Assemble With Care
You wanna play a game?
In the studio we have people that love games, those that dabble and others that probably think it’s still a pastime for those afraid of sunlight or human interaction. Luckily, I rest safely at the ‘love games’ bonfire, away from those dark souls (that’s a clunky little gamer joke for you 😉 )
Regardless of our varying interests in gaming, we can all agree on one thing, Ustwo’s Monument Valley changed the rules for mobile games. It bridged the gap between gaming
and art and made something that pulled in audiences from around the world, including those that would otherwise write-off the medium as not ‘being for them’. A true masterpiece in the palm of your hand. So, when the opportunity arose for us to work on a new title from Ustwo Games, it was a no brainer, we wanted in.
We were brought in to help with the visual identity surrounding the game and come up with PR ideas for their new Apple Arcade exclusive. This meant looking at everything beyond the game and how it would feel part of the world that they were building. From the logo, to the site, to the trailer, to the key art, it all had to feel like an extension of the game itself, rather than an afterthought. The working title of the game, at the time, was Repair.
We went down to visit the Ustwo Games studio in London. It was clear from our perspective that we didn’t want to jump into all this work without at least having met the team, played the game and got a feel for what they were building and what they needed from us. It turned out to be an essential trip, in a couple of hours we learned more about their vision than we could have got from a hundred emails. We’ve all had those meetings that could’ve been emails but this was a perfect example that sometimes, just sometimes, being face to face can be incredibly helpful.
We started by creating moodboards for them and put together ‘guidelines’ for the game. A go-to manual for anything that they might need in the future. Typefaces, colour palettes, layouts, tone of voice, how to use assets, those kinds of things. This is a document that has grown alongside the game to help ensure everyone in their team better is clear on how to make all the additional material marry seamlessly with the game, with parts of it even helping with the designs in the game too. This isn’t something that every game has but we think is a fantastic way to help keep all assets aligned and consistent. If you’re making anything that is going to have assets being made for it in the future (especially when it’s likely to be other people making them) a document like this is incredibly comforting to have, trust me.
Art is key and the key is art.
Key art is an odd thing that only really exists in games and movies. In games it’s essentially a single illustration that explains everything about a game, without necessarily being a scene that exists in the game, or that even looks exactly like the game. It’s a way of communicating the feel and mood of a title in a single image. So we needed to find an illustrator to do this, someone who’s style felt close enough to the in-game art style and impactful enough to be used for key art. After looking at a number of illustrators we decided to approach Bruno Mangyoku, a fantastic illustrator based in Paris. With the help of Bruno’s agent, Handsome Frank we managed to get him on board. Handsome Frank are fantastic by the way, if you ever need an interesting artist for a project, make sure you look them up!
After briefing Bruno on what we needed included, the colours we wanted and the overall aim of the key art, we left him to do his thing. Checking in with him and keeping the dialogue open with Ustwo was key to making sure we all got a piece of work that felt right not only for the game but as a bridge between it and all other content that was being created.
The GIF that keeps on giffing.
While Bruno was working away on the key art, I was tackling the logo which then had to get changed! A curveball I had to knock out the park. After a few hundred (thousand? million?) names or so had been floated, tested, deflated and inflated again, Ustwo Games landed on the fitting title of ‘Assemble With Care’. With the previous logo now obsolete, it was back to the literal drawing board for me to come up with a new mark. I looked so much at those three words during that time that they lost all meaning. After a lot of back and forth, we finally came up with something we all felt was right, we then got the talented Nicol Craig to help bring to life the logo in a way that felt like it was being assembled with care. He did a great job.
Around this time, when the key art was completed and a logo had been picked, we started looking at the trailer. We wanted something that showcased the story and mood as much as the gameplay. Ustwo had created such a beautiful world and story, we wanted to hero it. So we looked at coming up with an approach that would be visually striking but also allow room for gameplay and storytelling to breathe. Assemble With Care isn’t bombastic or action packed, so we didn’t want the trailer to be either. We wanted something that felt like an extension of this amazing world, a story beat that would help people see the game in all it’s retro, dream-like quality. We decided to have Bruno do the art for this too. It made the most sense and we’d all been really happy with the key art he’d produced, also with time as a constant pressure, Bruno already knew the project, so we knew this would help with timings. With the help of Pablo Clark’s incredible storyboards, Bruno nailed the illustration for the trailer. We then handed it to Andrei Staruiala to be animated. What he achieved in a week with just a layered Photoshop file and the storyboards was nothing short of outstanding! Big props to him, he completely captured what we’d set out to achieve.
What a site to behold.
I then moved onto the site design, working with a talented developer from Ustwo, Phil Linnell to help make the site feel slick and AGAIN part of the same Assemble With Care world. I initially came up with some pretty quirky ideas for the site that would see the use of fully rendered 3D objects from the game. Due to time constraints and not being able to get any time from the games team with asset creation (they were really up against it!) I had to rethink and simplify. Which to be honest, is usually the best thing to do. The outcome actually ended up feeling more in-line with the game I think, more clean and simple, free from unnecessary gimmicks and snappy to load. Nothing worse than a site with beautiful 50mb images that take an age to load, amiright?
Hey, what’s the big idea!?
With regards to the PR idea, all I can say is it’s coming. Keep one eye on the website for now and another on playing Assemble With Care.
Huge congratulations to Ustwo Games for launching such a beautiful game and we’re so chuffed that we could be a small part of it! I have no doubt that people will love it and I can’t wait to see what’s next from an amazing team!
Assemble With Care – NOW AVAILABLE ON APPLE ARCADE