AuthorTopic: [WIP][NUDITY] Hot Mess Game  (Read 6131 times)

Offline ArtGuyStanley

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[WIP][NUDITY] Hot Mess Game

on: April 19, 2013, 02:49:32 pm
Hello Pixel-doers,

I relatively new to the pixel scene and am currently looking for some constructive criticism for a mobile game that I am working on called "Hot Mess." You play as a malfunctioning firefighting robot who mistakes the fires of love and compassion for the fires that he must extinguish. Basically, you are a robot spraying down naked people in love.

So let me introduce the mechanics a bit. You are in perpetual motion and can turn CW and CCW by tapping right or left on the screen. Holding left and right sprays water. Hitting lovers with water KOs them and makes you "boost" for a short period of time, destroying anything in your path.

We are playing with multiple styles, ranging from more literal to more abstract, and have settled on this feel in general:



NOTE: This is not relative scale in the game space.

We like the contrasting color scheme and the lack of 100% realism in what certain objects might actually be. Here is a look at how the game would look at the correct resolution.



As of now, these mock-ups are lacking UI and will potentially need:
1. Water meter
2. # of lovers remaining
3. Time

Example of before and after destroyed elements:


That being said, what are your thoughts on the:
1. Color pallet?
2. Proportions of elements?
3. Perspective?
4. Readability of sprites?
5. Negative space treatment?
6. Faked occlusion gradient near the walls?

All questions/comments are much appreciated (unless you are a total, nonconstructive d*ck). I would like to use this as a hub for my "dev-log" per se, to show a complete timeline of the game. Also, if you would like to test the game, please let me know and I will put you on a list for TestFlight (must have iOS device).

Offline Seiseki

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Re: [WIP][NUDITY] Hot Mess Game

Reply #1 on: April 19, 2013, 08:30:29 pm
I think the contrast is a bit over the top, but it could still work if the tiles didn't have patterns all over them which makes it all look quite messy.
All together it looks a bit too abstract for my taste, I do like the idea of using tons of patterns, but I'd prefer a bit more readability and structure.

The characters themselves look kinda blobby, especially the ones lying on a blanket(or in a pool of blood?) and the couple kissing.
At first I didn't see the kissing couple were two people, of course, once you've seen it it's hard to see it any other way.

I think it's hard to tell the shape of most of the objects and it looks more like flat things floating in the air.
Instead of the ambient occlusion, why not try actual shadows which would add both depth and shape?

Also, I'd attempt an edit if it weren't for the texture overlay you have going, which makes it hard to edit.
I'm not a huge fan of such effects, it looks a bit like jpg artifacts and when it comes to pixel art as I prefer it "raw/clean".
I'd love to do an edit if you got a clean version. Or maybe you drew it by hand, in which case that might be a hassle..

Offline Phlakes

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Re: [WIP][NUDITY] Hot Mess Game

Reply #2 on: April 19, 2013, 09:54:17 pm
Instead of the ambient occlusion, why not try actual shadows which would add both depth and shape?

Seconding this. 99% of the time mixing pixel art with gradients/in-engine lighting makes it look even flatter than it would normally, and unfortunately this is one of those cases.

EDIT: To clarify, pixel art is all about creating illusions of depth and forms and all that. When you introduce something that does a similar job in a different way it breaks the illusion and the implied lighting turns back into colored dots on a flat surface.

Quote
I think the contrast is a bit over the top, but it could still work if the tiles didn't have patterns all over them which makes it all look quite messy.

This too, there's a big problem with visual priority. You need a way to differentiate foreground and background objects, whether it's through value, contrast. level of detail, etc. Aside from the dark, simple tiles and the uniquely colored people everything runs together a bit.

« Last Edit: April 19, 2013, 09:56:46 pm by Phlakes »

Offline ArtGuyStanley

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Re: [WIP][NUDITY] Hot Mess Game

Reply #3 on: April 19, 2013, 10:36:26 pm
Awesome feedback! I believe that I'll play with the level of detail and contrast in the floors a bit and see how that looks. When playing the game, we noticed that it was really helpful to be able to remember rooms by their patterns and/or color, since levels tend to be large. By having such vibrant floor tiles, it helped players remember where they were in the environment. We haven't played too much with additional colors in this art style but maybe it's time too.

Quote
Instead of the ambient occlusion, why not try actual shadows which would add both depth and shape?
I'll totally try that out. The main reason for not doing that is that I am using (http://www.mapeditor.org/) for our editor. It allows you to rotate sprites, that way we wouldn't have to make every possible rotation into a sprite sheet. However, that would create inconsistent shadows if the shadows were in the sprites themselves. So, the solution is have everything face the same direction with no rotation, or have 4 directional sprites for every element. Here's a look at the first mock-up when I played with shadowing. They aren't very apparent but you could kinda sense the presence of a directional light:



Quote
You need a way to differentiate foreground and background objects
I see what you mean. I need to find a happy medium so that the rooms, hallways and negative spaces all stand out on their own while not competing with the walls and individual elements. I think that pushing the brightness back a bit on the tiles and playing with the color a bit would help. I really wanna go wacky with the colors but I like the overall "cool" feel that this mockup has to it.

@Seiseki I can totally post an un-textured file to draw on top of. Unfortunately, it will have to be tomorrow morning.

Thanks again! All of your feedback is much appreciated!

Offline Seiseki

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Re: [WIP][NUDITY] Hot Mess Game

Reply #4 on: April 20, 2013, 02:37:39 am
I attempted an edit anyways, it's quite rough :)

I don't think my style matches the intended one. My shapes tend to be kinda soft and my contrast as well..
These colors are kind weird to work with too, but I tried to add more plain areas and remove some of the patterns.

I think you need to make the patterns more readable as rugs, floor tiles and such. Right now they just look like patterns.



Also, the patterns remind me of ancient greek design, maybe a few pillars would fit into the architecture?

edit: I think that old mockup you posted has much better readability and style.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2013, 03:12:53 am by Seiseki »

Offline ArtGuyStanley

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Re: [WIP][NUDITY] Hot Mess Game

Reply #5 on: April 20, 2013, 03:44:46 pm
Thanks for the paint over. So, maybe this is where I went wrong, but the whole "looks like tiles less like rugs and actual flooring" was the goal. We started with a much more realistic space, as you can tell, and felt like the style was a bit generic and would have a hard time standing out. We went with a more visually abstracted style to keep players from expecting realistic interactions with the game elements. I feel like that wackiness of the visuals lets us be able to play with wacky mechanics and even potential narrative. I think there's a happy medium somewhere. Thanks again. Ill do some more touch up and then post some updates. Thanks again!

Offline Phlakes

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Re: [WIP][NUDITY] Hot Mess Game

Reply #6 on: April 20, 2013, 03:59:41 pm
Just remember that functionality is always more important than style (in games, at least). Usually you can find a good balance, but if you have to tone one down, it's better for the visuals to be instantly clear to the player than to look especially unique.

Offline Seiseki

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Re: [WIP][NUDITY] Hot Mess Game

Reply #7 on: April 20, 2013, 04:55:01 pm
I think the player not having any expectations, or not knowing what to expect could be worse.
It's one of the reasons I'm not a huge fan of abstract games.

I think, for the visual clutter with the patterns. The brain has trouble knowing what to focus on.
Everything is detailed and since you can clearly see each title, the brain doesn't automatically connect them.

If you look at the hallway rug I added in the edit, the brain doesn't process every individual tile, since they can't be seen.
Instead what it processes is a connected path that leads to various rooms, giving you a better complete picture.

Offline Ai

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Re: [WIP][NUDITY] Hot Mess Game

Reply #8 on: April 21, 2013, 05:33:00 am
On abstraction vs realism, I'd like to point out they're not opposed. See Switchblade (Amstrad CPC) for example.
Rather, you can have abstractions that betray reality, or those that conform with it -- the latter need not 'look like anything' but will still read as an object with space, depth and lighting. For example Seiseki's edit definitely improves the conformance to the general principle 'walls and floors are normally obviously-different in value, because we view them from very different angles.'.

BTW, interesting color scheme, it reminds me of the classic CGA PC game 'Avoid the Noid'

I think:
  • Overall: "your designs are interesting, what needs to be improved is just the 'read' of them"
  • You could consider the game function of the bright pink -- are the pink elements meaningful to the player? I suggest muting the bright pink on non-character art,
    and muting it even more(or using a different color) for elements that have no particular relevance to the player.. Maybe reserve that color for only the player and the HUD.
  • I find the textures okay except for having too much depth -- it's a sort of 'classic pixel-art newbie' error, where you draw everything as if you're right next to it, so it pops out way too much. Seiseki's edit resolves this for the blue tiles.
  • Another visual priority issue is the checkerboards. Because they are so high contrast and also contrasting angles, each corner screams 'look at me!'. If you look at professional game art/environments, checkerboard patterns are usually made low-contrast to avoid this 'visual noise' effect


@Seiseki: Your edit is '"Laser Squad" mode', heh. Nice.
If you insist on being pessimistic about your own abilities, consider also being pessimistic about the accuracy of that pessimistic judgement.

Offline Mathias

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Re: [WIP][NUDITY] Hot Mess Game

Reply #9 on: April 21, 2013, 06:10:27 am
I must say, I really hate the glowing pink walls. Such an unnecessary usage of NPA for an otherwise obviously PA game.

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Re: [WIP][NUDITY] Hot Mess Game

Reply #10 on: April 21, 2013, 12:33:33 pm
The odd colorscheme also makes one think that the pink is blood. The people laying down on top of the irregular areas of pink make it look like they have been killed and makes the game a lot more gory and disturbing to me. D: Another reason to tone down the pink, I'd say.
Also my art tumblr: ymedronart.tumblr.com

Offline Seiseki

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Re: [WIP][NUDITY] Hot Mess Game

Reply #11 on: April 21, 2013, 07:38:25 pm
I must say, I really hate the glowing pink walls. Such an unnecessary usage of NPA for an otherwise obviously PA game.

NPA? PA? :o

*(Non-) Pixel Art IIRC - Facet
« Last Edit: April 21, 2013, 09:28:34 pm by Facet »

Offline ArtGuyStanley

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Re: [WIP][NUDITY] Hot Mess Game

Reply #12 on: April 22, 2013, 08:17:45 pm
Awesome. Thanks again for the feedback. Sorry for the late response, but I've been scrambling around the past few days but I'm back to Hot Mess (HM) again. So I have a few questions and/or concerns. I think to get my point across, I'll have to show you guys how the game is actually playing. You can check that out here -->https://vine.co/v/bPmbiO906I7. Hopefully this can help wrap your brain around the game as a whole.

As you can see, you are in perpetual motion. First off, I feel that the color changes that Sekiseki made helped a lot with preception of items in the game. I also like the idea of hallway rugs the visually lead the player. I do, however, feel like the subtle details in some elements in your mock-up, Seiseki, would be lost completely since you can't stop to appreciate them. Also, I feel like the level of detail and realism of the characters and perspective of the big robot go against the contrasting, wacky, simplistic pallets of the style that I am currently going for. Unfortunately, getting diagonal shadows like that to work would be more than a technical chore for us. I also feel like the shadows insist on this ever present perspective that strays away a bit too much from the abstractness that I'd like.

Thinking ahead, the art, as of now, is very blocky and a bit stylized so I feel like the animations will need to be a bit exaggerated and in minimal frames, especially for the robots, to keep with the current tone. Imagine like the Donkey Kong 2 frame anims for stomping and such. I feel that treatments such as these will make for a cohesive experience.

I've been playing with color schemes and toning down the tiles like you all had suggested and this is what I have so far in Tiled. Keep in mind that some of the art is just filler for now to show some variety. The less developed pieces are rather noticeable.

Keep the critique coming guys and I'll keep taking it! Thanks!

Offline Seiseki

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Re: [WIP][NUDITY] Hot Mess Game

Reply #13 on: April 22, 2013, 09:04:35 pm
I do, however, feel like the subtle details in some elements in your mock-up, Seiseki, would be lost completely since you can't stop to appreciate them. Also, I feel like the level of detail and realism of the characters and perspective of the big robot go against the contrasting, wacky, simplistic pallets of the style that I am currently going for. Unfortunately, getting diagonal shadows like that to work would be more than a technical chore for us. I also feel like the shadows insist on this ever present perspective that strays away a bit too much from the abstractness that I'd like.

Yeah I agree, it doesn't follow the sorta flat high contrast shading you're after.

As for the shadows though. It shouldn't be hard to make the tiles required and put them on a layer on top.

The latest image you posted doesn't seem to have a 1:1 pixel ratio, it looks stretched/blurred.

Offline ArtGuyStanley

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Re: [WIP][NUDITY] Hot Mess Game

Reply #14 on: April 22, 2013, 09:18:55 pm
Quote
The latest image you posted doesn't seem to have a 1:1 pixel ratio, it looks stretched/blurred.

Yeah, sorry about that. Was in a rush and just got a screen grab. The main thing about the shadows is the opacity that will be drawn every tile. That's a PNG24 drawn for every case on iOS, which I'm 99% sure will make it chug pretty bad. On top of that, we will need to remove those tiles if walls are destroyed and change other tiles to draw diagonals appropriately. I'm still workin' on it tho. Thanks!