AuthorTopic: Feature 07 - Savage World (artistic nudity)  (Read 71891 times)

Offline big brother

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Feature 07 - Savage World (artistic nudity)

on: January 15, 2009, 05:20:26 pm
Hi everyone,

I recently uploaded a mockup on Pixeljoint, which you can see here: http://pixeljoint.com/pixelart/37752.htm (Favorite it and give it the highest rating you can, thanks.)

The community there had a lot of comments and good criticism, so I decided to open up a "WIP" thread here to refine the piece. Hopefully, the end result will be a fully-realized mockup Pixelation can be proud of as well as some artistic growth for me (and perhaps others). But I'm the important factor in the equation; don't mistake this for altruism. Me me me me ME!

History

In conversations with my awesome buddy Andrew, we talked about remaking a Pysgnosis classic, Barbarian. If you don't know this game, you can't be my friend. It helped shape me into the badass I am today. Here are some links, visit them often:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbarian_(Psygnosis)
http://hol.abime.net/35


This was my first take on the remake, specifically the swamp scene in the beginning. As you can see, it showcases green water, bubbles, mud, and bones. Lots of bones. The statue versions of famous reclining nudes in art along the bottom of the screen were supposed to represent lives. With every death, a statue would shatter, starting with Ingres, then Boucher, and finally Titian. You don't want to try what I was apparently smoking. I stole the mossy wood arches from Roger Dean (http://www.imageraptor.com/1/rdean/pages/mh_rdean_Cal2004_08_ArchesMist_SFF.htm) and the sky and mountains from Frazetta (http://frankfrazetta.org/viewimage.php?loc=QMan_FF_Legacy_552_Night_Winds.jpg). That last painting is particularly awesome because it also features one barbarian, one breast, and if you kinda squint you can see some vagina. Edgy!

Here's the ladies separated out from the crappy tiles so you can save them to your hard drive without all that other clutter. Oh baby.

Andrew pretty much told me it sucked and to get the hell off his driveway, stalker. I went back to the drawing board because I wanted to not because he told me to. At this time, I felt less enthusiastic about working on a simple remake of Barbarian. I really wanted to make a classic platformer. You know, the games that have the points floating in mid-air, like Commander Keen. If you don't know that game either, you can't be my friend. It helped shape me into the badass I am today. Here's a link for the Philistines:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commander_Keen

After some sweat and tears, I came up with this:

I abandoned the swamp location for now, since there are some tricky issues making water tiles that overlap the sprite's feet. I added a skull wearing a Viking helmet and sporting an armored tail, so it picks up a few points in the awesome department. I replaced the classical art with pin-up girls, since the former belongs in galleries and stuff where people can pay to ogle. The little space under the weapon selector was going to be a power meter so you can charge your weapon, or to show upgrade progress or something. I put ink-spill elements behind the HUD because ink-spills are awesome, just watch a SF4 trailer.

Since I was having trouble tracking down Andrew again (seriously, who moves without telling their closest friend), I asked my artsy, movie industry roommate for feedback. He suggested that I add some black into the tiles so they look like they're on the same plane as the sprite. I also asked one of my coworkers at the time for feedback and he suggested I make the left pinup girl's butt bigger. I told him to get the hell out of my driveway, stalker.

Which leads me to:

The Current Version

I have to admit this iteration pleased me greatly. Surely it would join PixelJoint's Hall of Fame and become my highest rated work yet! However, as comments trickled in, it became clear that few people saw the awesomeness I saw when I looked at the piece. My initial thought was that it must have been a coincidence; PJ members are all a bunch of Pokemon-loving, hippie metalheads.  :) While it's easy to dismiss the opinion of that demographic, it would take more work on my part for the piece to achieve the Hall of Fame status it deserved.

This lead me to put the piece up for critique here.


HUD
The progressive HUD gathered lots of criticism on PJ. Some said it was unwieldy and didn't match the rest of the mockups. The general agreement seemed to indicate it was too sexy for this world. My philosophy with the HUD was, if it's worth drawing, it's worth drawing big. Few shared this view.

I sketched up two alternatives for a smaller HUD that could float in a corner of the screen.

I'm leaning towards the top one -- it seems more concise and less phallic. I'm planning on rendering it in the same style as the sprites for consistency.

Tiles
There were several complaints about the tiles being too rectangular. That's an issue easily solved -- I can add more edge tiles for an organic flair to the platforms. Adarias brought up the issue of the similarities in color value between the top of the platform and the background. Would a black stroke be a satisfactory solution? It would definitely separate the two, and it would tie the tiles closer to the sprite style.

Sprite
The barbarian is awesome and I am closed-minded. He will stay the way he is. For the giant eagle, I'm planning on adding additional detail so it matches the detail level of the player sprite.

Background
This is the one aspect that didn't receive too much criticism. Adarias mentioned demanding temperature shifts. I feel like the background will stay receded as long as the colors remain unsaturated.

My apologies if I didn't address your PJ crit in this post. All the writing is giving this barbarian a powerful appetite.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2009, 05:51:39 pm by big brother »

Offline ndchristie

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Re: Savage World (artistic nudity)

Reply #1 on: January 15, 2009, 07:22:41 pm
I think that a black stroke could solve your problem, but that the primary issue is in making it organic.  It's easier than it sounds I think.
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Offline EvilEye

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Re: Savage World (artistic nudity)

Reply #2 on: January 15, 2009, 10:06:16 pm
The women and the skull are great, but I have to agree with the guys at PJ, they just overpower the rest of the scene.

On the very first picture I thought they were mermaids underwater or something. I didn't realize it was a HUD.

I think you need to reduce the HUD size and make it look a little more cutout-ish.

Offline Dr. Kylstien

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Re: Savage World (artistic nudity)

Reply #3 on: January 16, 2009, 03:29:09 am
I think the first HUD could have worked if there was no vertical scrolling and the ground never went much lower. The second one simply can't work with the left side being so tall. As awesome as they are, smaller is definitely better, particularly in a platformer. Maybe they could find a new home in a 90's-style FPS?

Offline Helm

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Re: Savage World (artistic nudity)

Reply #4 on: January 16, 2009, 05:29:09 am
Hello big brother.

The first thing that comes to mind is that the GUI is pretty but cluttered. I'm not one to suggest that visibility is the biggest and most important priority for art, and I know we're on the same page as on the pretty specific (though probably accidental) aesthetic these old Amiga games carried especially because they broke so many design rules. But. When you have a main sprite and also GUI elements that are the SIZE of the main sprite, humanoid, stretching into the tileart even, there starts a problem I feel. I know you like the girls and they're very well pixelled, but I'd have to say for the real estate they carry, I'd drop them. Along with the big health bar. Prince of Persia (1) is a better game than any Psygnosis game and all the GUI it has are these little triangles at the bottom left corner, you see? You can save the awesome pixelly girls for inside the game! (make a tribe of amazons fight the barbarian dude, perhaps! Me wishes hard!)

That's one thing. I'd also suggest settling on a perspective projection and then making your sprites fit to that. Here's where I'd say Prince of Persia fails where Flashback works. If you have the 60 degree angle going on, I'd space the legs of the main character with a few pixels worth vertically so he seems to be actually on the same plane as the tile art. Would probably make judging the jumping distances easier. Hmm, this would take some experimenting though, not sure it's valid critique. let me try to edit a bit.



hm halfway through this image I realized that when you flip the sprite there's going to be huge angle dissonance. Therefore my suggestion is to Lionheart it. Flatten perspective, made the edges more poignant, likeso:



The Frazetta sorta artwork you've going going is great. I say unify the effect by treating your characters with the same rendering style. This doesn't mean as soft! You can have more contrast but you can have the rendering style intact, like Frazetta indeed does.

Sorry for not roughing more terrain than that but I think it gives a general idea. Again, look at Lionheart by Thalion studios for the Amiga more than you look at Psygnosis stuff, heh.

Interested to see what other users will say.

Offline TrevoriuS

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Re: Savage World (artistic nudity)

Reply #5 on: January 16, 2009, 10:08:08 am
Helm, the way you're rendering things now would decrease the effect and atmosphere the swamp would give. I don't know if the game features more scene's like the first, but it'd be wasted if we turn to a direct side view. Perhaps there can be worked something out to avoid issues with flipping, by having the character stand more vertical to the camera and still keep the vertical spacing between limbs. Only adjust a platform sprite version (alike Helm's last image) in the vertical axis might work there, keeping the ability to flip it.

Otherwise... just draw him again in the other directoin, maybe even with the back to the camera like the front is now. This could also be a good design decision, as you're generally moving from left to right. Going the other way would mean 'turning your back on things' - running away from the goal, moving into the wrong direction. A (subtle?) hint there that would suit greatly here if I'm not mistaken.

Also, I love the first version of the GUI the most actually, and I suspect it won't be as odd to look at when it's actually floating across the rest along with the 'camera' and character. I recommend you to test things in motion, before discarding the user interface(s) you already created.

Good luck on this, I like where it's going :)

Offline Helm

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Re: Savage World (artistic nudity)

Reply #6 on: January 16, 2009, 10:22:41 am
Yeah I agree about the swamp... it's a cost/benefit thing. A lot of games have swampy areas that they pull off due to depth tricks and parallax instead of parallel perspectives though. It's certainly doable and big brother is amazing at pixelling so I don't think he'd have a problem there.

I looked at it a long time and I figured out what breaks the original rock tile version most than anything. It came to me in contrast to the swamp pic which works much more... the angle is too steep on the rock tile, and that it doesn't have a lot of z-depth makes me think of a very harsh right-angle laser-cut piece of rock, which really isn't what I'd expect a natural rock formation to look like. If you still want an angle I'd suggest softening it (33.3 degrees might work better) and I'd give it just a bit more depth and irregularity of depth too! Personally I'd go with flatspace like in my edit but I really like those sort of platformers.

Edit: btw here's an interesting take on swampy area on the generally flatspace

http://www.mobygames.com/game/genesis/alisia-dragoon/screenshots/gameShotId,63008/

platformer for the genesis, Alisia Dragoon:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/genesis/alisia-dragoon/screenshots/gameShotId,63010/

Helpful in establishing that you can have a flatspace platformer and still use some parallax depth when you need it!

And here's a rock path that works I think.

http://www.mobygames.com/game/genesis/alisia-dragoon/screenshots/gameShotId,63087/

Man, crazy dither effects in this game. It looks like it's made from sand in stationary shots!
« Last Edit: January 16, 2009, 10:26:29 am by Helm »

Offline vierbit

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Re: Savage World (artistic nudity)

Reply #7 on: January 16, 2009, 12:49:41 pm
I really enjoy looking at all the little details here. Very smooth overall, giving a nice painted look especially to the sky and the mountains.
Most things are allready mentioned by others, and yeah Helms latest edit shows a good direction.

But I would go with a slightly tilted look and to be honest, your current foreground tiles look very bland compared to the awesome
background. So a slightly more "organic" approach is needed in my oppinion.


And yeah, these huge GUIs remind me always of amiga and c64 games.

Offline buloght

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Re: Savage World (artistic nudity)

Reply #8 on: January 16, 2009, 01:47:12 pm
I love those tree-stumps in the swamp, absolutely amazing. I really like the girls as well, maybe there is place for them inside an inventory or some other screen (when you aren't running around). This art makes me feel embarressed about the game I am making. It's always inspirational seeing your work.

I was going to suggest something between helm's last edit and the perspective you had, but vierbit nailed what I had in mind better than I could show myself. I do prefer helm's rock colours and his sprite colours too for the main character.

Initially in your first version on pixeljoint, the only really thing that bothered me much more than the rest was the bird that looked out of place.

Amazing stuff, bb.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2009, 01:49:44 pm by buloght »

Offline Ben2theEdge

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Re: Savage World (artistic nudity)

Reply #9 on: January 16, 2009, 02:56:50 pm
I LOVE the giant obnoxious HUD. But you are being an unfaithful lover with your design.

You've designed this game so that the bottom left corner of the screen is always more dangerous than the bottom right. Because down-left jumps must be made completely blind. You might get away with this if it were, say, a shooter. Or even an adventure game maybe. But I think you need to commit either to making an obnoxiously huge HUD like it is on the left side, or commit to making it compact like on the right side. You can't have your cake and eat it too. (Although in real life you CAN have a cake and eat it, but that's beside the point)

If you're determined to make this asymmetrical HUD work you're going to need to find an unconventional solution for keeping the viewspace clear. Maybe the whole thing somehow reorients itself when you change directions? Just throwing that out there. But personally I'd say either make it actually take up 1/3rd of the screen like the obnoxious billboard it wants to be, or submit to peer pressure and make it compact.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2009, 02:59:25 pm by Ben2theEdge »
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