#MeetIronGalaxy – Everardo Acosta
Welcome back to an interview series where we talk to the people who make games with us. During Hispanic Heritage Month, we’ll be focusing on members of Unidos @ IGS, our internal employee resource group. To kick things off, let’s meet Everardo!
Iron Galaxy: Hola. What’s your name and what do you do here at Iron Galaxy?
Everardo Acosta: My name is Everardo Acosta, and I have been working with Iron Galaxy for 12 years. My role varies and is dependent on a project’s needs. I tend to do one of the following: Environment Lead, Art Lead, or Art Direction. As an Environment Lead, I work with concept, environment modelers, visual effects, tech, and producers. All this in the hopes of producing great-looking environments
IG: You wear many hats! What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
EA: Collaboration. Design makes the game fun, Art makes the game look pretty, and Tech makes the game run. All these disciplines need to collaborate, play nice, and find the balance, that sweet spot. At IGS, we work on so many different types of games that what worked on one project will not work on the next one. So, collaboration is vital to our success.
IG: True, that. What has been your proudest moment at Iron Galaxy
EA: Looking back, I think it would be working on Killer Instinct. I had taken a break from leading teams, and this was me getting back in the saddle. There was a lot that went well on Season 2. Things just started to click. It was the first time at IG that I was collaborating with a variety of departments. Environment, VFX, Concept, Design, Animation, and Tech. In the end, I felt that we delivered a fun and great looking game that the fans embraced.
IG: Fans seem to still enjoy the game to this day. KI players can look forward to another update very soon! If you could give someone who wanted to follow in your career’s footsteps one piece of advice, what would it be?
EA: There is not a magic bullet. Things have changed from when I got into the industry. What’s worked for me is being open to opportunities as they come. In hindsight, I aim to allow myself to go with the flow of things and to not be too rigid on what I think I want to pursue out of a career.
For example, I initially wanted to do traditional illustration work, however I allowed myself to try working with computers. Eventually, my 1st jobs were in studios digitizing logos, doing package and website design along with interactive CDs.
My jump to 3D was with the intention to work on movies. When I got hired at Midway Games as an Environment Artist, I figured it was just a steppingstone, and even then, I wanted to work on characters. I later realized environments were a bit more open with the type of work you can do. 21 years later, I am grateful to have tried different things.
There is always something new to learn from every experience. I take knowledge gained from every new experience to the next challenge. This has brought me to where I am today.
IG: What is the best thing about working at a video game development company?
EA: I love the creative process. Each stage of the process builds upon the next. Observing our modeling team take 2D concept to 3D. Seeing how VFX makes the world feel dynamic with explosions and ambient motions. Watching as animators breathe life into characters. Hearing audio get implemented that awakens a soundless world. Design iterating to make the game fun. Lastly, Tech tying it all together to make sure the game runs.
All this culminates in a shipped product. It’s a slow and arduous process but very gratifying in the end.
IG: What video games would you recommended with Latin/Hispanic characters?
EA: I love Guacamelee! It’s a great-looking game with both Mexican and Mayan lore sprinkled throughout. The story, art and game play pull you into this fantasy version of Mexico, but then again, I am bias to old school 2D side scroller.
IG: Multiplayer, platformer brawlers just hit different. What’s it like being a part of Unidos @ IGS (Iron Galaxy’s employee resource group)?
EA: I am the first in my family to graduate from college, and at times, my career path has felt very isolated. It’s exciting to interact with people who have had similar paths. I love that this group exists, gives back to the community, and helps guide each other along this career path.
IG: We’re happy IG employees can come together to create such special groups, inviting everyone to be themselves here at work. How do you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
EA: I can’t say that I do anything special for this month. However, I love to cook. On weekends, I like making “pellizcadas” which are also known as sopes. The word “pellizcadas” comes from “pellizcar” which translates to “pinch”. Growing up, I loved helping my mother prepare this dish by pinching the masa dough into shape. These pellizcadas are great with cheese and a side of beans and eggs. I highly recommend them.
IG: We really need to bring back the Iron Galaxy Cook Book! Where is your hometown?
EA: I was born in Tehuixtla, Morelos, Mexico, but have lived in Chicago for the majority of my life. Lately, I have been traveling back to Mexico on a regular basis and have started embracing my roots more and more. So, as of right now, I consider my hometown to be Chicago but that may change in the years to come.
IG: You’ve got two hometowns and you don’t even know it yet. Aside from playing video games, what’s a favorite hobby of yours?
EA: What keeps me out of trouble lately is sculpting. My education has been in traditional art, drawing, painting etc. I set that aside in lieu of a digital career. After twenty years, I longed for traditional art again. I taught myself sculpting a few years ago. It has re-invigorated my love for traditional art and working with my hands.
Currently, I sculpt purely for the love of creation.
IG: Sculpting looks very fulfilling and rewarding. What’s something you feel everyone must do once in their life?
EA: I think everyone should try dancing, at least once. When I say dancing, I am referring to just letting go. Allowing your body to move freely with the flow of music. I have yet to get past my controlling nature so, I have not experienced this yet.
IG: We’ve got an upcoming dance class hosted internally by Erica Fernandez, so you better get those dancing shoes ready! What’s your favorite travel destination?
EA: My wife and I love to travel, so this is a tough one to answer. But I’ll go with my current favorite: Portugal. Last year, we traveled thru Lisbon, Porto, Sintra, and Cascais. I especially loved staying in Cascais for a few days and taking the train along the coast into Lisbon. In Lisbon, I was blown away with how beautiful the city is, especially its sidewalks, squares, and public areas, which were paved with mosaic patterns. It made the whole city feel like it was alive with art.
IG: Wow, that is beautiful. To think that goes on for whole city blocks is amazing. What’s one place you hope to see one day?
EA: I can’t just pick one place. I want to see it all! I love ancient architecture. I would like to check out the Elephanta Caves in India, the Yungang Grottoes in China, and Easter Island off the coast of Chile.
IG: Fair enough. What is your favorite book or series?
EA: I did not really enjoy reading when I was younger. Somehow, I became an avid reader later in life, sometimes reading multiple books at once. I have a lot to catch up on. I still remember the book that flipped that switch, The Count of Monte Cristo, although this is not a part of my favorite list. It’s always hard for me to pick a favorite of anything, so this is a current list of what has captivated me.
- TheHouse in the Cerulean Sea
- The Library at Mount Char
- Arc of a Scythe Trilogy
- The Pillars of the Earth
All these books are page turners. They have made me pensive, laugh, and cry.
IG: You have a plethora of answers for each question. You can’t help yourself! If you could pick a song to play every time you entered the room, what would it be?
EA: Slayer - Behind the crooked cross. I am a Metal fan, so I will go with this song. I love the slow buildup of instruments in the beginning. The layering of the guitars one after the other, followed by the snare drum and then add in some double bass drums, it finally settles in, and the lyrics start… I am getting tingles just writing about it.
IG: There we go, that’s the solid one. Name a scene from a movie that makes you cry, every time.
EA: Spoiler alert!
There are other movies, but what comes to mind is Big Fish. In the end, the father asks his son to tell him the story of how he dies. The son proceeds to tell this elaborate, fantastical ending that includes an escape from a hospital, a speeding car, and finally a transformation into a fish. This always makes me break down. Sometimes I purposely watch it for a good cry.
IG: There’s nothing like a good cry. What movie have you seen the most times?
EA: I lost count the number of times I have watch Gladiator with my wife. We love that movie more than I can admit. We recite lines to each other, and we immediately pick up on it and continue the dialogue…
“My decision disappoints you? You wrote to me once, listing the four true virtues. As I read the list, I knew I had none of them, but I have other virtues and none of my virtues were on your list…”
Going to watch this again tonight.
IG: We are entertained. What is the one superpower that you would like to have?
EA: I am not a big fan of open water or swimming and refuse to go on cruises, so I would choose to be able to breath under water like Aqua Man. With this power, I would explore the underworld and unveil all that hides in the abyss of the ocean. Monsters of the deep, alien ships, and underwater cities.
IG: That’s exciting and frightening, all at the same time. If a genie could grant you one wish, what would you wish for?
EA: Sometimes I feel there is not enough time in the day for the simple things. I am a simple person. I would wish for the ability to stop time and not for the reasons you may be thinking. I would hit the pause button and just breathe, relax, and gaze up at the sky.
IG: Blissful answer. Given a time machine, which historical period would you like to experience first-hand?
EA: My schooling came from being here in the states. I have always wondered how accurate my knowledge of history is. I would love to go back and get a glimpse at the pre-Columbian era, throughout all the Americas, and truly see how life was like prior to the European colonization. The fact that indigenous people were thriving for hundreds, even thousands, of years fascinates me.
IG: If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would you invite?
EA: I may be breaking the rules here, but I would want to have my deceased father over for dinner. Specifically, to share my realization of him after his passing. I have always been creative my entire life and throughout my upbringing, my family has always wondered and asked where my creativity comes from. My family always points to my mother’s side and says it’s because of a distant relative and never considers my father. After my dad passed, it finally dawned upon me: I am who I am because of him. He was creative in his own way, and I never saw it in the moment. He was very particular about what he liked and showed it in how he cared for his garden and house. I wish I had made this connection earlier and could have shared it with him.
An ideal, sentimental answer to end an interview on. Your interest in having dinner with someone who has passed is a recurring theme across our interviews. Lost connections and knowledge are historical curiosities. Thanks for spending time with us Everardo! Your contributions to art and Iron Galaxy are a treat for the games industry to consume. Have a great rest of your Hispanic Heritage Month and please share your mother’s pellizcadas recipe if she’s open to it!
We are searching for a leader in our art department and engineers of all skills and specialties. If you happen to attend the Rochester Institute of Technology, our Recruiting Team will be local for resume and portfolio reviews. Make sure to stop by and say hello. If you aren’t local, our Careers page on our recently refreshed website will always be there accepting applications.