The latest Plants vs. Zombies 2 update goes live today, featuring 16 new levels, new Zombies and plants.
We’ve got a sneak peek at Frostbite Caves Part 2 for this week’s EA Tuesday Exclusive, and we sat down with Liam Robinson, Art Director for Plants vs. Zombies 2, to learn more about this update.
Are there new zombies in the update? Can you describe them?
Absolutely, it wouldn't be Plants vs Zombies 2 without new Zombie characters!
First up is the Weasel Hoarder. She and her weasels enter the stage inside a hollowed out log. How she got in there with them, I'll never know. Once her and her weasels get loose, it’s not pretty. Have those Lightning Reeds ready!
The other new zombie update is our Troglobite. He pushes blocks of ice and steamrolls your plants. So don’t let the ice blocks accumulate.
What about new plants? What type of new vegetation can fans look forward to playing in this update?
I love the new plants! There is Fire Peashooter who shoots fiery peas down a lane. Next is Stunion, his bad breathe can be pretty devastating, even to the undead. Finally, players can look forward to Rotobaga, a cute little 'copter that can shoot diagonally. I believe you can plant her directly on water, since she can hover at low altitudes.
What are some of the new game mechanics that fans will try for the first time?
Well, we have a whole new Dr. Zomboss fight in store for the players. He's going to be heavy on the defenses, so get ready to break through his glacial walls.
What is the process like for pulling together new concept art for characters? How long does it take and how many different iterations do you do with the team?
We first get a general idea of what the game designers are looking for in the plants power or attack. Once we have that, we start looking through horticulture books for ideas of plants, fruits, and nuts that could be a good fit. We like to look for interesting plants that would fit well with a pun.
Each of the artists get an idea for their own plants and characters and draw many different iterations of what that character would look like. It varies between plants, sometimes it's almost immediate after only a few character sketches. Sometimes it could take days trying to get the look and feel of the plant to fit the PvZ 2 style, world, and the basic function of the plant's design. (*ED NOTE: Concept art by Erin Middendorf)
Can you tell us about a typical day for you in the office? Give us all the small details.
I'm in the office early. It's the best time to come in and get lots of drawing done. After a cup of coffee and some breakfast, I get right into sketching concepts or animating a character. The team gets together before noon to talk about our current progress and where our game is headed. Open communication is key to a successful live mobile game. After lunch I spend the rest of the day either working or sitting in on important meetings to discuss new content for future worlds.
Can you tell us a bit about your role with PopCap?
PopCap first hired me back in 2013 as a Senior Animator to help out on PvZ2. One year later, they promoted me to Art Director on the same project.
As Art Director, it is my job to manage the art team, make decisions on the visual direction and make sure the style of the game is coherent and consistent. I also like to joke around a lot and be kind of a class clown with the rest of the team.
What are you most proud of in your career at EA?
It's hard to say. I've only ever worked on PvZ2 while at EA. The plants and zombies are all special to me and I've put a little of myself into each character. I'd have to say, that being brought on to this team has been my proudest moment at EA. Having the opportunity to work with such talent.
Is there anything that keeps you up at night?
Animation and video games. I always end up watching an awesome animated TV show or playing games way too late.
If you weren’t working in video games, what would you be doing?
I'd probably go back to my previous line of work which is animating or storyboarding cartoons. That was a lot of fun. I just really enjoy animation...I guess I'm a little insane to think drawing the same thing over and over again is fun.