Anime Expo Lite (Anime Expo 2020) – Painting The Skies: A Conversation with The Artists of thatgamecompany

2:25 PM – 2:55 PM (PDT) | Channel 2 | Saturday 4 July 2020

Panel Description: With the first anniversary of ‘Sky’ this month, meet the award-winning thatgamecompany studio and go behind-the-scenes to discover the team’s unique approach to creating beautifully animated and emotionally-impactful games such as ‘Journey’, ‘Flower’ and their newest social adventure – ‘Sky’. From art direction, animation, music score to storytelling, Yui Tanabe (Lead Artist), Vincent Diamante (Composer), Aaron Jessie (Environment Artist), Scott Stribling (Animator) and Ashley Coad (Concept Artist) chat to moderator Jennie Kong (Narrative Writer) on the making of the games. Expect fun insights and a Sky fan Q&A in this exclusive Anime Expo Lite panel!


You can read more about the panelists here, link

What is it about the studio’s artistic approach that makes it enjoyable for everyone?

  • Going with a philosophy, each game after the first has aimed to expand outside of the original story. The goal is to create a new game from in each work, one that may hint to elements of past releases but is still unique and original so that new players don’t feel held back by trying to understand lore or story prefaced in a previous game. Unlike most game studios that are looking to find what’s popular and develop a revised version of similar tropes, stories, or settings–thatgamecompany seeks to make their games feel more immersive through vivid art and storytelling. They consider their work “emotion-first” and that holds true to the feel of their studio in-house. 

Are the games connected?

  • Even if there isn’t any intentionally placed content to connect the company’s different games, there is a natural evolution through the games that may give returning players that feeling.  

Was there an original inspiration artistically for Sky?

  • The desire to fly through the sky and the feeling of freedom. The developers looked up information on the real physical phenomenon of clouds, wind speeds, and imagery/more in our actual world as inspiration for the game’s setting. They tried to capture that behavior in the setting of the work as well as the feelings of wonder the imagery inspired in the developers.

Music often comes much earlier in the game development process, how has the music affected the atmosphere of the project during development?

  • Music has certainly inspired some of the project during development, but ultimately the developers feel they were inspired by stuff seen as an anime fan. For example, they say that Hayao Myazaki’s process of creating images through the music first with his movies has become a notable inspiration to their designs processes. 

What is the process of creating each character’s mask?

  • It’s not so much a process as finding a defining influence for the character. Each mask is based on a theme, like the time of day, ancestors, the progression of human life.


  • Sky: Children of Light is currently available on iPhone’s App Store and Google’s play store. It’s coming out on Switch this Summer (2020).

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