(The UI was developed by Megan and I through a never ending series of iteration. Something to be expected if we want to get it to function and feel right.)
The first playable demo is rapidly approaching. In a little over a month Creative Proximity and Box O Zombies look to reveal a peek at what is to be expected of the Box O Zombie game. The demo will also provide an opportunity for the art team to review how things are or are not working together visually. The biggest issue thus far is making sure that assets stand out against the ground texture.
Although measures were put in place to avoid visibility issues it turns out more needs to be done. A lot of this is due to the wide range of the camera. The player can zoom out quite a bit. This leads to a loss the simple block detail used in pixel art. There will be some touch ups as well as VFX tricks that will need to be implemented. It is very difficult to let some things go but it is important to create reminders that there will be time for it later and prioritize. I keep notes of issues and potential solutions. An I.O.U to any testers and the art team itself. We will pay back what we owe to the game before it fully ships.
As an artist I primarily focus on character, props and more recently environments. I greatly appreciate sleek UI design, but working on it can be a tedious process. For starters it is tricky business. The UI needs to sync with the game and when the visuals of the game slowly evolve with the update process it leads to a lot of iteration. The design at this stage has gone through various adjustments and changes. The UI is directly linked to function dictated by design, so that piles on more iterations and adjustments.
In addition, I also have moved to working on animation, icons and miscellaneous environment and clean up tasks. It is a rough road with small development and sometimes to many gear shifts can take it's toll on the creative process. Early on I could focus primarily on the characters and overall art direction. Now that we are in a semi-crunch, it is more direction and even more production. Early on I felt like Dr. Octopus with the great art team working as extra arms. Now Dr. Octopus doesn't have quite enough arms to keep Peter Parker from another mid-fight, sassy quote. SHUT UP ALREADY SPIDERMAN!
(The animation team now consist of Eddie Einikis, Sarah Harkey the mid production addition and myself. Unfortunately Vicky Kao took a break to pursue opportunities in comics, her work has been greatly appreciated. The Sprites in this post are a mixture of all our work.)
This is one area that was daunting early on. Animation, especially in isometric, ESPECIALLY with pixel art, is another area of tedium for some. Luckily, the team has picked up to pixel painting quite well. When sitting down to plan production I was concerned with the level of animations requested with the time and small team we had. There was a good amount of dissection and clever production shortcuts that helped make the schedule more reasonable. Solid production techniques, and prioritizing has also been very important. It also helps that although small, the team I work with is very talented. It also helped that despite my experience in certain areas, I overlooked a simple technique shown to be by Larry Pixel of the awesome Moon Intern team (http://www.moonintern.com/)
(As the case with many tasks, with time production runs smoother and more quickly. The key is not just improvement through repetition but properly utilizing new techniques, hot key's and time management. I am very happy with the consistency in look from artist to artist through it all.)
So fast forward a bit to present time and we are in a really good place as far as delivering animations for the demo. There will be a significant amount of fixes and improvements I would like to see that will really push the sense style. For this deadline, we have some solid work keeping the spot in the code warm. Sarah, Eddie and I have been churning out sprite sheets, bringing each character to life.
The next Dev Diary will be the last! It will be a brief overview of the production and feature a look back at the game's Style Guide. It will be interesting to see the comparison. It also could be very uninteresting. We shall see.