My name is Mathieu S. Leroux. I work as an environment artist on Season. Ever since my childhood I have always been passionate about cycling – As early as 15 years of age, I rode from my then hometown – Valleyfield – all the way to Montreal, alone, without the aid of maps or any cell phone for guidance. I simply craved adventure and the unknown. As I got there, I almost instantly lost my bicycle to thieves while I was out to get food. That ride turned out to be a disaster, but it had been worth it, as it set me up to the passion of bicycling. Although next time, I would be better prepared!
And so, ever since I can remember, I have been going on increasingly daring rides across Canada and the US. There is nothing like coming across a village or place you’ve never heard of, stopping for a warm beverage and meeting some of the locals. I feel very thankful to have the chance to help bring some of that passion to the world of Season.
My last ride was Mont-Laurier – Montreal. It was about 250 kilometers. The autumn scenery was beautiful. I went off the beaten path several times, as over the years I’ve become some sort of an exploration kamikaze, often risking personal injury to find new places. For example, last year I did a similar ride on the eastern coast of the US. I stopped at a little cottage in Marblehead, near Salem. There was an island on the horizon that intrigued me greatly, but I found no way to get there and had no intention to rent a boat. So I simply jumped into the ocean and swam all the way there. At one point, in the waves, I started to doubt my decision and panicked, but I didn’t turn back. It was stirring. Once I landed on the beach, however, the feeling of achievement was immense. The excitement made everything seem sweeter than nature. The leaves seemed greener than green, the air was lighter than air. It was all just sand, trees and rocks, but those felt infinitely more intriguing when you’ve carved your way there yourself. I had become addicted to adventure.
This too happened on my ride between Mt Laurier and Montreal. I would jump in rivers, climb impossible rocks and go places where careful people would never dare go, but it was always worth it. I once strapped a life jacket and threw myself down the rapids, letting the current take me to where currents go. When you understand your strengths and limits, there is no reason to hold back on going where you want.
The true goal of my last ride was to take some time to be by myself and meditate on the book I am currently writing. It is called The Phenomenon of Beauty. It is sort of a self-help book, mixed with a heavy dose of philosophy. In it, I talk about ways to find meaning and what I describe as beauty in places where we culturally expect not to find any. For example, living in a city, a noisy neighbourhood, or when you live trying moments or a crushing schedule.
Beauty in this application is not what you observe when, say, you see a pretty flower – It transcends the aesthetics of this world and goes deeper than that. Beauty is the feeling you get when you observe things for what they really are; it is a feeling of awe, of inspiration and a momentary reminder of where you are in the grand scheme of life and all its complexity.
It is true that what takes part in our environment has a direct impact on the way you arrange your thoughts in your mind. For example, and this is one of the founding principles of the modern currents of minimalism: you can reduce clutter to a strict minimum, so as to give breathing space for your eyes and for your mind. It goes in the same precedent as meditation, to “streamline your thoughts” and flush out unnecessary noise.
And so colours and space have meanings, but those meanings are also heavily tainted by our own perceptions – what we assume things are and how we let them affect our thoughts. This is the very core of my book; to learn to observe how your mind treats what it perceives as ugly and bothersome and allow it not to give any room to unreasonable ideas to take root. Sometimes, in the spur of difficult situations, we allow all sorts of unsound thoughts to pass through unfiltered and those unrealistic ideas can unfortunately affect our judgment, ultimately to the detriment of our happiness.
THE CREATIVITY IN MY LIFE AND FOR THE GAME
Raw talent is necessary for all artistic jobs in the video game industry, but what sets Season apart is a bit more abstract. Creativity is a complicated term to describe and even more so to quantify. In my view, I’d go as far as to say that knowledge is just as important as drawing skills are for an artist. The meaning of creativity is the ability to assemble concepts into new ideas; ideas do not exist in a vacuum. All inventions are assemblages of many different concepts that already exist in the world. Creative talent can be measured by how complicated, and how cleverly those fragments of information are assembled together to form “new” interesting ideas.
For Season, the depth of feelings that come to life as you explore the world comes from a creative use of imagery that is elusive but also relatable, springing forth a sense of familiarity for places you’ve never been to, while still being impossible to frame in time and space. The world of Season feels like a daydream; you’ve seen something like it, but also never have. It is like nostalgia for memories you’ve never experienced.
In the game, you may ride through an old road and come across ruins that belong to another era – an era that seems distant and strange, but also more advanced than our own. This is how it may have felt like to roam the fields of England during the times of the Saxons, or the Franks during the days of the Carolingian Empire; to witness strange temples and bath houses lost to time, far beyond the technological knowledge of the era, its true function buried along with the remains of the Roman Empire.
And this brings me back to the meaning of creativity. The richness of the world of Season stems from the inspiration our writer, designers and artists have found in their travels, their books and their overall personal lives. We’ve maintained a very open atmosphere in our studio that encourages exchange of ideas between all trades. The end result is a product that is shaped by our collective energy, a product that feels like our own.
So, if you want to create your own worlds that are both believable and highly intriguing, you must stay curious. Hone in the talents necessary for your trade, but do not forget to put aside some time to learn about our world, to expand the richness of your creative power. So hop on that bike now and go exploring!