• entries
    23
  • comments
    52
  • views
    33586

How extra budget can increase your visual quality... and put you into troubles

Sign in to follow this  

978 views

[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS']

[indent=1]

This article shows the difficulty of maintaining Art Direction consistency on a project when its scope and visual quality suddenly increase during production! First, we'll explain the assets creation guidelines we decided at the beginning of the project. Then we'll see how quality problems emerged as the production budget increased, and how we dealt with them!

Art constraints for small budget

[/font][/color]

[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS']

[indent=1]When we started the production of Epistory (codenamed "The heroine of no tale" in those ancient times), the sales expectations were quite low because we thought we were targeting the niche of typing games. We already wanted a unique art direction, made of unfolding environments and paper-crafted items, but the budget constraints made us humble concerning the visual quality of each asset. So we ended up with those production guidelines to create game assets :

[/font][/color]

  • Simple geometry
  • All assets using the same multi-usage shader
  • No complicated texture mapping (basic planar UVs)
  • No unique texture per asset, only generic colored patches gathered in a few textures

    [color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS']

    [indent=1]basic_asset.jpg

    [/font][/color]

[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS']

[indent=1]Despite our small budget, all those assets put together created a simple but pretty cool look :

[/font][/color]

[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS']

[indent=1]2015-01-16-envir01.jpg

[/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS']

[indent=1]Those constraints made us 3D artists sad but it should have allowed us to make all assets and environments in time for the game release, so we were quite happy with it! But that was before we started communicating on the game...

[/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS']

[indent=1]Change of scope

[/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS']

[indent=1]The art team was producing the first levels of the game, and we started to spread some images and videos, building the community. At that point we understood that something was happening, youtubers were talking about our game, forums and conventions gave us very positive feedbacks. Our little typing game was becoming pretty popular, people were really loving it! The first round of Early Access conforted the first impression. As thousands of people added "Epistory: Typing Chronicles" into their steam wishlist, we realized that instead of making a funny but small scoped typing game, we could scale things up. We decided to transform it into a unique story driven adventure game, with lots of dungeons, collectibles, a scenario written by a real professional writer, and even give a voice to the narrator.

[/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS']

[indent=1]As the deadlines were pushed to 2016, the art team jumped at the chance to put more visual quality into the game!

[/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS']

[indent=1]New quality standards

[/font][/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)][font='Trebuchet MS']

[indent=1]We wanted to make the most of this extra production time, and we put more details into the new assets, so we basically took the opposite of what we were doing until now:

[/font][/color]