Friday, January 30, 2009


No other level in Eduardo went through more changes than the final level, the Seven Samurai level as we referred to it. For one thing it wasn't originally going to be the final level (it was going to be level 7. haha, get it? eh? ehh...). But I just couldn't get the look right until fairly recently. This was the final level of the game and I was basing the design off of my favorite movie, so it needed to be special. Sometime in the future I'll detail the various concepts I worked on but for now I'll try to explain how I came up with the final design.

I wanted to do something very different from what I'd done in previous levels, and I wanted the whole area to have a very active look to it. I was working with a lot of inks and charcoals in my drawing class this past semester, and the work I did during that course gave me the method for creating the art.

(above: scenes from Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai)

Making a WiiWare game means having to deal with a small file size, but luckily most of the art I had made for the game up until now had been done with a small file size in mind. And instead of spreading out space I decided to use about half of the art asset space of the game solely for the last level. And because of RAM limitations this level would be split up into four parts, making one extra large final level.

The idea was to draw four big backgrounds and have everything else in the middleground comprised of three images each, animating at a 10th of a second. I drew all of these middleground assets in pen, so every asset made for the final level (the only exceptions are most of the projectiles, the explosions, and Eduardo's sweatband) was done with regular media and scanned in.

Here's an example of one of the houses for the last level:

(click on image for full size)

That's one of three frames, and after cutting it out on my computer and turning it white, it looks like this:

With all of the middleground assets animating like this, that meant that I had to do the same with all of the characters in the game. So every single toaster and all of their enemies (and most of their weapons) would be done in the same fashion, like so:

I also added some texture work to the characters to help them stick out.

All of the backgrounds were done on mylar with a combination of charcoal, water, and various inks. Below is a section from one of the four backgrounds from the final level

(click on image for full size)

And here's a screenshot from the final level of the game. We'll be releasing video soon with some quick shots of the final level, so that will give a better idea of how it looks.

(click on image for full size)


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.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

bloggy blog

Welcome to the new official blog of Semnat Studios.

For those who wandered into this blog by accident or as result of some form of trickery, I'll introduce myself and what this blog is for.

My name is Daniel Coleman and I'm co-owner of developer Semnat Studios. We're close to finishing development on our first WiiWare game Eduardo the Samurai Toaster, which you can find out more about at our website.

I'm the director of the game as well as the art content-creator, and one of the reasons why I wanted to create this blog was to share with those interested a behind-the-scenes look into development, primarily (at least at first) art creation.

For this first post I present nothing. :( But I'll have some real content coming soon. Stay tuned...