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DF Lee

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

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Beautiful and interesting. The background style it's already quite impressive. :)

But we'd like to do something a little different. Something that is a bit old school in its "2D-ness", a bit contemporary in its fidelity, and somehow "analog" in its painterly construction.

Agree, very nice.

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I really like the "camera follow into the depth of the scene" technique. I don't think I've ever seen that in a 2D game before. All of the best innovations seem obvious after the fact.

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I love the tech side of the art style, with the parallax scrolling, lighting and all that. I'm particularly interested in the zoom-in mechanic when walking into the background, this could bring a new way to play adventure games and to transition between rooms.

But as has been mentioned by others as well, I am not a big fan of Nathan's art style, especially not on the character design which I find creepy in a night-mare inducing way, with the realistic style, yet huge head and constant grin. The characters in his gallery seem to suffer of weird head shapes as well. So I hope the final style looks a bit more alive and warm.

Psychonauts for example had awkward proportions too, but those characters were lovable and cartoony enough to not fall into the uncanny valley.

Keep up the good work!

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I love the art style - and love the fact that you share it with us :)

Keep up the great work :)

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Let me point out that at the point these videos were taken, Lee and Bagel had been working on this for fewer than 2 days. These dudes are rockstars.

For programing you have a solid proof of concept in a day, and for art a great looking visual style in two.

Very very nice. =)

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Like the Background Art style, but not the Character Art Style unfortunately. But since this is only one of the first prototypes, I can only hope these changes a little bit. Other than that, keep up the good work :-)

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Very cool. I love to hear this kind of background info and the thought processes etc. behind the development of the game! :)

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Thanks DF, art updates are the ones that I have been looking forward to the most!

A quick question, if you plan to implement depth 'scrolling' for backgrounds, will they be done as vectors or just high-rez rasters in order to keep fidelity while zooming?

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Really impressed, guys. I can't wait to see what the scenes look like when they've recieved months of loving attention.

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''Someone in the forums mentioned the word "analog" when looking at the art tests, and I think that is a great word. Because when we say that the game is going to be 2D, you might wonder "why?"--other than for nostalgic reasons. I like to think of 2D as being a great medium to see "the artist's hand" at work.

I love 3D games and making 3D art, but there is a little something that can get lost in translation with 3D. And I love 2D, but quite often modern 2D games take the form of "slick Flash vector art". And there's nothing wrong with that. I love the look of a lot of those games.

But we'd like to do something a little different. Something that is a bit old school in its "2D-ness", a bit contemporary in its fidelity, and somehow "analog" in its painterly construction.''

All of this makes me SO very happy & precisely echos my own thoughts on the art-style of a modern double-fine point & click adventure game.

The cabin setting oooozes charm. The scene ever so vaguely reminds me of the starry night at the greenhouse showdown in Grim Fandango meets Day of the Tentacle with the ''radiosity'' & then the zany angles of the cabin.

Also want to commend you guys and thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so transparent & forthcoming with the all the niggly details of the development process as well!

Jp

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Hey guys, the leaks were actually on us. We set up a new vimeo account for this and it automatically tweeted these videos out without us realizing it. We caught it pretty quick and took them down, but games journalists move quickly! It's already on Kotaku and will likely show up elsewhere. We're figuring out how to respond now.

Just tell them that :)

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Very nice for a rough proto. I really dig how the art looks. It kind of reminds me of Disney's Sleeping Beauty.

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I am with Gins. I love the technical aspects of the demo., parallax + zooming the layers = neat. The art style, however, doesn't appeal to me. I hope we get better character artwork in the final game.

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wow awesome post, loved how u broke it down like that.

i look forward to seeing nathans characters and everything come together. and good work on that zooming into canvas stuff. yay

and to whoever posted stinky cheese man, damn i looved that book as a child. def one of my favorites ever!

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The people worried about the art style need to stop doing that at this stage. This is two days' work, a test of how to make the character sit in the scene, and the scrolling. For what it is, it's a pretty phenomenal effort if you ask me, but they have months to build these scenes, polish them up, fill them with details, work on the character animations and so on.

This is the sort of thing you're going to see as the game develops: unfinished stuff, stuff that is just for testing, and if people start raising concerns whenever something isn't how they'd like it to be, this forum is going to get pretty messy once the development starts in earnest.

Also, the WORST thing they could do is try to make an art style that appeals to everyone. That's the easiest way to make something that looks bland. You might have to accept that you're one of the people that's just never going to like the style.

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Some of the comments from people seeing the leaks are making me angry like you would not believe. Things akin to "hahaha, 3 million dollars and you get animation like that. This belongs on newgrounds."

ARRRGGHHHHHH

Still, really really pleased with that art style. Was hoping for something similar to Stapley's personal style, and it looks like that will be pulled off very nicely.

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Really nice style on the background art. Looking forward to seeing the gradual iteration into a unique style.

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I'm liking the art style so far, but what really impressed me was the "zoom in" when the character walked towards the cabin. In retrospect, that's something which was always missing from the old LucasArts adventures - and, really, most other 2D point-and-click adventures. The solution of shrinking down the character until they looked tiny all too often ended up looking kind of bad because they didn't necessarily scale down nicely (particularly on the limited resolutions people were working with back in the day), and having the camera being able to move forwards and backwards makes the whole thing seem more real because it's not just locked in place or jammed on a rail going left-to-right.

One concern I'd have about that mechanic is that it'd be good to make sure the pathways "into" and "out of" the screen are made very obvious to the player so people don't miss out on seeing something just because they didn't walk far out enough, but otherwise I do like this development.

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I think the leak also shows why the forums should stay as private as possible. Something got out early by accident, websites ran with it, and now some people think these are videos of the final look of the game. At least if the leaks are controlled a little, then there's time for the correct information to filter out, rather than just rumours and hearsay.

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If it were me, I'd be inclined to add a subtle blur to the layers as they come close to the camera in z-space, to fake some depth of field. This achieves 2 things: it helps make the world seem more vibrant and interactive, and also helps to focus the player's attention on certain layers/the protagonist.

Otherwise, very exciting indeed!

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I think the leak also shows why the forums should stay as private as possible. Something got out early by accident, websites ran with it, and now some people think these are videos of the final look of the game. At least if the leaks are controlled a little, then there's time for the correct information to filter out, rather than just rumours and hearsay.

At the very least, I'd suggest that DF put real big disclaimers at the start of each of the videos, like they put in the post, so that if the videos leak then at least people won't mistake it for final version footage.

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The people worried about the art style need to stop doing that at this stage. This is two days' work, a test of how to make the character sit in the scene, and the scrolling. For what it is, it's a pretty phenomenal effort if you ask me, but they have months to build these scenes, polish them up, fill them with details, work on the character animations and so on.

For the record, personally, I didn't base my opinion on the character art style on the Lumberjack demo, but on Nathan's personal gallery and to a lesser extend Psychonauts.

Is like Akira Toriyama of Dragonball fame, you only need a sample of his work to get an idea of any character that may come out of his pen.

You might have to accept that you're one of the people that's just never going to like the style.

I know you don't refer to me personally (you might not even have seen my post) but I already did. Mostly because of this:

Tim wants to use elements from the fine art style of longtime Double Fine artist Nathan Stapley (aka “Bagel”) for the characters and settings of the game.

But still, I trust DF to make the decisions it feels best whether I like them or not, and if I'm gonna judge them on anything, it will be on a finished product.

But if people have opinions, they should feel free to share them, regardless of what they are.

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Very nice looking videos and art !

I was wondering if you were, in those experimental steps, playing with a notion of depth of field to get an even more cinematic look. A real DOF wouldn't look nice of 2D handdrown plates, but maybe something like more textured or painted looks for plates in the distance. Don't you think ?

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I think the leak also shows why the forums should stay as private as possible. Something got out early by accident, websites ran with it, and now some people think these are videos of the final look of the game. At least if the leaks are controlled a little, then there's time for the correct information to filter out, rather than just rumours and hearsay.

At the very least, I'd suggest that DF put real big disclaimers at the start of each of the videos, like they put in the post, so that if the videos leak then at least people won't mistake it for final version footage.

Agree.

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Im getting chills down my spine (in a good way) when I think about how this game could be. The art style (if kept) is amazing and I can't wait to see more of the development.

Its truly amazing what u guys are doing with this project, we are so many that have waited for soooooo long for the legends Tim, and Ron, to deliver a true adventure game once again.

No pressure, but this is going to be a modern classic. ;)

THANK YOU DF!!

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Awesome post! I was a bit worried at first about the decision to go 2D, because as a player I always find it more difficult to get this sense of immersion with 2D-art. With the parallax and camera-zooming, however, it actually looks really great! And I agree with the idea that 2D is better for showing off the artwork.

Maybe I'm stupid, but I'm not sure whether I fully understand what you mean by visual style. The first thing I thought was something along the lines like this

For example, if a visual style is based on gritty, dark fantasy art, but the story focuses on romance and the primary mechanic is about picking flowers, the visual style will probably feel quite dissonant with the rest of the game. However, if the visual style for that very same game was filled with pastoral hues and soft, bloomy lighting, some of the theme would be communicated to the player by the look itself.

Yet, then you state that little is known about the game at this point, except that its going to be a 2D-adventure game and that Tim wants to use Bagel's art. Are Bagel's exploration sketches already based on some vague ideas about the game? Or, why did he come up with a cabin and a forest?

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This test was reassuring for me. I'd looked at Nathan's portfolio/gallery before and wondered whether the abstract, impressionistic style of his paintings could really be transferred to an adventure game, a genre that pretty much relies on fairly precise background details and objects recognisable enough that people know what they are when they see them. Looks good to me so far, though. Apart from the lumberjack's hideously staring eyes.

My original concern, thinking about it, was that the vagueness of an abstract art style would mean that the game would have to be more an indirect-control thing like Machinarium or Botanicula, where you are encouraged to click random things to find out what happens, rather than the more traditional style I prefer. I suppose this art test doesn't entirely address that concern, but it does mean I can worry about it a lot less.

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