Next…

Here is another quick concept sketch of a potential bad guy for my game. Still no code name for the game. Currently I’m calling it ‘mg’ – for, you guessed it, my game. Not very original, but there is a lot to do and a name for the game, at this point, is at the bottom of the list. This time the concept is a flying bad guy. I’m thinking of using the eyes as a ‘tying’ element. Something that repeats through all of the bad guy designs to give them all a consistent and unified look (and adding the ‘bad guy’ logo somewhere on the body will help as well).

Game Baddie

Here is a quick concept sketch of a potential bad NPC (non-player character) for my game (I think it is time that I come up with some kind of esoteric name other than ‘my game’… hmm… I’ll have to give that some thought). Anyway, I’m thinking a smallish critter made of metal – after all, all the bad guys in the game will be robotic. I think he’s a bit scary, but cute at the same time – which should work for my target audience.

Remote Freelancing

If you look at my demo reel and if you’ve seen any of my other 2d or 3d work around (well, maybe you don’t know it’s my work), you may be surprised to discover that almost all of that work has been done remotely. I have never met, face to face, most of my clients. How does that work? My answer: it works well (that way they don’t know I’m an Ogre and run away screaming). No, seriously, it has worked very well.

This is a good a time as any to note that sometimes remote freelancing is also not the way to go. Among other things it depends on the client’s requirements, trust, adaptability and desire to make it work. It depends on the remote freelancer’s qualifications, fees, communication, and availability. Remote freelancing has many advantages, but it also has some disadvantages. A client needs to decide if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

A client needs some work done, who should they hire? The way I figure it, a client has basically three options: hire an employee, hire a local freelancer or hire a remote freelancer. What determines who the client will hire? A client, almost always, likes to save money (when I’m in the client’s shoes – I like to save money!). They also like to get the best bang for their ‘buck’. A client will want the best quality workmanship for the least amount of dollars. That makes sense, they are out to make a profit – or at least a living… and waste and poor craftsmanship is not good. So what is a client to do?

As a previous client, I can say that the best thing to do is look at the three options and look at some of their advantages and disadvantages and then decide how the project will benefit from either hiring an employee, a local freelancer or a remote freelancer. Next we will look at some of the advantages of each… well, next as in tomorrow… or the next day.

‘Nother Logo Update

Just when you think you have it, another revision. I felt the previous logo was still too playful. So I took a different tact. I like the idea of having red, so I changed it to more of a blood red. I also fade it to black at the bottom, giving the whole logo a much more sinister appearance. I got rid of the contrasting colors and I’m going to stick to one color. That way I can use the contrasting colors (from the triad or just a complementary color – a color on the opposite side of the color wheel) on uniforms, flags, posters and such, in the game. I’ll sleep on it, and maybe change something else, but I’m thinking this is much better. I think…

Updated logo

Depending on your monitor and it’s settings, the last version of the logo may have looked more ‘orange’ than red. To solve this bit of ambiguity, I decided to break a bit from the triad and make the red more red (less orange – which is a playful color, and more blood red). I also made it a bit darker. He is evil, after all. I’m sure there will be one or more additional tweaks to get it to the stage where it works, but you have to start somewhere!

I’m currently toying of getting rid of the little swooshes on the ends as they bring a bit too much ‘fun’ into the picture and when you shrink the logo (like viewing it at a distance or making it the size of a badge) those elements will disappear. So why have them when you can’t see them?

The Bad Guy’s Logo

Every evil antagonist needs an identity design. No exceptions here. Our bad guy in our game is out to own the universe, but he wants to do it in style. So here is his logo. You may or may not like it, but our evil genius doesn’t care – he likes it. And when your client is an evil genius, he’s always right.

I designed his logo with the following criteria in mind. Our overall art direction for the game is playful – not dark, but fun (fun doesn’t mean it can’t be scary though). Not hyperrealistic, but neither a Tex Avery toony style. It’s somewhere in between. As such, the look of the logo has to fit into our universe. This has to be kept in the back of our designer minds.

Our client, the evil megalomaniac, is a bad guy and therefore the general shape of the logo probably shouldn’t be cuddly. The overall shape of the logo needs to reflact his ‘badness’. Hence the choice of a triangle. Sharp edges, lots of pointy parts, all of which indicate a knife or tooth shape. Of course a knife blade doesn’t usually have straight lines for edges so we curved the edges and made the overall shape more like a fang or tooth. If we had left it at that, something would have been missing. At first I just cut out a circle in the hypotenuse (remember your math? It’s the longest side on a right angle triangle). Doing this added a little variation, but something was still missing. The white area seemed empty and sparse. Our evil genius is in the habit of collecting worlds, so to speak, so why not place a symbolic representation of our earth in that spot. Position it just so, so that it looks like it’s in the clutches of our knife. Not bad… overall a symbolic expression of our bad guy.

The next thing to do is pick colors for the logo. Well, our earth is known as the blue marble because from space it looks like a blue marble. So we start with blue for the circle. Now what? Triadic harmony to the rescue. A triadic harmony is a set of three colors that are evenly spaced on the color wheel. You pick a color and then draw an equal-sided triangle on your color wheel and where the other two points end up you have your two additional colors. What a triadic harmony does is let you pick three most contrasting colors on the color wheel (relatively speaking). It just turns out that the other two colors that are on the triad are red and yellow. A red color is perfect for the main ‘tooth’ of the logo – red (in our western culture) is a very emotional color (and our evil genius is very emotional about owning the universe). Some adjectives that are often used to describe red are: passion, strength, energy, leadership, and power. That works well for our evil genius. The last color in the triad is yellow and that’s the color for the outline. Now to design the bad guy.

What are you up to?

How come there aren’t blog entries every day!? No, I’m not getting lazy. Actually, things are pretty crazy around here. But one thing I noticed is that a lot of the blogs I tend to haunt on a regular basis are fairly quiet. It’s probably everyone getting back in the groove after the holidays!

So what am I up to? There is always the work I’m doing for my clients, and most of that I can’t talk about until it’s either done, or released from NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement). It’s all remote freelance work – and I want to talk about remote freelancing some more, but I’ll save that for another day.

In my spare time (you know, the time between client projects, between renderings, meetings, sleeping, eating, exercising and all those other ‘life’ activities) I’m working on my own game. There is so much to think about when designing a game, the levels, the characters, the story, the engine, the assets, and the list goes on and on. I can see why a lot of games get started and then get shelved by independent game developers. Unless you have a dedicated team of artists and programmers you won’t get very far. Often the only way to keep the team is to get funding and finance them. That’s one sure way of keeping your staff – pay them! I’m trying something different. No, not a slave camp. I’m going to wing this one on my own. It’s pretty ambitious, but I think I have the background I need to tackle it. Maybe not the time, but definitely the background. I have about 20 years of software development experience and about 10 years of artistic experience. I’ve been doing a lot of research in the last two years (yes, it included a lot of playing different kinds of games – sigh, you have to do what you have to do…) and I think I’m ready to take the indie plunge. Of course I’ll need some outside help on things like musical scores and voices, but I’m trying to keep that to the bare minimum.

On the software end of things, I think I’ve narrowed down the field to two different game engines. Each engine has it’s strengths and weaknesses. One is open source and the other is a commercial engine. One you get the source code to mess around with (but have to release any changes to the engine back to the open source community), while the other you are limited to the capabilities of the engine. On the artistic end of things, I have the basic story, character development and one of the levels partially designed. I have some character designs, but I’m still working on those… The first thing I need to do is pick an engine, then create the assets (models, characters, animation loops) and finally put it together into a proof of concept. Hmm… I wonder who I’ll get as an animator? :o

So if you are interested in this sort of thing be sure to stay tuned since I will post more as the project progresses. Of course, life may get in the way and this may join the ranks of all those failed startups, but then again, maybe not… if it doesn’t make it, I can always blame the team.

One other thing… I found another interesting blog you may want to visit. This one is by Matt Williames, one of the animators from Curious George! I’ve seen the trailers and I think they did a fine job. They seemed to have captured the ’spirit’ of the books.

Daily Doodle

Not much to look at, but I’m trying to come up with a game NPC (non-player character) that’s semi-cute, but still harmful. It’s getting there, but I need to do more scribbling.

Brushes

If you use Photoshop for your painting, drawing and 2d work, here is a link to some free brushes for creating hair. Nice collection!