The Rookies 2018 Winners Announced

General / 16 July 2018

I was honored to be a finalist judge for The Rookies this year, which was something I was completely unaware of until I was approached about it. Looking over the work coming out of students and others in various situations and timelines in their artistic careers is somewhat re-invigorating. I wish I had some of the tools available today when I was at the same point, but regardless of things that change what stays constant is the passion people have for art and their craft, whatever it may be. Congrats to the winners, selecting top picks was a pretty arduous task. 

To all that make art... keep creating!

Have a look at the 2018 winners, and of course all the other excellent entrants too.

God Of War Art Blast, Musings, and Thanks

General / 21 June 2018

It has been two months since God of War hit the hands and screens of the world - and artists across the studio are now able to share the spectacular work we have been focused on and dedicated to making these last years for this special project. We have all been very gratified with the wide critical acclaim and so many individual people going out of their way to talk about how much they love this game, gushing about not just one but all of its many aspects. I don't know how much time I have spent listening to people talk about it all over youtube, in podcasts, etc - but it feels tremendous for us game developers, who get to experience it seldom (if at all) and are generally sort of invisible behind the scenes. So... thank you! And if you haven't played it yet - what the heck are you waiting for? The image below was out on the internet from just a short time after reviews started hitting, and is only a portion of the scores. 

I've said it before and will again - I believe games have the potential to be one of the most "ultimate" art forms our species has undertaken. They are huge immersive experience-able collections of parts that in their own right are also works of art that stand on their own, which have to interconnect flawlessly. They weave the senses together and present you with new worlds and stories yet manage to also braid your own agency into it. They are truly complex webs of ideas, art, and technology and, while exceptionally varied, have the greatest experience-able potential of things we can create as humans, in my humble opinion. 

The bar constantly rises, the targets constantly shift, more is wanted faster and better than ever before. Costs to do this skyrocket, yet prices never even rise with inflation. Its quite dizzying, exceptionally challenging, potentially devastating, and often thrilling (and stressful). Among all of this - its a titanic amount of work, from lots of disparate individuals, groups, perspectives, and motives. We undertake it because its worth it, because we are creators, because we issue challenges to ourselves on top of those substantial ones that are already out there. We do it because creating is in our DNA, we do it because there is no cresting the horizon of potential and creativity. Just when you think you have, new vistas open up. 

This week we're having our Art Blast, rolled out in phases so that different aspects had a moment in the sun. If you are so inclined, please take some time to explore in more detail all the art we here at Santa Monica Studio have cooked up for you this time. I look forward to topping it. 

Environment Art and Lighting

Character Art, Animation, VFX, Breakables, UI

Concept Art


I'd like to say thank you and give a shout out to a few of my co-workers at SMS who I interacted with most through this project. 

Nate Stephens, thanks for helping to bring things into perspective and providing a great amount of freedom for us to be the artists we would like to be. Your trust is very appreciated. Also, thank you for inviting me to become a part of the studio - I'm glad I chose to come here.

Kevin Quinn, you are a talented hard working artist and I was glad I got to be a part of Tyr's Temple with you. I feel I learned a lot through this project, and I'm sure some of that was via osmosis from being around you and your work. I appreciate your patience and perspective. 

Luke Berliner and Abe Taraky, you guys humored my bubbling enthusiasm when I first joined the studio, and weathered my own little design process in the journey of making the stuff I did. Thanks for the great concepts that are foundational to everything we do, and for humoring me from time to time. 

Vicki Smith, you were patient with me as I stepped out of what should be my area to push things around and try to add and tweak and plus to the end. I gained a fair bit of perspective on game design in general from you while creating Tyr's Vault. It was really great working with you. Your laugh is awesome.

Ruben Morales, you never shied away from aspirations and plans I had for the breakables in the vault. We did the best we could with what we had, and you guys delivered well. Thanks for entertaining my ambitions, and for curbing them into reality as well as doing all the nitty gritty work. Same thanks to you on the hard work Cynthia Fenton-Quijano!

Konstantin Leontyev, I basically hijacked you for help trying to do what is a pretty tall order in a game engine. Thanks for doing your best and for putting hard work into it, especially since it wasn't "on the books" officially. While we weren't able to get all the way there, I still think it ended up adding something special to the space. 

Thom May, thanks for enduring some of my nitpicks while creating the coin tilers and coin stacks. They turned out great, as did the wheel crank. Through long hours and stressful times you were always a cool dude and made others around you laugh. Until we meet again!

Greg Montgomery, Brandon Cha, Chad Orr, and Mario Wiechec - you guys all probably grumbled together often about my many little requests and pushes for certain things in lighting. Thank you to each of you for the passes you did on Tyr's Vault which presented some deceptively tricky issues to solve. 

Lauren Simpson, like above - thanks for enduring some of my never ending (and maybe sometimes unwelcome) ideas and for your work on Tyr's Vault. Take care of that little one!

Kevin Huynh and Max Ancar, thanks for your help as I tried to step in to and take over certain effects with no experience in that. I was glad to learn some new things and hope I was able to produce/modify effects that didn't bring down the average of the work you guys did on this game. 

Dan McKim, thanks for letting me do Kratos' house in your awesome forest level. You are excellent at what you do and I was glad I got to put a tiny flag somewhere in your beautiful level. 

Kyle Bromley, thanks for being my buddy and for almost always beating me at ping pong. You bastard

Enrico Gasperoni, despite being exceptionally busy - you gave an ear to discussions I had to have around systems we had in the game and how to tweak, stretch, and fit all the breakables in for Tyr's Vault. You're a generally cool dude, and damn you can dance well too! 

Enrico Gullotti, your friendly demeanor and strong interest in making things better has been refreshing through the project. Thanks for all the discussions, being open to ideas, and for teaching me some italian. Grazie mille. 


Upward, onward - forward!


~Cliff