With the end of the IDW Transformers: Prime - Beast Hunters comic series upon us, Seibertron.com has decided to sit down and talk to one of its creative team members, and in some ways, the face of it all: read on below for a full exclusive interview with cover, storyboard, videogame and concept artist Ken Christiansen!
Va'al - Ken, thanks for agreeing to do this. We've featured some of your work before on Seibertron.com, it's about time we got to meet the mind and man behind the artwork! Before we get into the nitty-gritty of your work with Transformers though, I need to ask: where did it all begin for you? How did you first encounter our favourite transforming robots?
KC - Well, thanks for having me! I really appreciate it when you guys post anything about my work, I've been a follower of the site for years.
The show was everything. It was the first episode which sucked me right in - I don't even remember the first figure I had, but I know it was the show that put me all in. I was 10 years old at the time of the launch, and I had slowed down on Star Wars, and was really into GI Joe toys and comics, with He-Man in the mix as well. But Transformers really took over, and knocked even the mighty Joes back a step.
Va'al - Ah, you're one of those! I admit, I like knowing that the current creators all started as fans, brings a lot more to the experience. I was going to ask which figure was your first, but you pre-empted me - so how about this: which was your favourite character or episode from the animated series?
KC - G1 Soundwave, is...and always will be...my favorite character. And he is an early toy I do remember getting, on a Christmas morning. Of course I loved his voice, and how he was Megatron's dependable commander, but the fact he had Transformers INSIDE of him really captured my imagination. And I really liked that, unlike a lot of the figures, he matched up pretty well to the box art, and animation model. I was a stickler for that kind of thing, even back then. Also, I always thought it was cool how he used Laserbeak and Ravage on the show, so they've become synonymous with any vision of Soundwave I have, I always want to try to figure out a way to include them in a figure pose, or a drawing/design I'm working on. (I figure Rumble and Frenzy can take care of themselves!)
Va'al - I think a lot of fans have a soft spot for Soundwave; he is terribly charismatic after all. You've mentioned your gateway, the toys and what it was that drew you in - but what about the artistic side? Did you read the comics as a kid, or did you start drawing based on box art and cartoons?
KC - I'll admit that I didn't really enjoy the comics, even though I still have the first 60 or so issues to this day - but yes, I did really enjoy the artwork. I loved the show and the toys, but I was always just lukewarm on the comics. That being said, I did probably draw most artistic inspiration from the comics, I remember drawing that cover corner Marvel Optimus Prime a lot. A lot. Another favorite image from those books was the reveal of Predaking, standing in a jungle. I drew that one a lot as well.
The box art images were another inspiration; I didn't have a massive collection by any means, but I did collect the trading cards, so even if I didn't have the toy and/or filecard, I did have nearly every character image from the cards. We had a project in the 4th or 5th Grade, where we wrote a story, and bound it into a book. Mine, of course, was about Autobots fighting Decepticons, carried into battle by the rocket of Omega Supreme. I designed characters back then too, usually military type vehicles, or cars that friends and family drove. I still have that little book, but I'm sure all those other drawings are long gone.
Va'al - That's some great, early KC art there. Must be worth a fortune by now! So if the comics didn't get to you as much back then, what brought you to their world later on? But I suppose, before we get to that, my question is: How did you start working for the franchise in general?
KC - I had been working freelance for about a year after leaving Disney Interactive, and I had just wrapped a series of projects for Activision in late 2005. One of the producers I had been working with asked "Hey, are you into Transformers at all?" I had heard, as did many other fans, that it was being shopped around as a movie, but I didn't know was finally happening, and Activision wanted to go after the franchise. The projects I had just finished were to lock down the Dreamworks games license for the next five or so movies, showing game play, etc. and this was going to be the same thing. Lots of storyboards and game play examples. But it just kept going and going, and it turned into character designs, and in-game production art - I was around for a lot of it, from the very beginning to helping out with marketing images.
The Transformers were a huge part of my childhood, and though I hadn't really followed the franchise overall since then, I did already have the 20th Anniversary MP Optimus Prime, and the Alternator Grimlock Mustang proudly displayed in my studio. Getting the chance to work on the franchise as a professional, really kind of blew my mind. And midway through the production, Hasbro said they were going to make some figures out of my designs... I kind of freaked out.
Va'al - That must be quite the phonecall/email! I've spotted some of the designs that made it into figures on your website - do you have any particular favourites? Which part of working with the new, movieverse, Transformers aesthetics did you enjoy the most?
KC - I was pretty honored that Hasbro/Paramount used the red car drone (AKA Swindle) in the press kits for the film. Of the drones, I think Payload (Armored Truck) and Long Arm (Tow Truck) are my favorites. Long Arm was originally to be an homage to Hoist, colored green and yellow, but was later changed to be the tow truck paint job from the film. I was glad to see the mold reused as a Hoist figure. All of those designs were done based on rough concepts I had seen at the production offices in early 2006. Not until late summer, a bit after I had wrapped on the drone characters, did I start to see marketing images and final movie models start showing up, and that's when I was tasked to do the Shockwave designs. So, that's why he's a little more in line with the film aesthetic - he's not a generic, energon created drone, he was meant to be a Cybertronian, and look more like the movie bots.
While I agreed with the design philosophy from the first movie, I thought that the bots should have shown a little more alt mode elements, so you can really see the connection between forms. With Shockwave I tried to bring it back a little bit to that, with clear iconic character details, and visible alt mode elements. And that's the design philosophy I took into my next Transformers project, the Revenge of the Fallen game.
Va'al - Those are good designs! And that Shockwave looks intriguing, but it looks like DotM Skyhammer took his mode later down the line. How did you find working with videogames, compared to the work you're currently doing on comic covers? And how did that transition happen?
KC - Maybe. To me, the transformation logic is totally different., around the canopy and fuselage. But I did work a bit on the alt mode of the Skyhammer toy, and was given direction to use a Russian Hind for inspiration, but I didn't work on the robot mode. I did three copter drawings, and when the toy came out, it looked like the designers used elements of all three.
I'm not a gamer, but when I'm into a game I like, I kind of get obsessed with it. I thought Luxoflux did a fantastic job with the gameplay of the Revenge game - especially given the short production time, notorious with movie tie-in games - and was really excited to see how they would build on the engine. Sadly, none of that was meant to be. It was the first time I felt that someone captured the essence of a Transformer, being both things at once. I know some people had issues with holding down the trigger, but I much preferred that, to the 'sit and wait to transform' style of other games. My entire career to that point was in the game industry. But after doing the games for so long, I was looking to expand out a little, I wanted to see if I could work directly with IDW and Hasbro.
I took the designs of Megatron, Optimus, and Starscream, from the DLC content of the Revenge game, and did full illustrations of them in comic cover format. I included Bumblebee, Jazz, and Soundwave designs, and pitched myself to Andy Schmidt at IDW, and for a meet up with Aaron Archer at BotCon 2009.
For IDW, Andy had me do the cover to the much-loved, revered, and indisputably go-to source of information, the Transformers: Continuum. Yikes, that one was a bit of a mess, I guess. I never kept up on the IDW relationship, maybe both sides needed that sting to heal a little. And I just got too busy following that meeting with Aaron to come back to the books. Years later, I met John Barber at BotCon 2012, and that's how I got involved with the Rage of the Dinobots and Beast Hunters covers.
Va'al - Ah, the IDW Aligned comics! As an artist who had worked on the movieverse and videogame aesthetics - though WfC and FoC are also part of the new continuity - how did you find adjusting to the sleeker, more rounded style of the two series? And how much were you involved in the series themselves?
KC - Well, doing a wide range of shape styles for what was then called 'tv show' was that first assignment I had from Archer at Hasbro, in 2009, as they were putting the studio together, and hiring the actual production team. I would call myself a concept artist before anything else, so something like coming up with new character designs/versions is what I like to do best. And then about a year later, I worked on some product ideas for the Prime line. At that point, I was working with final character design models from the production's art department. And, every once and awhile I would do some product development, or I was asked to do some character ideas for HasLabs to use as conversation starters for meetings with the show runners. So before the comics, I had a lot of experience working with the shows' aesthetic. I never was a part of the production of the actual show, with Hasbro Studios, but through Hasbro, Inc., I got to play in that universe a bit.
The Cybertron games, on the other hand, I had no experience with the art style. So that was the learning curve for me. I was asked to 'update' the FoC dinobots into a Prime style, with a heavy lean on the FoC style...visually meaning they didn't 'evolve' as much as Team Prime, for example. So I just eliminated some minor details from the FoC versions, and did a 'wrap metal' pass, in the Prime style, at the main form elements of the bots. John Barber OK'd the sketch of Grimlock I did as an example, and I was off and running.
I had nothing to do with what was inside the books; in most cases, I don't think any of the scripts were even completely written at the time I needed to have the cover done, about three months in advance. I'm sure an overview and series arc were long completed though. Barber, then Carlos Guzman, would give me their idea on what was going on in the book, and what they'd like to see on the cover. I'd do some sketches and we'd go from there. I met Mairghread Scott for the first time at BotCon 2013, and we chatted about what was coming up in #7, we pulled Carlos into the conversation, and I did a sketch of it right there at my table. For number 8, Carlos and I chatted at SDCC, and he told me what he was looking for, and Mike Johnson, through email, pretty much said what he'd like to see on the cover. I did those last sketches for Carlos to approve, and that wrapped the series when I turned in the final.
It was a lot of fun to do those covers. I loved the Fall of Cybertron game, so it was a real treat to get to draw those characters, and get reconnected with IDW.
Va'al - I always enjoy hearing stories of how creators come to join the IDW team, they never seem to be the same! So you were working on the comics covers, but still had quite a bit of involvement in other aspects of the Transformers universe. I've seen some designs for characters that never made it on the show, too. What were you doing between the comics? How were you being kept busy?
KC - Relatively, I'm a newbie to comics, with only 13 IDW covers to date. Concept art is my main source of income, since graduating from art school in 1997. Happily, now at least half my workload comes from Hasbro, covering many different brands. Mainly in that first year, it started off with early re-imaginings of core Transformers characters, mixed with some work on Dark of the Moon ideas, and then going back to work on designs for the 13 Primes, and filling out the brand bible, which had used a lot of that earlier character design work, done by myself and other great artists.
After that, HasLabs expanded into a lot of other brands and concepts, that kept me really busy, MASK, Inhumanoids, Micronauts, to name a few. Some of those ideas were teased in that NYCC giveaway comic, Unit:E, if you remember it. And as other designers move to other brands within Hasbro, I've been able to 'travel' with them, and do lot of work on stuff like Star Wars, etc. Always though, I try to stay connected to the big bots, with doing some Hasbro Inc. commissioned work, movie/tv show stuff or product design for example, or licensed work with IDW, and other publishers.
Va'al - So what you're telling us is.. you're everywhere! And we know that some of your art features in the upcoming Covenant of Primus - the result of all the concept work for the Aligned continuity - due early December. Anything you can tell us about that?
KC - Now everyone finally can see it! After years of working with Hasbro off and on, I've only been able to release a grand total of 8 Transformers images. Including Prima, of the 13, which was published previously in the Transformers: Vault. I'm so excited to see the rest of the designs coming out, along with some new art I was asked to contribute, alongside some other great Transformers artists.
Binder of Revelation - Art by Emiliano Santalucia
After working six or so months with Hasbro, they booked me to do four of the 13 Primes. By then I had a pretty good feel of what Aaron Archer was looking for from me, and I had gotten pretty tight with Eric Siebenaler who acted as my art director on previous projects. I was also then introduced to Rik Alvarez, who had sent me a giant document to work from, that he was putting together. A compiled history from the comics and games, and new stuff he had written - basically the bones of the Aligned Continuity. So, under those guys, I went to work. 4 became 6, then 8, then Eric asked if I wanted to do all 13. Of course! But then Takara chimed in, and they wanted to do some images, and they took over the designs of Micronus and Alpha Trion. So I ended up doing 11...and a second version of one of them.
I had never really heard much about it since then, other than Aaron and Rik teased some images at a couple of BotCons, but I really thought they would remain in the vault, the Brand Bible. Last November, I got an email from Tyler Freidenrich from Becker&Mayer, asking if I could do some illustrations for what would be the Covenant. I jumped at the chance, and got to contribute 7 illustrations, a new character design for Unicron, and the cover. And that's about all I can tell you about it. I know what I did, but I've only seen the same trailer for it as everyone else. I was asked to upload every Hasbro image I did related to the Aligned Continuity, beyond just the Primes, but I don't what, if anything more, was included in the book.
So, I'm just as excited as any other fan to see what's in there!
Va'al - I can assure you, a lot of us are really, really excited for this book. I'm not sure what else could hype it up more.. do you have any ideas?
KC - That's great to hear! Hmm...how about a contest for a free copy of the book? On my Facebook page, the Art of Ken Christiansen, I'll be running a 'Like Drive' contest. Participants enter their names into a drawing by making a comment in the page's Cover Photo comments section, saying they shared the page to at least five people. That Cover Photo, (containing all the contest info) signaling the beginning of the contest, will be posted on Monday, November 25th, at 9 AM PST, and ending Sunday, December 8th at midnight PST.
Monday, December 9th, (the day before the book is released) I'll draw the winning name, and announce it by 9 AM PST. That winner will receive a free copy of the Covenant of Primus... AND, I'll insert a custom black and white rendered portrait, of any character of their choosing.
Va'al - Hear that, readers? Head over to Ken's page for a chance to win what looks to be an amazing piece of Transformers lore. Ken, thanks again for agreeing to do this interview with us, we're looking forward to more of your amazing work soon! Any last words?
KC - Thank you - I can't tell you how much I appreciate it!
I do have a couple more things to add. I also put together a new website, kenchristiansen.com, which replaces to old site, badflip.com. Finally I have galleries collecting all the Transformers (and more!) work that I've done, in one easy to find place, rather than have to search through months and years of blog posts on the old Bad Flip Blog. I will keep that blog online, but it will go inactive. The new site has a blog built in, so that's how I'll continue, along with the Facebook page, to make announcements, and post new artwork. And once it's ready, there will also be a online store, to purchase original art, make commission inquiries, and get leftover convention prints and sketchbooks. It's coming very soon, but right now the only way to get that stuff is through the Art of Ken Christiansen on Facebook, or contact me at email@example.com.
There you have it, readers - we hope you enjoyed our voyage into the Christiansen world! Join the competition today, follow Ken's work and keep your eyes tuned for more exclusive content, coming soon, to Seibertron.com.
Sega Amusements has posted a new trailer and additional details for their Transformers: Human Alliance arcade game. Check out an image of the machine and the new trailer below.
Get ready to join the Human Alliance
Sega’s latest action adventure game, TRANSFORMERS Human Alliance, partners players with one of three of the movie’s stars, Optimus Prime, Bumblebee or Sideswipe. Players must battle their way across America, Africa and Europe destroying the Decepticons before they find the All Spark, a material capable of bringing any mechanical or electronic object to life.
To date, the three TRANSFORMERS movies have taken in over $2.6 billion! TRANSFORMERS is a brand that’s universally recognised for delivering high quality, high-energy entertainment, and Sega are proud to be bringing it to amusement arcades!
The people at DeNA and Mobage have sent us an update for the new Transformers: Legends episode - End of the Road - including some flashy new art to complement it! Take a look below for further details.
Today, DeNA’s thrilling mobile card battle game TRANSFORMERS: LEGENDS released a new in-game episode titled End of the Road, which will run fast and furiously through October 29.
This week in TRANSFORMERS LEGENDS…
In a battle that took place eons ago, an ongoing fight against the Decepticons looked very bleak for the Autobots. A fierce and bitter rivalry developed between the Powermasters on both sides. In a Decepticon ambush, the Autobots fought a desperate battle in which Decepticon Powermasters Dreadwind and Darkwing defeated some of the remaining Autobots including their Powermaster counterparts Getaway, Joyride and Slapdash. However, an unsuspected ally halted their victory. On the brink of annihilation, the Autobots managed to survive thanks to Optimus Prime. No match for Optimus, the Decepticons had no choice but to retreat.
Now many years later, the Powermasters run into each other again on Earth, and they have a score to settle! In this episode, it's a classic Autobot vs Decepticon stand-off with jets versus cars and Powermasters vs Powermasters!
Who will be victorious? Find out in this week’s End of the Road episode!
The End of the Road episode allows players to battle and capture three of the Autobot Powermasters:
Droid Gamers has announced a poll for fans to choose the characters that will be featured in an upcoming episode of DeNA's Transformers: Legends mobile device game. Fans can select up to three Autobots and four Decepticons, but there are a few rules:
1) We’re going to pick 3 Autobots and 4 Decepticons. Those with the highest number of votes win.
2) Let’s avoid the main characters that have already been featured. This includes:
• Optimus Prime
• The Dinobots (Grimlock, Slug, Sludge, Snarl, Swoop)
• Omega Supreme
• Unicron (we have bigger plans for him)
• Rodimus / Hot Rod
• Ultra Magnus
3) No Triple Changers, Six Changers
• Examples: Astrotrain, Skorponok, Sixshooter, etc.
4) No combined-form of Combiners or combined Duo Changers (though we can use the individual characters)
• Devastator, Predaking, Bruticus, Fortress Maximus etc.
5) Make sure they are from the G1 universe, the cartoon, movie and comics are all fair game!
6) The final list is subject to Hasbro’s approval
The Fan Favorite episode is scheduled to launch on November 7th, click here to cast your votes.
DeNA continues its busy September for its TRANSFORMERS: LEGENDS mobile card battle game with its first ever Player vs. Player (PvP) episode called The Omega Corps. This exciting episode pits players vs. other players in an all-out free for all, and features characters Omega Supreme, Jetfire, Ratchet and Mirage. This new episode runs through September 24, 2013.
This week on TRANSFORMERS: LEGENDS...
In order to bring order to the chaos that has ensued following the clash of Optimus Prime and Megatron, Omega Supreme arrives with reinforcements – among them is the mighty Jetfire. Will they be able to restore balance between Autobots and Decepticons? Who will emerge victorious in this all-out war between the factions?
DeNA is continuing its month long September to Remember campaign for its entertaining mobile card battle game TRANSFORMERS: LEGENDS that showcases a series of weekly episodes and new content added to the game. Today features the release of the in-game episode called S.O.S. Dinobots! This exciting episode runs through Tuesday, September 17, 2013.
The S.O.S. Dinobots! Storyline
This week on TRANSFORMERS: LEGENDS witness the primal power of the Dinobots versus the agile aerial Seekers.
In the aftermath of the clash between Megatron and Optimus Prime, the Autobots stand with their backs against the wall. With the power vacuum left behind by the clash between Megatron and Optimus Prime and with their hands full trying to protect the innocent humans, the Autobots are struggling to save themselves from disaster.
Without Optimus Prime's leadership and strength in the battle's ensuing chaos, Grimlock believes it's time for him to step up. As he charges into the battle, the Decepticons feel a chill of fear when they hear echoing over the battlefield: "Me Grimlock king!"
The Dinobots’ limited intelligence but incredible strength make for an uncomfortable combination. Optimus Prime considered shutting down the unpredictable Dinobots in the past before they could do harm to themselves or anyone else, but a sudden and devastating Decepticon attack forced him to reconsider. In the following battle the Dinobots prove that they are of immense value for the Autobots. Now the Autobots must call upon the might of the Dinobots once more as only they can change the tide of their desperate battle.
The Decepticons fear the Dinobots for good reasons. Even the powerful Devastator could not stand against the ferocity and sheer stubbornness of the Dinobots.
Will the unpredictable Dinobots save the Autobots? Can the Dinobot's tenacity bring down the Decepticons?
Find out in this week's episode S.O.S. Dinobots!
Other Episode Features
Ruby Medals continue to be a part of the episode. Play to win Super Rare Swoop, Sludge and Slug or even the Ultra Rare Grimlock. These character cards offer up to a 10x bonus in this episode's battles.
This episode also features the first Ultra Rare Evolution card. Players that get a high position on the Leaderboards can obtain the Ultra Rare Snarl Evolution card.
DeNA Kicks Off a TRANSFORMERS: LEGENDS September to Remember Campaign with Optimus Prime vs Megatron Episode
This September is one to remember for TRANSFORMERS fans everywhere as DeNA rolls out a series of weekly episodes and new content including PvP for TRANSFORMERS: LEGENDS, a mobile card battle game inspired by the TRANSFORMERS universe in the 1980s cartoon series.
Starting today through September 10, the One Shall Fall episode commences pitting none other than Optimus Prime against Megatron in the ultimate showdown! This is the first TRANSFORMERS: LEGENDS episode to feature Optimus Prime and the first time that Optimus Prime is an Ultra Rare (Rarity 5) card.
About the One Shall Fall Episode Storyline
In this episode, the conflict between the Autobots and Decepticons has come to a head and Megatron is leading an all out assault on Autobot City. It’s up to you to take on the Autobots and help Megatron overwhelm their forces to finally face off with Optimus Prime. The One Shall Fall episode also features familiar faces with the support of all-star characters Ironhide, Bumblebee, Shockwave, Jazz and Starscream.
Stay Tuned for More Exciting Episodes to Come All Month Long
The all-star TRANSFORMERS: LEGENDS episodes don’t stop there as September is set to bring another action-packed episode right after One Shall Fall featuring the monstrous Dinobots.
September also gives players the chance to take on other TRANSFORMERS: LEGENDS masters with an all-new PvP episode.
Site sponsor BigBadToyStore has listed pre-orders the Transformers Rescue Bots Beam Box video game system that was first revealed earlier this year at Toy Fair. Pre-orders for the base system and the first two ways of individual game figures can be found by clicking here. The core system and first two waves of figures are due out in September.
This plug and play system take the figure and 'transports' it into the game world for young children to play. Base set has Optimus Prime and five games; additional figures sold separately
Our friends at DeNA dropped by to let us know about the latest event in their Transformers: Legends mobile device game, "Nemesis Prime". See details and exclusive art below.
The next big in-game event from DeNA and HASBRO’s TRANSFORMERS: LEGENDS mobile game is about to commence! Beginning today, Monday, July 8th at 5 pm PT through July 15th at 5 pm PT, players can jump into the “Nemesis Prime” in-game event to defeat the sadistic creation of Dr. Arkeville.
About the Nemesis Prime Event
Dr. Arkeville has secretly been creating a new Transformer, one that could rival Optimus Prime in every way. Out of spare parts and stolen technology, he has assembled the formidable Nemesis Prime. But Nemesis Prime is on the loose, and not even the mad Doctor can control the unstoppable fury of his own creation! Join the heroic Aerialbots, led by Silverbolt as they meet the threat head on. Will they be fast enough to intercept and stop the threat? Find out on this week's TRANSFORMERS: LEGENDS episode Nemesis Rising!
Seibertron.com: How long was the development process on this game? Did Hasbro approach DeNA or did DeNA approach Hasbro about the idea?
DeNA: It has taken almost a full year since the idea was born. We were looking for a strong intellectual property (IP) that would work great with the card battle game design system. Both myself and other members of the team are huge Transformers fans and we felt that we could make a great card battle game with the Transformers license. So we approached Hasbro about the idea, and thus TRANSFORMERS: LEGENDS was born.
Seibertron.com: Can you tell us about your experience working with Hasbro? Maybe tell us a little bit about the approval process, etc.
DeNA: Our relationship with Hasbro has been fantastic. Both companies are very excited about the game. Our team at DeNA comes up with the characters we want to make and the themes of the Episodes. We then send those ideas to Hasbro so they can help make sure everything is authentic to the Transformers Universe. It's great to have access to such a valuable resource. Once the theme and characters are approved then we start creating the art.
Seibertron.com: Are there any other games that the development team used as inspirations for the Transformers Legends game?
DeNA: We’re fortunate at DeNA that our parent company in Japan is an established leader in developing mobile card battle games like the popular title Blood Brothers. The TRANSFORMERS: LEGENDS development team is based in DeNA’s San Francisco office, and it has been great to leverage our Japanese colleagues’ expertise in mobile game design with our San Francisco-based team’s knowledge of making games in the West.
Seibertron.com: The artwork of the Transformers is beautiful. Can you share some information with us about the artists involved with the game such as their names, backgrounds, past experience, other games or projects they have worked on in the past?
DeNA: Our internal art team has quite a diverse background with experience in developing PC/Mac, AAA console, and of course mobile games. Here are some quick bios of the internal art team:
Steve Abeyta (Art Director) DeNA: Eliminate, We Rule, We Farm, Quests and Sorcery, TRANSFORMERS: LEGENDS
Bungie Software: Oni, Halo, Halo 2
Worked freelance for quite a few years as well as an Animator/Artist
Graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from UC Berkeley, but quickly switched industries and started at Bungie as an Animator
Sunghoon Kim (Senior Artist) DeNA: We City, Quests and Sorcery, TRANSFORMERS: LEGENDS
Highimpactgames LLC.: Ratchet and Clank and Jak and Daxter
Graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design, majored in Animation
Hongik Univ. in Seoul, majored in Industrial Design
Brian White (Senior Artist) DeNA: Quests & Sorcery and TRANSFORMERS: LEGENDS
Perpetual Entertainment: Star Trek Online
Linden Lab: Second Life
EA: Sim City, The Sims2, etc.
Graduate of RISD: Industrial Design
We're also very lucky to work with some excellent external sketch artists including Transformers comic veterans Guido Guidi and Dan Khanna. They were instrumental in helping develop the new angle on the Transformers robots. Additionally, we work with some extremely talented painters. It was a challenge to get all the different parts of the pipeline to create a cohesive look but we're happy with the results and excited about some new twists we have coming up.
Seibertron.com: Are there any plans to have a book tie-in that showcases the artwork from the game? I'm sure a lot of Seibertronians out there would be very excited about a Transformers Legends book.
DeNA: Stay tuned to find out!
Seibertron.com: For the programming and computer geeks out there, can you tell us a little bit about what's going on behind the scenes programming wise? What programming language was the game developed in? Anything cool from a programming perspective that the developers would like to share or rave about? Any brand spankin' new technologies being used that the programmers are excited about implementing?
Seibertron.com: Will the upcoming iPhone version be identical as the Android version or will there be some differences between the two? If there are any differences, what can you tell us about what to expect?
DeNA: They will be exactly the same. In fact you will be able to access the same account on both devices. So if you want to play on your Android phone on your way home from work and your iPad when you get home, you can!
Seibertron.com: Some of the character designs appear to originate with the toys. Some of the characters have not received a toy in modern times. Can you tell us about the design process and where the character designs came from? Maybe provide a few examples to demonstrate various sources ...
DeNA: We use as much reference as we can but get our key elements from the toys. When developing a look for a character we follow one guideline - the character must be instantly recognizable. So even though we will adjust proportions and levels of articulation, the character must have the identifying features that define it. We may do a new angle on those features, but the original integrity of them must be kept in tact.
Seibertron.com: From what I've seen so far, Transformers Legends is very G1 based. Are there any plans to integrate popular characters from other series such as Blackout (Movie/Animated), Barricade (Movie), Jolt (Movie), Strika (Animated/Beast Machines), Obsidian (Beast Machines), Bulkhead (Animated/Prime), and other popular favorites?
DeNA: Right now we are really focused on G1. There are so many great story lines that we can still explore, but that doesn't mean we can't start incorporating different characters and styles of Transformers. That is one of the great things about the brand; the Transformers Universe is so broad.
Seibertron.com: Are there any plans to roll out other versions or editions of the game such as Beast Wars or the live action Movie universe?
DeNA: We have been exploring ideas around Beast Wars. You’ll have to stay tuned for upcoming Episodes to find out. As for the movie universe, that is an interesting idea but we're focused on G1 for now as there are so many interesting storylines to explore. The movies are great on their own of course, and I personally can't wait to see Transformers 4.
Seibertron.com: Is there any hint or suggestion about the game that the developers would like to share with everyone? Maybe a tip for something that they think players might be overlooking or something.
DeNA: TRANSFORMERS characters are already very powerful by nature, but you can push their strength to even much greater heights by following these tips:
Upgrade your cards to make them more powerful. Use redundant cards you collect throughout the game to upgrade your favorite cards. The redundant cards are converted into XP, which is used to level up your selected card. With every next level the stats of your card increases. Maxed out cards also receive an extra bonus in battle.
Trans-Scan is an excellent way to increase the power of a TRANSFORMERS character card. Trans-Scan is the process of combining the Alt mode and the Robot mode of a character card. If you upgrade both the Robot Mode and the Alt Mode to Max Level before performing the Trans-Scan, you will get the largest stat increase - a 10% bonus per card on all stats! Cards that have been Trans-Scanned also receive a bonus during combat.
Weapons are cards that can be equipped by TRANSFORMERS character cards. Every TRANSFORMERS character card has a Specialization and Class. By equipping weapons that match these roles the power of the character card gets boosted. But every TRANSFORMERS character card from rarity 3 and up also has its own unique signature weapon card. Matching the character with its unique own weapon card boosts the stats of character cards significantly, over 150% and more. Obtain the matching weapon card that belongs to your strongest character cards to unlock the full potential of your deck. Some weapons also have special abilities that really put the power in your card’s punch; triple attacks, increased critical strikes or increase card’s attack power by a multitude!
Recommend is an easy and quick way to make sure you have the strongest deck possible. When you hit recommend the game selects and equips the most powerful character and weapon cards available. Checking the Deck Power stat is an excellent and easy way to monitor the increase of your deck’s power.
Rarity determines the power of a card; the higher the number on the card frame the stronger the card. Try to collect as much high rarity cards as possible to make your deck stronger.
Always make sure you not only have the strong Team, but also make sure you put your strongest cards in the AUTOBOT and DECEPTICON Squads. These squads are used for boss battles and by winning boss battles you can capture it’s weapon. You don’t want to miss out on these opportunities by losing the battle - so always bring your strongest cards with you!
Seibertron.com: Will DeNA be attending BotCon (the official Transformers convention), San Diego Comic-Con or any other events where fans can interact directly with DeNA? I'm sure everyone at Seibertron.com would love to see Transformers Legends represented properly at BotCon.
DeNA: We're always excited to meet our players and get their feedback on the game. We are still in the midst of planning our events presence for this year, but San Diego Comic-Con and BotCon are definitely on our radar. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts or suggestions on other events we should bring the game to, please feel free to leave us a note on our feedback page in the game: https://transformerslegends.uservoice.com/forums/188000-transformers-legends-1-0
Seibertron.com: Are there plans to release the game for other Android based devices such as the Kindle?
DeNA: There are no plans at this time. But I've passed the suggestion along!
Seibertron.com: Does the Transformers Legends team have a consensus on a favorite character? What about their favorite allegiance: Autobots or Deceptions? Why?
DeNA: There is no consensus. We all have our favorites. Below are the team’s answers to the last two questions.
Character: Skywarp. He was my favorite toy as a kid.
Faction: Decepticons all the way. I always wanted them to win just once in the cartoon and I like fighter jets as well.
Faction: Decpticons hands down. They have the cool tech.
Character: Jazz. I always like him in the cartoon.
Faction: I root for the Autobots on the show, but my initial selection in the game was Decepticons. Being a jet is way cooler!
Faction: Decepticons, because 'good is dumb'.
Character: soundwave (me love gadgets)
Faction: Decepticon (muhahahaha)
Character: Optimus Prime
Faction: Autobots... sanctimoniousness.
Character: Without much doubt that would be Devastator. He is this incredibly powerful Gestalt, and his combined physical power is only rivaled and surpassed by a few. Mentally though, that's a different story. His limited psyche is quite primitive and he only really gets anything done when all parts agree, which is rare, and so more often then not he's a giant of uncontrolled rage and fury. For the most part he's as dumb as a box of hammers and only capable of destruction and little else, but considering how Decepticons go, that's not much of a problem.
Faction: Decepticons. They got the cool jets. They've got Devastator. How many more reasons do you need?
Character: Have to agree with Bert, I think Devastator is pretty cool because he literally ate a pyramid in the 2nd movie and sometimes I'm that hungry too
Faction: Whichever has more girl ones
Character: Laserbeak: As a Chilean I have to choose Laserbeak. He can transform into a Condor, the national bird of Chile, which is really awesome and beautiful.
Faction: Decepticon. Being the good guy is too easy, and Decepticons always had the best transformations (in my opinion).
Character: My favorite character is Autobot Jazz and it is transformed from the car, and cars are my best interest.
I painted the car version and I was very excited while I was painting.
Faction: however, I love the most characters in Decepticon because many of them have strong personality in style.
Faction: I'd have to say the Autobots. They're working to protect the universe, which is a plus, and they have some of the most memorable members: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Jazz, and of course Grimlock (technically). Oh, and Daniel Witwicky. Never mind lets go with Decepticons.
Character: Steeljaw. He was the toy I could always carry with me wherever I went, and he's literally a magnetic cassette tape that turns into a lion. That's either ridiculous, awesome, or a little of both. I'm not qualified to judge.
Faction: Autobots. Evil is only fun when it's competent.
Character: Unicron. Go big or go home! Unless you live on Unicron, because you're already home. But you probably have a very short lifespan.
Faction: Decepticons. Evil is only fun when it's INcompetent.
Faction: Autobots because red > purple
Character: Jetfire. He came in this huge box, and you could only buy him one hour away from where I lived. I spent all my allowance on him and even though he repeatedly bruised my finger when I popped open the metal front landing gear, he was always my favorite Transformer.
Seibertron.com: From all of us here at Seibertron.com and from Transformers fans around the world, thank you to DeNA for taking this time to answer all of our questions about TRANSFORMERS: LEGENDS. Keep up the great work!
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