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The Master’s Pupil Takes You Across The Monet-Verse

Have you seen The Master’s Pupil on social media? It’s an amazing-looking game that takes you through the eyeball of French painter Claude Monet, painstakingly created through a mixture of both digital and traditional mediums by solo developer Pat Naoum. It’s impossible to not look at the game and its development cycle and not be in constant awe.

We had the opportunity to have an interview with the Sydney-based game developer, and you can read all about it below!


Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Hi, I’m Pat Naoum, the solo designer and developer for The Master’s Pupil. I grew up and live in Sydney Australia. I originally did a Bachelor of Creative Arts, majoring in Painting, and then went through a Film diploma at AFTRS.

I’ve been working freelance since then, in graphic design and film, though eventually started up a web design company with a developer friend. All before eventually getting into game design.


How did you get your start in the games industry?

For me it was always about finding a great project to work on. Visual Art and Film are both great creative outlets and industries. Art is great but can be quite specialised, Film is broader, working with a lot of mediums, but it’s quite hard to get your own projects up and running.

Game design was something I picked up because I could chip away at these large projects every day. Plus games have a little bit of everything: writing, coding, design, art, animation, acting, music, sound design, even architecture, and then at the end you get to play it! So after about 3 years learning to code and creating a vertical slice for The Master’s Pupil, I thought I should make more time for it, so I reduced my freelance hours and started working part time. Then last year I got the Expansion Pack Grant from Screen Australia, which was wonderful and has allowed me to go full time.


Tell us about the Master’s Pupil!

The Master’s Pupil is a hand-painted 2D puzzle platformer set inside Claude Monet’s eyeball. Players solve puzzles and play across his iris, and through his life. Players also don’t need to know about Monet, it’s not a direct biography.

There’s no language, written or spoken, it’s more of this elaborate abstract journey that goes along with the puzzles. And it’s actually hand-painted, with real paint and paper, evolving along with Monet’s life, and his paintings too, of which about 47 feature in the game.


The art style and execution of it in The Master’s Pupil is so incredibly unique – what are some of the challenges you’ve faced while working on it?

Well, thanks! Hand-painting is tough in a lot of ways. Everything from buying a high res film negative scanner to capture all the detail, to meticulously cleaning that scanner to make sure there’s no dust on the paintings!

And of course then having to resave nearly a thousand pieces because the original build was around 50gbs. But I think the real challenge is the time it takes, it’s a long process to get it just right!

How long has the development of The Master’s Pupil taken so far?

I’ve been saying 7 years for about a year now, so 8?

About 3 years of hobby, 4 of part time, then it’s about a year of full time. Though I think I’ve got notes about a game set inside an eye from about 10 or so years ago. So yes, very long!


How did you decide to make a hand-painted game?

Honestly, it’s the uniqueness you mentioned earlier. I wanted to try something different, and when I made that first vertical slice, there was something inherently interesting about these textures. Something I wanted to follow and look into.


Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to attempt a similar art style for their game in the future?

Go for it! But know it takes a while, and don’t be afraid to ‘cheat’. It took me a long time to realise how modular pieces could work for the background layers. I just wish I had worked that out for the actual ground pieces!


What do you think about art styles within the games industry at the moment? Are there any particular styles you’ve seen that really stand out to you?

I think the AAA space is a little too obsessed with realism, and I think it holds back interesting gameplay. Realism has baggage, it creates assumptions with the player. If people can see something they know in the real world, they will expect it to act like that in game.

When people play games, it’s a great opportunity for them to discover something unique and totally outside of the real world. But then on the other hand, indie games have really relied too much on pixel art for the last ten years!

For styles I’ve always liked Limbo, Braid, Inside and Journey to name a few that stood out and inspired me. But more recently Sable, it’s a line-drawn Moebius style, which is awesome. And look out for Skate Story, an awesome style tied really well to the story and concepts.


Finally – what advice do you have for aspiring game developers?

Get learning and creating as quickly as possible, and enjoy the process. Game dev is wonderful and exciting, but there’s a lot to do, so get going and enjoy the journey.

Check out The Master’s Pupil on Steam, Twitter, and sign up for their newsletter today!

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  1. Steam Next Fest June 2023 Edition Demos You Need To Try | Kakuchopurei

    June 20, 2023 at 10:55 am

    […] The Master’s Pupil is a hand-painted puzzle adventure game taking place inside Claude Monet’s eyeball. Yes, it looks stunning and needs to be seen for yourself. We also did an exclusive interview with the maker of the game here. […]

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