I did take a leave for a few weeks to get revitalized… and because my kids have their summer holidays. Here is an update on how this went.
And yes, I did change up stuff, again. This time because I am getting to understand what was missing in my games: an artistic touch.
So get ready to be emerged into the world of ‘Rien Poortvliet’ and ‘Paulus de boskabouter’!
In this video you can see the art direction change, starting with the colors getting more cartoon-ish and the house having more attention to detail.
Color and vibe
There is something off with my games. As a designer I spoke about this summarizes it: “you look at it from a technical standpoint, but you really need to get your feelings into this”.
This is completely in line with the reactions I received at Reddit a while ago, and with my own concerns I had back in my mind.
Take for instance a look at this scene:
It looks so… ‘blend’. Only the green color stands out, but everything else is ‘about the same’. And the placement of things: it feels ‘as if this could be recreated quickly’. And the detail aren’t drawing your eye to the right parts, the road is overly detailed screams for attention.
First of all, I am realizing that one smart decision I made in the beginning of this projects is really holding me back. I wanted ‘to quickly be able to create levels’ so I used 1m by 1m cells and corresponding made all objects fit in those dimensions. That is giving off this ‘technical ambiance’ instead of this cozy vibe. So I am going to recreate the ground of the scene in Blender and use more interesting shapes.
Next I want to take a look at the colors used. I haven’t found the best setup yet, but this is how it looks after my recolor:
At the same time changed up some models to be more interesting, like the flowers. This is how the tutorial levels looks side by side:
I am not satisfied with the results yet.
But I have to be cautious with changing things up too much: I am going to change up a lot of other things too. I am planning on adding additional things to create more ambiance. Sun rays, particles, slight wind breeze (with moving trees). That is on top of the change of how I model the ground.
So I will be going back and forth a few times before I am finally satisfied. First getting everything to 80% and from there on improving individual parts.
But why? Why am I doing this?
Rediscovery of my design inspiration
Another major discovery I made was that my current game’s design was lacking any inspiration. Funny thing is though, I am full of inspiration: I have a document full of nice pictures, old memories of books I read, all kind of gnome related things and nice-scenery things.
But its not in the game. Because I emphasize the technical side of gameplay and design. And that emphasis was not al all planned. On the contrary, I think it it holding my game back massively and this is the root cause of me not being satisfied with the level designs and UI designs.
So it is time to (re) introduce my inspiration:
Its a combination of the cozy animal loving gnomes of ‘Rien Poortvliet’, with the machines found in ‘Paulus de Boskabouter’, low poly modelling like in diorama’s, and the environmental vibe of the hand-drawn paintings of a lake cabin in a warm but slightly misty evening.
As you might understand, I am limited to what I can model. Getting the vibe of ‘Rien Poortvliet’ his work into a low poly scene is a difficult task on its own, let alone for me as a mediocre modeler and designer.
With that knowledge, I am looking at alternatives. Getting other designers to help me out with getting the vibe right. So that each level is a discovery on itself, even without the gnomes to collect. Because that is what this game should all be about.