The Graphics of Plague Inc.

A lot of people have expressed interest in how Plague Inc. was made – going from some scribbles on a notepad into a global success – becoming the number 1 paid app on the AppStore within 6 days! So - this is where you get your answers...

Here, I  interview Sofia about the graphics of Plague Inc.

Who are you? 


I’m Sofia Merkulova, freelance graphic designer, I'm from Kiev (Ukraine). I live currently in Prague (Czech Republic).

As a freelance graphic designer, I do all types of graphics work and I have mostly done 2D design recently. I studied Graphic Design at university and I was pretty sure that I would end up working in some advertising agency but surprisingly my first working experience was as a UI designer. It got worse; I started to work as a web-designer and I liked it! In the last year I was co-operating with development team on creating several mobile games (here in Prague) and that’s how I met James.

What did you do for Plague Inc.

I was responsible for creating all graphics work in this game (Miss Graphic Department :p ). James came with an existing vision with a very well thought structure and concept of how the game should work. We did all the UI work together with James leadership and my main responsibility was to “dress it up and make it look wonderful”. I was trying to create a feeling that the player is in a “laboratory” but I didn’t want to have it really scary or repulsive. Honestly even if I wanted to make it that way I wouldn’t be able to.... because I eat only rainbows and poop butterflies :).
I created the visual style so it will be comfy, joyful, fun and mainly easy to play even for me (personally I don’t want to use my brain too much when I'm playing games. Game is ‘momentary relief from the existential terrors of existence’ to me). 

As for inspiration – I’ve got some from the film ‘Rise of the planet of the apes’. In it, it was shown how the virus is spreading all over the world in the end of the film. We were just in the middle of game creation process when I saw it and thought “damn, that would be so cool to have something like this in the game” and we did so! And it looks awesome!

What was the easiest thing you did?

As a matter of fact, the  whole work on the game was easy for me because I liked it! I loved the idea and it was extremely interesting for me. I’ve never done anything so nasty like this game (dating websites don’t count!) before and I was very excited. And that’s how I joined the Dark Side.

What was the most challenging thing you did?

The main problem I had was to make as many graphic elements (e.g. icons, illustrations) as possible so the player would be able to play game and understand what is what without reading. At the same time, all the graphics had to be done in a very minimalistic way so one wouldn't be confused with too many details. It took a lot of time to get them just right but I was very pleased with the end result!

What is your favourite thing about Plague Inc.?

Well, this is obvious – the design :p
But honestly I love how the game makes you relaxed after bad day when you feel like you angry with the whole world. I get to de-stress and don’t make anyone upset in real life! I think shrinks could suggest people to play it as a therapy J)

I like the witty texts and that that you are able to think up varieties of strategies for each kind of plague over and over. That at the first sight it’s pretty easy to play (apparently because of well-done interface J) but then you realize that there are a lot of variables in the game and you need to make lots of decisions on which the whole course of the game depends. The game sucks you deeper and deeper thanks to diversity of scenarios. You never get bored and just can’t stop playing.

What are your plans for the future?

We have a plan to continue to work on Plague Inc. to improve its graphics and add lots more features, James has lots of great ideas for the game! I will not tell you what we will do exactly. Let it be a surprise.

I am always open for interesting projects so get in touch if you have some interesting, high quality graphics requirements! (You can see some examples of my work on my website http://merkulova.prosite.com/ )

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