“Astral Battle” – Music by Send More People

I thought it might be interesting for folks to see the music that we’ve been generating for our projects. Even though only one game has been published, we’ve got done dozens of songs.

Astral Battle is a soundtrack from “Drift”, Send More People’s once and future space game project.

The song was intended to be the in-combat music for a game set in the far reaches of space. Drift went through several concept iterations which ended up removing ship to ship fighting. The piece has a soft spot in Derek’s heart, though, and he plans to work it in, when and if Send More People returns to Drift.

Author: Derek Gildea

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A Lantern, A Lesson Learned

A lantern I drew this afternoon.

One trick I’ve discovered is that is insanely helpful to have a second window open with some existing art to reference. I used to think that this was sort of cheating – that the best artists are able to draw from their own imagination – but these days I’m learning that the benefits of a real-world example are too good to refuse. Reference images give ideas for proportion and how things are balanced. After tracing some parts, and improvising on others, I have an art asset that will probably make it into the final game.

A conversation point arises. Eric and I need to start talking story. Shadow figures have already presented themselves to us, half-formed. Who are the “Deepfolk” who made this lantern – what is their story? Once we decide what the story is surrounding the people, we can envision culture, and as a product of that, their architecture and design. Are the Deepfolk a rigid, pragmatic people? Are they artisans? I have to say I want to avoid the trope of an ancient, now extinct civilization that leaves behind fantastic technology. If we go that route I hope we can at least variate upon a theme.

This lantern, by the way, may use a particle emitter for the flame once it’s through. The chain will be made up of a series of successive joints, with physics attached so that the lantern will sway in the wind. Once it’s working I may take a page out of Eric’s book and make a tutorial video on how its done.

Learning more every day. Stay classy, folks.

A New Climbing Silhouette, a Dev Diary

Another silhouette to climb. This one was made in illustrator, then exported as a png file (not a vector). Even though there are pixels in this baby, it’s looking moderately sharp. Eric, for his part, is thinking of adopting a “node-based” drawing script that he was working on for Drift. Essentially, we would be able to create node points and the script would generate a mesh by linking between all the nodes – then we would fill it in with a repeating material texture. Something akin to what the Chasing Aurora guys are doing. We’re really in awe of them, and we’re thinking we’d like to pay homage to their art style. Maybe.

Eric and I are struggling to find a time for both of us to work on the game. Eric says he’s suffering from the classic conundrum of an indie developer with a day job – too much time to think about doing the game, and not enough time for execution. He has a lot of priorities on his plate right now – his long-term girlfriend and his family life not the least important among them. So he’s working on the game every other Friday, and squeezing in time when he has the spare hours. I feel for him, and totally support him working to get his life in order. Sounds like our basic challenge as indie game designers!

For my part, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the art design of the game – what I’d like it to be, and what I can accomplish. I’ve been spending hours working with the new tablet and watching tutorial videos on concept art and digital painting. There’s a lot to learn here, but I’m pretty sure that I can design something that fits with my style and still looks groovy.

Anyway – keep on trucking.

Oh by the way: here’s a great article we read on staying motivated during the indie games process.

Oh, and also this:

Learning to Draw Concept Art

Before the game comes the concept. While Eric is busy working on the game’s backbone – the climbing mechanics – I’m trying to learn how to draw environments. The trick, as I’m discovering, is to make a scene evocative of the feel you’re seeking for but still done quickly.

Truth is I’ve never been incredibly skilled with drawing. My best work has always been with lineart, like the webcomic I did for a while in college. But now that the game needs art assets more complex that simple geometric objects – as in Shaped – my skills have got to be stretched and improved. Like I told Eric, the trick is finding a style complex enough to bring across what you’re interested in, but simple enough that you can do it quickly and easily. And consistently. I’m terrified that somehow the elements of the game aren’t going to fit together. Phil Phish talked about that problem in the Indie Game movie, he ended up redoing half his art in a grueling process so that it all meshed together correctly.

The above picture is clearly a concept work of a concept work – just a playground for me to experiment with various techniques. One of them is using varied-opacity layers to draw receding walls, as you can see on both sides. The other is messing around with soft and hard shapes. The foreground is dark and fairly hard, but I’ve learned that an environment looks more complex when light is subtly shifting, as in the background. The water effect I experimented with is total crap – still going to have to learn more about that. I’m fairly happy with the rays of light breaking into the cave.

I get the impression that I’m learning… which is good, I hope.

Derek

For the heck of it, I’m throwing in our current backdrop, where you can see me attempting to figure how to light stone.