Posted on August 21, 2018 at 1:35 PM UTC
Making IT is a monthly Question and Answer article featuring the people who make IT games possible. From game designers, to sound engineers, to programmers, each role is vital to the production and success of each slot Incredible Technologies produces. Players and customers see the polished, finished product, but rarely have a chance to peek behind the curtain and understand the people or the process that make their favorite games happen. Making IT is the spotlight on the creative minds that make IT games incredible.
Mark Angres, Gaming Art Manager
Q: How long have you been at IT? In your current role?
A: I’ve been a Senior 3D Artist at Incredible Technologies for about 5 years now and recently had the honor of being promoted to Gaming Art Manager.
Q: What are your main responsibilities as Gaming Art Manager?
A: My main responsibilities as the Gaming Art Manager are to over see the scheduling of all our artists and animators. I keep tabs on the latest and greatest software and hardware out there to help us be our most creative and efficient. I’ll help artists stay on the cutting edge of digital art techniques and make sure they’re coming to work happy and productive and leaving work with a sense of fulfillment and joy.
Q: What’s your favorite part of working at IT?
A: Artists at IT are given a lot of creative freedom when it comes to making the art for a game. Whether it’s done in 3D or drawn by hand, it’s up to the artist to decide what will ultimately look the best for that particular game. Having that freedom is amazing
Q: How did you get into Class III game development?
A: My previous position was at an advertising firm and when it came time to look for a new job, I saw that IT was looking for artists. The timing was right and after my first interview I knew IT was a great match for me and my goals as an artist, husband and father. I could see they had strong family values within the company and that was very important to me.
Q: What’s a rough outline of your “creative process”?
A: When roughing out an idea I usually start out on my own- blue sky ideas can get a little wild at times. As an idea or theme starts to be flushed out in my mind I’ll usually start off by sketching the good-old-fashioned way, with pencil and paper. From there I will mock up a clearer vision in Photoshop. Not everything will be worked out at that point, but the basic idea will be there. Next, I share my ideas with the rest of the team which includes other artists, programmers and mathematicians. Together we are all looking at the same idea but through a different lens, and it’s here that things get fine-tuned. There has to be a nice balance between the math, art and programming in order to end up with an entertaining game!
Q: What’s your favorite part of helping teams create a game?
A: My favorite part of helping out other teams is that we all respect each other’s opinions and everyone’s ideas are valid. We critique each other’s work all the time with an open ear and open mind. We’re always looking for ways to improve the game and ourselves.
Q: Most memorable feedback (can be good or bad) you’ve ever received on a game?
A: We were making a carnival-related game that went into player testing with an icon that featured a happy clown. Well, it became clear that most people in the world seem to have a fear of clowns, everyone hated it! So he was removed. I blame Stephen King!
Q: Favorite game(s) you’ve worked on?
A: I guess my favorite game would have to be “Winner of the West.” It was the first game I worked on at IT and I was really thrown into the fire on that one. At the time I was just learning the ropes at IT and I was feeling pretty overwhelmed. I was responsible for a handful of the icons and backgrounds, a fully animated 3D cowgirl and all the attract videos for the game. Luckily I had tremendous support from all the other artists and programmers who helped me make it to the finish line on time. And it doesn’t hurt that the game has been successful for the last few years.
Q: What’s something you wish slot players knew about slot machines in general?
A: It’s always interesting to see some of the superstitions that the players have. They may rub the screen at a certain time, or touch an icon when it lands hoping it will bring on a big win. Sorry to say, doing these things won’t increase your odds of winning. But, it won’t decrease them either. So if it feels right to you, I say go for it! Just have fun!
Q: Did you play slot machines or gamble before you started working here?
A: I was always more of a video poker and black jack player, but video games have been a part of my life since the days of Pong. The old one armed bandits may not have caught my eye, but now-a-days the games we produce have so much going on, both on screen and under the hood, that they feel like a full-powered video game. Our games are fun, action packed and always entertaining, and I find myself at the slots now more so than the black jack table…
Q: Have you learned anything about the gaming industry that surprised you or struck you as interesting?
A: I’m always surprised to see the trends out there. They change pretty much every year. It’s hard to know what people are going to like, so we try to make games that will be relevant and fun now and years from now. It’s not easy to do, but it’s something we keep in mind as we create our games.
Q: Did you ever think you’d be working in this industry or have this job?
A: I’ve always tried to keep an open mind about where I work. Over the years I’ve worked in print design, toy design, TV animation and commercial advertising. But my goal has always been the same: To work at a company that truly values its employees and to surround myself with other, like minded and talented artists. I feel I’ve truly found all that and more at IT.
Q: What’s your dream slot machine? Maybe a theme or feature that wouldn’t appeal to anyone else, but you’d play the heck out of it. (No, one that only produces wins is not a valid answer.)
A: I miss the days of the slot machines dishing out actual coins when you win. I’d like to see that come back, only this time the coins are all made of chocolate! It would get messy, but totally worth it! Don’t ya think?