Feed Back from the industry.

7 07 2009

Recently I spoke to Ben Sizer, Software Engineer at Nottingham Based Monumental Games. As a programmer Ben works with the practical side of games, and is familiar with how art is applied in practical terms when creating a game.

I showed him the trailer for the pigeon king and asked for his feedback in terms of how he saw it practically and artisitcally.  I was really happy with how comprehensive Bens feedback was:

“- coherent art direction that supports the setting without compromising the chosen distinctive aesthetic.

– very detailed backgrounds; may be resource intensive, but this might not be a problem if there is to be no change in the camera distance or angle. use of period art and recognisable landmarks help to communicate the setting to the player without requiring textual exposition.

– trailer shows several scenario examples, providing an insight into the sort of colour schemes and textures needed throughout the project. Ideally more would be provided so that estimates could be made of the total asset requirements but what is shown is sufficient to gain a good understanding of the sort of art ‘density’ and the programming requirements to rendering it.

– the animation could be smoother, but presumably that would detract from the desired effect? There’s nothing wrong with the style as long as it is presented consistently – perhaps in a way it is too good in places?

– very effective use of depth of field effects on top of the parallax scrolling to add a 3rd dimension to the otherwise 2 dimensional medium. The blurred foregrounds may take work to get looking good in a final hardware-accelerated implementation due to the alpha blending at the edges but are definitely practical.

– for the most part, background texturing is good and not too saturated, so as to not clash with gameplay elements or foreground characters. In some places background elements may be too bright or saturated and draw the eye more than the moving characters, but it’s nothing that a mild adjustment wouldn’t fix.

– explosions and fires look good, but would need careful implementation, maybe replacement with particle effects to meet real-time performance and resource limits.

– lighting is tasteful – most of it, including the bloom effects, can be burned into the backgrounds, with little requirement for dynamic lighting.

– characters feel coherent, with similar figures and distinctive detail in each case. Character style is consistent with environmental style.

– character silhouettes perhaps not as distinctive as they could be (compare with, eg. Sam Fisher’s 3 goggle lights, Mario’s red hat) which may be slightly confusing in slow-moving scenes with distinctive background features. Characters are not lacking these features (eg. pipe, moustache, flying goggles, gas-mask on the presumed adversary) so perhaps they can be brought more to the forefront.”

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