So we have the rough playtest map that John had worked up that shows all the most important gameplay features. The design process was still on going and I had no idea if the map layout would change in the future but it was all I had to work with so for now I used it as a template.

Bulge Playtest Map for John B

If you’ve followed the first 6 diary entries you’d probably expect that, knowing exactly what I was doing, I immediately produced the finished map. I hope Diary #7 indicates that things rarely follow a straight route and that sometimes you need to feel your way into a project before you find the right path.

The very first thing I did was the header for the website. It was the equivalent of putting down that first brush stroke on a perfectly white canvas and it did its job.

First Bulge Slider Image

This was litterally where it all started. It made me aware of the contrast of the black and white which led me to explore the uses of colour and tone in snow scapes, to gather all the photo reference and to see how others had approached the same subject. Constructive research is always time well spent and in the past I often asked clients for advanced notice of jobs so I had more time for it.

Before I go on I just want to make a few things clear.

While I’ve been professionally creating 2D and 3D art for print, games, TV and to a limited extent films for the best part of 20 years this is my first gig as an art director. It’s considered a natural step for someone with my experience but Eric and John B are both published designers and art directors. While everyone has shown nothing but faith in my ability, it’s kind of daunting being cast as the rookie, directing the art for a game designed by another art director and on a platform none of us had any experience with. Through these early stages I found I was hesitant and lacking in confidence to really push my own ideas.

I was also painfully aware that my comparative lack of immersion in the world of Redmond Simonsen left me slightly at odds with the rest of the team. It’s never been made an issue of, but it was at the back of my mind even before I started. It took me a long time to accept the position not because I wasn’t excited by the possibilities and prospects but because I was under no illusion about the responsibilities, expectations and of who I might be expected to live up to. This troubled me as, as I’ve already mentioned, my thoughts on his ideas and his artwork weren’t in harmony, yet he’s been a major positive force in a lot of people lives and careers and his role in shaping the industry and how this company would be run could not be underestimated.

So being a regular on Facebook, having just got my iPad and lots of games and more so because of the style of Redmond’s artwork I started looking at whether the game would work with vector artwork. I barely got passed blocking it out before I realised it really wasn’t a direction I wanted to pursue.

A shocking early test.

first steps in Vector

While it’s obviously little more than a vector thumbnail, it wasn’t feeling right. Clean edges, constant tones, I could see where this was going and didn’t like it. Even if I’d filled those coloured areas with vector trees it wouldn’t work. I want something more tangible. Less graphic, more .. not so much painterly but with more .. I don’t know .. weather? But whatever, it’s not right. It’s lacking the life and subtlety of the thumbnail colour studies. While it wasn’t an immediate decision in real life .. for the sake of brevity ..

.. I was now more confident that the approach I wanted to take would give us the result the game warranted despite an initial reservation that the time and work involved might be prohibitive. I knew some elements had to be vectors and others could be painterly. I’d done something similar with Rommel so was reasonably comfortable I could get the balance right. Unlike Rommel I could keep much of the essential terrain painterly with just the artificial items such as borders and area names as vectors.

So away I went .. and here’s a teaser.

Again any opinions or general comments, good or bad are very welcome.


All the original posts can be found here ..

The Map – Beginnings
The Map – Finding a direction
The Map – The Visual Feel
The Map – The First Brush Strokes
The Map – Decisions Part 1
The Map – Decisions Part 2