Review Fix Exclusive: Paul Richards Talks ‘Substrata’

Review Fix chats with “Substrata” creator Paul Richards, who discusses the project, which consists of the work of artists from some of the biggest names in video game art from series the likes of “World of Warcraft,” “Gears of War” “Assassins Creed IV” and more in an effort to create an entirely new world.

Review Fix: What was the inspiration for the project?

Paul Richards: Whenever you leave a studio, you wind up missing all the awesome people you worked with.  Vigil Games, creator of the Darksiders franchise, assembled a top-notch team of dark fantasy artists.  When its publisher THQ went bankrupt in 2012, everyone split up. Substrata was a way to ‘get the gang back together’  — get everyone thinking along those lines again.

Review Fix: For those don’t know, how important is the art in a video game?

Richards: Depends on who you ask!   Great games have been made without great art, but an attractive wrapper never hurts.  It gets your attention, helps set a desired mood, and provides a certain level of immersion.  We tailor reality by what we put in front of our eyes.

Review Fix: How hard was it to get all of these artists together?

Richards: As a former art director once told me, “Talent attracts talent.” Professional artists are often highly restrained by their day jobs, so they’re usually itching to have ownership of something new, especially if they can create it with respected peers.  Once we had a handful of people kicking out content, others could see how much fun we were having and followed suit.  This is how our community grew beyond just the Vigil crew, reaching a global scale.

Review Fix: What were your initial expectations for the book and have they been accomplished?

The work itself is always the most rewarding part, and everyone delivered in fine style, with lots of surprise entries along the way.  Michael Scala provided a text logo, Adrian Dadich made the arresting image which became our cover, and my wife Lena miraculously tied it all together with her layouts and sequencing.  Then, as if things hadn’t gone smoothly enough, UDON was cool enough to print the project as-is.  They didn’t ask for anything to be censored or removed.  This kind of thing literally never happens.

Review Fix: What are your hopes for the book?

Richards: I’d like for all the contributors to be recognized, and for their work to gain all the traction it deserves.  Many of them used their now-defunct CGhub profiles as homepages, but their names are all clearly displayed next to their work, which is something not a lot of art books do.  We hope Substrata sells decently, as proceeds will be donated to a charity organization called Gamers For Good.

Review Fix: Can we expect more volumes in the future?

Richards: We’ll wait and see if there’s demand for a “Substrata II,” but for now the group is working on a secret project of a different genre, with the same credo we entered Substrata with: make cool, original content.

About Patrick Hickey Jr. 9949 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of and is the author of the book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply