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From Amateur to Professional

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I don't know when exactly I kind of thought to myself, "I think people will pay to play this game if I make some changes"? I suppose I always thought people would like it, even if the graphics/interface weren't pretty to look at. But that of course was pretty naive.

But at some point I did decide to find an artist. The first thing I wanted to do was get some creature/character images drawn (well, maybe this was the only thing I planned on doing at first).

To find a fantasy artist I found a couple fantasy art websites where people post there art (Epligoue.net and another I forgot). And I found a guy that I liked an asked for a quote. This is how it got started for me.

Anyway, so he did a bunch of my creatures/characters. Here are a couple samples.

archangel berserker beholder bishop

I'm content with this for awhile until I start working on the online aspect of the game. And when it came time to design a lobby I went away from the usual clipart and decided to ask the same artist to do the lobby for me. I don't think I had yet to decided to abandon all my old clip art at this point but I had the money so I wanted it too look good.

So I designed a prototype and had my artist do it for me. I came up with the idea of a kind of Castle Theme. I had named my game "Immortal Kingdoms" and a bit of a medieval castle theme seemed appropriate. I hadn't worked out exactly how this would transpire to the rest of the game...but it was a start.

So I did my first prototype. It went pretty well. I got a full page background and some images sent separately. I missed some things that I would later need to get done but I didn't make any big mistakes. Later I would learn to look ahead more for things like buttons, scroll arrows, and other things when getting some kind of interface done.

Here is a screenshot of the base lobby. In the lobby you can chat, start a game, visit the marketplace, manage your runes/army, and view your inventory. The right and left scrolls are for players in the lobby and games started. The center area displays whatever area is currently viewed...from marketplace, to chat room, to rune management.


I'll go more into the specifics of the lobby and gameplay later.

The final step into really deciding upon making the game a professional one was going from a text game to a graphical one. The biggest obstacle to this was all the spells/powers. To make it graphical I would need images for these and it would cost.

I first asked my first artist for a quote but then I started looking around to see if I could find something cheaper (I needed 500+ 93x80 images). So I looked around and even found a place called conceptart.org. And you can put a request in for people to send you email bids on your project. This helped a lot and gave me some valuable experience into finding the right artist for the job.

Now this doesn't mean I didn't like my first artist. He's great and I'm still using him for my User interface stuff and the creature/character images but I needed a cheaper price (without losing much quality) for the spells/powers.

And I found someone perfect. He does a great job and is quite a bit cheaper. So I realized I can actually afford...although I have to do all my art in chunks. Lucky for me I'm learning to program and its taking me forever to make this game or I could never afford it. :)

The new artist is reliable, a great communicator, and quick. We initially did a contract (unlike my first artist who wasn't worried about it) but now that we have worked together for awhile we don't use on. I have him do 25 images a month.

Here are some samples.

dark ritual fire flash
mindjewel ice breath heal endurance 3

Well, and that's how it happened. After this I started using both artists somewhat consistently on various aspects of the project. And I officially realized I would try to make the game professional.

Only problem now is will I make any of this money spent back. I may not. Its still my first game after all. I could be spending money I will never get back.

But I look at it like this. I enjoy the experience. I love to see the visuals bring my game to life. Its entertainment for me. And it may very well pay off. I'm confident in my game play but I just haven't gotten enough feedback yet...and of course it isn't finished.

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