With its rough environment and its stylish atmosphere, Borderlands was the perfect game to collaborate with. But behind this collaboration, there is a name, and an artist: Eliott Duckers, who worked with us on the ARK/8 x Borderlands online platform and the extraordinary digital experience the platform offers the customer. We interviewed him to find out more about his background and experiences.
1) How did you get the idea of the website collaboration concept?
When we start brainstorming with Dimitri (Dimitri van Eetvelde - Creative Director at ARK/8) on the creative direction of a project, we always try to challenge ourselves and come up with something that we haven’t seen before but which integrates the inspiration we have in mind. Our concept for Borderlands was to find a way to sell the collection in a visual environment that doesn’t take you out of the game’s world and interfaces and that goes further than simply following some web-design guidelines. We came up with this idea of recreating the actual inventory of the game. We had to simulate all the animations manually and draw every element in the art direction of the game to keep it immersive.
2) How challenging was to create it?
It’s always very hard to develop anything that hasn’t been done before, because you’re navigating in uncharted territory. To prepare ourselves, we designed and animated everything on video to explain to our developers exactly what we were looking for. That way they could refer to our video (and extensive documentation, designs) frame by frame to recreate the environment we had in mind.
3) You have worked as a creative director at Dragon Prod for two years and a half/since September 2018. Can you describe to us your work and on which projects you also worked in the past?
I work on a wide array of projects. It started with fashion-related ones, as I just finished a year working solely on H&M campaigns, 6 months for womenswear and 6 months for menswear. I met the Filles A Papa in September and we immediately clicked so I ended up working with them on their two next seasons (https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/fall-2019-ready-to-wear/filles-a-papa). At the same time, a friend of mine at Unibox told me about this ambitious gaming-related company who was looking for an agency to go further. Dimitri and I met a few months before Fanny joined us, and we immediately felt like we were on the same page. We had the same tastes, the same references. Before the world stopped due to COVID, our meetings always were half workhalf shared gaming experiences, udon noodles and Kirin beers.
4) You also work as a creative director at Digizik at the same time. Do you associate both of your jobs and skills when you’re working on a project like the Borderlands collaboration?
So yeah, over the past year, I’ve worked extensively with Digizik, a creative agency based in Brussels & Paris, on a lot of different projects for Belgian TV (RTBF), Stromae, Pernod Ricard, Ubisoft, Sony Classics,... We have this great collaboration going on as they give me a complete freedom to experiment and offer any ideas I might have while at the same time, always challenge them, helping me reinforce them and bringing them to life in a very reassuring production structure. Everything I do, whether it’s for Filles a Papa, ARK/8, Stromae or Digizik, it’s always a learning curve for me and I try to share the experience gathered on all of the projects I’m involved with.
5) How did you process to set up the collaboration ideas and concepts? Did you work alone? With your team at Dragon Prod? (or associates).
I only work with friends and freelancers. I don’t want to hire anyone. I like the freedom of working with any talent around me, with artists that inspire me at the moment, and to make ideas come alive with opposite art directions from one project to the other. At the beginning, I need some time alone to come up with stuff that I think might be cool and then when I feel like I have 2 or 3 strong ideas, I set up meetings with my clients to see how they react to it. When we agree on one concept, I take discussions with the artists, designers, directors that might be relevant or interested in making it come alive and then it all unfolds from there.
6) How long was it to create and make the platform functional for web users?
Months. I think it took us two months to have the draft platform and another two months to make it fully functional.
7) Have you played Borderlands before the collaboration? If yes, what did you think about it? If not, how did you get into the universe of the game? How did you do to understand it?
I have to admit I haven’t played any Borderlands game. I’ve watched hours of gameplay on Youtube and Twitch instead. Sorry!
8) If you had to choose one character of the game, who is your favourite character? (ndlr: Moze the Gunner, Zane the Operative, Amara the Siren, or FL4K the beastmaster?).
As I didn’t play the game, I don’t have a favorite character. I just love Claptrap, I think he looks super cute.
9) How did you reflect the universe of the collection in the platform of the website?
Even though I hadn’t played Borderlands, I was familiar with the aesthetics of the game and we tried to reflect that cartoonish-futuristic-mad-max type of vibe on the platform with Maxime Merish, the website’s designer and motion designer (who played Borderlands ;-)).
10) To come back to the e-commerce online Borderlands platform, how did you work to maximize the web user experience? What was your main idea behind it?
The goal is to catch the attention of the user. If you’re a Borderlands player, you will immediately get caught in this immersive shopping experience like no other. You see Claptrap hanging around, unique clothing pieces presented instead of the usual guns and gears. Even though you might not buy immediately, you will definitely remember your experience on the ARK/8 website and that was our goal.