• Yann Penno

Yann's story - One who makes pretty images


I may have been working in the career of my dreams: drawing, animating, talking about games all day long, but about 6 years ago I still heavily got the blues.


I suddenly had the impression, just a few years before turning thirty, that life was passing by at supersonic speed. As if from a midlife crisis arriving way too early, I started looking backward, caught between the impression that the work of my dreams might not be as amazing as I had thought and the small ego that keeps telling me I'm a rotten artist. Simply put, I felt depression quietly settling in.


Very quickly I started dreaming of myself as a kid and rehashing, still awake, all those moments where all my dreams were still possible and immortality didn't seem implausible. More than just nostalgic, I seeped into a deep melancholy.


To try and preserve my sanity, I decided, despite work that was always talking way too much energy, to start a small side project.


Would it be a comic? An animated short? No, it would have to be a game! From my NES that I received when I was 6 (in 1991... I had no idea that the Super version would quickly follow!), video games is the medium that followed me as I grew up... So why not keep that trend? And what's particularly special with a game is that on top of drawing, I'll be animating, writing, designing...


I do remember the first evening when I managed to get motivated enough to start this project. Hyped after finishing the first page of drawings of the main character, a power outage corrupted my .psd and all my first night's work was lost. Sometimes life has a way of telling you to stop dreaming and go back to bed.


After a while and yet more drawings, I started talking about the project to some colleagues: Alex, a programmer and Eric, a game designer. We began talking about our childhoods, our dreams, and that maybe making a game together about those themes could be interesting.


With their help, the idea of Spleen as a game about the nostalgia of childhood started taking root as we prototyped small ideas in Unity. Time passed and it remained simply a side project, a few hours here and there, without really begin something entirely serious. But in my mind it was slowly but surely becoming the next big step in my life.

I began telling a few friends, and even my boss Vander, that I wanted to do this project for real! After some amazing discussions with Odile, but also Jeysen, Julien and Steph (a couple of friends who just created their own studio called "Berry and Cloud" at the end of the world in Natashquan), their reactions and advice encouraged me to go all the way.


So that was the end of my job and my salary (ouch!) to start full time on Spleen. Alex kept giving me a hand when he had some time, but he was still working for a company that was also just starting up. Eric on the other hand didn't really have much time with his life going at 100 miles an hour.


After 5 months trying out a bunch of things, like painting watercolors for the very first time and learning to do proper 2D animation (in the end, a good chunk of the art direction comes from this desire to experiment with new skills, since in the beginning I didn't really know how to do either), one day I was having lunch with Alex and he tells me:

-"So I'll be able to work full time on the project."

-"Really? That's awesome! You mean like all next week?"

-"No no... I mean full time."

-"..."

I have no idea what I looked like at the time, but I was OVERJOYED!!


So that's pretty much it. Alex is also without a steady salary, we're starting Pamplemousse together and trying to reassure our partners that we're serious working people and we've been building stuff since last summer. I am incredibly happy to be part of this adventure, truly.


I think we're on the right track... And Spleen is only the beginning.


Y.

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