Friday Facts #81: Architectural Developments
The #NewCitySummer Spectacular is still accepting entries until Monday, July 5th! See last week’s post for more info.
If you’ve been keeping up to date with the Discord Development News channel, you know that I’ve been posting some images there recently, in which I show some of the work I’m doing on the art side. Today, I’ll talk about the process of reworking the art in NewCity.
When I joined the team, my initial tasks were related to creating a few vehicle models and textures, in preparation for the update in which trains and buses would be released. At that time, the art style present in the game was very consistent, since Lone Pine had created most (if not all) the designs himself using very few tools. That made sure that they all looked like they belonged to the same game, as they should. Now, many months later, the issue of consistency in the art has been one of my biggest challenges.
There are multiple reasons why the art may feel inconsistent. I’d like to highlight two things that, in my opinion, contributed to that: feature additions and my own growing experience. I’ll explain those two points in detail soon. On the feature additions/changes and how that affected the art style, again, I don’t blame anyone (not even myself) for this. Had I been more experienced, I could have handled this better. Creating a video game is a journey and I do have the feeling that we are moving forward, which is the goal to me.
As far as features go, the game when I joined the team did not have support for art assets as it does now. For buildings, you could edit the textures and add new ones and then edit the building structures, saving them into designs. Shortly after I joined the team, support for modding vehicles was also added, using the .obj file format. But that was pretty much it. I could not add smaller details to designs even if I wanted to, since we didn’t have the support for any sort of custom mesh on the buildings. I tried to live through the limitations and do my best but soon more changes arrived.
The architect update landed, allowing myself (and any modder) to add decorations to designs, using once again the .obj file format (which most if not all 3D softwares can export). This system had some limitations, mostly in the sense that you could not add an arbitrary texture to that decoration and instead you had to use the palette files, which also color things like the sky, the water, the in-game ground and so on. So that made a big change to the palette files, which eventually also received animation support, not using a traditional skeleton, but using the palette files with multiple frames. We added twelve frames of animation along with the four different seasons. With that we went from two palette files to almost a hundred.
I accepted the limitations of the decorations system, since I knew that they were a huge boost to what I could do and with that system, I was able to create so much more than before, and that system had been in use until recently. That is, until now. Two new features are being added: the four sided building textures and the possibility of using the building texture on decorations (custom models) as well.
With those recent changes, now I could work almost identically to the way I was trained in for the past few years. My training as a digital artist (mostly self-taught) was around creating a model of my choice, and then adding a texture of my choice to this model. Before these new features, I only had one really, with the decorations I couldn’t get exactly the texture I wanted and with the structures I couldn’t use my custom models. With all of that, I’m now able to create better art than ever for NewCity, since this specific way that I’m creating art now is the way I’m the most experienced at.
Which gets to the point of my own experience. Like I said, I could have handled the situation more, and planned out ahead how I would keep building upon the art in NewCity without having to tear the whole thing down and rebuild it. But I’m not gonna write a long section on this one. If I did, it would be a whole thing of self-doubt and at this point, I’m mostly over that.
As a result of all of that, the art currently on the steam version of NewCity is quite inconsistent. You see buildings that simply had more time put into them than others and, unfortunately, that won’t change. We’re a small team and we do our best to make sure everyone who enjoys the game can have a beautiful city to play in. Brick by brick, I’m building a new vision of NewCity. A new vision that is the result of months of learning, interacting with the community and growing as an artist and as a person.
See you next time, Gainos out
At Lone Pine Games we are always looking for feedback to improve our game! The best way to provide it is through our community Discord, which can be found here: http://discord.gg/cz6t4J5
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