Tuesday, April 28, 2009

off topic post #2

I'm doing a little project for school right now and it's kind of a videogame. A weird, few minute-long game that most people are probably going to hate, but I thought it would be nice to offer it for free once it's finished (couple weeks I'd say). I came up with the simple idea and created most of the assets for a drawing class last semester, and this semester Robert and I are actually turning it into a playable game-sorta-thing (for the PC).

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Lot of fun doing the art, and at the very least the visuals should make it interesting. Everything is animated (including the big background), so it should look neat.

Monday, April 20, 2009

evolution of a level: the bamboo.. uh, level

The bamboo level, or level 12 as it's now called, went through around as many revisions as the grass level. Due to my poor backup organizing, this isn't quite a complete look at the evolution of the level, but it's close enough.

Like the grass, the bamboo idea was there very early on in development. So I had a long time to work on it. This is basically how my process has worked:

1. Have an idea, draw assets.

2. Be satisfied with my work, or hate it and start all over again (and go back to step 1).

3. Put the assets together in photoshop or something similar to create a mock-up of how a level would look like.

3. If satisfied, I will probably start disliking it within days.

4. Repeat process 5-20 times until finally, totally satisfied.

There are a few levels where I got it mostly right the first or second time, but for the most levels this is how I've worked. So what I've learned is that if I'm not completely satisfied with my work and I think that I can do better, I should give it another go. Experiment as much as possible. And if I get stuck, I'll work on something else and come back to it later.

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These two pictures were done in Painter IX, before I really tried using traditional media. The thin black lines in the second picture made it to one version of the area but I can't find that so I'll show how I used some of these other bamboo stalks for another version.

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I liked this at the time, and proceeded to make some foliage to go with it:

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Not too bad I suppose, but it didn't feel right. I think the problem here was that everything looked too stiff, too rigid and perhaps even a bit plastic-like. And the terrain outline didn't do it for me. So I tried some more, this time attempting to create a painterly terrain texture and changing the leaves:

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Kind of a step back in many ways, huh? The ground texture reeks of lame photoshop filtering and the vignetting (something I think I figured out later) was absurd. The lighter leaves were a step in the right direction, providing some translucency which helps when you're dealing with parallax layers. Still, this wasn't looking good.

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Here's another attempt. Different terrain again, and different leaves. The leaves here are actually in the final assets, albeit arranged quite differently. The mist is present because at the time the bamboo world was going to be split into three levels: a day level, a misty level, and a night level. This made sense back in 2006 when I didn't have as many ideas for level themes. I remember being pretty happy with this mock-up for a little while, but I revisited the bamboo concept later on after I started using traditional media for the artwork.

The first step towards going that route was in April 2007 when I experimented again:

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Yikes. Well I wasn't satisfied before so I kept on experimenting, and in an attempt to create more sumi-e styled bamboo, I created bones. One good thing did come from this one though, and that was using scanned-in media for the leaves, as weird as they looked:I was introduced to a certain kind of mixed media process by one of my art teachers, a process I was quite taken by. It's basically a wet/dry process of layering charcoal and acrylic paint. I believe it was the bamboo level where I first decided to use this process instead of going the computer-painting route. Here are some terrible scans of the assets now present in the final level of the game. All done on gessoed newspaper with layers of charcoal and acrylic.

The funny(sad?) thing is that I never rescanned them. I thought it was okay at the time, and what you see in the game are these scans, cut out and messed around with in photoshop. I never felt the need to rescan them.

For the ground textures I used the same process and created three sets of textures and blended them together in photoshop. I could only find two of the scans in time for this post, the third one having bits of twigs mixed in with the charcoal and paint.

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I didn't really know what I was doing. Again, just experimenting, trying out new techniques. And I liked where it was going. Here's an early piece of concept work using these assets:

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I spent quite a long time figuring out how to use these assets. This is one of many concept works I made--I was finally getting somewhere satisfying with the bamboo level after years of working on it. And after this I did just about every proceeding bit of artwork using traditional media.

Here's the final bit of concept/reference work I made for the bamboo level, using final assets from the game. If you pay close attention you'll see those twigs in the ground textures I was talking about:

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And here we have the level in the final game:

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Overall I'm pretty satisfied with how the level came out (especially in motion). I learned a lot during this process and at the very least I have a rough system in place for asset creation. I'm looking forward to trying out new methods and techniques for future games if we get the chance (*psst*buy our game!*psst*).


Friday, April 10, 2009

imagine (toasterz)

If Eduardo were a retail game and I could choose my own box, ignoring market realities and simply doing what I felt was creatively fulfilling, the box might look a little something like this:

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

I suck at updating

After we completed development I thought that I'd have more time on my hands, but that didn't turn out to be the case. There's still much to do! More press releases, gotta finish that final trailer, take more screens, and get everything ready for a European release (as much as we can prepare now, anyhow). And then there's school stuff, and prototyping for a potential future project. But I'll try to update the blog more often with more process-oriented posts.

Oh, and here's an interview I did recently. Nice guy, and I feel ashamed for missing the Arrested Development reference at first.