Tuesday, January 27, 2009

grass: a magical history

In the interviews that I've done over the past few weeks I've talked a bit about the evolution of my art during the making of Eduardo, so that will be the main topic of this blog for the time being.

First I should give a quick recap of the history of Eduardo. There have been three versions prior to this WiiWare game. In 2004 we started work on Eduardo the Magical Toaster, and started over again sometime early 2005, I believe, with Eduardo the Samurai Toaster. And pardon me if I get my dates wrong(the past five years of development have turned into a big blur) but I believe it was in 2006 when we started on yet another version of the game, this time using the Torque 2D engine.

I had no idea what I was doing when we first started. I had this idea for a grass field with cacti all over the place, and so I went about making grass tiles.

This was the reference photo I started out with:

Eduardo is a sidescroller so how does grass look from a side perspective? This was the only logical answer I could think of. Makes sense, right?

Here's what I came up with:

That's the result of days of hard work, folks. I don't know when it was that I realized how ridiculous that looked, but it was then that I started looking at how other games handled tiles.

So I took a note from the All-Stars version of Super Mario Bros. 3.

See those wavy lines the tiles are made up of? SMB3 uses a lot similar patterns. So I went pretty wild with the stylization this time.

Baby steps.

This time I went to Yoshi's Island for guidance.

And I recreated a tileset from YI, one pixel at a time and combined that with the SMB3 wavy tiles.

Now that doesn't look too bad. But that's because it was a duplicate of the wonderful art in Yoshi's Island. That's how the final tileset looked in Eduardo the Magical Toaster. After we decided to start all over again with a much better engine, I tried experimenting some more.

Baby steps.

(click on image for full size)

One step forward in terms of thinking outside the box, ten steps back in terms of aesthetic design. And I was going back to my first instincts of creating something approaching reality. Horrible bright neon green reality.

Using the paint program project dogwaffle, I began making simple textures using some basic paint brushes.

(click on image for full size)

I was finally starting to think a bit more abstract. But the texture was too flat, so I tried it again.

(click on image for full size)

The tile you see right above is still a part of the grass tiles in the final game, believe it or not.

I did away with the sharp grass edges and went for a crazy fake bloom effect, a phase I had to endure for a decent amount of time.

(click on image for full size)

At least I toned down the neon thing eventually.

I forgot when we started again with the Torque engine, but still not satisfied with my grass I continued experimenting. And I finally started using traditional media.

(click on image for full size)

(above: A simple pallete knife spread using acrylic paints)
(below: A simple acrylic wash applied with brushes)

I combined these two textures with the dogwaffle one posted above, and from that, and after years of tweaking, I settled on what you see in the final version of the game:

(Above: a cut-out from the texture we use for the grass)

And remember that I'm having to deal with a small file size limit so the texture has to work being repeated all throughout the level.

(click on image for full size)

And that's all for today.


Next time on the blog: I show something more interesting maybe? Let me know if this blog post bored you to near death or not.


Jamal said...

Very interesting to see the evolution of the textures. I particularly like how they are scans of traditional studio methods. How much of the textures in the game are actually painted versus solely designed in photoshop?

Iman said...

I found the post very interesting, too, so no worries about it being boring. ;-) It's nice that you went into so much detail with the creative process, and illustrated it so well. I've always been a fan of behind-the-scenes stuff, and this was well-written and informative, giving a nice balance of detail and readability. I'm looking forward to reading more!

The art for the game looks great. I don't have a Wii, but I'll be encouraging my Wii-owning friends to get it once it comes out!

Iman said...

Also, FYI -- the image from the game (the last image in the post, with the finished artwork) got cropped in the post, at least in the browser I'm viewing it in at the moment (Firefox 3 on the Windows XP machine at work; it might display differently on my Mac at home). It wasn't until I clicked to get a bigger view that I realized the image was widescreen, and there was a lot of action on the right side of the panel.

Olimar_91 said...

Very interesting. It's nice to see the creative process behind seemingly simple areas in games. I hope to see more of these posts in the future. :)

Xavier said...

Hi there, I never thought it was so tough to decide how to even make the ground look like ;) It was very interesting to read, Super Mario Bros is always inspiring, isn't it? I hope everything is on track for your WiiWare Eduardo, we're looking forward to see more about your game :)

Daniel Coleman said...

Hey Jamal who is totally not related to me. The answer is a mix. Earlier assets are mostly computer-made, and later ones scanned in from traditional media.

Thanks Iman, and yeah I should put some notice in there to click on the images.

Making this texture was tough mostly because I didn't know what I was doing. Experience is a good teacher!

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