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How Nicki Minaj and RuPaul's Drag Race inspired Monument Valley 2

Monument Valley is one of the most visually stunning games on mobile, but the inspiration behind it will come as a surprise.

Published onSeptember 6, 2018

Milanote Monument Valley Inspiration Nicki Minaj

Monument Valley is widely known as one of the most visually stunning games on mobile, but the inspiration behind its colorful geometric scenes will come as a surprise. Sure, there’s some M.C. Escher in there, but others include Nicki Minaj, Vampire Weekend, and even a colorful persona from the reality TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Monument Valley is being turned into a movie by Paramount Pictures

In an interview with Milanote, Monument Valley 2 art director David Fernández Huerta revealed some very specific examples of what the team drew ideas from while developing Monument Valley 2. Brutalist architecture and modern art shaped several levels, while others drew from much more unusual sources.

Apparently one of the artists on the team is a big fan of Nicki Minaj music videos, and pulled visuals from the music video for Super Bass to design a striking pink and icy blue level in the game. Fortunately, the main character’s costume was not inspired by anything from Nicki Minaj’s wardrobe.

Milanote Monument Valley Inspiration Wall

That wasn’t the only musical inspiration for the game’s visuals. There was a poster for Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City that David just couldn’t get out of his head, so he brought it in and added it to the team’s eclectic pile of reference materials.

We wanted everyone in the team to be immersed in the art style of the game. So we printed out loads of reference pictures and we used these foam boards with inspiration for the levels that we could carry around with us...

When I say he added it to the pile, I mean that literally. The team printed out the samples (as well as the levels themselves as they were designing them), and kept them on foam boards around the office. That way, the team was constantly immersed in the art style of the game.

Milanote Monument Valley Inspiration RuPaul Drag Race

Perhaps the most outlandish source of inspiration is Kim Chi from RuPaul’s Drag Race, seen above. Say what you want about reality TV ruining popular culture, but I think we can all agree that here it helped lead to the creation of something truly special.

Monument Valley 2 has been out for Android for nearly a year now, but its popularity doesn’t seem to be dying down. With more than 10 million in revenue in its first year and even a new Monument Valley movie in the works, it seems like developer ustwo’s unusual design approach has payed off.

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