Well, after a short break for lots of back-end changes to the website and a whole scale ramping up of development and, as I’m sure you noticed, a few announcements, I’m back. Don’t be expecting the long posts of days of yore but I will be getting you back in the loop, posts about game art and general game chit chat. Occasionally.

So I realised there was one prominent area I hadn’t mentioned at all and that was the splash screen. A much maligned topic due to its intrusive abuse – like everyone else we want to get on and play the game. No ones interested in who the game developers/publishers are, what engine or tools it was built with etc.. Just show me the game!!!! But like it or lump it we need something as the game first loads. We also need images for marketing and the website so it kills several birds with one stone.

It’s something that evolved slowly. As it had to represent the game as a whole I didn’t want to establish it too soon but I started off with some of the more obvious types of image. It’s a Bulge game so lets put a tank in it. A big tank.

Or how about some tough, well equipped SS

I don’t think so. Too ‘Boys Own’, too ‘Action Man’, too cliché, too obvious and too well known and an awful font! I find its often good to get the obvious things out of the way first but what did grab my attention were the trees and the atmosphere. To me they said more about the Bulge as a whole than the tank or the soldiers. I started gathering images for a mood board.

I was starting to get a feel for it. I wanted to show the expanse of snow, the tightly packed trees and also some small human impact. Many games pick a memorable part of the story or the main characters and do something dramatic with them. I really didn’t want to go that route. I was drawn more and more to the landscape as one of the leading characters and most important elements of the games design.

One of the most most obvious aspects of the game system is the area divisions. John had cleverly used them to show how the environment influenced the options available to the two forces. The landscape wasn’t just the place where the battle happened to take place but an imposing character in the whole story. Not only that but the battles we’d talked about as continuations in the series gave it the same level of importance. I still wasn’t sure on the best way to show what I wanted so I decided to define all the essential elements first.

The name of the game is probably a good start and if we can get the company name and logo in there that’s certainly a plus! Since Bulge will be the first of a series of games based on a similar system the style and layout needed to be something I can carry over so I want to avoid Bulge or national specific font styles. And that’s about it. So that was easy. And over this time I’d been developing the overall look of the map so had an idea of the colour pallette.

Then I found an image on a photo agency site that was almost exactly it. A huge cold, unforgiving landscape where the seemingly dominant and important footsteps soon get lost in the vastness of the landscape.


After clearing the licence I started to mock up some composite ideas but realised that little had to be done to it. While it wasn’t as hilly as I would of liked it gave me the opportunity to show the foreground and some depth. The footprints added just enough humanity and the medal added colour and more importantly context (though maybe too much cliché). Above all it felt cold, bleak, unforgiving and, with the addition of trees, claustrophobic. Sorted.

Battle of the Bulge Splash Screen

(Note: Originally Published on the Shenandoah Studio Blog)