Look around at anything in the world, from your cereal and orange juice bottle to the massive ad campaigns that sprawl across Times Square. Design is a fundamental part of how we interact with the world. It’s the first thing we see and the last thing we remember. From video games, graphics, logos, even the type of font used in a company’s blog, every design element is meticulously planned and thought out in order to make a company look their best.
In this edition of Beyond the Game, we speak with Ty, a designer who’s humble beginnings and bright future have all been painstakingly created from the love of video games.
Estevan: So you’re a graphic designer and a lot of your experience has been in the gaming industry. Tell me a little bit about yourself. What’s your name, nationality, and age?
Ty: Ty, American, 26.
Estevan: How were you first introduced to video games?
Ty: My uncle gave my brothers and me his old NES when we were younger. My grandma and great aunt were also huge computer gamers. They would routinely crack games on real arcade for us and she also got me into guild wars when I was 11. My major FPS gaming addiction game in the form of my other grandma buying me Halo 2 for Christmas.
Estevan: Wow, that’s so nutty! My mom only ever played the bowling mode on Tiny Toon Adventures: Wacky Sports Challenge on the Sega Genesis. And also Pacman, anything Pac-man or Mrs. Pacman, she loved. How did you get started in graphic design?
“When I got my first agency job is when I would say I became a real designer. I still have a lot to learn though.”Ty interview with HighPingGaming, 2019
Ty: I’ve always loved drawing but my real passion for digital design came when I joined a clan in Halo 2 dedicated to making skits. I started getting into editing in Sony Vegas and Adobe After Effects and it opened up a whole new world for me. I’m still friends with someone from that clan and we were actually the best men at each other’s weddings. I learned the software at a young age so when I went to college it made learning the rules of design a little easier.
Estevan: Do you still have the first thing you’ve ever created?
Ty: I wish. Sadly I’ve been through a few computers since then.
Estevan: So you’re playing Halo, you’re doing the graphics.. At what point did you decide, “Hey, I’m really doing this. I’m really a graphic designer.”
Ty: Probably my junior year of college. I had switched majors from design to econ to advertising because I was afraid of saturation in the design field once I saw how good my fellow students were. I’d decided to learn in my spare time while I got my advertising degree and got a job as a student artist for a sports design company while I was in school. I started freelancing and had a better portfolio once I graduated and got my first agency job.
When I got my first agency job is when I would say I became a real designer. I still have a lot to learn though.
Estevan: That’s an incredible journey. So self-doubt ultimately created your current venture. I think that a lot of people can relate to that. How do did you get started with eSports team designs? Also, it looks like you do some streaming related designs, too?
Ty: It was a natural transition. I like gaming. I’ve always played games. I have friends that play games. So I was in this environment from the start pretty much, and just randomly started taking requests from Reddit and that turned into me becoming a brand designer. When I started becoming more serious about designs is when I started doing streaming designs. It’s a little less lucrative than branding a business trough so I’ve kind of slowly weened myself off it. It’s insanely fun to do though.
Estevan: Is it because a lot of streamers are just starting out and don’t have as big of a budget?
Ty: There’s that for sure. It’s tough. And there’s also the fact that there are a lot of artists in the gaming space that do it for a hobby and thus don’t really charge what they should, so it brings down the average. Supply is also crazy high. It’s where a lot of designers get their start. It’s where I got mine.
Estevan: What’s the most complex design you’ve ever done?
Ty: Design is hard. I did a design a few years ago for a gaming org that turned out to be pretty complex. They wanted a shaman’s head. Probably a month. It depends on how open and focused the client is. If they have good initial direction, things are a bit easier. It gets really muddy and time-consuming when they don’t know what they want and make you guess through revisions.
“Games were meant to be enjoyed by everyone, now it’s becoming just another thing where only people with money can fully enjoy themselves.”Ty interview with High Ping Gaming, 2019
Estevan: Switching gears a bit, are you into tech?
Ty: I like tech but I’m not nearly studious enough to be an expert. I built my PC with some internet guides and have some random tech lying around, but that stuffs expensive and I don’t really dabble too much.
Estevan: Are you a phone guy?
Ty: I don’t have an iPhone, so yes.
Estevan: Hahahahaha! So recently Apple released a gaming subscription service called Apple Arcade. Shortly after Google followed suit and created the Google Play Pass. Google is also about to drop the highly-anticipated Google Stadia. What do you think of mobile gaming? How do you feel about subscription gaming services?
Ty: I’m not a fan. It’s too hyper-monetized to be fun for me and it’s starting to bleed over into the games I love, so I’m a little annoyed at them. I don’t mind subscription gaming services as long as the games included in them don’t also have MTX. It’s just too much. Games were meant to be enjoyed by everyone, now it’s becoming just another thing where only people with money can fully enjoy themselves.
Estevan: That’s an interesting perspective. A lot of people were fearful that the new Modern Warfare that just released would have loot boxes, but they’ll instead do a Battle Pass. It seems like huge AAA developers are double-dipping. I can completely see how that’d take the enjoyment out. So before we get back to design-related questions, I want to play a game with you if you’re up for it.
In this game, I’ll ask you a series of questions and you’ll answer each one, but you can only use short answers. Ready?
Estevan: Favorite food?
Estevan: Favorite game?
Ty: Halo 2.
Estevan: Favorite band or artist?
Ty: The Classic Crime.
Estevan: Worst album of 2019?
Ty: I don’t really listen to albums so…next question?
Estevan: The correct answer was Kanye West’s Jesus is King.
Scariest movie ever?
Ty: The Thing.
Estevan: Best retro game?
Ty: Contra 3.
Estevan: What constitutes good design?
Ty: Logo design or layout? Or motion graphics? There’s a bunch.
Estevan: All the things.
Ty: There’s a lot that goes into making a good design. Type choice, color harmony, hierarchy, white space, and legibility all play a role, and none is more important than the other.
Estevan: From a branding perspective, what should streamers or companies implement? What are some best practices most people miss?
Ty: Consistency, from your overlay to your profile picture to your tiles. Consistency is your friend. This goes for your other social accounts. You want people to associate you with your brand. It’s what sticks.
Matching colors, fonts, graphic elements, etc. It creates a more professional look. It’s not the end of the world if you’re super funny & personable off the bat but you’re more likely to get those initial eyeballs on your channel if things are pleasing to look at. There’s a lot of clutter out there. Cut through it. Some off the top of my head are Dr. Lupo, Lirik, Moon Moon, Sypher, etc.
Estevan: When you say motion graphics, do you mean videos?
Ty: By motion graphics I mean transitions, overlay animations, alert popups, BRB screens, intros, etc. Any graphics with movement.
Estevan: So how are those created? And how does that differ from your usual static design process?
Ty: They’re created in after effects typically. They’re designed and storyboarded in typical design software like Photoshop or illustrator and animated later.
Estevan: Can take walk me through the process of coming up with a design? Let’s pretend a client wants new branding for their Twitch stream. How do you approach this?
Ty: Identify the problem with a creative brief from the client. Ask them if they have any influences, likes dislikes, color preferences, competitors, target audience, goals, etc. Take that information and do some rough concepts afterward. Then once the client has nailed down a direction, I flesh out that concept and apply colors and version out all the logo variations. Then I create brand guidelines with type/color combinations and pass that off along with final files to the client.
Estevan: This has been really insightful. If anyone reading this needs fantastic branding for their business or gaming organization, where can they find you? Any final thoughts?
Ty: I guess I’d say that good branding is important and there’s a lot more to a brand than just a logo. If you’re wondering what I mean, you can catch me at dribbble.com/tymade