AuthorTopic: Art direction WIP  (Read 10074 times)

Offline Yngar

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Art direction WIP

on: July 17, 2013, 05:45:29 pm
I'm working on a game project called Dungeon Fling and I could use some opinions and advice on the art. I am kind of stalled out on the project at the moment trying to figure out what I should do for the art. It has been under slow development for a couple of months and I have been putting off a lot of the art for a while now, and I am trying to finish up some of that but I am hitting a few issues.

The game is a dungeon crawler that uses minigolf or shuffleboard style mechanics. The player and enemies are represented as discs, and the player shoots through the dungeon, bouncing off stuff to get around and try to get to the next level.

This is a screenshot of the game as it is now.

I also have a demo up here http://www.newgrounds.com/dump/item/1403f97c016aaf7b47ee017242708c84

I'm aware that a lot of the art is pretty bad, some things like the pit trap are badly scaled up just because I was trying to save time in development. That is definitely not final. What I am really focusing on right now is the player and enemies. Right now I am shamefully just using  scaled down images of the concept art. Ideally what I would like to do is have an icon that looks good at that size, and potentially have a full body sprite that doesn't rotate with the disc but instead uses animations and multiple directions.

Here are some of the ideas I have tried. Most of them are pretty rough, I was just trying to get an idea of what I could do at that size.

Here is the concept art I am basing them on for reference http://ludopunk.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/warriorportrait.png
This is the shameful disc I am using now, not pixel art at all.

If anyone has any comments or suggestions for making these discs look good it would be greatly appreciated. Trying to figure this out has slowed my project to a halt. I'm having trouble fitting enough detail in that small of a sprite to make it look much like anything.
Thanks for any comments! :crazy:

Offline Mathias

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #1 on: July 17, 2013, 07:07:57 pm
I like the gameplay concept.


What if your walls/boundaries were more like this. More pronounced and obvious.

I find the bg checker pattern too noisy. Lessen contrast perhaps. Have you tried just a solid color with scattered doodads (like your skeleton dude right below the spikes in your mock) and/or patches of texture?

Your colors are generally muddy and bland. Spice 'er up with some color highlights/trim here and there.

As for the discs, I recommend an established color-coding system to indicate to the player who is who more easily. And try to make the little avatar depictions simpler - show larger images of them, by showing less (maybe in more a chibi style), but enough to make it clear what is what -  i.e. revise the skelly disc to only show its skull and a little upper ribcage, maybe part of this sword/shield.

Why do the discs rotate?

Dungeon Fling? You do realize that a "fling" is also a term for a brief romantic relationship or affair, right?  Anyone who knows that may interpret the name of your game as being some dating or love story game or something.

Offline Yngar

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #2 on: July 17, 2013, 07:36:01 pm
Thats a lot of really good feedback thanks!

That perspective on those walls is pretty crazy looking. I like the exaggerated style though I will definitely try something like that.

You are probably right about the floor. I was going with the checkers because the visual theme I'm going for is kind of a dungeon jazz lounge. The idea is that the dungeon is really just a place where all these monsters hang out. That's why there are drink and card tables sitting around, also I need more neon signs. I think I can definitely tone the floor down though.

I'm pretty bad with colors but you are right about the highlights, I need to work on that.

So for the discs do you think like a bust view would be good? I'm trying to decide if I should go with a full body and have it animated to move with the disc, or just do a portrait style on them.

The discs rotate to give a sense of movement, it looks very stiff when they don't. Also more importantly they rotate because its part of the physics. If you bounce off a wall and get some heavy spin going it will change the trajectory of your next bounce. Without it, the discs don't carry rotational momentum like you would expect they would.
However from an art standpoint I could make it so they don't appear to rotate. I was thinking I could give the disc some texture and have the character portrait on it be a separate image pasted on it that doesn't rotate. That way the portrait wouldn't spin around but the disc would and you could still see how your disc is spinning.

That is a good point about the name of the game, I hadn't thought of that. I meant it as the action of flinging the disc. I will give the name some thought.

Thanks again for the feedback, that is all really helpful  :y:

Offline Charlieton

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #3 on: July 17, 2013, 08:21:08 pm
Dungeon Fling? You do realize that a "fling" is also a term for a brief romantic relationship or affair, right?  Anyone who knows that may interpret the name of your game as being some dating or love story game or something.

That is a good point about the name of the game, I hadn't thought of that. I meant it as the action of flinging the disc. I will give the name some thought.

This conversation brings my mind to the relatively recent game Offspring Fling, which happens to be the most clever game title ever concieved. The context is strong enough that the inlcusion of the word "fling" (and indeed, the entire expression "spring fling") doesn't mislead me to think it has anything to do with dating.
Det skulle vara lätt för mig att säga att jag inte gillar dig, men det gör jag; tror jag

Offline Mathias

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #4 on: July 18, 2013, 02:17:25 am
Thats a lot of really good feedback thanks!
. . .
So for the discs do you think like a bust view would be good?
. . .
That way the portrait wouldn't spin around but the disc would and you could still see how your disc is spinning.
. . .
You're more than welcome!

For the chars on the discs, you need to decide whether you're actually attempting to depict a full enemy, as in - there's an actual enemy stuck to this disc flying around -OR- more of a symbolic representation, such as a portrait - like you mention: just showing the bust and upward.

Perhaps these discs could be gears or circular saw blades with teeth and only they rotate if you want to maintain that sense of rotating movement. And/or the enemy/figure does rotate but when/if it comes to rest the portrait quickly straightens up as if there's a weight in the disc that causes it to straighten up once there's no longer inertia overpowering the force/influence of the weight attempting to keep the portrait upright - imagine a bouncy/springy rotation until it stops fully upright.




@Charlieton   Hah, that trailer is pretty funny. That guy's a good actor. Coulda been really cheesy but he pulled it off; made it convincing and funny. LOVED the added touch of the 1995 website. Great.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2013, 02:19:12 am by Mathias »

Offline Yngar

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #5 on: July 18, 2013, 04:31:11 am
That is pretty much what I'm trying to decide on now. The whole idea came from hearing about this board game Catacombs years ago. I had never even seen the game until after I started working on the project, its a lot less interesting than I thought it would be. But that's basically where the disc idea came from, that's why they are represented as discs.

I will definitely put some texture on the disc, whether I make it into something more interesting or not. I think it would be cool if I had full images of the players and enemies in the middle of the disc. They wouldn't rotate but instead be animated to dash with the movement, and attack or take damage when colliding. I'm not sure how well that would read and it would be a lot of work. Either way I would like to have some kind of animation on the attack, even if its just a blade flash on a disc with a portrait on it. I might also make the disc animate to "squish" a little bit when its shot and bounces.

I already have code implemented to have the portrait or sprite draw over the disc and not rotate, that's pretty easy to do. The bouncy thing might be cool as well. I made an example of what the sprite would look like with only directions implemented. http://www.newgrounds.com/dump/item/7e82f063c9351fe85a8b98083bdab7cd
It only works with the warrior, and the code isn't very good so up/down movement takes priority but its an example of how it could look.

Offline surt

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #6 on: July 18, 2013, 10:23:24 am
You could try a Gauntlet-ish angled view with tapering tiles.

Offline Yngar

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #7 on: July 18, 2013, 02:46:00 pm
That looks pretty good. Though I'm not sure how that works for L shaped walls or rooms.

Offline Mathias

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #8 on: July 18, 2013, 02:48:17 pm
Hey, that works, Surt. Very nice.
But perhaps dirty it up. So clean . . .



@Yngar   Played your current version - You reeeaaally need to do something about the movement taper-off, when your disc comes to a halt. Takes too long. Also, can you snap to whole pixel coordinates while the camera is moving? The aliased artwork jiggles around distractingly since anti-aliasing is turned off yet the camera is moving between whole pixel coords, I think.

Offline Yngar

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #9 on: July 18, 2013, 03:01:48 pm
@Yngar   Played your current version - You reeeaaally need to do something about the movement taper-off, when your disc comes to a halt. Takes too long. Also, can you snap to whole pixel coordinates while the camera is moving? The aliased artwork jiggles around distractingly since anti-aliasing is turned off yet the camera is moving between whole pixel coords, I think.
Yeah you are right. I will probably have the camera stop following, or only follow at a set speed if the character is making subpixel movements.
I have no idea what is going on with that aliasing thing, it doesn't happen when I run natively only the web version. I will definitely get that fixed but this isn't a game dev forum so I will avoid getting into that. I am making note of it though.

Offline surt

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #10 on: July 18, 2013, 08:44:40 pm
Works fine for more complex structures, was just too lazy to chuck them in. The only real issue is nicely representing doors in vertical walls.

If you want it to feel board-gamey I'd keep the discs simple and readable. Probably just a simply rendered portrait of the face.
I'd make the pick-ups, such as the food, discs as well.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2013, 09:14:41 pm by surt »

Offline Mathias

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #11 on: July 18, 2013, 09:44:00 pm
This is what I mean by using a solid color with only patches of texture here and here. Notice the mockup with the blue floor and how there's only indications of stone texture here and there.

Offline Yngar

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #12 on: July 19, 2013, 02:24:48 am
Awesome suggestions. I think the discs for all interactable items is a good idea and the portraits should work fine. Also I love those tiles, I will definitely be using those angles.
Also those floors are beatiful Mathias I will totally do something like that, it really cleans up the look.

What do you think of this for the player disc?

I want to put some more work into the disc itself, maybe give it a color to show that its the player, and possibly some texture on it. I will have to keep any texture simple so it doesn't get muddled up when its rotating.
Maybe it would be better if I didn't try to fit the entire head in so I could have more room for the face, that helmet takes up a lot of room.

Offline jams0988

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #13 on: July 19, 2013, 02:42:57 am
Quote
What do you think of this for the player disc?
Honestly, it's very hard to read for me. =(
Your non-pixel-art version was actually the easiest to read for me! DX
I'd definitely recommend a closer view of her face. I think it's okay to cut out a lot of the helmet in the portrait.
Have you thought of using symbols for the characters, instead of portraits? You could use her lamp or sword or something. Bones or skulls for the skeletons, etc.
It might be easier to make the discs readable that way, but it might also be a little boring. Food for thought, though. =)

I like your brown color palette, even though it seems not everyone completely loves it. I personally think it fits the dungeon theme well, without being too gloomy. Reminds me of a NEO-GEO game or something, which is always a good thing to me. =)
I like the idea of the game a lot, too. Unique, and it sounds fun!
« Last Edit: July 19, 2013, 02:48:03 am by jams0988 »

Offline Mathias

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #14 on: July 19, 2013, 03:23:48 am
. . .
What do you think of this for the player disc?

. . .
llshadow 's stuff is indeed very clean. But he's also a very advanced pixeller. But likewise, with his clean floors, consider applying that same sort of thinking to your character disc portraits. You're trying to crap in too much grainy detail. Think cartoon. Think cell-shaded. Simplify.

Offline Yngar

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #15 on: July 19, 2013, 05:18:13 am
Honestly, it's very hard to read for me. =(
Your non-pixel-art version was actually the easiest to read for me! DX
I know thats whats killing me, I have been trying to make something that looks as good as that.

Have you thought of using symbols for the characters, instead of portraits? You could use her lamp or sword or something. Bones or skulls for the skeletons, etc.
It might be easier to make the discs readable that way, but it might also be a little boring. Food for thought, though. =)
I have thought about that but yeah I don't think it would look very interesting and it might not convey the idea that the character is represented by the disc.
I like your brown color palette, even though it seems not everyone completely loves it. I personally think it fits the dungeon theme well, without being too gloomy. Reminds me of a NEO-GEO game or something, which is always a good thing to me. =)
I like the idea of the game a lot, too. Unique, and it sounds fun!
Thanks! I want to get this polished enough to actually be fun instead of just being a neat idea.

Thanks for the advice everyone, I'm going to try to have something to show for it all tomorrow when I have some time. I have a lot of work ahead of me but I think this has really got me on the right track.

Offline surt

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #16 on: July 19, 2013, 05:32:45 am
I was thinking something more along these lines:

Offline Yngar

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #17 on: July 19, 2013, 05:36:26 am
I was thinking something more along these lines:

Well shit dude... you want to just do the art for this thing? You have already turned out a lot more than I could do in days. That looks really good.

Offline surt

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #18 on: July 19, 2013, 06:13:50 am
Don't know about that but feel free to make any use of this you wish.
Here's the elements against trans. I couldn't be arsed extracting a proper tileset though.

Offline Yngar

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #19 on: July 19, 2013, 03:01:09 pm
 :lol: I will definitely be using a lot of that in some form or another.

Offline big brother

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #20 on: July 19, 2013, 03:07:35 pm
I think the abstract item/monster tiles look cool here, but could become monotonous in gameplay.

Offline Yngar

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #21 on: July 19, 2013, 09:52:09 pm
Doing some work using surt's stuff as a base, I think I like this style a lot.

Offline PixelPiledriver

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #22 on: July 19, 2013, 11:58:30 pm
Watch out for contrast especially on the skeleton.
Using the disc class color as an accent around the rim is still quite recognizable compared to turning the entire thing red.
 


Also kind of makes the characters look like stickers put on top of a playing piece.
I googled "Board game tokens with stickers" and found this as an example of what I mean.
Magic cards, among others, seem to have a similar composition.

It could also be related to a traditional playing card design
The card type color is an accent:


Instead of the color dominating and the icons being the accent:


Of course with the simplicity of surt's designs, the dominating class color actually works quite well.
Just some thoughts.
And knowing that it is, we seek what it is... ~ Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, Chapter 1

Offline Voxxitronic

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #23 on: July 20, 2013, 12:50:07 am
You could paste the heads of the characters on the disc, or to take it a step further, make the heads the discs themselves.

Example:

Offline Yngar

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #24 on: July 20, 2013, 06:16:42 am
Watch out for contrast especially on the skeleton.
Using the disc class color as an accent around the rim is still quite recognizable compared to turning the entire thing red.
Also kind of makes the characters look like stickers put on top of a playing piece.
I googled "Board game tokens with stickers" and found this as an example of what I mean.
Magic cards, among others, seem to have a similar composition.
Yeah I will totally be doing this, that looks great. I have actually had the idea of making them look like stickers on wooden discs for quite a while. Even my original hi-res concept pieces had white borders around the art to make it look that way. I like the idea for aesthetic purposes but also so I could make stuff like this for some cool swag. (that one is obviously a prototype).

You could paste the heads of the characters on the disc, or to take it a step further, make the heads the discs themselves.

Example:

I like that idea, I don't think it would quite fit with the theme of this game, but it does look good. I like the guy on the bottom.

Offline Mathias

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #25 on: July 20, 2013, 09:27:11 am
I like that idea, I don't think it would quite fit with the theme of this game, but it does look good. I like the guy on the bottom.

Too bad all discs don't as much space as your game's larger minotaur disc. But here's where PA excels - using tiny dimensions to convey clear images. So, it isn't a problem. Your versions in post reply #21 show just the right amount of the chars I think.

It may be a little beyond your current PA skills, but I still think the char illustration style ought to be simpler, more cell-shadey. Like LTTP. This'll help recognition.

Offline Yngar

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #26 on: July 20, 2013, 06:45:09 pm
It may be a little beyond your current PA skills, but I still think the char illustration style ought to be simpler, more cell-shadey. Like LTTP. This'll help recognition.
Not fully sure what you mean by that but you are probably right about both things.

Made the new minotaur disc. There are definitely some issues but I like it.

I kinda screwed up the disc, I'm going to work on those after work.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2013, 09:11:10 pm by Yngar »

Offline Mathias

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #27 on: July 20, 2013, 09:43:52 pm
PA meaning pixel art. I don't know about you, but for me - simplicity is more difficult than highly detailed stuff. I'm disposed to adding lots of detail.

DO NOT go off on a tangent and try to improve your skills before continuing your project, though. Just do the best you can this time around. Then do better next time. Here's an article I recommend for you.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2013, 08:27:04 am by Mathias »

Offline Yngar

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #28 on: July 21, 2013, 08:19:39 am
PA meaning pixel art. I don't know about you, but for me - simplicity is more difficult than highly detailed stuff. I'm disposed to adding lots of detail.

DO NO go off on a tangent and try to improve your skills before continuing your project, though. Just do the best you can this time around. Then do better next time. Here's an article I recommend for you.
Yeah I knew what you meant by PA. You are right about simplicity being more difficult. I'm pretty happy with what I have been doing and I am going to stick with that style, mostly because I am getting a good workflow and I am confident about it.

That's a really good article and it hits home in a lot of ways for me. I have been fighting the urge to rewrite all the code for a while. I am already re-doing all the art, but I think that is for the better. Thanks for the link.

Offline Mathias

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Re: Art direction WIP

Reply #29 on: July 21, 2013, 08:29:15 am
Ah ok.

Yep, just keep going. Like that article says - better to have an imperfect but finished game than an unfinished game. I think we all have WNIP piles are that quite large enough already. I do.
Glad you liked the article. I also thought it very good. All game dev wannabe's should read it.