Moar Art & Valve Indies Chat

Hey Folks! Bit of a weird day today, as most of it was spent attending an indie dev meet-up at Valve's offices.

But! As you can see from today's image, Emily sent a new mockup! This one uses a different scale than the previous ones. About 32 pixels per grid square, and a human about the size of a grid square, by my reckoning. Basically, double the dimensions of the previous mockups.

And my gut feeling so far is that this is a big improvement. Items and furniture are much more recognizable at this size, as are smaller items like coffee mugs and cigarettes. It still looks lush, warm, and engaging, and I think it'd fit well. We do lose a bit of the rough texture or grit from the smaller scale, largely since she now has to explicitly paint details instead of relying on implied detail. But I think the smaller resolution mockup would've required more cartoonish proportions or tricks to make smaller items interactive and recognizable, while this mockup would probably work as-is.

I'm going to give it a night to percolate, and decide how to proceed in the morning.

As for the other news, Valve has been doing a series of meetups with local developers to get to know them and their needs, and to enhance our symbiotic relationship. My turn was today, along with about 9 others, and I had a great time chatting with other gamedevs, both indie and Valve alike. Nothing too surprising here, as many questions revolved around how Valve is addressing community management, promotion, discovery, and the so-called "indiepocalypse."

Definitely a few suggestions made that they seemed to take very seriously, and I think it was educational for many of us to hear how they view their role in the ecosystem, and how we fit in with them. Short version: they succeed if we succeed, and players benefit, too. The trick is weeding out bad actors, and ultimately, putting the right games in front of people who want to see them. Even the really niche ones.

I feel pretty confident that they're an ally in the ecosystem, and I look forward to chatting with them again someday.

Anyway, that's about all I managed to do today. Hopefully, back to some much-needed catch-up dev tomorrow!


ra1's picture

Split the difference?

Rovlad's picture

Looks pretty good to me.
Would be interesting to see how crew members would look like in this art style.

matsy's picture

You say it is 'warm', I thought it was a more dark, gritty feel you were going for? I guess this could be seen as your mother ship so homely makes sense.

Rovlad's picture

Looks like spambots are at it again.

dcfedor's picture

@ra1, in some ways, this example is sort of "splitting the difference." My current prototype has 16px tiles, with 3 tiles per meter. This example is 32px per tile, with 1 tile per meter. So a bit of a compromise between the two extremes.

The question is, does it work? I'm inclined to say "yes," as it is both clear/legible and visually engaging.

@Rovlad, I agree. Crew members might be a good thing to test next.

And yes, looks like another spammer. Though this one looks to be a run-of-the-mill spammer like the pre-attack ones. Different MO. In any case, nuked.

@matsy, when I say "warm" above, that's probably a bit misleading. I was referring to the art itself feeling inviting. Like it begs the viewer to get in there and play with stuff.

In terms of visual style, I was hoping for something a bit like a mix of Alien, Blade Runner, Firefly, and The Expanse. I see that as somewhat dark, realistic proportions, gritty details, but also oases of warmth and light.

The world is harsh and uninviting, but the people that matter (including players) will probably make their spaces feel more like home.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Rovlad's picture

>people that matter (including players) will probably make their spaces feel more like home
Exactly. Throwing a carpet on the floor and putting up some potted plants here and there would probably be the first thing I'd do if it was any kind of long term assignment/voyage.
This is why Von Braun from System Shock 2 looks like people could actually live there, while full-on horror sets like Ishimura in Dead Space and UAC base in Doom 3 look anything but.

dcfedor's picture

Yeah. The personal effects that evidence "someone lives here" are definitely going to be important. I want players to feel like "this is my ship. My home."

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games