This week I’m going to talk about the art of Windforge and the world and cultural framework that it is based on.
We have a few high level goals for our art:
Represent and support the gameplay: You might be able to argue that this is the most important purpose of the art. The art and animations should clearly represent what is going on in the game, and important objects should be easily identifiable and easy to learn. Function is also an important part of Windforge, so you will find that much of what you see in the game will serve a gameplay or implied purpose.
Represent the world and culture of Windforge: Windforge will be based in a rich and interesting world to explore and experience, and it is important that the art reflects this. Much of the fashion and technology of the game derives its inspiration from dieselpunk, and as a result much of the art will be dieselpunk inspired. I’ll write a bit more on how dieselpunk was chosen below. I’m also interested in exploring the contrast between the natural environment and human-made technology, and I believe the art will be a great way to show this.
High quality and easily recognizable: The art of Windforge will probably be the first thing that people will see and notice in the game. I would love it if people are able to instantly recognize our game just by looking at a screen shot. We also believe that the art style will help distinguish us from other games in this genre. This is part of the reason that we chose to use a hand drawn 2D art style over a rendered and lit up 3D. (Not to mention that it probably helps keep our costs down.) Personally, I love hand drawn art in games, and I also love that the final game will likely look very close to our concepts because the art is hand drawn.
I have a confession to make. I didn’t know what dieselpunk was before I started designing this game. We originally chose steampunk for our framework to design Windforge’s technology, culture, art, etc. We felt that steampunk fit well with the do-it-yourself, inventor, and crafting culture, that we wanted to portray in the game. (Please refer to the links section at the bottom for more information about steampunk and dieselpunk.)
However, in our early concepts based on steampunk, I always found that what I was seeing wasn’t quite right and I didn’t know how to articulate it properly. I wanted something kind of like steampunk but grittier and more down to earth. An inside joke around the office even started that we need to “make it 30% dirtier”. Eventually, I was introduced to dieselpunk and I thought it was a perfect framework to design the game.
This choice also helped constrain and refine the objects and technology found in the game, which in turn affected the gameplay. I believe we found ourselves in a feedback loop between the art, game world, and gameplay, where everything inspires, constrains, and supports everything else. I think this synergy will show, and I hope it will help create something special that people will love.
Steampunk vs Dieselpunk: http://www.lindsaykitson.com/2012/03/05/steampunk-vs-dieselpunk
Dieselpunk hovercraft art link: http://www.hayenmill.deviantart.com/art/Dieselpunk-142841452