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Spacelords Interview -- Art Director Talks Inspiration: Comics, Anime, Spaghetti Western, and Music

Spacelords Art Director Jorge Benedito talks about his work and the many forms of media that inspired the look and feel of the game.

July 22, 2018

While many things will change in MercurySteam’s third-person shooter/brawler Raiders of the Broken Planet as it transitions into its new free-to-play form Spacelords, one thing will remain the same, and that’s the game’s charming art style.

In order to know more about it, DualShockers talked with Art Director Jorge Benedito at the studio’s headquarters in San Sebastian de Los Reyes, Spain.

Giuseppe: Spacelord has some of the most visually striking artwork I’ve seen in a long while, especially from a western developer. In certain ways, it almost feels like a Japanese game mixed with the distinctive style of European comics. Can you talk a bit about your inspirations and influences? 

Jorge Benedito: there is a lot of inspiration from European and western comics from the eighties and from the nineties like Judge Dredd and Lobo. The aesthetics of the game are a bit Heavy Metal. There are also anime like Battle Angel AlitaGhost in the Shell, and Akira.

G: The whole cast is very distinctive. How difficult is it to come out with new characters that don’t feel like they’ve been already done?:

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JB: It’s hard to find a personality that we don’t have done before by anyone else. There are tough guys everywhere: tough guys who look handsome, tough guys who look brutal… We take our time to think about tropes that aren’t used all that often, like the rat boy, and then we work on those to make it consistent with the rest of the universe.

G: You certainly seem to have found inspiration in western movies as well. Is there any particular film that you’ve been influenced by?

JB: Once Upon a Time in the West directed by Sergio Leone is one. Henry Fonda did a wonderful job as the villain. His cold, blue eyes were tremendous.

G: I definitely know that one. It’s actually an Italian film. The original title was C’era una volta il West, and it’s awesome. 

JB: There were a lot of Spaghetti Western back then like that one. All of them had very similar aesthetics.

G: There’s also a bit of fantasy in the game. How do you balance all these aspects together?

JB: With science-fiction, it’s not difficult to include all that stuff. For instance, in medieval fantasy, it’s more difficult to include all these different elements because people tend to have a very clear idea of that. With sci-fi, since it includes all these different planets and alien races, you can make fit pretty much anything you might imagine. We can do anything, and we’re doing pretty much everything we like, actually.

G: I noticed that there’s quite a bit of rock-and-roll in the game, and that’s something I know Enric [Álvarez, the Game Director] loves, but as you said there is also some heavy metal mixed in. Could you talk about this inspiration?

JB: A lot of the elements of the game are “heavy” in the literal sense of the word. There are heavy tanks, heavy characters — they feel big and heavy when you play them — and all of them have a strong attitude. They’re all very rock-and-roll. Rock-and-roll is mostly about attitude. It’s not just about music, but also about how you act, and how you sing and play an instrument with attitude.

All the characters in Spacelords have a strong attitude, and if you put music on top, there you have it.

G: A lot of the artwork of the game wouldn’t look bad as a cover for Manowar or Rhapsody album…

JB: It’s second-nature for us. It’s not just for Spacelords, but also with the Castlevania games. If you check out their art, it’ll give you the same feeling. Maybe it isn’t exactly Manowar, but closer to Motörhead or Monster Magnet that provided the song for our intro.

If you want to learn more about Raiders of the Broken Planet‘s relaunch as Spacelords and see the new trailer, you can check out our dedicated article. You can also watch our interview with Director Enric Álvarez, and a second one in which he talks about MercurySteam’s history and future. In a third interview, Lead Designer Joan Amat talks about free to play transition, progression, and more.

The update that will turn the game into Spacelords will be available on August 23rd for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

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Giuseppe Nelva

Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.

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