The past months we have been working away on production-level art and during that process have tried to figure out different aspects of our workflow and rules to help the art compliment, not get in the way, of game-play. The first area where we felt happy with the level design is the inverted gravity backworld, so we decided to start there.
The settings for this particular world are inspired by airships and renaissance design in the frontworld and sci-fi space stations in the backworld. We have tried to make each room distinct in some way and in this case it was a fairly easy choice to simply do that by giving them a functional purpose in the airship/station.
We also tried to map these areas to each other as much as possible between frontworld and backworld. In the screenshots you can see that a library is mapped to a server room and a cargo area is common between both. Similarly we also mapped objects between them, for example the foreground clouds are all satellites in the backworld. The reason for mapping them is to create another connection between the worlds which helps when drawing since it makes the differences in structures that are important to gameplay easier to identify.
Other than that we had to work a lot on the colors in general. For the background sky we had many iterations to figure out what would not be distracting while also interesting when giving attention to it. For the backworld, coloring mostly comes down to having contrast between what is solid and is only background and making sure you are not confused about which world you have drawn to at a any given area.
We will probably do a first pass on art for all our worlds before we continue to add animation, particle effects and some more detail work to all of them. We have started the first pass on one other area and will get started on yet another soon.
“Parallax” is, quite simply, the name for the visual effects where objects seem to move differently depending on the viewpoint – in media we typically refer to parallax scrolling as a way to add depth to a flat scene by having several layers of background that we move at different speeds. It has been used in animated movies more or less since the beginning and in videogames since the early 1980s. While 3D rendering removes the need to take specific steps to create parallax effects it is still used heavily in most 2D side-scrolling games.
Parallax scrolling existed in the Backworlds engine even before we started working on the original prototype, but I’ve recently had to change the workflow a bit to make production more streamlined so I thought I’d talk a bit about how it works today.
We have been thinking about and working on themes and art styles for our different worlds recently. I made a mockup in Photoshop for our inverse gravity world and thought I’d record the process of beginning to implement it into an actual level. The inspiration for this theme is, vaguely, Leonardo Da Vinci machines and Treasure Planet (which in my mind is easily the coolest Disney movie thematically). This obviously needs a lot of more work, it’s only the beginning stages, but should give you and idea of the direction. Some of the art assets I made before I started recording.
Music: Final Fantasy X – That’s Besaid The Point OC Remix by Anticitizen
The kind of work we do can be very sporadic in that we wear many different hats as developers and without any strong deadlines we are free to experiment with things we may want to add further down the line. While being detrimental to progress (and, to be honest, maybe the biggest reason why we’ve spent so long on this), it does mean we are free to work on what we like. Enthusiasm is important too.
One of the things that we have been experimenting with is player customization – I personally have been torn on what to do with that, as we did not want to give the impression that your loadout somehow affected your ability to solve puzzles, and I did not want to make vanity items that could be confused with free-to-play moneysinks. In the end though, personal expression is meaningful and with the simplicity of our art customization is a pretty quick thing to do. One of the things we’ve created for customization is the ability for the player to change the avatar color with this hue wheel.
We have mentioned and shown a couple of times that our basic level art is mainly made out of small chunks corresponding to pieces of geometry – flats and corners with different sizes and decorations. With colored outlines and world-mapped patterns this makes it relatively quick to add basic art to a level, but depending on the complexity of the geometry it can still take the better part of an hour.
Since we are only two people with limited time, a while back we added functionality to automate the placement of these pieces – removing the mundane tasks of giving the level shape and readability to allow us to focus on the creative side of making each level look distinct.
The brush is one of the central pieces of input in Backworlds – we have gone over a few iterations on how it works and we will probably go over some more, but these are some of the steps we have taken to get us where we are. Continue reading
We strive to bring an element of procedural generation to a lot of the art of Backworlds – this gives us the opportunity to create large amounts of content without spending too much time, but more importantly it gives us the opportunity to animate the art from the way it is generated. As an example, this is an in-development effect regarding a smoke particle.
I have posted a number of videos from the editor for Backworlds so I thought I would mix it up a bit by showing you how we create an art asset. There are a few basic things I do for every art asset I build, which you will see in the video:
I recorded a little video showing of some of the editor features Anders has added that we will use for bringing some life into the levels of Backworlds by adding motion in different ways. The video shows of a few of them and it is more a demonstration of the things we can do than a artistic showcase. Enjoy!
Battletoads – BirdGuyJam OC Remic by Zelig
Donkey Kong Country 2 – Set Sail OC Remix by Blizihizake
William Crawford |
Rasmus Nordling |
Jari Kangas |
Frances McGregor |
Joel de Vahl
Izaak Middlebrook |
André Mossinato |
David Mann |
Fully Woolly Herdy |
Collette and Lua |
Martin Annander |
Carl-Henrik Åkesson |