UW-Stout Alumna builds career designing for Minecraft

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Lesselyn Lonneman, a UW-Stout graduate, created “Dragons” for a map of the Minecraft market.

Growing up, Jesselyn Lonneman enjoyed creating virtual worlds while playing one of her favorite video games, Minecraft.

Like the millions of people who have played it – Minecraft is the most popular video game of all time – she loved the variety of challenges she faced and the creativity it encouraged in her. In the game, players mine materials and use their imaginations to build an adventure in a fantasy land that they can change.

“One of my favorite things to do was create creatively on servers,” said Lonneman, of Pine Island, Minn., Noting that servers give players huge online worlds to explore.

About a decade later, Lonneman turned his childhood love for video games, and Minecraft in particular, into a career.

Since graduating from UW-Stout in Game Design and Development-Art in May, Lonneman has worked full-time creating custom content for Minecraft Marketplace. The in-game store allows players on Microsoft platforms to purchase features with Minecoins to enhance their experiences.

Lonneman and a friend founded the Cynosia Company in 2019, when she was a senior at UW-Stout. In June, he was accepted as an official Minecraft partner.

“Personally, I work on almost everything including level design, modeling, entity AI (artificial intelligence), texturing, and packaging,” Lonneman said. “My work ranges from custom player skin packs to worlds with new versions or creatures for players to explore.

I really like not being pinned down to a specific type of job. For example, one day I can model a new creature and the next day I could do pixel art for a skybox.

Jesselyn lonneman

uw-stout former student and designer of minecraft

“I really like not being pinned down to a specific type of job. For example, one day I can model a new creature and the next day I could do pixel art for a skybox, ”she said.

An independent artist of sorts, Lonneman gets paid when Minecraft players purchase Cynosia’s creations. Minecraft was released in 2011 and in 2014 it was bought by Microsoft for $ 2.5 billion. About 125 million people play it every month.

“There is a risk in freelancing since the amount we get paid is determined by the quality of our content, so we want to make sure we are producing the best content possible,” she said.

Lonneman believes the experience is valuable if she decides to seek a full-time position with a game design company.

Associate Professor Andrew Williams, Director of the Game Design Program, sees a bright future for her. “Jesselyn formed her own business as a full-time student and was still able to perform at a high level in her art and design classes,” said Williams. “It was no small feat and shows his professionalism and talent.”

Lonneman designed an urban scene for a cyber-themed map that his company, Cynosia, will sell on Minecraft Marketplace.

Lonneman designed an urban scene for a cyber-themed map that his company, Cynosia, will sell on Minecraft Marketplace.

UW-Stout Impact

Lonneman built for Minecraft to order for other teams before launching Cynosia, when she was just learning digital art at UW-Stout. “It blew me away to realize that I could get paid to build in Minecraft,” she said.

UW-Stout helped her move from passionate about video games to pro, while learning the intricacies of game design and manufacture. She cited important courses such as 3D Modeling-Organics and Game Art and Engines with Assistant Professor Joshua Seaver.

“They taught me a ton of technical skills on industry standard software like Z-brush and Maya for modeling, as well as game engines like Unity and Unreal,” Lonneman said. “I arrived with almost no experience in digital art, and by the end I had learned so much about digital art and fine art, both increasing my soft skills and also learning the software that I will need to use at home. the future. “

She also learned other skills, such as working as a team on a one-year wrap-up game project.
“At Stout, I also had to develop a really good work ethic to complete all of my art projects on time, which was extremely helpful as I have to choose my own working hours,” Lonneman said.

Other successful graduates

Lonneman is one of many recent game design graduates who have succeeded in the competitive field of video game development. Others include:

  • 2016 graduate Mitchel Clayton recently worked on the new Naughty Dog The Last of Us Part II game for PlayStation 4.
  • 2018 graduate Tyler Klimek is working on the upcoming Halo Infinite video game as an environment and lighting artist for 343 Industries.
  • 2019 graduate Kayla “Mae” Techmeier works for Hero Forge and creates custom miniatures for Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop games.

Earlier this year, Princeton Review ranked UW-Stout # 24 in the country for its BFA in game design-art and # 22 in the country for its MFA in design. For both programs, UW-Stout was # 1 in Wisconsin.


Learn more about game design and development at UW-Stout here.


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