June 10, 2008

Asp Art Retrospective

Part 1

I fancy myself a programmer and designer; my skills in art are minimal. But it isn't really something that a game developer can ignore, so I'll review the art work I did with Asp as well as the engineering and the design.

All of the graphics in Asp benefited greatly from certain improvements in the code. Since finishing M.E.H., my last project, I've finally put in the work to implement true rotation, anti-aliasing, transparency, and the other basic graphics concepts that are necessary to make any art look decent.

All of the sprites and all of the basic menu screens are the result of me fooling around with the GNU Image Manipulation Program, and it shows. I tried to give all of the sprites some character and texture, but they are ultimately fairly primitive. Also, since I decided to use spherical collision detection (it's easy), I tried to keep all of the sprites to a roughly circular shape. While the resulting graphics are serviceable, I wouldn't mind having a more talented person replace them.

I decided from the start that I wanted to use a basic black-and-purple scheme in all of the menu and "official" art (logo, title, etc.). I've always liked this combination in other contexts, and I think it worked well here. However, I needed a palette of at least three colors for the battle scenes (for friendlies, enemies, and background), so I went with green for human ships and red for the aliens since these colors seemed appropriate and easy to differentiate. The unfortunate result is a revolting red-green-purple-black palette in total. I'd be lucky if people just gloss over this facet of the game. Certainly, however, nobody will find the battle art to be especially appealing.

One part of the game art that I really like so far is the only part that's not yet finished: the story illustrations. And, naturally, this favorite art is the stuff that I didn't make (partially). I asked Olex, the talented artist in my group of friends, to do some sketches that would function as the expository cut-scenes of my game. Luckily for me, he agreed.

After Olex made some concept sketches that I liked, I gave him the descriptions for the action in each scene and then gave him free reign. So, for example, the second scene's notes were "An Asp scouting party (mostly Asp Scouts, some Workers) finds a human scouting party in the distance." Olex took that and drew up this:

My part, then, was to add effects, touch it up, and add some dialogue (radio and hive-mind chatter). This is the final version of that scene:

I'm pretty satisfied with this sort of illustrating, and I'm looking forward to finishing them, plugging them in, and finally calling Asp complete.