Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Unit 22 & 72 - Platform game development Blog - Concept art for characters, weapons and backgrounds

Short synopsis
Max must set out on a quest through several nature filled environments to recover the diamonds that a giant magpie has stolen. He is an inventor and bug exterminator with a number of different weapons at his disposal.

Max concept design
Concept designs for Max, the main character. I went through a number of designs, taking the character from a humble gardener to more of an adventurer. I felt that the sheer amount of foes and the adventure laying ahead of Max would call for a tougher, more resilient character than his original, softer incarnation (top left).
I can’t say I am entirely happy with Max at this stage. I like the certain elements like his goggles and general demeanor, but feel he could be more iconic. This will be achieved by making certain aspects more exaggerated like his clothes or hair. I will continue his evolution with another design before the final sprite is produced. I also have a clearer idea of the art direction now because of other concept art I have produced for this game since drawing him (i.e, the insects and magpie.)

The sprites in game will likely be PNGs as they will cater for transparent areas around them and be optimized for best performance.
Weapon designs
The bug sprayer design for Max is as follows. It is an upgradeable item with different effects depending on which version you have at that time. From top left and working along each row:

Gas sprayer: Basic weapon, short range. Stuns enemies. Infinite use, does not require a refill.
Chemical shot: Stronger attack, projectile weapon so has longer range.  Stuns enemies. Short use, requires a refill
Smoke machine: For use on bees and wasps.  Stuns enemies. Short use, requires a refill.
Flame thrower: For use on all insects. Destroys insects. Short use, requires a refill.
Bug shot: Extremely powerful rapid fire weapon that shoots small seeds.. Destroys large groups of enemies. Short use, requires a refill.
Bug copter: Means player can travel upwards infinitely without jumping. Drops bombs that destroy enemies. Infinite use.

Weapons will be GIFs or PNGs as they have transparent areas around them - they will be tiny files, around 65 x 65 pixels, and have multiple views of them depending on what the player is doing at the time (for example backpack weapons may be facing in different directions.)
Background designs
Various hand painted backgrounds for each level. They are hand painted to allow the more ‘sketched style’ sprites to ‘pop out’. They will be displayed onscreen as optimized JPEGs to keep the file size to a minimum and still allow for good performance on screen.
Insect enemy designs
Various concept designs for bugs and insect enemies. They represent the foes that Max will face on his journey to recover the stolen diamonds. The finished art style will be very much like the magpie enemy - large black outlines and simple shaded colors to allow them to stand out from the hand painted backgrounds. This will give an ‘animated feature film’ effect, and should produce a very definite art style.

They will be PNGs in game and JPEGS in the cut scenes. JPEGs support a great deal of colors and detail, so will be perfect for storytelling and rich graphics between levels.
Magpie concept design
A full size drawing of the main villain in the game, a magpie. She is queen of her treetop domain, crafty and a thief, hence her expression and personality. This heavy black line style drawing style will help the sprite to stand out from the backgrounds (see diagram in the top right hand corner). The solid, cel - shaded artwork style will also lend itself to ‘pin-puppet’ type effect when it comes to animation. For example, the wing can be cut out and over laid over the bird’s body with a single joining point where rotations can occur. This will lead to the effect of the wing flapping smoothly. The same effect could be applied to the head, tail and beak. The animation is essentially 2D with parts being animated to fool the eye into thinking it is more 3D than what it actually is.

The sprites in game will likely be PNGs as they will cater for transparent areas around them.

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