Hello wizards and sorceresses,
people are asking me why I bother myself with tight deadlines, forcing me to rush my works. Actually this challenge of 500 assets in 60 days I gave myself is having a brutal impact on my life due its coincidence with Christmas.
I’m giving my family the priority they deserve, so I wasn’t able to draw as much as I wish, and I found myself in hard late on schedule. So I had to make night crunch in order to complete enough assets to have chances of win the self-challenge.
So I understand that such a crazy deadline as 10 new stages in two months can be questionable, when I could work as slow and relaxed as I want. I wrote an article about how to improve your pixel art, explaining the reason of my choice, but let me clarify in-depth the pros of deadlines.
Rise your motivation. In long term project as Wizards of Unica, often happen to become stuck into the Dark Night of the Soul phase. You are completely discouraged about your project, you are not able to see the light at the end of the tunnel… why you would to add a tight deadline to this pain? Well, to me that’s has been often the first step to arise.
The Dark Night often depends by the feeling of going nowhere, when a single compart can’t be wrapped, no matter how hard you work. So you can choose a single task (i.e.: floors of the entire game) and give you a deadline (tight but reasonable). If you will be able to respect it, you could call finished at least that thing, as a miniature of the entire game, and the hope will be back to you.
Big chunk in a single shot. Last year I was so distressed with our game. Since two years I was working hard on the project sacrificing most of my evening to it, and still most of the enemies animations were incomplete, I had to design and paint 50 spells yet, 40 music tracks were still in draft, no idea about the hundreds of sfx and thousands of dialogue’s line I had to make, more 30 levels to be designed and painted by scratches.
I had no idea how to face that pile of shit. I was working on different things day by day, following my feeling about what I wanted to do, so a week was music, another was a try to some sfx production, a day was a boss, and the day after was fire animation… so that I wasn’t able to produce enough to see a real difference. In the experimental phase this “at will” can be good, but if you act like a mad scientist don’t be surprise if your surrounded by a complete mess. I realized that I needed to start and finish something, so I gave myself the first challenge: 45 spells in 15 days.
In those two weeks I’ve been able to design, draw and animate around 40 spells. So basically I lost. But, actually I won, because I learned to focus on a single task for prolonged time and produce good stuff even if obliged, and the best thing: 40 f***ing spells were done! A big chunk of the game in just 15 days!
Homogenic look. Working to a long-term project means that during the process you change as well. Most of the artists change their styles through their life, and improving your skills and tools in the natural learning process means differences in the game assets’ quality. Giving you a deadline will force you to produce a big amount of stuff in small time so that you will not being able to change too much and the assets will look cohesive.
Re-use. Experience tought me that every new piece is better than the one before, so I’m always temp to produce new assets. But once that a graphic asset is good enough there is no need to make a brand new one. You can make color swap or slight modification to re-use many times the same assets.
To re-use will ensure you a faster production and will give a homogenic appeal to your game, without confusing the player with too many graphic avatar of the same mechanic. I.e: braziers can be made explode into fireball, so I kept the same graphic through the entire game.
Just produce. Do not polish. Too late I found out this basic principles of art creation. Design, production and polishing should be separated phases. When I design I want to explore every solution possible and make choices. When I produce I don’t want to think too much, and just break free with my art (following my design choices), and when I polish I don’t want to waste time refining what’s already good for my game’ standard, with the risk of overwork and lose freshness.
So a tight deadline oblige me to procrastinate polishing, so that once I will be back to it I will have fresh eyes on graphics. Usually I find out that everything is better than I remember, except some assets I loved must be re-done entirely.
A lesson to be learned. If for any reason you will be not able to respect the deadline. don’t be harsh with yourself and try to understand why this happened. Is the project too big? Are you burn out and need to rest? Are your skills or tools proper to the task? Do they need to be updated? A failure into attend a deadline can be a great success if you learn a life-changing lesson about yourself or your project.
Well, thank you all for all the care you’re showing to our game in dev, I hope my experience could help you as I’ve been helped and healed by yours experiences.
Just few days to finish and win my challenge: I still have 3 entire stages to do! Wish me good luck!
Daniele Lynx Lasalandra