Art Style Talk

Hey Folks! Some exciting news today. As you probably already noticed, I have some new art to share!

Recently, I asked Emily Siu to help me visualize some possibilities for the space prototype's art style. As much as I love tinkering with pixel art, I'm spread pretty thin already. And even when I have time, I'll be the first to admit I'm just amateur hour compared to folks like her :)

So after some tinkering of her own, today's screenshot is a snippet of her first take on a ship interior. And I'm already seeing a lot to like, here.

First of all, I just love the richness of the palette. It's similar to the prototype's blue/orange, but manages to breathe more life into each component. Whether it's the extra tonal range, or the detailed textures and lights, this just seems to be more alive. There's a greater variety of shapes here, with some good use of decal/paint to make things more interesting (e.g. floor markings).

And more importantly, it just seems to invite the viewer to get in there and play. This looks like something I want to get my hands on and explore. And if screenshots are the first thing a potential customer sees, this is doing its job nicely.

That said, there are still some things to work out.

For one thing, astute readers will note that this uses a different scale than the prototype. (For reference, this image was scaled-up almost 3x from actual size.) Both this and the prototype have 16-pixel grid squares, but the prototype has about 3 grid squares per meter, while this mockup has 1. So things are pretty tight in this image.

Secondly, this is painted lighting, vs. the real-time lighting in the prototype. It's possible I can get things to look this good using real-time lighting, but it'll take some experimenting.

Finally, while it was drawn with a grid in mind, it isn't strictly composed of grid-aligned pieces. You can see this most clearly near the doorways of the bedrooms. The tiles inside the room don't line up with those in the hall. Again, not necessarily a problem (that wasn't the goal of this exercise), but it might mean some compromises once this is broken into constituent sprites. Particularly if more complicated pieces require too many sprites to accomplish.

Still, I'm pretty jazzed about the outcome. I've asked Emily to take a crack at a similar mockup using the prototype's scale (3 grid squares per meter, 16 pixels per grid), just to see how it compares. I think it'll give me a better idea of whether the extra room for detail is worth doing or not.

Bigger scale will mean more room for detail, but also more work to make each piece. Plus, the larger scale means fewer items fit on screen without zooming out (and departing from pixel-perfect alignment). On the other hand, this smaller scale makes some detail hard to manage. (A coffee cup, for example, is like 3x3 pixels.) But by the same token, this smaller scale almost looks more solid/tight. Detail is implicit rather than explicit, so imagination fills in many blanks (a NEO Scavenger hallmark).

Whatever the case, I look forward to seeing more of what Emily can produce!


ra1's picture

Looks good. Don't forget the control panels. I've been looking forward to a retro-futuristic course plotter.

spacemedic's picture

Oh my gosh, it looks great! I love the color detail and the shading. Yes, it’ll need some touch ups but tell Emily I said it’s a yes from me.

dcfedor's picture

@ra1, I won't forget! Those pre-touchscreen-era controls are an important part for me, too :)

@spacemedic, will do! And yeah, it feels just about right in terms of detail and color. We'll see if the larger scale pushes further towards or away from the right feel, but I think we have a contender here.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Rovlad's picture

Looks neat, reminds me of Simon the Sorcerer 2 for some reason.

dcfedor's picture

I can actually see some similarities, too. Palette, rendering style, etc. Almost like it shares the same materials.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games