Creator Spotlight: Karl-EL
Posted by ballightning on May 10, 2009
Karl-EL is one of the best creators out there, with some stunning creations. We go in-depth with him about his use of the Spore Creators, and how you can create like him.
If you think you have a creator who deserves a spotlight, post a comment below or in our thread on the official forums.
Sporedum: Your creations are really well thought out, and the design is stunning! Do you find any particular inspiration for your work?
Karl-EL: Like most of the people in the community, I draw inspiration from all over. Not surprisingly, I am a huge Sci-Fi/Fantasy fan and have been playing video games since the 80’s. One of my favorite early games was Master of Orion and I have attempted to pay homage to that game by recreating some of the races from the series.
Karl-EL: I get a lot of my inspiration from life. One of the earliest memories I have is when I was very young I wanted to be an artist. My aunt told me the most important thing to being a goodartist was observing the world around me. I really took that to heart and ever since then I have tried to pay close attention to how everything is put together. I utilize my knowledge of anatomy to help make my creatures more realistic.
Observation goes beyond the physical world around us; one of my great loves is history and politics. I draw great inspiration from my knowledge of history and I use that in the development of the races I create. I like to mirror earth history in their background stories and represent different earth cultures with the different species. Most recently I worked on a species, the Jotun, for Moejoe18 and beta_psi’s Space Civ Contest that was formed around the theme of the Vikings. My favorite part of that set was their space ship the Sturmbringer. I really tried to incorporate a lot of longship elements into that design and I’m pretty happy with the end result.
Sporedum: You get a lot of great ratings for your creations, many appearing in the most popular list, as well as many comments. What do you think it is about your work that people are drawn to?
Karl-EL: I’m not really sure. One of the things I tell people is that they should take something they know and give it an alien twist. By including the familiar in with the alien the audience is able to relate it to it while at the same time feel like they are seeing something completely new.
Sporedum: Have you met anyone during your experience playing Spore?
Karl-EL: I have. I’ve met a lot of people actually. I’d say the most interaction occurs on the Sporum where I have had the opportunity to get to know and work with several other players. I am most active in the DLC Critics Corner thread on the Sporum and while there have been fortunate enough to work with deadlineclick, Moejoe18, JazzTap and most recently beta_psi has joined the team. The thread is primarily used as a place where people can come together and give and get honest critiques of their work. You have to have pretty thick skin on that thread, because we tend not to pull any punches when it comes to our critiques. Everyone on the thread is great and we’re all very honest with each other about what we like and what we don’t like about each other’s work. Getting that kind of honest feedback is a great way to improve in the editors.
I’ve also had some pretty regular correspondence through comments with a few other creators; Vultrio and monsterlord come to mind. Comment exchanges with other creators have lead to inspiration for a number of my creations.
Sporedum: Looking through your 200 creations, it’s hard to pick out one that is the best. Do you have a personal favorite? And what is your favorite creation created by another player?
Karl-EL: My favorite of mine is almost always my most recent, whatever that may be. I think that’s probably true for most of us. I do, however, have an irrational attachment to and affection for my Deldaban. I’m not really sure why. Maybe it’s a combination of his underdog status in his fight against my evil Vinaw, along with the fact that I love orange. Whatever the case may be, I’ve always liked him ever since I hit save that last time and uploaded him to the server.
As far as other people’s creations go, there are so many great creators out there and so many great creations amongst the many millions. When the game first came out I remember dissecting the works of DiabloDog, G3NJI, mo289, and others. Taking apart great creations helped my understanding of the editor grow in leaps and bounds and I think it is the fastest way to improve your creation skills. I recommend it almost daily to someone either through a comment or on the Sporum. Some of my favorite artists still are Andeavor, Granite25, DiabloDog, and Parkaboy. Those four are all pretty much synonymous with greatness. Some less well known talents that I think doesn’t get enough recognition are Hutch63, Avynire, and Yorpy. But if push came to shove and I had to pick one all time favorite creation of someone else’s I would have to pick Tundro’s Mastadontoid. Unfortunately, Tundro seems to have left the SPORE community over what he perceived to be corporate greed when they published the Creepy and Cute parts pack. I had to re-upload the creature for this interview.
Sporedum: You mentioned the relationship between your Deldaban and the Vinaw Empire – do you have a story or theme behind all your creations?
Karl-EL: Not for all my creations but for most. The ones that don’t have descriptions are either earlier works or were developed in game. One of the things I noticed early on while perusing the pedia was how the description of a creation could completely change or enhance my perception of it. There have been numerous times when I felt the creation itself may not have been the most interesting, but the description or story that went along with it made me laugh and in so doing earned a comment and an up-rate. A simple two or three sentence blurb can immerse the audience into the world the author intended and turn a good creation into a great one. I wanted to be able to have that same affect on my audience and so I started to incorporate descriptions with my creations. It also makes it more interesting for me when I can weave a story between my various creatures. I think Galactic Adventures is going to really help the community flesh out these stories we’ve been developing for so long.
Karl-EL: I’m definitely most comfortable in the Creature Creator, and far-and-away the vast majority of my creations come from there. The few times I have ventured into the other editors, however, has netted positive results and so I intend on starting to tinker around more with the vehicle and space editor, and maybe even start doing buildings. I’m not sure if I’m daring enough to get that far outside my comfort zone yet. Working on that Space Civ Contest held by Moejoe18 and Beta_Psi really forced me to come out of my shell a bit more and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I’m definitely gonna go back and make some more vehicles for my other species.
Sporedum: What would be the most essential piece of advice you could give for people to improve their creations?
Karl-EL: I guess I would have to go back to that same advice my aunt gave me when I was five; observe and study. Things are the way they are for a reason. Animals are built the way they are because physics dictates so. Limbs and joints attach in certain ways because that construction design is efficient. Gravity, to a greater or lesser degree, is a universal phenomenon. A creature’s posture should reflect the environment in which it lives. Things have to be built to withstand the pressures being placed upon them.
Observe everything. That included other artists’ SPORE creations. There are thousands if not millions of amazing creations in the pedia library. And just like the library down the street, everything is free to download. Take the ones you like into your editor and reverse engineer them. Take them apart and see what makes them tick. One of my first big “Ah-ha moments” was when I downloaded DiabloDog’s stegosaurus and saw for the first time the use of dual mouths to create an entirely new head shape. It opened my eyes to the possibilities inherent in the editor. Anything can be anything in the editor. It is what you make it to be. Since then I have had untold numbers of “Ah-ha moments” because I am always trying to learn from the other talented artists around the community. You have to be willing to learn all the time.
Sporedum: Are you excited about the release of Spore Galactic Adventures on the 23rd of June? And how do you think you will use the adventures creator to advance you creations?
Karl-EL: Absolutely. I think SPORE has the potential to be an amazing game, and I think Galactic Adventures promises to take it another step in that direction. One of my big beefs with the game has always been the simplistic game play, and rinse-and-repeat repetitiveness of the space stage. GA looks like it’s going to fix some of the problems with that aspect of the game. I’m looking forward to finally being able to dictate the personalities of my various races and developing the storylines I have built up around them that link them all together. Even more so, I am looking forward to seeing what other people put together. There are some great imaginations around here. I’m sure we’re going to see some amazing missions.
Karl-EL: Well, considering we can expect to get a bunch of new outfitter parts in GA, I will take that off my list for the immediate future. Since Creepy and Cute was a creature parts pack we can expect the next parts pack will be more vehicle or building parts. I guess that’s fine. I’m sure that would make a ton of people really happy. What I think would be even more useful than a specific parts pack, however, is a patch that allows us to use all parts from every editor in any other editor. There’s a hack that allows you to do that, but I haven’t had much success with it. The colors get all messed up when you mix-and-match editors. It’s too bad really because that simple tweak would open up more options than any single parts pack could offer and it would be a free patch, so the community would come out way ahead for what seems like little effort on Maxis’