What types of explosive expression can one expect from a creator who is relentlessly driven to break away from the mediocre and mundane? We decided to ask video game designer and digital artist TJ Hughes, who creates under the alias Terrifying Jellyfish, about working on the aesthetically ascendant adventure Nour: Play with Your Food.
In this profile, we speak with TJ Hughes about Nour, how he works with his team, his origin story, and advice he’d give to developers hoping to leave their mark in gaming. Hughes’ first project Feesh, which featured microscopic arcade gameplay and vibrant visuals, showcased TJ’s drive to break the mold in a work space equally microscopic, as it was conceived and completed within a 48-hour Ludum Dare game jam. With no tight time constraints he is magnifying color and playfulness with his sophomore project, Nour: Play with Your Food.
PlayStation Blog: What inspired Nour: Play with Your Food?
Nour is described as “an experimental food art game designed to make you hungry,” giving players a space to play with their food like a kid but without any mess to clean up. A further testament to the difference in working on Nour and Feesh, Nour’s development process was slow and methodical, with no one “eureka moment.”
“I was learning how to make shaders, and was brainstorming the best subject to try and emulate,” Hughes explains. “I was just starting to travel and eat more diverse foods, so I thought it was the perfect subject. I started to upload my art tests onto Twitter, where folks would tell me how the images made them hungry. Being intrigued by that response, I started to try more things like using the tech art concept of sub-surface scattering to simulate the material of noodles and using depth blending to mimic the murkiness of milk tea. I started to develop a library of tech art tricks to make something look appetizing.”
Hughes chose a physics-based experience as it “provides a sandbox to be as chaotic and ridiculous” as a player wants without the wasted food or mess.”
“When presented with a physics-based game, we often have one of two goals: Arrange things as neatly as possible, or make as big of a mess as we can. I think the best physics games should allow you to do both!”
The Nour team
As a leader, how do you motivate and encourage your team?
“It helps to have a team that shares so many of the same interests and fascinations,” Hughes says. “It makes relating to each other and getting on the same page about designs so easy. A lot of us are friends before coworkers as well, we bring a lot of that trust into the project. Anyone on the team can suggest anything, which creates an environment where even the most obtuse ideas are considered. We all love food as well, I noticed that before meetings, we’ll often end up telling each other what we’re eating/planning to cook, if the meeting isn’t in-person