Systems of the Stars is Laptop Mag’s new monthly series that pries into the systems that superstars own, whether it’s a snazzy laptop, a funky drawing tablet or a next-gen gaming console.
Little Nightmares 2 dropped in mid-February with an earth-shattering bang — it’s a meteoric explosion of spine-tingling horror and adrenaline-pumping action all culminating into a thought-provoking ending that left gamers with their heads spinning.
After picking my jaw up from the floor, I reached out to the artist who helped conjure up the beautiful-creepy aesthetic of the game: Little Nightmares 2’s art director Per Bergman. Even when there aren’t horrifying freakshows chasing after poor ol’ Mono and Six — the central school-aged figures of the game — the cold, desaturated, post-apocalyptic setting oozes a “something ain’t right” feeling that raises the tiny hairs on the back of your neck.
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“We are trying to create a universe that feels compelling and that you hopefully want to spend your time in,” Bergman told Laptop Mag, explaining his role as Little Nightmares 2’s art director. “It is very important to me that the game makes sense in its own little ecosystem without compromising too much of the team’s artistic vision and expression. My daily work consists of coming up with ideas, designing characters and environments together with our concept artists, providing feedback to the team and producing content myself, which I love to do.”
Of course, we are Laptop Mag, so we can’t help but wonder, “Like Mono’s AI companion Six, which laptop has accompanied Bergman throughout his journey as an art director at Tarsier Studios?” The answer will surprise you — and it’s a testament to the fact that you don’t need the newest, flashiest, most expensive device to create a masterpiece that makes shockwaves in the gaming realm.
What is Bergman’s main-driver laptop?
Many professional content creators flock to purchase high-priced MacBook Pros to win cool points from their peers, but you should know better than to expect conformity from Little Nightmares 2’s art director. Bergman prefers to hold on to his tried-and-true, 5-year-old Lenovo Y700. Despite its obsolescence, it costs a pretty penny. I spotted one at Amazon for nearly $2,000.
Bergman’s 2016 device comes with 16GB of RAM, 512GB of hard disk space and an Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU — yes, you read correctly. That’s a discontinued, sixth-generation processor and Intel is currently rolling out 11th generation CPUs. But that hasn’t stopped Bergman from directing his team into award-winning greatness. The original Little Nightmares, which Bergman has worked on as well, won Gamescom’s Best Indie Game — and I wouldn’t be surprised if the sequel wins some well-earned accolades this year, too.
Does Bergman ever feel pressured to upgrade his laptop?
“Yes,” Bergman replied, “our previous IT guy would just shake his head at me whenever he saw my computer.” However, there is a method to Bergman’s madness. The reason he holds on to his 5-year-old laptop is that, as Bergman sees it, if he can make the Little Nightmares series look visually stunning on a 2016 system, he knows it’ll translate into drop-dead gorgeous graphics on other systems — new and old. "[My Lenovo laptop] is super slow, which is amazing because then I can optimize the game to look good and everyone else will have a better experience."
Aside from the visuals, Bergman also uses his 5-year-old laptop to ensure that games run as smooth as silk on previous-generation systems, which is beneficial for gamers who don’t have the wherewithal to purchase expensive current-generation consoles and gaming laptops.
“There are benefits to having a computer on the slower side because if the game runs well on my machine, it means that it runs well on Xbox One and PS4. This attribute helped me optimize Little Nightmares 1 and 2,” Bergman said.
What games does Bergman enjoy playing on his laptop?
When Bergman isn’t conjuring up spine-tingling ideas to scare gamers with his creepy-beautiful art direction, he plays one of today’s most popular games with his son: Minecraft.
As you might have guessed, Bergman also loves playing indie horror titles such as Babysitter Bloodbath. In this game, you step into the shoes of a babysitter who watches a rambunctious, unruly little boy while a murderous, mental-hospital escapee breaks into the house — fun times! Like Mono in Little Nightmares 2, you’ll wield an axe to fend off your bloodthirsty enemy.
Bergman also enjoys playing The Witch’s House, a puzzle-oriented horror game that’s sprinkled with jumpscares. “Both [games] are extremely charming and if you have not played them, I recommend them,” Bergman said. As the art director of a chilling video-game series, he finds Babysitter Bloodbath and The Witch’s House to be “super inspiring.”
How has Bergman’s laptop accompanied him throughout his career in the gaming industry?
From the leaky, uninviting ship of the original Little Nightmares game to the post-apocalyptic, unsettling locations in Little Nightmares 2, the settings in both games — believe it or not — were crafted using Bergman’s 2016 laptop.
“My beloved Lenovo has been with me every step of the way,” Bergman said. “I play through the levels that have been created and give feedback on the progress. I also build content for the game. I use it for drawing, creating assets and animating in Maya.” His Y700 laptop helped him push both games to evolve and ultimately make them as cool as they can be.
What does Bergman like and dislike about beloved Lenovo?
“I love that it works so well and it is truly reliable,” Bergman said. “I bring my Lenovo with me everywhere I go: vacations, holidays, trips etc. I use it to watch movies, browse the internet, Skype and pay my bills.”
As much as Bergman loves his Lenovo, space — or lack thereof — is an issue for him. “If I have to find something that could be improved, it would be the amount of hard drive storage. I tend to run out of space."
Bergman’s dream laptop
As per Systems of the Stars tradition, we asked Bergman what his dream laptop would look like.
Bergman didn’t get into specifics about the color, form factor and other stylistic components of his dream laptop, but his ideal device would be capable of engaging in flowing conversations with him in a way that feels natural, casual and organic. In other words, Bergman’s dream laptop would pass the Turing test with flying colors.
“I tend to talk to myself while working, so it would be nice to get some answers,” he said. His dream laptop wouldn’t spew canned responses à la Cortana or Siri, though. Instead, it would offer some conversation-stimulating replies that would energize him while working on his current projects.
Bergman’s dream laptop would also be filled with clever AI that could tackle all the mundane, repetitive tasks that he doesn’t want to do so he can devote more time to assignments that matter the most. After all, designing a spectacular horror game like Little Nightmares 2 requires a lot of creative juice — you need all the time that you can get to fully dedicate yourself to it.
“Creating a game like Little Nightmares without dialogue is a big puzzle for the art department,” Bergman said. “All details and animations have to fit into a bigger picture that we expressed visually.”
Stay tuned for our next Systems of the Stars feature to take a peek into the lives of high-profile men and women through the lens of technology. Check out last month’s Systems of the Stars spotlight here.