Day 1 –
My name is Lindsey Kurkiewicz and I am a Concept Artist! About a year ago, I graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in my greatest passion, Game Design. But, for me, coming from a small patch of cornfield called Huntley, Illinois, it wasn’t every day that someone pursued a career in Game Design. In fact, I and most people around me had no idea how to go about pursuing this type of career and becoming a part of the Game industry. I just knew I wanted to do it.
For my thirteenth birthday, my mom and dad got me a copy of the hugely popular MMORPG, World of Warcraft. It changed my whole world; not because I played it all day every day, but because when I did, I was stunned by the art and time that must’ve went into the game.
Throughout middle school and high school, I started building skills I figured were necessary for game artistry. I started drawing more, coding layouts for people on Myspace and making lists of worlds and characters I had imagined throughout the day. I was so inspired, but the inspiration only went so far as just one person.
I wanted to share ideas, be motivated, and guided by other people who shared the same passion for Game Design as I did, but my school’s electives were hardly related. There were things like pottery, cooking, fashion, and basic art. This was the time in life where everyone’s helping you and you’re figuring out what you want to be. But no one understood what I wanted to be, no one was there to point me in the right direction, and as the school years passed, I felt limited and left out.
So, how did I get into game design?
By senior year of high school, I figured I had to put aside the concept artist dream. For a second, I half-heartedly decided I was going to go to school to be an art teacher. But one day, a Columbia College Chicago recruiter came to speak during one of my ceramics classes. I drifted in and out as they talked, but then, somewhere in the middle, they announced the new majors they had added: Game Design with a concentration in Game Art. I didn’t even listen to the rest of the speech, I was sold.
I left for the city, attending Columbia College Chicago in the fall of 2012, and completing my BA in the spring of 2016. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The coursework was demanding, the projects required undivided attention, and there were many sleepless nights. But, I have learned far more than I ever could have imagined and gotten places I never knew existed. I went from zero guidance and possibly becoming an art teacher to currently working on multiple contract, freelance, and personal projects. One of which, I get to share with you guys in the upcoming days!
Back in my sophomore year of college, our final for Character Design was to create a plot, environment, main character, NPC or supporting character, and a villain; but the catch was that it had to be educational and informative.
I immediately knew I was going to do Astrology. I had a crazy roommate in college the year before that was beyond interested in the stars, tarot card readings, and energies. If I was ever bored, she would sit me down on the floor and read my cards/birth chart to me, explaining all the astrological elements and reasonings for things. I thought she was nuts, but it was fun, and over time, I grew to become really interested in it.
Astrology is very intricate, symbolic, and complex, which I felt I would have more than enough material to create the mock game for my final. It actually ended up having SO much material that I couldn’t stop! I was having so much fun with the assignment that it turned into a personal project called Up Above. This is what I’ll be sharing with you in these upcoming days! For reference, and because I can only explain so much, I’ve linked some words with pages to help get a better understanding of the game.
In Up Above, long ago, the gods split the ecliptic into twelve constellations and gave each a ruler: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. The twelve signs were carefully crafted, gifted an element, and comprised of their own unique race. Though all very different, the constellations prospered and worked together harmoniously, everything was perfect. The Gods, however, believed life for the constellations was not balanced. Good cannot exist without evil, and thus a black hole was created. From this hole, Erebus of Darkness was born. Jealous that it was not given the same life and care the constellations were, its heart grew with a horrid hate, vowing to destroy all life. It is now up to the twelve signs to take back the ecliptic and destroy Erebus before it destroys them.
Up Above is intended to be an MMORPG. The logo of the game is a simplification of Erebus’s vortex sucking up the twelve dotted constellations. The player can either play male or female, and starts by picking an element. The actual twelve signs are divided into 4 elements, think of these as your “class.”
They then, from the element they’ve chosen, pick which constellation they’d like to play. Each constellation comes with their own race, weapon, character/elemental powers, and world! Exploring, questing, fighting, and working with other races to defeat Erebus and his army is how the game ends up being won.
I hope you guys enjoy the concept! Tomorrow, you’ll get to see some example environment art I created for Cancer’s constellation, along with a mood board/process sheet.