Simon Hutt Troussellier
Simon Hutt Trousellier is a video game art director and concept artist from Montpellier, France. Utilizing unique color combinations, he’s worked on video game masterpieces like Combo Crew, Furi, and the upcoming Haven.
How did you first get in working with video games?
My first big gig was a 2D flash animator job on a TV show called Wakfu, produced by the french animation studio Ankama. It’s a big content creator working on both 2D tv shows and features, but also on video games, comic books and boardgames. While I was working on the TV show, they asked for some 2D flash animator to help the video game animation team. That’s where I landed my very first video game job… making bad guys 2D sprite for Dofus 2.0.
What were some of your biggest influences when you first started?
Japanese animation is still one of my biggest influences: Akira, Mind Game, Tekkon Kinkreet, Dead Lives, Escaflowne, Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop.. Many other features and tv shows influence me as well including Disney’s Aladdin, but also a lot of 90’s cartoon such as The Simpsons, The Animaniacs, Dragon Ball. There's too many to namedrop. Also, video games: Bare Knuckles 2 , Earthworm Jim 2 (best box art ever), Quackshot, and GTA. All the shapes and colors and wackiness coming out of these productions will still be in my brain for a while.
How did you get started with the Game Bakers? What’s your relationship today?
Just after my job with Ankama, I was working with an online casual video game company in my hometown, and they kicked me out, so I had to look for other gigs. I said to myself that I had to find a company where I can make the games that I want to play. The first studio I linked with was The Game Bakers. Emeric, the CEO, called me and told me he was looking for an artist to work on their new game, a “beat ‘em up.” A few beers later, I was on board and I started working on Combo Crew. It’s been about 5 years now, and I’m still working with TGB today as an Art Director for our upcoming game HAVEN.
What project do you think helped you evolve the most as an artist?
I think Combo Crew was a big step for me. My first job as an Art Director but also character designer and background artist. I had to create a whole universe. I loved it, and I still love the game, despite its flaws and weaknesses. We made it with a very small core team, and I still can see the work and love that each one of the team as put into it. FURI was a huge one too. It was my first 3-D PC/Console production. I mainly worked on the environment concept art and moodboard for this one. I learned a lot. It had a bigger team, bigger budget, and we had to be really efficient. It required that we cut all the unnecessary stuff, just keep the essential art and gameplay.
What are some of the struggles putting your art into an interactive space?
The most challenging part is to match the universe that I have in mind to the story that I want to tell, the variety of characters, background, graphics features, and the special effects with the reality of the production. To be sure that what I’m about to create is going to be complete with the amount of time, budget and talent we have.
What do you think are the advantages of putting your art into an interactive medium like video games compared to just animation or illustration?
The player can really get into the universe I want to create. He can identify himself to the main character, take control of the game and create his own story. Make his own memorable moment. I think freedom is a huge feature that you can really experiment in a unique way in video game. Also, the art that I’m putting in the game helps the player get into his own story.
How did the idea for the art of “Furi” come about?
Not sure I’m the best one to answer this question. Furi is about freedom, and the choices you’ll have to make to get free. The price you’ll have to pay. Each Boss has to question the player motivation, and why he’s fighting. To tell this story, we did want a sci-fi universe, with lots of bright colors, and we needed variety because each boss would need a different universe. So, simple and effective. Takashi Okasaki did a great job on the character design, and I just had to create a world for each of his character. Not a really big issue because his characters are so inspiring. Before every bossfight in the game, the player has to walkthrough the environment to get to the boss. We wanted to put the player in a specific mindset for each combat. So, the backgrounds sometimes had to be cold and sharp, green and eerie, or warm and calm. It was more about creating a unique and memorable atmosphere before and during each fight.
When does the art influence the gameplay and when does the gameplay influence the art?
It really is a organic process and there’s a lot of ways to do it. One way is the creative director comes to me and starts explaining his vision of the game: what type of gameplay features we’re going to have and what kind of feeling and mood we want the player to have during the game. I then start working on first draft, trying to push gameplay ideas, creating character and universe. During this part of the art process, I usually come out with new gameplay or setting ideas that I can share with the game designer team. It’s a constant back and forth: game designing, feeding art, and vice versa.
Any advice for an artist trying to break into game development?
Do what you like. Do it as much as you can. Be productive. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be done. People who are going to pay for your art need to see what you’re able to do. Share your art. Consume as much as you can with other people’s art. Be ready to work on stuff your not comfortable with… you’ll always learn something new, and it will expand your comfort zone. Stay positive.
Any future work you’d like for us to know about?
I’m actually working as Art Director on the new TGB game called HAVEN. It’s been a year now that I’ve been working with the team and the game should be released in early 2020. I’ve also worked a BG concept artist for Nickelodeon on their INVADER ZIM special. It should be available on streaming services soon. Also, be sure to check out my daily work, I often do cover and illustration works for different studios and brands.