Phew, it’s been awhile since we’ve had an actual developer update! Last time we checked in was back in January (!). We were planning on creating all new backgrounds for each level, but after much consideration we decided to stick with our old backgrounds with a few tweaks. We are, however, updating our tiles as we’ve ended up with a much better level creation system that is much more flexible than our previous solution. Aside from this, we’re updating some animations and even planning on adding some perks to add a new layer to the gameplay.
As you would expect, we’re plugging away on the levels so we’ll hopefully have the levels done soon-ish. With that said, we plan on having some closed beta testing starting in August, so if you’re interested, be sure to sign up for our newsletter where we’ll make the announcement.
What Else Are We Up to?
Besides The Painter’s Apprentice, we’ve also been working on two other games. The first is an educational game for a competition. It’s a turtle racing game where you must answer questions correctly in order to increase the speed of your racer. As you progress through each level, the questions get harder and will go from addition and subtraction to multiplication and division.
And, of course, we’ve been working on Fairy Trails. There’s new direction for the characters so we’ll be updating the enemies and heroes to a more consistent style. What else? Well, we’re hoping we can release some small games while working on the longer games (like Fairy Trails) so we can have a larger portfolio. This means we’ll need some more artists, so if you’re interested in joining the team or know someone who is, please feel free to reach out email@example.com
One of the things I love about showing my game off to a crowd is that it acts as an amazing, live QA session. We’ve been able to fix a lot of different bugs thanks to events like Playcrafting. Just recently we went to MAGFest to show off The Painter’s Apprentice and we found even more items that need some fine tuning. Some we were already aware of. Others, were a bit of a surprise. We’ve made notes on all of the comments and while we can’t implement all of the cool ideas in this game, we may consider it for a sequel or prequel (yes we’re already looking at a franchise of sorts).
We’re thankful for everyone who has taken the time to play the game and provide us with feedback. I also know we’re doing something right when multiple people spend the time to play the entire demo all the way through. It’s exciting and always great to see. It means we’re doing something right.
We can’t really show too much of what we’ve been up to because it’s mainly just been small tweaks to the code here and there to make it run smoother. But believe me, even from last year to now, there’s a huge difference in the way the game looks and feels. For starters, we’ve switched gears to focus on PC first so you can play with a controller versus touch screen. While our mobile version works well, there’s just something about playing the game with a gamepad in hand. And of course, there’s the coloring effect. It definitely adds a whole new element to the game. People loved it and it was a joy watching gamers jump around and color everything in.
Here’s what our MAGFest 2016 trailer submission looked like:
Here’s what our latest trailer looks like:
Pretty huge difference right?
With that said, there will be some huge changes in the future. We’re updating the art to fit both the art movement AND the character a bit better. We want people to be able to look at the backgrounds and immediately realize they’ve switched to a different art style. So we’ve brought on an art director who has extensive knowledge of the various time periods who’ll help out. We’re hoping to still stay on track with our planned release date…at least that’s what we hope! If you’d like to see some of the changes, then subscribe to our newsletter. We’ll be updating you on all of that and more!
We’re really excited for how everything is shaping up. If you’d like to try out the game, head on over to our downloads section to try it out.
One of the hardest things about creating a game is how to incorporate a tutorial. For a lot of old school gamers from the Nintendo era, a hands off approach seems to be the best option. The game itself teaches you how to play by forcing you to perform certain actions. For mobile games, however, the players are very different. Many don’t necessarily have the time or patience to learn the ropes. At the same time, they also don’t want a long and involved tutorial. It’s a pretty difficult balancing act and it can really make or break the flow of the game. For The Painter’s Apprentice, we decided to go with a mainly hands-off approach. Rather than have walls of text explaining the buttons, we devised simple plan that also weaves back into the art theme – tutorial sketches. If you’ve been following our our Twitch channel you might have seen us create a couple of these sketches.
We wanted to keep the tutorial as simple and streamlined as possible so players could immediately jump into the game and get a handle on the controls. As well, it melds perfectly with the story and theme.
A lot goes into the creation of a mobile game. While the game might seem simple, we actually have a full team working to make the game as amazing as possible. To give you a glimpse into the game development process we’ve asked team members to give us a glimpse into their work. On a previous post we had Ray, our composer, tell us how he created his music and sound effects. Now we have Grace Yang – our background artist – provide us with a cool video and little bit of background.
What got you interested in becoming a concept artist?
I’m one of those artists who grew up in a town where people thought that all artists were either fine artists or art teachers. So I grew up thinking that art was meant as a hobby. It wasn’t until senior year in high school that I found out (through picking up a Halo concept art book) that there were other kinds of jobs for artists, and that this type of profession might be worth looking into. I always loved video games and animation but my knowledge of the process behind their creation was very limited and I didn’t know where to start. I decided to apply to an out-of-state art college in Los Angeles, where the heart of the entertainment industry was and I got accepted. As a Digital Media major, I was able to discover more about the artist industry in general. Though I learned about the many other types of jobs in the process of creating a video game or film, my one true love has always been drawing and designing so I have the most fun being a concept artist!
What is the first piece of artwork you created?
I’ve been drawing since I was very young, so I can’t say for sure what my first artwork exactly was. I loved Sailor Moon and Pokemon, so I drew a lot of fan art, and I also loved animals, so I drew the animals from photos from my favorite books.
Explain your general process when creating the backgrounds for the Painter’s Apprentice.
Since I would be working in different artistic styles, (some which I’m not familiar with at all) the first thing I do is to research and look for reference photos of paintings or pictures done in that style. After all that research, I finally start on the background assets. First, I start off with the sky and ground, and adjust the colors based on what I think best suits the current art style. After that, I go through the list of the other assets, such as the trees, shrubs, flowers, houses, and clouds, and depict them in the current art style. After all the assets are done, I clean them up and do minor color adjustments if necessary to make the level look cohesive. I then show a mock-up of an in-game background level to the director (Jasmine Greene) and then either edit it some more or move on to the next level.
How was your experience working with different art styles?
It was really fun! I have experimented with different art styles before but this was my first time trying to imitate specific art styles. Researching the art style before I started was very useful because I had to figure out how brush strokes were made (in traditional mediums) and imitate that digitally. I also had to figure out color palettes that suited the art styles but were not a direct copy of an existing painting. Some art styles I was initially not familiar with but became some of my favorite to work with were Fauvism and Neo-Expressionism. Overall, it was also a great learning experience.
Do you have some words of encouragement to aspiring artists/designers?
I feel like my advice will be pretty similar to what others have said, but as a concept artist, I think it’s especially important to always keep drawing everyday. It could be drawing from life or by mind. Either way, you’ll naturally improve. Other than that, what has personally helped me the most was going to art college and being able to immerse myself with fellow artists (which was a pretty new experience for me), learning from them, and learning from teachers in the industry. If college isn’t an option, signing up for individual classes could be useful too. Lastly, know what you are truly passionate about and don’t hold back. Art should be fun!