When I started my adventure together with Luca Carbone, in the building of a tactical RPG with top down view, I just knew one thing: it will have to be visually outstanding. I meant this literally. Since my first post on this dev blog I wanted Wizards’ Duel to graphically stand off of the crowd of roguelike games. So I started looking for new solutions, making fusion between textures and tileset, pixel art and photograph.
By last week I’m finally satisfied with our in-game aesthetic, but the road has been so long. I started from the principle Wizard’s Duel would have been an hobby project (yeah, hardcore hobby, but still an hobby) so I wouldn’t spend too much time on assets.
That’s why I choose pixel art, giving myself rigid rules:
- 32*32 pixels grid
- one color + a shadow
- the palette I made
- 8 colors max per sprite (for enemies only)
Than I choose to animate the art assets in 2 or 3 cycle max. I was worried about bigger sprites as bosses, but at the end it turned to be a great rule to do not waste time in the chase of useless perfectionism. I’ve learned a lot about keyframing, with two or three positions for movement, attack, spells of monsters and characters.
But what more I struggled with, were solutions of the backgrounds. A tactical game is strictly connected with battlefield, and Wizards’ Duel will be very focused on cell interaction. That’s why and I wanted ground and floors to be very appealing and interesting. Our project was to develop 10 different stages with 3 levels each one, for a total of 30 different grounds and 30 different walls. In tiles set that would have been an unbearable work for a hobbiest like me (yeah even for an HARDCORE hobbiest). So I focused on textures solutions as explained in my last post.
But the choice to avoid a traditional tileset make our life harder. Classic games’ aesthetic solutions exist for a reason: to embed beauty with maximized games informations. So very soon despite the beauty of my first mock up I crashed into concept art vs game design. The problems were especially the walls. They had to be generated randomly and being destroyed, so they have to be dynamic and this was possible only with a seamless tileset.
When I reached a solutions for walls I got troubled with cell elements, like ice or lava. A spell should have been able to generate lava or ice on a single cell, and I had to step back again against needs of game design.
Then brightness problem raised. Entry level user’s screen are usually dark and very contrasted, while mine is very soft toned and bright keeping all the shades. So I struggled with understand how deep had to be the darkness around the player to give the right atmosphere, and just from a couple of days I’ve been able to fix it, after our followers on twitter gave me generous feedbacks.
But, damn, I was right! All the work I made will help me to speed up the future level’s creation, with simple textures swap on tileset I made, and changing the colors of multiply light level. So when you have an idea you feel is good but hard to realize, to be scared to push it to its limit and confront with your codeman to its implementation. No good idea born simple, but is our job to make it plain.
Thanks for reading
Daniele Lynx Lasalandra – Art Director