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Discover the pastel-soaked world of Surf Membership’s Olivia Haines

In 2021, Melbourne-based 3D artist and indie sport developer Olivia Haines posted a TikTok video showcasing her work, captioned: ‘the female urge to solely make video video games as a type of self-expression and make no effort to attraction to players.’ Her distinctive cutesy artwork fashion does have a mass attraction, because it seems: over 2.6 million views value of attraction, in actual fact.

Since then, Haines has gone on to hitch the First Peoples-led studio Guck as a 3D artist, whereas additionally engaged on her personal upcoming journey sport, Surf Membership

Rising up, Haines says she was all the time drawing and excited by artwork however hadn’t thought-about video games as a profession choice. After highschool, she relocated from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland to Melbourne in an effort to examine video games at RMIT, however didn’t have a ‘tremendous clear imaginative and prescient’ of the place the course would take her profession after graduating.

Dollhouse. Picture: Olivia Haines

In direction of the top of her second 12 months of examine, Haines started to find native creators that have been making small tasks and releasing them without cost. She says that the tasks she noticed ‘have been very art-driven, experimental, and nearly extra like set up artwork items than video video games, and that basically struck a chord.’

After this, her perspective on the type of video games she needed to make modified. ‘I received very obsessed with that form of thought of video games simply being a cool piece you can type of spectate nearly as a lot as play.’ She says it felt like a very good match, given her give attention to artwork, and the shortage of attraction she present in creating and testing sport mechanics.

‘I discovered it a really fulfilling course of, seeing my artwork being remodeled into this digital house, somewhat than simply 2D pictures that you just have a look at, like an area you can immerse your self in.’

Drive Me to the Moon. Picture: Olivia Haines

Haines’ work is pastel-soaked, dreamy, and, within the case of Surf Membership, nostalgic. She says anime, particularly, the magical woman style (assume Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura, and Puella Magi Madoka Magica) has been an enormous affect on her fashion. ‘I’ve all the time preferred cute characters and vibrant worlds, after which as I received to uni and began to mature a bit I nonetheless held on to that,’ she says.

She started to include extra of her personal identification into the magical woman aesthetic of her video games, drawing on her upbringing on the Australian coast and her time in Melbourne. ‘I began to take extra observe of my environment,’ she says, ‘and I believe mixing that extra into my artwork has given it a extra strong identification, somewhat than simply being cute. I really feel prefer it’s very distinctly Australian.’

Taking such an outlined artwork fashion and translating it into video games hasn’t been with out its challenges for Haines, although. ‘On a technical stage, I used to be good at drawing, however making that into 3D fashions and belongings for a undertaking is a complete problem in itself,’ she says. Her learnings by way of translating her artwork into her personal video games have led to her work on Guck’s upcoming farming administration cell sport, Future Folklore. ‘I’d describe my function on it as this bridge between artistic and tech.’

Learn: What can video games inform us about girlhood?

She says working to make art-focused video games, whereas nonetheless making an attempt to create one thing individuals might hook up with presents its personal distinctive challenges, too. ‘I did have to work on…discovering this comfortable medium between having one thing playable, one thing individuals will get one thing out of whereas additionally having fun with the way it seems to be.’

The turning level in her profession got here with the discharge of video games like Dollhouse and Drive Me to the Moon, when she started to obtain extra optimistic suggestions on her work. 

Presently, Haines is engaged on Surf Membership, a narrative-driven journey sport centered on Holly, a girl who returns to her hometown within the hopes of rekindling an previous friendship, all of the whereas blurring the traces between the current and previous recollections. Haines says her inspiration for the sport comes from a spot of sentimentality, significantly since shifting away from her residence state of Queensland. ‘I’ve struggled quite a bit with homesickness, and I actually needed to seize the realm I grew up in,’ she says.

Surf Membership Picture: Olivia Haines

Surf Membership captures her hometown of Noosa the way in which she remembers it as a baby, earlier than it grew to become extremely commercialised. Deeply rooted in nostalgia, the sport additionally explores relationships, each romantic and platonic, and the way these change in younger maturity as individuals drift aside. ‘I’d go residence and discover I didn’t have a lot in frequent with the individuals I grew up with anymore and needed to discover that idea,’ she says.

Work remains to be underway on the sport, and Haines says her aim is to make one thing that she would need to play, and a sport the place gamers are given a small house full of ‘little secrets and techniques’ that they will discover and exhaust over the course of their playtime.

Reflecting on her profession, Haines says there have been loads of highlights which have caught together with her, and recollects her viral TikTok. ‘Individuals are saying that that is the type of factor they’d like to make, or “I didn’t know video games might be like this”.’

When she was learning video games, she felt that she didn’t take into account video games in the identical method as her friends due to her artwork focus, so to see different budding sport builders impressed by her philosophy has been ‘actually rewarding.’

‘I really feel like my video games have opened doorways for different individuals,’ she says.

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