EA Album Chart Course from AAA to Indie Work on ZOR: Pilgrimage of the Lords


Working on fan projects and small indie games is one way to attract attention and get a chance to take higher positions in the industry. Toby Fox started working on projects such as EarthBound Halloween Hack, but after he achieved success in Undertale, he got a chance to officially work with Nintendo — get a Mii Fighter costume in Super Smash Bros. and write music for the Pokemon franchise. However, the reverse transition is also noteworthy, as can be seen from projects such as ZOR: Pilgrimage of the Slorfs.

ZOR is a mix of genres, roguelike with deck elements, survival and crafting elements set on grids inspired by board games. The developer of Righteous Hammer Games, known for his 2016 game Solitairica, a roguelike role-playing game based on Solitaire, is relatively small for the scale of his current project. Only two people work on most of ZOR from their garages: studio founder and creative director Clint Jorgenson, along with artist Gavin Yastremski (with some contractors). However, Game Rant spoke with Jorgenson and Jastremski about the duo’s previous experiences at studios like EA and how these skills have moved into the indie space.

Starting with the right foot

Georgenson got his first computer in the 1980s and said he was immediately interested in graphics and programming. He couldn’t do it professionally, working at a sawmill in the 90s, but the dot-com era led him to realize that a career could be made in digital and art classes. After being kicked out of electrical engineering, he studied programs such as ActionScript and Flash at the Vancouver Film School before briefly embarking on a career in film. One of his first projects was creating fake computer screens in the 2002 live action movie Scooby-Doo (a practice he called “fantasy user interface”).

Shortly after, Jorgenson got his first job in the gaming industry: Def Jam: Fight for NY from EA. Thus began a 13-year career at the company, during which Jorgenson worked on every Skate game, several SSX games and Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. It was while working on the PvZ spin-off that Jorgenson met Yastremski, who also moved from a short career in film and television to a nine-year career at EA thanks to connections with a professor at the Vancouver Art Institute who had previously worked on SSX.

Yastremski said he was “lucky” to study 3D software in high school, which allowed him to plunge into the world of video game art. “It blew my mind,” he said. “I knew this was what I had to do when I came out of high school.” He touched Garden Warfare, GW2 and Battle for Neighborville while working at PopCap Games, and then Yastremski had the opportunity to do environmental art for about nine months at Apex Legends from Respawn Entertainment.

While Jorgenson said he was happy at EA, he was “lucky” to be working on a number of great games, he started to feel burnt out. A few years earlier, Bully and Skate graduate Kevin Ng started working on independent mobile games and founded Wonderful Lasers in 2014. station wagon. He and Joe Van Zeipel, who also worked on Garden Warfare, founded Righteous Hammer Games in 2015.

From Solitairica to ZOR

Before leaving EA, Jorgenson and Seipel were “thinking about ideas”, but decided to start recreating Solitaire in order to study the Unreal Engine. During this process, Jorgenson came up with a “mechanical mix” of solitaire, using features found in iPad games such as Puzzle Quest. Thanks to sound support from Garden Warfare veteran Rob Blake (also known for Mass Effect), the game achieved success thanks to its “excessive and unrestrained” energy.

“It was really fun because we were so excited about doing our own project for the first time that we decided to go with it with a bang. But yes, it was kind of an accident, not everything was planned in advance.”

The ZOR prototype began shortly after Solitairica, although Seipel left Righteous Hammer and joined Phoenix Labs as a user interface designer at Dauntless. After seeing his colleagues receive government grants, Jorgenson “believed his fate” and applied for funding through the Creative BC organization of British Columbia. The grant he received could only be used to hire people, and over the next few months he worked with concept artists and 3D animators to create a “vertical slice”. Yastremski left Respawn shortly after learning about this project, “always amazed” by Jorgenson’s work with the user interface on Plants vs. Zombies and interested in greater creative freedom from the revelations of a “giant, highly polished product.”

Yastremski helped strengthen ZOR’s artistic vision, inspired by the works of Jim Henson and Don Bluth, especially the “dark, creepy and cute” worlds of “Dark Crystal”, “Labyrinth” and “Endless Story”.


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