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DF Lee

Art Update #1: Creating a Visual Style, Part 1

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I remember playing the first Monkey Island. There were really no facial expressions. It was you, your mind and the dialogue. All the funny quotes and sarcasm was actually powered by the fact that you did not have the characters expressing everything for you. I'm not saying this art style has no way of communicating expressions, but I just wanted to mention that you can actually get an improved experience by for example having a quiet guy with a poker face just staring after hearing something.

This is what we were talking about earlier that you can't really criticize it until you have the story, the dialogue and the voice acting ready. Maybe it'll be even better than anything we have seen.

I hate to seem to be defending those people criticising the art style before they've even seen it in a developed state, but that argument doesn't really hold water here. The reason low-res games could get away with having limited expressions is because the detail was low enough for the mind to fill in the blanks. When resolution gets higher, the artists have to work harder to make it seem expressive, which is why the Curse of Monkey Island characters had a range of basic expressions, and so on. If the original Monkey Island had been a high res game, they would have done more with those character animations - which is part of what makes the Special Editions feel a little empty in places.

That said, it's not all about facial expressions. Grim Fandango's skeletons could only do a limited amount with them, but the great use of body language especially in the cutscenes (seriously, watch them again!) really made up for it. So there are a whole raft of things that DF can and will do to bring the characters to life, from various facial expressions to animation stuff to voice acting and clever writing. Since we haven't seen how any of this stuff will develop yet - all we have to go on is a basic lighting and parallax scrolling test - it's too early to know exactly how these characters will express themselves on screen.

There might be some truth to it, I think Tim himself said the same thing about the special edition, I thought a lot of it looked rushed or low quality and that was most likely due to the budget. I think they did a marvelous job with monkey island 2 SE, I assume the success of the first one had something to do with it but unlike the first one, I played almost entirely with the new art, switching back and forth for nostalgia's sake.

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Wow I LOVE how the background looks, it's AMAZING! That's a brilliant style!

Not so sure about how I feel for that style for the characters tho..

Yeah pretty much. Love it in still images, don't like the way he moves.

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It just sounds a bit like this:

DF: This is what we're doing: 2D adventure, Nathan Stapley art, etc. Are you in?

You: Definitely! I just backed you. Though, I actually don't like most of what you've done recently. Do what you used to do instead.

DF: OK, thanks for backing, but we just told you what we we're going to do. It's not what you assumed.

You: I want my voice to be heard.

You're totally allowed to have your opinion and all, but a lot of us got into this expecting a Double Fine game (because there's no reason to expect otherwise) and it's not really our fault that you assumed DF would make something out of style for them. It just seems like you could have saved yourself some time by thinking about it for a second, which you admit not doing.

They did not say they were using Stapley's art style during the backing process. This was brand new information brought up in this thread alone AFTER the project was backed and the pledges were charged, to the best of my knowledge. Correct me if I'm wrong. If it was stated I completely missed it. I'm not saying I should have expected anything else, I already admitted as much. I'm just saying it took me off-guard. I also never said that it was anybody's fault. I also said (multiple times now) that if they really want this style than so be it and that I understood that this probably won't be entirely indicative of the final art style, being pre-production and all.

Anyway, all of this is pretty hypothetical at this point as none of the art or style or pretty much anything else is final. I'm not going to turn this into a "thing." Just keep in mind that you may not like some of the final elements based on your prior history with DF, and that may just be the way it is. That goes for everyone else including myself.

I thought I was being clear, however you keep repeating things I've already said I understand.

This "making your voice heard" is perfectly ok, I think, just as some basic facts are remembered.

* That you have a particular opinion is pretty uninterresting.

* Why you have that opinion might be slightly more interresting.

* In particular, if you think that doing X would make the game more awesome, and have a sound argument for why it would do so, then you're on to something.

Now, once you have stated what you think should be done, and why, DF can read that, and either they agree with your reasoning that it would make the game more awesome, or they disagree (perhaps because they feel it would make the game less awesome in some other aspect). If they disagree, then that's that. It doesn't matter if 20000 backers have that opinion, or if the Pope himself does. The voice had been heard, but that doesn't mean that it has to be obeyed.

Not saying that anyone in particular in this thread has got this wrong, but it's useful to point out sometimes...

Absolutely spot on. I haven't really been dogmatic about it seeing as this is pre-production. Like I said a few pages back, once we start getting character design sketches and they ask for our opinions there, then I'll start explaining my opinions a lot more.

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It just sounds a bit like this:

DF: This is what we're doing: 2D adventure, Nathan Stapley art, etc. Are you in?

You: Definitely! I just backed you. Though, I actually don't like most of what you've done recently. Do what you used to do instead.

DF: OK, thanks for backing, but we just told you what we we're going to do. It's not what you assumed.

You: I want my voice to be heard.

You're totally allowed to have your opinion and all, but a lot of us got into this expecting a Double Fine game (because there's no reason to expect otherwise) and it's not really our fault that you assumed DF would make something out of style for them. It just seems like you could have saved yourself some time by thinking about it for a second, which you admit not doing.

They did not say they were using Stapley's art style during the backing process. This was brand new information brought up in this thread alone AFTER the project was backed and the pledges were charged, to the best of my knowledge. Correct me if I'm wrong. If it was stated I completely missed it. I'm not saying I should have expected anything else, I already admitted as much. I'm just saying it took me off-guard. I also never said that it was anybody's fault. I also said (multiple times now) that if they really want this style than so be it and that I understood that this probably won't be entirely indicative of the final art style, being pre-production and all.

Anyway, all of this is pretty hypothetical at this point as none of the art or style or pretty much anything else is final. I'm not going to turn this into a "thing." Just keep in mind that you may not like some of the final elements based on your prior history with DF, and that may just be the way it is. That goes for everyone else including myself.

I thought I was being clear, however you keep repeating things I've already said I understand.

This "making your voice heard" is perfectly ok, I think, just as some basic facts are remembered.

* That you have a particular opinion is pretty uninterresting.

* Why you have that opinion might be slightly more interresting.

* In particular, if you think that doing X would make the game more awesome, and have a sound argument for why it would do so, then you're on to something.

Now, once you have stated what you think should be done, and why, DF can read that, and either they agree with your reasoning that it would make the game more awesome, or they disagree (perhaps because they feel it would make the game less awesome in some other aspect). If they disagree, then that's that. It doesn't matter if 20000 backers have that opinion, or if the Pope himself does. The voice had been heard, but that doesn't mean that it has to be obeyed.

Not saying that anyone in particular in this thread has got this wrong, but it's useful to point out sometimes...

Absolutely spot on. I haven't really been dogmatic about it seeing as this is pre-production. Like I said a few pages back, once we start getting character design sketches and they ask for our opinions there, then I'll start explaining my opinions a lot more.

Actually they did say that Stapely was going to be doing the art during the kickstarter. I believe at the very least it was talked about in the video when Tim showed off what the poster was going to look like. They also said it when they did live stream at the very end.

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*yoink*

I'm just saying it seems a little knee-jerk to have such a strong opinion about something so preliminary and that maybe we should wait and see where this goes first. I also don't want DF to feel reticent about posting early work because people freak out immediately without understanding the nature of the iterative process. But, I hope they also understand the nature of the Internet forum cacophony.

You're not nearly the worst offender here, I just happened to quote you. Ah, well.

Peace!

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Actually they did say that Stapley was going to be doing the art during the kickstarter. I believe at the very least it was talked about in the video when Tim showed off what the poster was going to look like. They also said it when they did live stream at the very end.

In the kickstarter video Tim said, that he got a painting from Nathan that will be used for the poster. Nothing about the game design. Also the poster - and the T-shirt for that matter - just show the "Adventure Babies" which is just a variation of the Double Fine Logo. The same way, they had a special logo for Brütal Legend.

I do not think it is reasonable to think that everbody got "Ah, so Nathan Stapley will do the game design" from him doing the design of the backer poster.

Also Tim stated on nearly all interviews that nothing except "old-school point&click; adventure" has been decided because the fans should see the whole process.

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*yoink*

I'm just saying it seems a little knee-jerk to have such a strong opinion about something so preliminary and that maybe we should wait and see where this goes first. I also don't want DF to feel reticent about posting early work because people freak out immediately without understanding the nature of the iterative process. But, I hope they also understand the nature of the Internet forum cacophony.

Peace!

I completely see your point ("it's just an early draft"), but of course people have strong opionions and emotions about stuff they care for. Why wouldn't they?

I think it would be a good time now for DF to clearify just how much input they will take and on what questions and how that will work. Will there by polls? Do they read the replies? Otherwise people will just get upset for no good reason or start a gazillion polls that make no real sense.

But without telling people HOW it works, you can't people blame for not knowing and assuming the "worst".

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Wow I LOVE how the background looks, it's AMAZING! That's a brilliant style!

Not so sure about how I feel for that style for the characters tho..

Yeah pretty much. Love it in still images, don't like the way he moves.

C'mon. All the words are there.

"Because we haven’t designed any of the actual characters for the game yet, we took a Bagel sketch of a stylized lumberjack and put him into the scene. We didn’t want to spend a lot of time animating the character at this point (since this character is NOT going to be in the actual game), so we just created a very rough walk cycle from one angle for the purposes of our test."

Sketch... 'didn't want to spend a lot of time'... 'very rough walk cycle', it's pretty clear that the final characters are going to move a lot better.

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Actually they did say that Stapley was going to be doing the art during the kickstarter. I believe at the very least it was talked about in the video when Tim showed off what the poster was going to look like. They also said it when they did live stream at the very end.

In the kickstarter video Tim said, that he got a painting from Nathan that will be used for the poster. Nothing about the game design. Also the poster - and the T-shirt for that matter - just show the "Adventure Babies" which is just a variation of the Double Fine Logo. The same way, they had a special logo for Brütal Legend.

I do not think it is reasonable to think that everbody got "Ah, so Nathan Stapley will do the game design" from him doing the design of the backer poster.

Also Tim stated on nearly all interviews that nothing except "old-school point&click; adventure" has been decided because the fans should see the whole process.

He didn't say anything about the game design because Stapely is doing the art not the design of the game. Two different things. While Tim did say old school point and click adventure, that doesn't necessarily mean that everything about the game will have what some people consider old school look to it. We don't even really know what it will mean at this point. It's far too early in the development process to judge anything in my opinion.

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Actually they did say that Stapley was going to be doing the art during the kickstarter. I believe at the very least it was talked about in the video when Tim showed off what the poster was going to look like. They also said it when they did live stream at the very end.

In the kickstarter video Tim said, that he got a painting from Nathan that will be used for the poster. Nothing about the game design. Also the poster - and the T-shirt for that matter - just show the "Adventure Babies" which is just a variation of the Double Fine Logo. The same way, they had a special logo for Brütal Legend.

I do not think it is reasonable to think that everbody got "Ah, so Nathan Stapley will do the game design" from him doing the design of the backer poster.

Also Tim stated on nearly all interviews that nothing except "old-school point&click; adventure" has been decided because the fans should see the whole process.

He didn't say anything about the game design because Stapely is doing the art not the design of the game. Two different things. While Tim did say old school point and click adventure, that doesn't necessarily mean that everything about the game will have what some people consider old school look to it. We don't even really know what it will mean at this point. It's far too early in the development process to judge anything in my opinion.

Wow - thanks for pointing out - with many words - that I obviously meant art instead of design. Glad that all the confused people know what's what now. Beside that: I know that old school p&c adventure does not mean that it will have old, pixelated MCGA mode 13 graphics - but then again: I didn't write anything like that. So why disagreeing with me on something i didn't say?

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Actually they did say that Stapley was going to be doing the art during the kickstarter. I believe at the very least it was talked about in the video when Tim showed off what the poster was going to look like. They also said it when they did live stream at the very end.

In the kickstarter video Tim said, that he got a painting from Nathan that will be used for the poster. Nothing about the game design. Also the poster - and the T-shirt for that matter - just show the "Adventure Babies" which is just a variation of the Double Fine Logo. The same way, they had a special logo for Brütal Legend.

I do not think it is reasonable to think that everbody got "Ah, so Nathan Stapley will do the game design" from him doing the design of the backer poster.

Also Tim stated on nearly all interviews that nothing except "old-school point&click; adventure" has been decided because the fans should see the whole process.

He didn't say anything about the game design because Stapely is doing the art not the design of the game. Two different things. While Tim did say old school point and click adventure, that doesn't necessarily mean that everything about the game will have what some people consider old school look to it. We don't even really know what it will mean at this point. It's far too early in the development process to judge anything in my opinion.

Wow - thanks for pointing out - with many words - that I obviously meant art instead of design. Glad that all the confused people know what's what now. Beside that: I know that old school p&c adventure does not mean that it will have old, pixelated MCGA mode 13 graphics - but then again: I didn't write anything like that. So why disagreeing with me on something i didn't say?

I was simply pointing things out. As for disagree with you on things you didn't say, um what? I just wrote what I felt needed to be said, hence why I said my opinion.

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I love the animation, but hate the character. I am still eagerly waiting to see how this will all shape out, and can not wait until we actually get to see the game's protagonist and environment! :D

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I absolutely love the artwork here. And that "depth scrolling" looks really neat.

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I completely see your point ("it's just an early draft"), but of course people have strong opionions and emotions about stuff they care for. Why wouldn't they?

Right, but having an opinion isn't the same as sharing an opinion. Some opinions aren't fully formed and should gestate for a spell while facts come to light. Otherwise you just have people blurting out whatever they feel at that moment without really knowing the full picture. Yes, I realize that's pretty much what the Web is these days. No, I'm not happy about it.

I think it would be a good time now for DF to clearify just how much input they will take and on what questions and how that will work. Will there by polls? Do they read the replies? Otherwise people will just get upset for no good reason or start a gazillion polls that make no real sense.

But without telling people HOW it works, you can't people blame for not knowing and assuming the "worst".

They've already asked the community their opinion on a few things with polls, and I guarantee that when they want our opinion, they'll ask for it. Until then, you can assume that we're mostly talking amongst ourselves here.

I think "not knowing and assuming the 'worst'" is kind of a stupid way to go through life. That doesn't stop people from trying, though. Sigh.

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On second glance, it resembles a Canadian minstrel show. Is it a Canadian minstrel show? Would that fly with buyers up north? "I LUV ME SOME MAPLE SYRUP! ALMOST AS MUCH AS I LUV FREE HEALTHCARE, EH? OH LOOK, A MOOSE IS DANCING WITH COMEDIAN RED GREEN!"

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They've already asked the community their opinion on a few things with polls, and I guarantee that when they want our opinion, they'll ask for it. Until then, you can assume that we're mostly talking amongst ourselves here.

I think "not knowing and assuming the 'worst'" is kind of a stupid way to go through life. That doesn't stop people from trying, though. Sigh.

Its a forum we are meant to talk amongst ourselves. There is nothing wrong with posting an opinion in any form.

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On second glance, it resembles a Canadian minstrel show. Is it a Canadian minstrel show? Would that fly with buyers up north? "I LUV ME SOME MAPLE SYRUP! ALMOST AS MUCH AS I LUV FREE HEALTHCARE, EH? OH LOOK, A MOOSE IS DANCING WITH COMEDIAN RED GREEN!"

Jealous rednecks makig fun of free health care... enjoy your bills.

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I'm luving my free health care especially since I never need to pay for medicine, doctors or hospital visits. Health insurance LOLZ

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They've already asked the community their opinion on a few things with polls, and I guarantee that when they want our opinion, they'll ask for it. Until then, you can assume that we're mostly talking amongst ourselves here.

I think "not knowing and assuming the 'worst'" is kind of a stupid way to go through life. That doesn't stop people from trying, though. Sigh.

Its a forum we are meant to talk amongst ourselves. There is nothing wrong with posting an opinion in any form.

Yep. That wasn't really the point of that post, chief.

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Oh I got your point that people shouldn't post an opinion unless all the facts have been put down in front of them. But since this thread is specifically dealing with the visual style of the game people will no doubt be more vocal and want to talk amongst themselves.

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I would just like to first make a point that there are many posting on here that I feel have valid points and really are respectfully expressing their opinions/agreeing/disagreeing, which is fantastic. However, This makes this forum post super large to try to get anything in which DF may have responded to, and also to get to maybe different people's initial feelings on topic. I really love disagreements especially when they're so positive, but I spent a good hour trying to politely read through everyone's post, just to find out that DF Lee had made two responses to the whole thing.

Would there be anyway, that perhaps we could pin or do something so that DF responses could be easily filtered or gotten to, so that way I could go back later to read everyone else's at my leisure?

Now.. On to my response/comments/concerns to the topic at hand.

It was really cool with how you explained the steps you took to animate the character put together the background. Great stuff, love to learn little stuff like that. While I understand it's a rough style, I still think the idea of the layering and trying to do nice camera angles like that is hopeful. I can see where some of the comments came from (creepy eyed lumberjack, wanting more detail in the background) and although understanding it's a rough work, I see what they're saying as well. Though knowing the final products of Double Fine, I'm not really too worried about this. Art Style to me is something to open minded about. Sometimes I look at pictures or advertisements of games and I don't automatically fall in love with the art style, but by keeping an open mind I tend to fall in love later or at the very least enjoy the game for other reasons.

Now, as to some of the comments to Nathan's work. I can understand where some of the "dead" "lifeless" and other comments come from. The fun thing about art is that very rarely will two people see one picture the same way. Now, I won't say he's in the tops of my favorite artwork because I tend to like very organic art work, but I can respect his style. However, I believe the eyes are purposely done in that manner, because eyes are not the only thing that can express emotions. If you're not relying on a human's eyes to express emotions, then other means could be used to express them. For me, most of his artwork it was found in body posture, shapes, atmospheres, colors and interactions among other characters. It's different to me to rely on these other things, but it's a cool perspective. I think a lot of us are most comfortable associating human eyes with the windows to the soul, so that might be why just straight black eyes are creepy. I feel some of them are for me too, but I like looking at things that may not always be something I'd have picked out of the hat as my favorite.

Overall I'm excited to see more, and can't wait for another update. Thanks!

As a side note, a bit off topic:

It may be viewed I'm being a bit biased about this, but I would love to see Double Fine do a Female main character for this game or maybe a future game. I love their artstyles of women and I'd like to see what Nathan's art style plus a double fine game could come up with. If anyone can make an amazing female character, it would be them.

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It may be viewed I'm being a bit biased about this, but I would love to see Double Fine do a Female main character for this game or maybe a future game. I love their artstyles of women and I'd like to see what Nathan's art style plus a double fine game could come up with. If anyone can make an amazing female character, it would be them.

I absolutely agree with this. Enough white dudes. I've been playing white dudes all my life. White dudes are stale.

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On second glance, it resembles a Canadian minstrel show. Is it a Canadian minstrel show? Would that fly with buyers up north? "I LUV ME SOME MAPLE SYRUP! ALMOST AS MUCH AS I LUV FREE HEALTHCARE, EH? OH LOOK, A MOOSE IS DANCING WITH COMEDIAN RED GREEN!"

Jealous rednecks makig fun of free health care... enjoy your bills.

Sadly, I was not making fun of it. I was making fun of how there really isn't much to make fun of.

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Wow the layers of the scenery have an incredible effect. I really like the depth it provides.

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On second glance, it resembles a Canadian minstrel show. Is it a Canadian minstrel show? Would that fly with buyers up north? "I LUV ME SOME MAPLE SYRUP! ALMOST AS MUCH AS I LUV FREE HEALTHCARE, EH? OH LOOK, A MOOSE IS DANCING WITH COMEDIAN RED GREEN!"

And the villian is Red Maple.

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I am really loving the graphical style here. The only thing that remotely concerned me was how fast Mr. Generic Lumberjack had to walk to keep things timely when approaching the cabin. Him suddenly appearing to speed up despite being farther away killed a lot of that sense of depth, but it's a problem that can be dealt with easily enough I imagine--all you'd have to do is just make it so he moves at a realistic rate, and then let the player click the mouse or something to skip ahead to the next screen.

The parallax and lighting effects really have me excited. With the power computers have these days, I can imagine the game having some very active screens with people bustlings and interacting. Maybe even a vague side-story could be told in the backgrounds or something, I dunno. Whatever the case, I'm very happy with how things are looking at this stage.

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It may be viewed I'm being a bit biased about this, but I would love to see Double Fine do a Female main character for this game or maybe a future game. I love their artstyles of women and I'd like to see what Nathan's art style plus a double fine game could come up with. If anyone can make an amazing female character, it would be them.

I absolutely agree with this. Enough white dudes. I've been playing white dudes all my life. White dudes are stale.

And yet I enjoy playing male protagonists much more than females, so it's difficult to please everyone. But either way I think it's a bit early for this. We don't even know what the setting is. If it's set in a monastery, or about heavyweight wrestlers well, probably gonna be male, there. If it's about nuns or cheerleading or, don't want to be presumptuous, but I'm guessing female. Maybe the main character won't even BE a person. I mean, chances are they will be, but this conversation sort of becomes null and void if the lead character is a genderless alien or a robot of indeterminate sex. Maybe the setting will suggest the character, and maybe the character will suggest the setting but either way, I don't think it should be forced depending on what some people think is 'stale.'

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It may be viewed I'm being a bit biased about this, but I would love to see Double Fine do a Female main character for this game or maybe a future game. I love their artstyles of women and I'd like to see what Nathan's art style plus a double fine game could come up with. If anyone can make an amazing female character, it would be them.

I absolutely agree with this. Enough white dudes. I've been playing white dudes all my life. White dudes are stale.

And yet I enjoy playing male protagonists much more than females, so it's difficult to please everyone. But either way I think it's a bit early for this. We don't even know what the setting is. If it's set in a monastery, or about heavyweight wrestlers well, probably gonna be male, there. If it's about nuns or cheerleading or, don't want to be presumptuous, but I'm guessing female. Maybe the main character won't even BE a person. I mean, chances are they will be, but this conversation sort of becomes null and void if the lead character is a genderless alien or a robot of indeterminate sex. Maybe the setting will suggest the character, and maybe the character will suggest the setting but either way, I don't think it should be forced depending on what some people think is 'stale.'

Oh, dude, please. ANY ONE of Tim's old protagonists could've been either a girl or not white with MINIMAL consequences to the story. One could sortof kinda make a case for Manny Calavera both not working out as a female character or already not being white but meh. For Laverne being a girl was basically a personality quirk on the same level as "fat" and "dweeby" describe the other two player characters. That only leaves us with all the rest of them.

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It may be viewed I'm being a bit biased about this, but I would love to see Double Fine do a Female main character for this game or maybe a future game. I love their artstyles of women and I'd like to see what Nathan's art style plus a double fine game could come up with. If anyone can make an amazing female character, it would be them.

I absolutely agree with this. Enough white dudes. I've been playing white dudes all my life. White dudes are stale.

And yet I enjoy playing male protagonists much more than females, so it's difficult to please everyone. But either way I think it's a bit early for this. We don't even know what the setting is. If it's set in a monastery, or about heavyweight wrestlers well, probably gonna be male, there. If it's about nuns or cheerleading or, don't want to be presumptuous, but I'm guessing female. Maybe the main character won't even BE a person. I mean, chances are they will be, but this conversation sort of becomes null and void if the lead character is a genderless alien or a robot of indeterminate sex. Maybe the setting will suggest the character, and maybe the character will suggest the setting but either way, I don't think it should be forced depending on what some people think is 'stale.'

That's awesome, everyone is totally entitled to their opinion on what they prefer, and I know this whole heartedly. (I cant' tell you how many discussions my husband and I have gotten into on this same topic) This is why I threw this statement in as a side comment to the topic. It wasn't really meant as something they needed to look at this stage as I'm aware it's too early. See how I also mentioned in a future game? The character model really inspired the comment as it got me thinking what they'd do with a female character within that kind of style, and based on seeing Nathan's art style.

I would respectfully also say, that you should perhaps be careful to not further assume that not everyone is not being mindful of that fact that it's early stages. If they come out specifically and say otherwise, I can understand. I believe that most people are just adding their opinions/comments/thoughts as they occur related to content shared. I pretty much respect anyway they go with it because I've never played a Double Fine game where I've either been offended by the characters or been displeased with story/characterizations of any protagonists. I'm excited to see more of the art style tests, any kind of concepts, etc as they come as well as gain the understanding of the process as it goes along. It's exciting and it's kind of illuminating many of the things discussed in my favorite podcasts/webshows in regards to game design that I've wanted to learn more about.

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