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49 Prototypes games

Art & Rotoscoping

It’s hard finding the right artstyle for a game and deciding on it is just as hard. Because it’s hard to go back on a choice made with limited resources and time. I’ve been consciously refraining from making a decision on it. Not that I don’t have a style in mind. I’ve been hoarding art on my Pinterest for a while, and all of them could suit the project well. But what suits best? For the effect I want to achieve, for the scope and budget, and for technical limitations. With the release planned in a couple of months and the gameplay more or less working, I need to start working towards art.

A couple of months ago, during the Dutch Game Garden Network Lunch in Utrecht, I put up a request for an artist to help me out. And it didn’t take long before visual developer Anouk O’Leary reached out to me. I commissioned her for a couple character designs that came out great. Her designs give a lot of insight what may or may not work in the game. Since I will (need to) animate the art myself, I’ll be drawing over 1600 frames for all the enemies and the player. (Don’t do the math how long it will take me..) So the simpler, the better. Besides that, I’m especially a fan of her work on the critters, though I can’t tell you yet what they are for (yet).

For the current build, I’m still using the original old drawings I made by tracing a couple of stances I put together in Cinema4D. Most people mention they like the art already, but it’s time to shelve these guys. Most of the animation sprites are only 3 frames, some only one. And for the game I’m really looking for an animation that can smoothly transitions slower and faster within the gameplay. And for that reason, I’ve bought a morph suit!

Rotoscoping

If you’re not familiair with rotoscoping. It’s a pretty simple technique. You capture video footage of movement and then trace each frame. The result is a super fluid animation because it’s based on real footage. It’s also a great way to get the animations down if you don’t have any talent in drawing body proportions in 3D like I do!

Fire and Ice Gif
A nice example of rotoscoping in the old Fire and Ice cartoon.

With the morph suit in possession, I’ll need to chalk it up with different reference points. Since I’ll be having multiple enemies in the game in different stages I will use different tracing colors for each enemy. Unfortunately, the morph suit came without a head piece, so I’ll need to find a mask to go with it.

Another thing is, I don’t fit in the suit! I thought I bought it in my size, but it’s less stretchy than I hoped it would be. Luckily, when I was looking for a location with enough spacing and light for the recordings at a buddy of mine helped me out. While recording some testing material he used a couple of his Hapkido sword techniques and that fits nicely with the needed animations. So I hope I can convince him into wearing the suit for the actual recordings!

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49 Prototypes games

Making 49:Prototypes public

I haven’t shared a lot on 49:Prototypes. That’s mainly because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. Originally the game was part of a much larger concept, and 49:Prototypes is only a teeny-tiny slice of that idea.

Even with 49:Prototypes being that small slice of a greater whole, I was afraid that I needed to dumb down the game even further. My coding skills are horrendous, and the scope was still was quite large for my taste. Large being, it will take me more than 6 months. Starting 2019 I initially set out to do one-month-games, now i’m already a couple of months in with 49:Prototypes and got a couple of months more to go. Check this link if you don’t know what 49:Prototypes is.

In these past few months though, I’ve made quite a bit of progress and received a lot of enthusiasm and positive feedback when showing it to friends and colleagues. Initially they were confused by the fast paced mechanics and the duality of the interface and the movement of the characters. But after they got the rules of play down, they were eager to beat each others score and get a higher ranking.

Letting others play I noticed three big takeaways. One being, they already like the current art style and design, even though I keep commenting that everything they see is placeholder art (artistic self protection). So I might keep the final art more in line with the current placeholders and spend less time on new art.

Secondly, that the game is waaaaay to hard and confusing to understand at first. So I need to start thinking how I want to introduce a tutorial. I’ve already put in quite some effort to gradually improve the difficulty while you play. As a player, you progress through 4 different ‘worlds’, each world presenting a new layer of options and restrictions in battle as well as new enemies. So, back to the drawing board on that one, see if I can simplify it even more.

And last, but the most important one; they enjoyed it! So that gave me some new incentive to keep working on the game and that it does have some potential in the market. It’s a common developer thing, when you lock yourself and your project in from the outside world you will soon find yourself in a tunnel vision, where either everything is great, or everything you made sucks. So it’s important to keep playtesting, for feedback and for validation.

Anyway! This is the start of me sharing more 49:Prototypes content. I’ll be polishing a test build in January and want to share some game-play soon. I’m also thinking on showcasing the game in February and will start looking for Alpha testers. If you want to stay updated, check out my freshly made newsletter in the footer and follow other vague updates of mine on twitter.

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First words

Hello world!