Baiyon, Baiyon, How Does Your Garden Grow?
One of my most anticipated GDC panels was the one featuring Baiyon, the Japanese DJ/visual artist responsible for the look and sound of PixelJunk Eden. PJE was one of my favorite games from last year. The unique visuals managed to feel old-school and modern at the same time and the thumping electronic soundtrack only added to the game’s addictiveness.
I got there early, eager to hear just how much Baiyon contributed to the process of Eden. The poor guy was clearly nervous; it was his first GDC and dude was sweating bullets. In his introductory remarks, Baiyon said he also wrote cartoons and did t-shirt design. I need someone to find me these things.
[more]Anyway, the lanky beatsmith talked about wanting to make games for many years, but thinking that you had to start at the bottom of a game company and work your way up. He realized how lucky he was in avoiding that slog. After meeting Q-Games’ Dylan Cuthbert through a mutual friend, the two started working together on Eden. Baiyon talked about how his vision of synchronized graphics and sound ran up against the reality of how hard it was to actually produce the plants. He has no programming chops himself and the initial idea if having the game’s plants grow randomly was never achieved. The peaks and valleys throught the levels were inspired by nature and he thought about how plants grow differently in different climates. He showed plenty of slides, including some fascinating ink-blot drips that inspired some of the game’s plant shapes.
“I wanted to transfer the joy of dancing to this game,” he said. “I imagined all of these [plants] moving, growing, dying and creating pollen.”
The terrible translations made this panel a let-down for me, though, and I kept on thinking there were nuances that I was missing because the translators were so inconsistent. Nevertheless, one of Baiyon’s beliefs made itself crystal clear: “Knowing is making and making is knowing.” Here’s hoping he’ll get to make some more games very soon.