Welcome back to Discovering Alone. In our previous entries, we introduced the game and we described the gameplay mechanics for both the Hero and the Evil players, and we gave you a taste of the game’s background story. We also took a scientific diversion to analyze the biology and ethology of the alien creatures. Last time, we had a chat with Steve Hamilton about the art of Alone; in today’s update, we will talk with Stéphane Simon and Stéphane Nguyen Van Gioi, our miniature sculptors!

Could you please introduce yourself?

SS: I’m Stephane Simon. I’m French, and I’m a fan of roleplaying games (Call of Cthulhu, Stormbringer, Dungeons and Dragons, etc.) and miniature games. I’m also a professional miniature sculptor of course!

SN: I’m Stéphane Nguyen Van Gioi. I’m French too! I’m also an avid miniature collector, a board game player and an asian food experimenter.

An almost complete Hero sculpt, and an early version of the Hybrid sculpt.

Have you worked on board games before? What’s your background?

SS: I started to work for Fenryll in 1998, I made around 50 miniatures for them. After that, I worked at the Rackham studio for Confrontation between 2001 and 2010. While there I learned a lot with Alex “Aragorn” Marx, Michael Bigaud, Yannick Hennebo, Benoit Cosse, Stephane Ngyuen and many more. It was a great time! Thanks to the many talented people working on it, I think Confrontation has one the best range of miniatures ever made. After the studio close, I started working as freelance for several companies: Eden, Mierce Miniatures, Monolith and others. More recently I worked on Conan by Monolith, with Léonidas Vesperini and Erwan Hascoet. It was a great Kickstarter adventure! Then I continued to work with the same team on Mythic Battles Pantheon. I sculpted several miniatures for that, like Ares, Ephaistos and Atlas… it was another very successful project.

SN: I’m 41 years old, and I’ve been a miniature sculptor for about 12 years now. My course of study has been a rather eclectic one: from biology to interior design. I’ve always been interested in miniatures though, so eventually I turned that hobby into a job. I started by doing some sculpts for the French company Fenryll, then I was a regular contributor for the miniatures magazine Ravage. I ended up joining the Rackham team, where my skills greatly improved. Speaking strictly about my previous board game experiences (not counting the many miniature games), I worked on Eden / Escape, Sedition Wars, The Others, Conan and Mythic Battles Pantheon.

At this stage, with those chubby mouth tentacles, the worm almost looked more cute than scary… almost.

Do you like to sculpt anything in particular? Humans, robots, monsters?

SS: I love dark/fantasy stuff. When I started working as freelance I created my own range of miniatures, SIMONMINIATURES, just to sculpt this kind of things. I don’t particularly enjoy working on mechanical stuff like robots or mechs, on the other hand!

SN: The tricky thing with the human form is that–unless you are a hermit–you see it every day, so if the slightest thing is “off” on a human model, it will be noticed immediately. For this reason, I prefer to sculpt inhuman entities, of all sorts. Rackam’s Dirz monstrosities have probably been my all-time favorite subjects to sculpt.

How did you get to work on Alone?

SS: I was just done working on Mythic Battles Pantheon when Horrible Games contacted me to work on Alone. I thought that the concept arts they showed to me had a strong identity. I was searching for a new project to work on, and it seemed really good. Also, I never worked on a sci-fi game before, and the challenge was exciting. That’s how I started to work with Horrible Games!

SN: My dear friend (and former co-worker) Stéphane Simon talked to me about Horrible Games and Alone; it seemed like a very cool project! When work started to pile up and he thought he needed a bit of help, he kindly invited me to work on the project, and I gladly agreed! ^^

A very early version of the Alpha Worm sculpt.

Can you describe the standard miniature making process, from clay and green stuff to plastic?

SS: I always try to put many details in my miniatures, but you always have to keep in mind the limitations of the plastic molding techniques. You always need to find the right pose to have the miniature in as few parts as possible. It’s always difficult to do a miniature in one piece, while retaining a dynamic feel to it at the same time. Luckily, the concepts realized by Steve Hamilton are great: they are relatively simple, but they are still very strong. The hero is the first miniature I sculpted for Alone. It was a real pleasure to sculpt things like the hybrid, the cultist, the doctor too. The Horrible Games team gave me the freedom to rework the concepts or to propose new poses or details, and that’s very good for a sculptor. Jean Bey (the former boss of Rackham) worked in the same way: if a sculptor has proposals to change some part of the concept arts, because he thinks that would improve the final result, there should be freedom to talk about it, as long as you stay true to the essence of the concepts. The worm for example, it is a great concept that was not so easy to sculpt at first, but it offered me the chance to experiment with some bizarre textures and different kinds of skins. The same can be said for the spores… they are disgusting but in a cool way, I really enjoyed to sculpt them!

SN: There are so many things to say about this! During my first days at Rackham, I was told that the same concept can turn into entirely different miniatures, if given to different sculptors. It repeatedly proved to be a very accurate statement. You usually start by building a clean skeleton using metallic wire (though not necessarily, if you sculpt robots or machines for example). You will then cover the wire with the green stuff (aka Duro) so that the clay (like Fimo) will stick on it. The latest has the huge advantage that it doesn’t harden before baking it. This gives you days/weeks, rather than hours, before the whole thing solidifies and the details cannot be altered anymore. However, when it comes to mechanical objects, I prefer to use milliput, by far. Casting is yet another story, especially when we talk about plastics, as the process is far less permissive than resin or metal casting. You must take extra care when deciding what is feasibleand what is not.

One of the first resin-cast copies of the Hero with the almost complete Captain sculpt.

Anything else you would like to add?

SS: I’m looking forward to see your reaction to what we’ve been preparing for you!

SN: I hope the Alone crowdfunding campaign will be successful, and that you will have as much fun playing the game as we did building its universe! 🙂

SS: Also, if you want to check my other works, you can check me out on facebook!

SN: And while you’re at it, you may check mine too; I also have a portfolio on Putty & Paint.

This is all for today’s update. Thanks for reading! If you liked it and you want to know more, keep following our website, our facebook page and our twitter profile to know when the next installments of this series will be published. To stay updated on all things Horrible, you can also subscribe to our newsletter, of course.

The next (and final) update will be a chat with Andrea Crespi and Lorenzo Silva, the two game designers of Alone. The development of the game has been long and difficult; this usually causes incurable traumas to the designers’ poor minds… but it also makes for a quite interesting story. See you next time!