Hi plant lovers! We’ve been busy as hell this last months and because of that it took a little while to make a new update, sorry! As I stated other times, we prepare these posts outside work hours and the process of exporting pixel art animations + in-game gifs is sometimes a pain in the ass. We could make them without so much gifs or images but it wouldn’t be the same updates you love. Also, writing down all the text in Spanish and having to translate and check the grammar repeatedly doesn’t help with the times! X)
Besides all of this, we were working on a new thing but you must wait till the end of the post to know more about it.
On this update I wanted to show you some design processes, but this time I’m not talking about game mechanics or animations, today is all about graphic design.
Iconography and color
As graphic designers both Sigrid and I feel the irresistible urge to give extra attention to every resource that conform visual and textual significance. Any type of graphic that merges within the game content is carefully designed, so we always strive to find the balance between an artistically elaborated result and a user-friendly experience.
To this effect, we wanted to define an interface that avoids text explanations as much as possible, trying to represent ideas and concepts exclusively with graphic elements. This is where the iconography takes importance.
We start sketching concepts of each icon that needs to be represented, considering that all of them must have a very specific and understandable meaning.
To have an homogeneous yet impactful look we leave aside contours and gave them a solid/filled finish to the forms on the final stage. Through the process some designs are modified, giving priority to the international meaning of the icon above its look. Yeah, it’s cool to put a thorny nutshell to represent the defense ability, but the icon suffers a lost of detail on minimum sizes and can be confuse. On the contrary, a shield image is easier to represent and more recognizable.
This is a game were players must study carefully the routines and reactions of every character. We have endeavored to create realistic and complex animations that show the mood and behavior of the enemies, but we also needed to include status globes focused on their interaction with the plant and its environment.
These globes are constantly displayed in real time, so we decided to conceive a pixel art iconography for them, different from the vector graphics used for the rest of menus. This way every graphic component that appear inside the game world fits perfectly and doesn’t look out of place.
With this in mind we integrated the communication elements within the game graphics avoiding to outshine the backgrounds or the character’s main animations, so they are not bigger than the width of an enemy’s head.
Also, the use of color-blending transitions helps to spot the characters without the use of shrilling effects. This way the player can easily take note of various situations inside a room at the same time. The different tones selected for the bubbles represent distinct emotional states.
Usually, the red color suggests action and impulsiveness and fits perfectly for the enemy’s alert state.
Orange is linked to emotions like anticipation and ecstasy. Based on that we assigned it to the evasion state. During this state the characters stay in surveillance mode and are able to transition from/to alert anytime.
Violet and blue are calming tones and help us represent the toxicity of the gas spores and the knockout state respectively.
Developing our own typefaces is another way to add detail and depth to the game. The facility is full of elements that incorporate lettering such as info panels, advertisements or displays with minimum text details. To this purpose different fonts were designed and edited depending on their use and scale.
Defining a corporate identity
If a real life company should worry about having a good brand and bothers to design a communication strategy through the use of colors, imagotypes and ads… Why not develop a corporate identity for the company that is behind the events of our adventure? In Paradise Lost G.E.R. is represented as one of the most important research + development companies in the world, so it’s completely logic to think that they care about corporate image and marketing.
For this purpose, Sigrid conceived a modern and geometric logo that could be easily represented at pixel level into the scale of the game. The color scheme used helps to stand out from the backgrounds, differentiating from the overall hues and the sterility characteristics of scientific laboratories.
To capture a realistic corporatism and bring credibility to the company, we applied the logotype to tons of objects and graphic elements. In addition, the color scheme is constantly present, giving personality and realism to the facility.
Here is an example of a dinning area within the complex. As you can see the menus, furniture and other decorative elements follow the same line of design and color.
Off Topic: pixel art master class baby!
Few weeks ago took place the first video game festival of Cantabria, the Culture Game Fest, and we were invited a pair of days to show the game and give a pixel art class (look how the chair by my side create a funny effect on my back XD).
The workshop was quite a success and a lot of people seemed interested to start developing their own games and give a try to Aseprite. I never get tired of recommending this powerful (and cheap) program, and if you already use it you can give new ideas and help the community to improve the software on Github.
As a curiosity here’s the example of a PLFC enemy with different art styles that I drew for the assistants. The Nes version (second from the right) is lovely vintage.
If I have some spare time (year 2020 aprox. XD) I could record a tutorial of how to work with the program and make animations step by step :)
PS: our new project
As I said earlier, these last two months we were a little bit overworked. The reason is that we’ve been creating another project in parallel with Paradise Lost. First of all, let me be clear, if you think that the development of Paradise Lost is freezed/canceled or may resent because of this don’t panic, This work is not another video game and it’s already made.
During the little spare time that we had between August and September we came up with a fun game card, just as a hobby for a friend’s party. Everybody liked the concept and had a good time playing it, so we realized that we could turn it into something real.
With this in mind, we polished the rules and designed all the graphics on weekends till we had a well-defined version of the different cards. These last two weeks we were preparing a Kickstarter campaign to see if people are interested on the idea and send it to production.
The project will be uploaded very soon, so at the moment the campaign is active we’ll publish here another update so you can check it out :)
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