PlatinumGames

Tomoyuki Kondo

Putting Together the UI Puzzle

 

Tomoyuki Kondo

Senior UI Artist, UI Team Lead, Group 7, Osaka Studio, Game Creative Division

Polish and Originality

I’ve worked on several games throughout my career, and as you might have guessed, most of that work has been implementing and overseeing those games’ user interfaces. One UI design that stands out among all my memories was for World of Demons. On that title, my task was to capture the unmistakable charms of traditional Japanese art… on a smartphone screen. The director gave me two rules for the UI:

– Keep it in a classical Japanese style.
– Make sure it’s easy to read on a smartphone.

But of course, that wasn’t all I set out to achieve. I felt very responsible for delivering a UI that was polished and original. Navigating through the user interface had to feel good; the shrine maiden who led the tutorials had to be so detailed, you could see her blinking; each illustration of each yokai that appeared in the prologue had to move on its own. All of these details would make the UI more engaging and fun for the player. In the end, I think we created a satisfyingly playful interface for the game.

World of Demons came with another challenge, too. Our company hadn’t had much experience when it came to outsourcing UI, but I set out to work with our vendors to create a UI efficiently, and without sacrificing any quality. I put together painstakingly detailed guidelines for the design and layouts to guide the vendors through their work. By working together, we accomplished five times as many tasks at the same time as I could have gotten through on my own, while keeping everything Platinum quality.

Working with Certainty

A user interface artist’s job is often like putting together a puzzle with pieces called “specifications” and “design.” When these pieces fit together, the result is an interface that’s both easy to understand and a joy to control – and it feels great to accomplish that. When you work together with people from all different disciplines on one project team, you can achieve much greater quality than you ever could on your own. That’s the appeal of game development for me.

When your combat results are shown onscreen in World of Demons, for example, that’s not just the UI team at work – the animators and visual effects artists are there, too, and it all flows together nicely. When we were working on the prologue, we all shared our opinions and ideas; that diverse selection of ideas helped us create something truly beautiful. Whether I’m looking back at my own work as an individual, or on my contributions to my team, I’m always delighted to know I’ve created something that I can send out to players with confidence.

A Player’s Point of View

I was fresh out of college when I joined PlatinumGames. In the six years since then, I’ve gotten a lot of valuable advice from my seniors. They’ve taught me how to design and animate user interfaces without compromise, and how to interpret UI specifications and tweak them into some seriously smooth results. To create a cool, comprehensible interface, we UI artists have to be able to see what we’re working on from a player’s point of view. We strive to make things feel fun from that perspective. If I had any advice for a prospective UI artist, I’d say to hang on to that player’s spirit.

Working in an active development environment, the ability to communicate, take feedback, and polish your work again and again is very important. It’s not unusual for us to spend entire days in meeting rooms, working out the right specifications to make sure players have as much fun as we can give them. Good ideas can come from anywhere. If you’re willing to do whatever it takes to create fun for people, if you’re ready to make their joy your top priority, then I hope you’ll apply to PlatinumGames.

 

PROFILE

Tomoyuki Kondo

Senior UI Artist, UI Team Lead, Group 7, Osaka Studio, Game Creative Division

Tomoyuki Kondo joined PlatinumGames as a UI artist in 2014. He has acted as Lead UI artist on Star Fox Zero and World of Demons. He’s currently working on BABYLON’S FALL, overseeing all UI creation.