Adventures of an Indie Game Creator: part 7
Staff Writer By: Sergio Rosa (nemirc)
It's been a while since I provided any updates on this project, but that doesn't mean I haven't been working on it. As a matter of fact, the game can be "finished" (meaning you can start a game new game and reach the end), although it still needs some refinements, as well as many animations.
As I said in the previous blog post, I decided to go back to square one and make the gameplay a little different: from a first person view rather than a third person view. I opted to do this so the game would be more similar to other games played by my target audience. For the next project, I might go the same route, or make some sort of hybrid, where you have a fixed view but the character is visible on the screen (similar to Tormentum - Dark Sorrow).
The second "biggest" change I made was to switch to a different style of characters. If you read the previous blog posts, you know I was using Poser's toon characters. However, I opted for more human-like models, since comparable games use human-like art, not toon-like art. Luckily, this change wasn't so difficult, since I decided to use Morph3D for the human characters (I wrote an article about using Morph3D characters a while ago, and you can read it here)
I'd dare say the most difficult part for me was to figure out a cohesive "visual style," and that's actually the part that took most of my time. I didn't want to aim for photo-realism for three reasons: first, because comparable games use a more hand-painted fantasy-like art, so making a photorealistic game would either make my game stand out a lot or alienate the userbase for being doo different; second, because I want to be able to port this game to different platforms, and I want this transition to be as easy as possible, meaning that I don't want to deal with having 2 (or more) very different looking versions, or having to work a lot to make the "very photorealistic version" look well on more limited hardware.
Here's the thing. When you are a game developer you must take a look at current trends and how things are going. To me, it doesn't make much sense to make PC-only games, since some PC platforms are very crowded (like Steam). Granted that the majority of my target audience is not on Steam, but that doesn't mean I should not offer the game to the Steam crowd. On top of that, there's also audience for these games in other platforms or devices, so it only makes sense to port this game to other platforms as well, especially when it's a game with a very simple controlling scheme, meaning I don't need to make a huge re-design for mobile, touch, web, or any other device.
So, going back to the visual style. I decided to go after some toon-like hand-painted look, similar to that from World of Warcraft. Obviously, that meant I needed to make a lot of texturing work for some models. As I mentioned in previous entries, I have been purchasing different 3d model sets for this game. Some of them would fit this chosen look perfectly, but others would need a lot of work because they were photo-realistic sets. If you remember, at some point I explained about "asset-flips." Well, combining different 3d model styles with different quality levels and realism levels, also produces asset flips, so having a level with hand-painted elements next to photorealistic elements was something I needed to avoid.
The next step was then to browse the asset store looking for textures. After a long time, I found a few texture packs that would fit my needs perfectly, so I purchased them and then began editing the textures in my packs. Below you can see an example of the original pack, and the modified version.
You can also notice the game has some "pseudo-hand painted" look to it. On top of the textures, I used a few camera filters for this, including brightness/contrast and edge-enhancing.
And lastly, I also went to design the main UI for the game, and you can see it below. My original plan was to get someone to design it for me, but I had some budget issues so I had to do it myself. I am not a graphic designer, but it doesn't really look bad, or at least I think it doesn't!
As you see, the game has progressed a lot, and if there's something I can say is that the lack of a team should not be an excuse to make a game. If you have a simple game idea, an engine, and an ecosystem of programmed systems and art that can help you out, you should go ahead and make your game. On the other hand, if you find yourself limited by any of those elements (for example, maybe you don't find the required art), you can always make changes to your original idea, so you adapt it to what you have available. The point is, just because you are working alone doesn't mean you can't make that game.
And while I am talking about making games on your own, I should also mention The Nightmare from Beyond is also a game I am making by myself. If I can make these two games on my own, you can definitely make games too.
Sergio Aris Rosa [nemirc], is Sr. Staff Writer for the Renderosity Front Page News. Sergio discusses on computer graphics software, animation techniques, and technology. He also hosts interviews with professionals in the animation and cinematography fields. You can follow him on Twitter, and if you want to see what he's up to you can visit his blog.