"For me, playing a game is not just about the game mechanics. It's a lot about diving into another world."Klaus Lyngeled, art and game director of Zoink Games' recently released PlayStation 3 and PS Vita platformer Stick It to The Man, says he was strongly influenced by the graphic artists of his youth. "Visual art is a very powerful language," Lyngeled tells Gamasutra. "It's so easy to explain your vision when you can draw it." Drawing on an affection for Jamie Hewlett's Tank Girl as well as the works of Jhonen Vasquez (Invader Zim) and Doug TenNapel (Earthworm Jim), Stick It to The Man looks and plays like an MTV-fueled fever dream from out of the early 1990s. With a telepathic 'spaghetti hand,' the player can peel back the outer walls of houses, yank teeth and limbs from the papery inhabitants, and plow into their inner monologues. You can get a good glimpse of the free-flowing, paper cut-up style of the gameplay in the trailer above. "The visual style actually came from a short animation I did," Lyngeled explains. "I wanted a quick and dirty 2D look, but I can't animate traditional 2D [animation] frame by frame. So I just rigged the characters as 3D paper cut-out meshes." With acknowledgements to Media Molecule's LittleBigPlanet, which might be described as Stick It to The Man's lighter-hearted cousin, Lyngeled says the goal with the paper cut-out look was to create something distinct, simple, and easy to animate. This in turn feeds naturally back into the gameplay. "Once you start thinking in that universe of paper, it's easy to come up with how it works," says Lyngeled. With level puzzles based on exploration and mix-and-matching stickers of often disparate objects, Lyngeled and his team liken the game to an Advent Calendar, in which the pleasure lies in tearing open each piece in search of a surprise. "Art is a very important factor in getting people into the correct mood and into that world," Lyngeled observes. "For an independent developer, having [multiple roles] is pretty normal. Programmer and designer is probably the most common, but in my case it's art and game direction. I love designing characters and it's been a great advantage to both write the story and at the same time draw them." You can learn more about Stick It to The Man from its official website.
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The indie comix sensibilities of Stick It to The Man
Gamasutra speaks with Zoink Games' Klaus Lyngeled, art and game director of the recently released, grunge comics-inspired puzzle-platformer Stick It to The Man.