Hey this is Kent, and I’m here to talk a little bit about some of the art changes we’ve made in this latest build of Spacepods. We’ve gone all the way back to square one with some of the graphics, which we think you’re going to really appreciate once you play the new version!
When we began working on the game, we started with the main elements: the pods. Our goal was to make a game that looked and played a bit like classic arcade top-down shooters like Galaga, Asteroids, and Smash TV. The pods and other game items we started with were very simple, chunky, pixelated ships. All of the powerups are designed to have that delicious NES quality to them, where things don’t look exactly like their real-world counterparts, but you can tell what you’re looking at regardless.
We also wanted the game to have a sense of spatial depth to it, so our background was made from a compilation of of open-licensed NASA photos, processed a bit to be as chunky as the foreground artwork. We made the sun in the middle of the map out of a real stock photo, to make everything look really high-end. The sun even had a dynamic glow effect to it that made it look like you’d incinerate if you got your pod too close.
When we stood back and looked at what we had put together, though, we had a problem: It clashed. The crispy, retro-looking ships and foreground artwork just didn’t look like it belonged with the high-resolution, effects-driven background. Some of our special effects even looked way too detailed to be part of the same game. So, we scrapped it and went back to the drawing board.
This time, we were looking more specifically at space games like Galaga, whose simplistic art style told you right away that you were flying through the stars. We worked from the same starfield as before, but this time we processed it down so that each star was just a pixel against the inky black of space. We reduced the color palette of the planets and asteroids, resulting in some very cool textures that look like they’re straight out of an 8-bit system. Again, we worked from real NASA photos, but processed them down into brightly-colored, pixelated versions of themselves.
If you played the first iteration of Spacepods, the first thing you’ll notice when you load the game is that the title screen is totally different, too. We had a really fancy 3D sequence that would play right at the beginning, in which four planets would come careening out from behind our big, bright, fancy sun, and would come to rest in the middle of the screen to become the four main menu options. It was all done in Adobe After Effects, and it looked great, but we felt that like the background in the game, it didn’t really mesh with the aesthetic style of everything else. Instead, we looked back to the classics, and put together a start screen that would be right at home in a Super Nintendo game.
I know we’ll continue making improvements as the game goes through its various stages of development, and we’ll keep you updated on our experiments and discoveries as we go!