SQUIDS « Making Of » #1: graphic evolution

Posted by on 12.01.11

When I was a kid and played video games, I had no clue about how games were made and I didn’t care very much. When I was a student, and while I kept playing, I started wondering how the magic was done, but I thought that somehow everything started by the graphics, the universe, the cool characters and SFX, and ONLY THEN the code was added to turn everything into an interactive game.

Guess what: it’s not how it’s done.

Most of the time, it’s much more efficient to start with very simple graphical assets that we call « placeholders », that doesn’t take long to produce and that can be replaced later on by newer and better versions. It allows to get a feel of the game much sooner, it allows to be flexible in the design and make big changes like the controls or the character abilities. As a designer and creative director, one of the hardest challenge is to share your long term vision of the game with your team and partners with low-fi graphics. Making people dream about a game with crappy graphics is hard, but it’s really worth trying. The game will keep evolving until very few weeks before its release, so flexibility is key if you don’t want to be handcuffed with a bad design or redo everything from scratch and throw away months of work spent on polished graphic assets.

However, searching for the right art direction, the right tools, the right production pipeline, is a work that can start from day one. Here is a little overview of what we did on SQUIDS. In the video below you’ll get a quick look at our research, starting by a poorly edited video made by myself at the very beginning of the project. It was a great help to explain the project and the game to everyone in the team, especially with everyone working from all over the world. Communication is key especially at the beginning of a project.

Then, our star Art Director – Jérôme Reneaume – took the lead and tried a few things with our initial plan of making a tiled based game. Eventually we evolved towards a much better looking solution that was also tied to a better gameplay with smoother collisions.

Hope you’ll like this little video of the birth of SQUIDS.

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