LA: Can you please introduce yourself and your role at MFG?
IB: Hi, I’m Ismael. I was born and raised in Maui, Hawaii. I studied Media Arts & Animation at college in Portland, Oregon. My expertise here at MFG is 3D animation.
LA: Wow, Maui must be pretty much the opposite side of the planet [not quite, but it is about 12,000km away]. Which way did you fly to get here?
IB: What do you mean?
LA: Well, it must be pretty much the same distance whether you travel via Asia and Russia, or if you go across the States and the Atlantic to Europe?
IB: I guess, but I don’t know how affordable that would be, plus if I go via the States I can visit friends in Portland along the way…
LA: Alright, fair enough. Tell me something interesting about your journey to work this morning.
IB: Well it wasn’t much of a journey because I live five minutes away! But I did have to bob and weave to get to my destination thanks to the broken roads. The crossing by the Lidl supermarket is like an American Ninja obstacle course.
LA: OK some of our readers might not know what or where Brno is. Can you give them an “elevator pitch” for the city?
IB: It’s a cool place, reminds me a lot of Portland actually. The beer is good and affordable and there’s a lot of cultural uniqueness here.
LA: What brings you to MFG?
IB: I was applying to a bunch of companies worldwide, but I was especially interested in Europe because I’ve never been here before and wanted the adventure. Also, I took a break after my previous job in the game industry and wanted to get back into it.
LA: What were your first impressions of MFG?
IB: To me it seemed pretty big, around 100 people, when the most I’ve worked with before was about 50. I love the culture here and the friendliness of the people. It was also a different environment because we’ve got a lot of people here working on the technical aspects, which is interesting to me.
LA: Tell me something about your hometown which I wouldn’t find in the guidebooks.
IB: There’s a place called Black Rock. I can’t remember what it’s called in Hawaiian, but it’s something like “Where the dead dive in”. It’s where there were human sacrifices and they tossed the bodies into the ocean. It’s supposed to be haunted. Also, if you’re easily spooked you shouldn’t stay at [an international hotel chain in a certain location on the island] because it was built on an ancient burial ground!
LA: What are some of your favourite places in Brno? Pubs, restaurants, cafes etc?
IB: I really like The Immigrant for good burgers and Polička beer. I also enjoy the food at Padowetz. That’s where I first tried Tatarák (Steak Tartare). I wanted to mix it myself because I wanted control of how much paprika and mustard and so on went in, but I’d recommend newcomers to let the guys in the restaurant do it for you.
LA: What is your relationship with video games? What were your favourite games as a kid?
IB: I’m more of a competitive player, so I’m into games like Magic: the Gathering, Destiny 2 and Smite. I’m also a fan of the FGC (Fighting Game Community). As a kid I loved Sonic the Hedgehog — “Genesis does what Nintendon’t” — remember that? I’d say my all-time favourite game is Final Fantasy VII. I’m a 90s kid and just the sheer scale of the story was amazing.
LA: What’s the best thing about working in video games?
IB: It gives you the chance to express yourself in many different ways. It’s like being an actor with many different faces.
LA: What would you tell your friends about MFG?
IB: Download our games, yo! (Laughs) No, seriously, working in a creative indie environment like this and collaborating with other people has really helped me learn new tricks in animation. There are a few rules I need to follow regarding technical aspects, but otherwise I get to make my own decisions. And that freedom is very rewarding.
LA: If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to get into the industry, what would you say?
IB: Find your niche and concentrate on it as much as possible. Bring your whole life experience to it — I can’t draw for shit, but I believe I’m a good animator because of my background with martial arts, dancing, and acting.
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