Jason Nobriga, Mobile Game Designer

Jason Nobriga, originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, is an interactive designer working primarily in the mobile games market since 1994. Clients have included EA Mobile, Apple, Jamdat mobile, Blue Lava Wireless and New World Computing.

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» Hi Jason. Tell us a bit about yourself. What's your background? How did you get interested in graphic design and illustration?

Well for starters, I was born and raised in Honolulu Hawaii and as a child I loved to read comic books as I grew up I got more into illustration.

I didn't attend college but I got my education at my first job working at a art supply store, from there is where I've met a bunch of professional artists and learned how to work with various mediums. In 1994 I met John Morris a gifted programmer that was looking for team for his new company "Stick Man Games".

At the time I had zero experience with computers, but John taught me the basics ( For example, how to turn one on! ) and learned "Painter" which was put out by Fractal at the time. I was hooked since.

» Why Strata? what made you pick it up, and why did you stick with it?

Our first big project with Stick Man Games was a game called "Chaos Overlords" which was published by New World Computing and released on both Apple and Windows and we needed a 3D tool, we were on a budget and needed something powerful and easy to use. After trying a few different 3D tools we were impressed with Strata Studio Pro. Since then Strata has been my 3D tool of choice because of its incredible rendering capabilities and again it's ease.

» What other software do you use regularly?

Adobe Photoshop and illustrator are my main tools.

» How does Strata fit into that workflow?

I find that Photoshop & Strata are inseparable for my needs. Compositing layers in Photoshop lets me achieve some very interesting effects and results. That really allows me to control subtle lighting and color changes when needed.

» A lot of your work seems to be focused on mobile gaming. What unique challenges do you face in this field, in terms of how you have to design and deliver your work?

During my time in the industry, probably the biggest challenge graphically is keeping graphic files as small as possible. Older mobile phones only allow 100KB and sometimes 96KB for a game application, so stuffing graphics and code gets pretty hairy. Reducing palette colors and the use of a proprietary compression tools are usual steps in keeping graphic files to a minimum.

This is a prime example how Photoshop and Strata were extensively used.

» Do you think the restrictions you face force you to be more creative?

I'd like to think so, much more thought and preparation is needed before tackling a project. Keeping a design simple and clean usually is vital when working on screen sizes from 94x64 pixels to 240x320 pixels. Being able to troubleshoot any problem that arises will always keep you on your toes and that's when you're forced to be creative.

» Could you give us a little run-down on the three jobs we're looking at here?

Absolutely.

Tetris Mania - EA Mobile

Here are the screenshots of Tetris Mania game from EA Mobile. The background images were created in Strata.

Because of the size limitation on mobile phones, we couldn't use multiple background images on level ups, instead we would swap the palette.


Tetris EDVO - Jamdat Mobile

Here are the screenshots of Tetris EVDO game from Jamdat Mobile. Strata had a larger role with this Tetris variant.

The background image during the menu section would do a simple animation. The incapsulated mercury-like eggs animate and rotate once the user selected an option on the menu. During game play, Strata's use was in the background once again. The rest was done in Photoshop.


ESPN Bass Master Fishing
- EA Mobile

Here are some screenshots of ESPN Bass Master Fishing game from EA Mobile. Art Direction and Background illustration, Marketing and sprites were my responsibilities on this project. The goal was to capture ESPN's look and transfer it to 240x320 & 176x 220 pixels ( amongst other smaller sizes reaching 128x128 pixels ) sized phones. Branding every screen and including a ticker gave that feeling you were watching and playing the events on TV.

Another key element was to capture the hosts of the program which added more to the game. I recreated the studio set along with the hosts ( non animated ) in Strata and applied it when a user navigated towards the menu giving the effect of a commentary break. The blue under water screen is combination of rendered, pixel art and procedure art.

Strata was used for the sea bed, rocks sprites and weed sprites. Once these images were rendered, they reduced the clut to 32 to 64 colors and then re-compressed with an custom made compression tool to rip out all resource information.

» Thanks for your time, Jason. We look forward to seeing more of your work.

Thank you for the opportunity!