevant references meanwhile, will continue to remain documented on his Higher Eclectic Space.