Thursday, November 13, 2014

Confused Development Musings: More about art

Been doing a lot of brainstorming about the actual "meat" of my next game, and while I've got a pretty good idea what it's going to be about and how it's going to play, I'm not quite ready to talk about it.  I've been working more on the art, though, so... hey, here's another article about the art!

The first big news is that I'll finally be purchasing a Unity Pro license, with some of the money I've earned from The Moon Sliver.  This is primarily to make use of Unity's image effects, although it will certainly me useful in other ways.  Currently I'm working with the 30 day trial version.

The forest scene hasn't changed drastically, although I did a lot of fooling around with the aforementioned image effects, and with different colors.  Ultimately, I still think I'm going to be sticking with orange.  Rendering it in simple black and white looked nice as well, but I feel that territory is already being covered by games like Betrayer and Lucas Pope's upcoming Return of the Obra Dinn.  Besides which, while orange and black looks "ugly," it captures the feeling I'm going for: a sort of oily non-specifically retro look.

Unity Pro's greyscale filter allows you to use a monochromatic color ramp to make everything either black or orange, down to minute details, which helps to override some of the "helpful" parts of Unity's engine and shaders.  For awhile, I tried having everything turn into a pencil outline when it got far enough away, but while this looked cool, it didn't translate well to interior scenes or scenes with less complex geometry, and it seemed a little too gimmicky.  I am using the edge detection filter to help make the "orange" part of objects a little easier to see when there aren't any shadows being cast on it.

Also, I added water:

This was probably the biggest thing that the greyscale filter helped.  Previously, distant parts of the water would have other shades mixed in.  Now, it simply turns into pixel noise.  Which is exactly what I want.

One thing I believe about art design is that exceptions to the rules are what give the artstyle life.  They're the parts that stand out as interesting.  So to that end, I put in sunshafts that don't follow the monochromatic rule.

But I'm sure you're tired of trees by this point, so let's look at some of the other scenes I've been working on.  Here's the interior I've shown before, with some color changes and a black fog effect.  Originally I wanted to use the strict monochromatic rule for every scene, but I was having trouble making it work in other settings.  Bending the rules a bit gives much better results.

Here are two others, with the same basic approach (I should also mention that any of the objects you see in these shots are placeholders).

They do look a little different than the forest, but I'm hoping other scenes will kind of "bridge the gap."  For instance, this chapel:

Haven't decided whether to have the slight bloom effect or not.

Finally, I threw together this snowy scene tonight.  Basically just a grey sky, white terrain, fog the same color as the sky, and a soft crease effect (which ignores fog) to outline the terrain even at a distance.

You might be asking how any of these scenes relate.  But don't worry, it makes sense in the context of the story and world.

And I just noticed that I should make those windows in the red scene black... hmm...