Interview with Jesper Andersson
(1:57 PM) Stam :
I did a quick research on you with the help of Google. I was able to find your dA account, where you've been a member for 8 years now and it says you're 23 years old. Tell me a bit about your thoughts on dA and why it seems you've been inactive there for a coupe of years. And are you really 23?
(2:03 PM) Jesper:
Yes, I'm 23. When I started learning Photoshop I spent a lot of time on dA, at the time it was a great place to get inspiration and feedback. I was more active back then because I had a lot of personal projects that I could show, it's a bit different now as the majority of the work I do is for SI and I'm not allowed to show it to people until after it's been officially announced.
(2:06 PM) Stam :
I understand. dA is loosely a social network in my opinion, well strictly for artists and others who appreciate art. What about the famous social networks (the likes of facebook, twitter and youtube), are you using them? And what do you think of the new social features of FM11?
(2:18 PM) Stam :
I know you've been part of Susie staff back in the day. Caleyjag (now running PlayFM) used to be the initial owner I think, and now it's Rob (ex-FM Portal). How did you guys get together to make this site? And what's your current relation with it?
(2:26 PM) Jesper:
I joined Susie waaay back in the day when I made my first skin (a skin for CM03/04 based on the initial mockups for FM05 released by SI) and I really enjoyed the community there. I released the skin as a Susie exclusive and got something like 50k downloads, it was pretty crazy. Eventually I joined as staff and designed several versions of the site, with caley doing the coding. I barely even finished one revision of the site before starting to design the next and I gained some invaluable design experience doing so. After I got offered a job at SI I stayed onboard for a bit but eventually decided to leave as I didn't
have as much time as I used to, this was around the same time as Rob took over I think. Overall I think Susie has played a big role in my career, I'm not sure I would be doing what I'm doing if it wasn't for Susie and the people who downloaded all my skins and kits so I'm very, very thankful.
(2:27 PM) Stam :
Is it only you from Susie who now works for SI, or are there any more similar cases?
(2:27 PM) Jesper:
ricey also works here.
(2:28 PM) Stam : The 50k downloads skin, was it Elegance?
(2:29 PM) Jesper:
No, Elegance didn't get close to those numbers (it got maybe 20k or so). The one that got 50k+ downloads pretty much made CM03/04 look like FM05, I just tried to stay as true to the mockups released by SI as possible.
(2:30 PM) Stam :
Do you think that skin was your passport to SI payroll? And do you remember your emotional state when you received that job offer?
(2:36 PM) Jesper:
The skins were part of it, but more than anything it probably was my work on kits for the game. I did two dev cycles of freelancing for SI, doing the kits, before I got offered a full time position and even my first two years at SI I was mostly doing kits. FM10 was the first game I got to do skin work on. I remember getting offered the full time position over MSN, I was pretty much speechless with a big grin on my face and a heart rate way above normal. I did not see it coming, and it came at a time in my life where I had no idea what the hell I was going to do so I was absolutely delighted!
(2:38 PM) Stam :
Over MSN! Nice! How is the work environment at SI towers? Then try to briefly describe a regular day at work.
(2:45 PM) Jesper:
The work environment at SI towers is very relaxed, it's a pretty cool place to work although things get very busy as we get closer to release. A regular day of work for me involves getting in to work in the morning, making some toast and checking my emails. What I do during the day varies, but on a good day I get to load up Photoshop and experiment with designs for various UI elements of the game, on a less than ideal day I try to track down and fix bugs. I usually grab a quick lunch around noon, then work for a few more hours before going to the gym to clear my head and get some energy and inspiration for the last few hours of work.
(2:45 PM) Stam :
So, you could safely say it's your dream job?
(2:46 PM) Jesper:
It's pretty damn close to it anyway!
(2:48 PM) Stam :
There are certain restrictions that come with it as per releasing bits and pieces of your work before the official release. That's understandable, but what about personal FM projects? Are you allowed to work on a custom 'unofficial' skin for example, or is it just because you no longer have time for that?
(2:52 PM) Jesper:
I'd probably be allowed to do it and it has crossed my mind, but it can be hard to find the inspiration or time to do it after work hours. But who knows, there might be an Elegance3 at some point in the future...
(2:53 PM) Stam :
That's brilliant, well... whenever that might happen Does it mean you'd prefer things to be done differently on the official skin? What would you make different if you could do the FM12 skin by yourself?
(2:56 PM) Jesper:
Not really, I have a pretty big input in how the FM interface looks. However, doing a skin unofficially would allow me to take some bigger risks and try new things.
(2:58 PM) Stam :
Alright. You've been around since the early days of FM skinning. Please share your thoughts on the skins evolution through the years. Some regular 'skinners' are complaining a bit this year that SI is over-complicating things.
(3:02 PM) Jesper:
Well, the skinning system is still the same as it has been so it's still possible to do the same things as you could do a couple of years ago. However I can agree there needs to be more flexibility for skinners, there are some things that are hard coded that shouldn't be and it's an ongoing project to try to eliminate those things.
(3:03 PM) Stam :
Have you been monitoring the unofficial skins released for FM10? If yes, which one was your favorite? Every year we have more skins than the last, do you try to keep up with those or just don't really care?
(3:05 PM) Jesper:
I do keep an eye on the skinning community. Personally I'm a fan of Matt's skins (when he actually gets around to finishing them). I'd say there are less high quality skins now, more basic stuff like re-colours. It's a shame, but I like to think it's because people are reasonably happy with the default options now.
(3:06 PM) Stam :
Your all time favorite FM skin? You're allowed to pick from your own skins, and you can also pick from any FM version. Then tell me which was your favorite FM version and why.
(3:11 PM) Jesper:
For nostalgic reasons I would probably say Elegance2. But I also like the FM2011 default skin. As for favorite version, I'm one of those guys who enjoys whatever the newest version is but I had a really good time playing FM2010, taking my Hammarby to European glory. So I'll say FM2010, but I also have some very nostalgic memories from the CM 01/02, FM2005 days etc.
(3:12 PM) Stam :
The dark or light default?
(3:12 PM) Jesper:
(3:13 PM) Stam :
Hammarby, hmm. You weren't living in Sweden before SI offered you the job, were you?
(3:13 PM) Jesper:
I was, moved to London for the job.
(3:14 PM) Stam :
Ah! So you're a Swede and a Hammarby supporter... how often do you visit your country nowadays?
(3:16 PM) Jesper:
I go back a couple of time a year to see my family and friends, I used to go more often but I feel fairly at home in London at this point. I do wish I could see Hammarby live more often though, nothing compares to the atmosphere at Soderstadion.
(3:17 PM) Stam :
Getting back on the skins topic. You told me you enjoy Matt's work. What about Tom Dixon and his popular Steklo skins?
(3:20 PM) Jesper:
I think he does some really impressive work, his skins are always very unique.
(3:21 PM) Stam :
What if SI came to you and asked which one you'd recommend to bring on the SI graphics team? And you had to pick between Matt and Tom, hehe.
(3:22 PM) Jesper:
Why not both?
(3:23 PM) Stam :
OK! Do you find any free time to actually play and enjoy FM lately?
(3:25 PM) Jesper:
I've been playing a bit of FM11 but I've not got a career game running at the moment. I keep starting over because for some reason I'm doing rubbish this year!
(3:31 PM) Stam :
What would be your advise to someone who would want to start making a FM skin now? Where to start and things to consider.
(3:34 PM) Jesper:
Try to get an understanding of how the XML system works, it looks a bit daunting at first but it's fairly easy to change things by trial and error and it lets you do so much more than just changing a few graphics.
(3:36 PM) Stam :
Is there a quicklist of tasks to do in proper order you'd recommend for better and more efficient results? I mean if I'd design a skin, I'd try to put together a Photoshop mockup first.
(3:39 PM) Jesper:
I usually start sketching on paper to get ideas down quickly, then move on into photoshop and do a mockup. When I've got something I'm happy with in Photoshop I start coding it and slice up graphics to put it into the game. During this stage I usually change some things around from the original mockup to make sure it feels right in the game.
(3:40 PM) Stam :
Name 3 things that can make your day, besides Miles' eyebrows
(3:42 PM) Jesper:
Nailing a design, going for a good run, Hammarby winning (quite rare these days). If all three happen on the same day I'm in heaven
(3:42 PM) Stam :
Nice. What's in your future plans work-wise? You looking forward at keep working on FM or looking elsewhere at some point? Are there any other hobbies/passion besides FM and football in general?
(3:49 PM) Jesper:
I enjoy my job most of the time so I can see myself staying here for a while. Outside of work I do a lot of running and lifting weights, basically anything that allows me to do something that doesn't involve staring at a monitor. I think it's important in order to stay somewhat sane.
(3:51 PM) Stam :
Alright mate, I guess that's it; we've come to the end of this interview. Thank you for your time and patience. And good luck with all your future endeavors! We'll be waiting for Elegance3 at some point
(3:51 PM) Jesper: