Game Freak have revealed a bit more behind the development of their individual games HarmoKnight and Drill Dozer via illustration videos that involve key staff in the making of those games.
Tempo from HarmoKnight drawn by Art Director James Turner
In this video, Turner talks about how HarmoKnight was the first game project that was developed via Game Freak’s ‘Gear Project’ internal competition. Furthermore, the game’s design document was illustrated via a short manga that showed how the game would play.
Turner describes how when designing characters, for him the most important thing is the the character concept, like the character being a kind person or cool person. Next is to make sure the design isn’t too complicated while having a distinct silhouette, and this goes for Pokémon concepts he designs as well, such as Poipole, Phantump, Golurk, and more.
When asked how the character designer for a particular Pokémon is decided, Art Director Takao Unno revealed that firstly ideas are collected from Game Freak employees no matter their position. These ideas are then filtered via what is needed for the story (and region) and game balance. As for who gets to draw the Pokémon design, there are various patterns but it generally depends on if the character designer did designs that were well-received in previous games, or if Unno feels that particular staff member is able to bring out the feel of the Pokémon and can come up with interesting or out-there ideas.
Jill from Drill Dozer drawn by 2D graphic designer Hironobu Yoshida
Yoshida was in charge of character designs for Drill Dozer, and also worked on pixel art back then. The last time he directly helped with pixel art was Pokémon Black 2 & White 2, the development of which which he describes as “like a festival” as X & Y would be switching to 3D models.
Recently Yoshida’s a bit worried about whether the current generation will understand the appeal of pixel art. To him, the appeal of pixel art is how little space is wasted, and how artistic it is that you can only really tell what the art is showing when seen from a distance.
On the topic of Drill Dozer, Yoshida was actually really opposed to having a female main character… because he found them hard to draw. So as something of a protest, he added boy-like eyebrows to Jill’s design. Having a girl be the protagonist was Ken Sugimori’s decision, and the logic behind the choice stemmed from the fact that they had decided on having a mech in the game, and it would be more interesting to have a cutesy girl pilot that instead of a buff-looking male character.
Yoshida-san’s final product
HarmoKnight is available for Nintendo 3DS. Drill Dozer was released for Game Boy Advance in 2006. You can check out the first in this video series with Ken Sugimori and Pulseman in our previous report here.