Town Art Development

Been wanting to do one for a while on art development. I always find it fascinating to look at work in progress art, so you can see how the whole art style develops, especially when seeing the early stages of art for your favorite games.

From a development perspective, you don't have a game until you have art. You can have the best mechanics and controls, and the game might be interesting but it won't be playable. You give your early game to friends and family to try out, and while you're explaining your awesome features you get this look from them. Eyes not very wide, sometimes a raised eyebrow, bit of a sneer on the lips.

As indie developers we wanted to go for a different look, something fun and colourful but also a bit gritty and urban. While the art was being developed, I started by throwing nuts and bolts art into the first tests.

early prototype art

early prototype art, downloaded assets

early test, skin shader issues...

Now, art development can be a slow process, especially when you're developing the other aspects of the game simultaneously, but just like everything else, it eventually starts to take form and then suddenly you hit a point where the game starts to come to life.

As we progressed, we started to define the look with cel shading that started to bring the world to life.

Coming along, everything was feeling too colourful, too flat and too messy, so we added some grit and started tidying up the UI:

This was the point where I felt we were starting to get something happening and this is the look currently in use in our first trailer vids. From here we started focusing more on some targeted concept art. We took a small part of the map and did some detailed concept art:

current assets

This was coming along very nicely but the overall town background floor was feeling too even and too earthy. So we started trying out the same block but as different neighborhoods:

same assets, different neighborhoods

Now things are really starting to get interesting. The concepts work great at a micro level, at a micro level they feel too busy. And since this is a mobile game, we felt that it needed more simplifying. The neighbourhoods though are great way to break the town up.

This is till a work in progress and there is lots more to be done, but we've tidied up the UI, added more roads and started throwing some more things into the town. And this is where we are at:

This is far from finished of course. The town ground colours are too muted and as a whole it needs definition, but this was another moment of "yep, starting to get there". We'd love to hear what you think and appreciate suggestions, so feel free to hit up the forum and start the talk. Till next time...

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