September 3, 2013 10:58 PM | John Polson
"You only have 10 seconds in each room to reach the antidote at the end, granting you yet another precious 10 seconds."
[Last month's Screenshot Daily looked at larger game projects. This week, I'm going to look at how developers tackle art in games made in tight schedules. Today's game is top-down action game Antidote made for Ludum Dare 27 by Chevy Ray Johnston, Whitaker Trebella, Eliza Wibisono, and Daniel Nascimento, with Daniel discussing his role in the game's art.]
What goes into the decision process and asset creation for art in a jam game compared to a larger project?
This was the first Game Jam I participate in. Considering the 72 hour budget we had, I figured I would have to choose a style in which I could produce fast results while still being visually pleasing. After talking to the team we decided to go with low poly models, leaving most of the detail to be painted on the textures.
While on a larger project we may spend hours hand painting a texture for a single asset, on Antidote we did the textures as simple as possible. Most of them were just base colors with baked Ambient Occlusion map on multiply (Rendered out of maya). We also added shadow layer on some textures since we didn't render shadow on Unity.
For the post-jam version we will refine most of the art assets, especially the textures. The character models will also have higher poly counts and will receive more details. (The main character in this Ludum Dare version only has 774 tris:
Some games go minimal with visual art while others go in more detail. Are there any good rules or tips for deciding how much detail the art should get?
I think it depends on the artist. You have to know what you feel most comfortable doing and how much time needed to complete it. I decided to go with this style since I have experimented with it in the past and I knew I could produce it fast and efficiently. I've seen people did their art in a more minimalistic style and it worked great in their games; for example: Quick Hunt. So, in my opinion, it is more of a "Go with what you're familiar with, and be sure you can finish on time".
What percent of Antidote is procedural?
None of it is procedural. All the art was hand-made and the levels were generated between some premade level options.
What about Antidote are you particularly proud of and why?
From all the characters I have made so far, I'm most proud of the main character. He has a low-poly count, yet he has so much character! It was also nice that I was able to get him completely done on the first day (Friday) before going to sleep.
What lessons did you take away from jamming?
It's really important to let things go. Make a list of everything you have to do and try to get everything done as fast as you can. When you get something to a point where you think is "good enough", just mark it done and jump to the next thing on the list. While doing the assets for Antidote, I marked several things and ideas as "to retouch on polishing phase".
We never did get to this mythical Polishing Phase, but the thought of it existing helped to move on to the next thing, knowing that the asset was good enough but could be further improved later if we had extra time. If we spent too much time on each asset , we wouldn't have as many assets done and the game would look pretty empty. In the end, it wouldn't be worth it to spend too much time only to get a few perfectly polished assets.
What projects did you see that also had awesome art?
Quick Hunt - The art is really really simple/minimalist, but it looks quite good and is still able to convey what each thing is supposed to be.
Ardor - The art is really well painted and detailed, the use of lighting/shadows conveys a great mood.
Okai - The environment looks really good, and the day/night cycle is really well done. The character also looks great
Timespunkers - I really like the colors on the environments.
Proletarian Ninja - Really great use of pixel art, the environment and the characters are very simple yet beautiful. The game is also playing very well. Might be one of the best games I played on this ludum dare.