How does a graphic designer-by-profession satiate the desire of his other self – a video gamer-by-passion? Alas, my crazy work schedule doesn't give much scope to set my foot in the gaming arena. So it's my after-work hours that take care of my alter ego, and a designer-by-day turns into a gamer-by-night.
That 'historic' day
Every time I walked past my office bookshelves, I used to wonder, “DK has such amazing range of books on video games, but when will I get to work on one?” My blabbering went unanswered until that 'historic' day, when the Gaming God was perhaps around the corner, and did a tathastu on me!
What followed was a chat with my manager and suddenly an uneventful workday was brimming with excitement. I was informed that I would be part of a team of illustrators to work on an upcoming video game book (you read that right; even I had to ask her twice to confirm I wasn't daydreaming).
The highlight of the day, however, was when my manager disclosed the name of the book – Fallout® 4 Ultimate Vault Dweller's Survival Guide. I was going to work on a book based on one of my favourite video games! More than the enthusiasm of creating illustrations for a gaming book, it was the sheer exhilaration of getting associated with the name that I had so far known only as an outsider was what got me all charged up.
For the uninitiated, Fallout 4 is an action role-playing, open-world video game where the gamer is transported to a post-apocalyptic future world. How he/she survives by conquering various quests and customizing the weaponry forms the crux of this nail-biting game.
The journey begins
Our Fallout® 4 sojourn commenced with the entire team ousted from our workstations! We found ourselves assigned a separate room, away from the rest of the staff. Since it was a confidential project, no one in DK was allowed entry to our new makeshift workstation. Nor were we authorised to talk about the work until the book had hit the market!
Fallout® 4 Ultimate Vault Dweller's Survival Guide from Prima Games was a collaborative project handled by teams based in Indianapolis, Roseville, Delhi, New York and London. So you can imagine the massive amount of coordination and global teamwork that went into creating this amazing strategy guide, which features informative walkthroughs and maps. You also get specs and data for all the perks, armour, weapons, items and creatures you'll encounter in the game.
Our part in the project was to create the artwork maps, which although look quite simple in the book, but was a challenging goal to achieve. These maps give you the locations, items and loot necessary for thriving in the game. So we had to be extremely careful while illustrating them. The maps might look minuscule, but a whole lot of detailing was involved in these pieces So much so that one person was able to finish only one or two maps in a day! Today when I look back, I wonder how on earth did we manage to deliver a whopping number of 550 complex maps in less than 10 weeks!
Initially we were a bit confused as where to start from. But once we got a grasp of the project, things began to fall in place. The maps gradually began to make sense, as we charted our way through the game. Slowly the individual elements combined and emerged the final version of the book that I shall always be proud of. Although ours was a small team – only seven players – but each one battled quite well, managing to accomplish the deadline of finishing 20–25 maps per week.
Was it all a cakewalk? Nay! Extended work hours was the most difficult part of the assignment. Those days I used to spend almost 10–11 hours at office, sometimes on Saturdays too. That's not all: we even had two all-nighters! But then the happiness of seeing the final book in bookstores and people gushing about it... priceless!
The best part of working on Fallout® 4 was that even before playing the game, I knew how it would turn out. I felt equivalent to the creators of the game. Now isn't that the most significant reason to look forward to work on a gaming book?
Those few months I found it rather frustrating not being able to talk to my friends about the exciting work I was doing (the downside of working on a classified project). But after a year of its release, when I see the book doing so well in the market even today – to the extent of being ranked as the bestseller hardcover nonfiction by Publisher's Weekly – pride is the emotion that runs through me. For all those working-late-at-office days, all-nighters, working weekends, overwhelming pressure, complicated work briefs and seemingly impossible deadlines, it's the perfect happy ending.