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Naughty Dog Senior Artist Interview: Andrew Maximov

By 3dtotal staff

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Date Added: 23rd October 2014

Naughty Dog Senior Artist, Andrew Maximov, has been working professionally in games for the last 6 years. We discover how he went from Minsk in Belarus, Russia, to working on Unchartered 4!

Andrew Maximov's showcase of a real-time next-gen asset rendered in Marmoset 2


3dtotal: Can you introduce us with a little background information about you, and briefly explain your journey so far?

Andrew Maximov: Sure! My name's Andrew Maximov. I'm a Senior Artist in games and I've been doing games professionally for the last 6 years.

Originally from Minsk, Belarus, I started as a 3D Artist at Wargaming.net working on Square Enix published RTS Order of War, and then transitioning to probably being the first full-time artist on the massively popular MMO World of Tanks.


After that I did freelance for a while, eventually moving to Montreal to work at Gameloft on Modern Combat 4, and other cutting-edge hand-held titles. After all the baguettes and cheese I could handle, it was time for a change, so I moved down to San Francisco to work at Kixeye spearheading art production and tech art direction for their unannounced next-gen game.

After a while there, I finally moved down to Los Angeles to help Naughty Dog make Uncharted 4 - the best game you will ever play (hopefully!).

Swamp UDK demo by Andrew Maximov

3dt: Do you specialize in any areas in your role? If so, can you tell us why you feel you excel in these?

AM: That's a tough one. I did pretty much everything at one point or another: modeling, texturing, painting, sculpting, shaders, set-dressing, lighting, post FX, camerawork, editing, and even some crude music and sound work for personal projects. And like that wasn't enough, I also do some graphics and tools programming.


The one thing I think all this allows me to bring to the table is being able to take a step back and look at problems not just in the context of a particular discipline, but the entire production pipeline. Lighting problems can come from bad texturing values, wrong texture values can come from shaders that are set up incorrectly, and modeling can look wrong because it's not reinforcing the lighting for this environment and vice versa. This is especially handy with the technical side of things. A lot of the time artists are forced to solve tool or tech problems with art, which is unfortunate. I feel very privileged to be able to solve those problems in tools or with real-time game tech that will allow us to have new and shiny features instead of clunky old workarounds.

"I firmly believe that good art is always more than just sum of its parts"

In our extremely specialized industry it is very easy to lose track of the project and how your specific art fits with all the other awesome things that are being created. So I try to make it a point to always look at the forest before the trees. I firmly believe that good art is always more than just sum of its parts. A collection of fantastic assets might look like nothing particularly interesting, whereas even mediocre assets put together in a coherent manner with a pinch of fairy dust on top can look groundbreaking.

That said, however, you never want be the jack of all trades - and master of none. Being able to do other things can never be an excuse for a poorly done job.


3dt: Tell us about your role as an Senior Game Artist? What's a typical day like in this role?

AM: Since I tend to wear so many hats there's a hardly such a thing as a typical day, for me. Which is part of the fun really. I enjoy solving out-of-the-box problems, or coming up with out-of-the-box solutions, and that just doesn't jive too well with "typical".

One thing that is typical, though, is getting to work with awesome people! Every new problem usually requires some level of cooperation with other artists, programmers, and game designers, and getting to learn from these great people is always a blast.

"I never really set out to be an artist, I just wanted to make games"

3dt: Why videogames over the other entertainment industries?

AM: A quote from Dances with Wolves comes to mind: "I want to see the frontier sir! Before it's gone...”

Games are something I grew up with and they were my main form of art consumption. I never really set out to be an artist, I just wanted to make games. That's why I don't consider myself an artist making games, but rather a game developer making art. I was intuitively gravitating to it and started doing it without much of a justification really. I just enjoyed it. Looking back, this is probably the best reason to do anything in life, especially for a career.


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