If you search for the name “Lionel Gallat” on IMDB, you’ll find the name attached to a number of animated feature films: animation director for The Lorax, animation director for Despicable Me, supervising animator for Shark Tale, and the list goes on.
But more recently, Gallat has stepped away from animated feature films, and started developing a video game…on his own. The game is called Ghost of a Tale, and with one look at a screenshot it is easy to see that Gallat’s artistic skills have easily transitioned into the video game. Ghost of a Tale looks beautiful.
“As an animation director I was responsible for the animation of entire movies, leading 60+ [person] teams,” Gallat explained to IGM. “I was longing to go back to the nitty-gritty of creation; writing, modeling, painting, rigging, programming and… playing. I’ve already been in a position where I mostly tell people what they should do (and it’s probable [that] one day I’ll go back to that position) but today I’m having a lot of fun doing things myself for a change!”
Gallat, who is in the middle of promoting the funding campaign for his debut title Ghost of a Tale, chatted with IGM for a bit about his experience transitioning from Hollywood to the game development scene, his woes with Kickstarter, and why Ghost of a Tale deserves your support.
IGM – What inspired you to start working on a game, and move out of the animation industry?
Gallat - It was a good time for me to do so. I’ve always loved games and I’ve always enjoyed writing stories, creating models and animating them. But I also love programming (I’ve written tools used in production in several studios). So it wasn’t really that far-fetched for me to put the two together.
As an artist who programs I can get lost in a coherent game world and get to look everywhere I want, and interact with things that I created. In a nutshell it’s a lot of fun. I feel like a kid again, when I was programming moving sprites (an achievement!) in Microsoft Basic. It’s a huge amount of work obviously, but so rewarding.
IGM – What are some of the pros and cons of working on developing a video game on your own…as opposed to working on a movie with a team?
Gallat - When you work on a big-budget movie the team is obviously very big. Quite a few people have their say, which is normal since a lot of money’s involved and the goal is to appeal to the widest audience in order to reduce the risks. Sometimes you run into the classic issue of “too many cooks spoiling the soup”. Also you are always in a situation were you do what you’re told, no matter your hierarchical position. Which is also very soothing in a sense, because you don’t really have to worry too much about anything else besides what’s on your workbench.
But for me, working on my own allows me to let my imagination roam free; I know where I want to go, I have an idea of where the journey’s going to lead me, but I’m not just doing a job. It requires a lot more personal discipline than when you work in a team. The hard truth is, when you work on your own, if you have a natural tendency of being complacent or if your motivation is only temporary you will fail.
So far that’s the main difficulty; only being able to rely on myself. I have spent my entire career collaborating with people on projects, so that’s a big change for me. So far I’m really enjoying the experience, although if I can manage to get a budget to pay some collaborators I’ll be a happy camper!