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.
Strata, a maker of 3D tools for professional designers and illustrators, sat down with Jason to discuss his career, his experience and some of his past projects.
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 an art supply store, that 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’ve been 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 its 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 allowed 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 the 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 94×64 pixels to 240×320 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?
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
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
The goal was to capture ESPN’s look and transfer it to 240×320 & 176x 220 pixels ( amongst other smaller sizes reaching 128×128 pixels ) sized phones. Branding every screen and including a ticker gave that feeling you were watching and playing the events on TV.
This interview originally appeared here.