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Old 06-06-2007, 10:24 PM   #21
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I'm very impressed.
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Old 06-07-2007, 12:59 AM   #22
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I really appreciate the support guys. Saying such nice things about my humble efforts!

Five minutes ago I just received some news that may change everything. The first samples of music arrived from the main composer for the game. It's powerful stuff. I am blown away. You guys can't hear it yet (sorry! Spoilers and all that) but it's... wow... I've got it on loop as I type. It's really deep, powerful, eternal, layered, memorable stuff.

The new music would fit a minimalist art style. Or put another way, anything that is less than perfectly polished would sound wrong next to this music. I'm thinking in particular of the "death of Eponine" animation that took me over a week to complete. It's frankly embarassing next to the sublime music that I'm listening to right now. I am strongly favoring the minimalist approach at this point. The new music is REALLY good.

There's another thread on adventuregamers about innovation in adventure games. Brothers and sisters, if I can pull this one off (a big "if", and it will be a LOT of work) then you ain't seen nothin yet.
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Old 06-07-2007, 05:06 AM   #23
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I absolutely love what was in the video! It is fresh, invigorating, and offers endless possibilities.

My take on the consistency issue is that people who want consistency, in order not to be jarred out of the flow of the game, want to be lulled, calmed, and mesmerised. Nothing wrong with that, but my impression is that you are looking to stimulate. I definitely feel that the multiple styles achieve the latter better.

I really feel you should not try to compete with software houses who have a dozen graphic artists working round the clock on nothing but the graphics. Your totally unique strength involves variety, individuality, flexibility, and freedom. There is enormous appeal in never knowing what the next screen will hold, in terms of not only content but style as well.

Maybe the single factor on which you should base the decision whether to keep the multiple graphic styles or go for a single one is: which will you be able to have more fun with? Given that you will be giving years of your life to this endeavour, please make sure you do not turn the project into a burden.

Chances are that if you have fun with it, the kind of audience you wish to reach will also enjoy it. But bottom line, whatever you choose, I will be happy to pay good money to play Les miserables.

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Old 06-07-2007, 05:30 AM   #24
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I'm very impressed.
So am I, and I'm not convinced that a minimalistic style can be any better than what you showed us. Great video (and thanks for the commentary), the variety of stuff blew me away. A pity we didn't get much about how all of this is to fit into the storyline (an idea for the next trailer maybe?).

Anyway, I favor your current style. But maybe samples/sketches of your new idea could convince me/us otherwise.

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Old 06-07-2007, 11:47 AM   #25
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Taking on your comment that people playing the game found the changes in style jarring (which seems to be the main concern) Is this something that could be made clear upfront in the setup/story for the game?

The reason I say this is that I suspect most people found it jarring because they are used to a consistent style and so will expect it unless told beforehand. If you knew that different worlds and looks were involved (if the very lack of consistency could be promoted as a feature of the game) then I suspect it would probably come across much better.

I loved the stuff as well by the way. I wasn't sure about the boat when you approached it but when you said it was part of "kid's world" then it fit in (see, it really is less jarring when there's an explanation for it. )

Good accent as well. I think I almost recognised the town where you live. I have at least known towns very like it.
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Old 06-07-2007, 12:45 PM   #26
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Maybe the single factor on which you should base the decision whether to keep the multiple graphic styles or go for a single one is: which will you be able to have more fun with?
A very good question! I love being able to just throw in anything that looks cool. And I love the color and detail of some of the images I'm able to use (generously donated by various folks). But on the other hand I often have ideas that I can't use because they would take too long to draw or (especially) to animate. So on balance I would have most fun with the fastest method, which in the long run is the minimalist one.

At present I've had to remove almost half the game world (the past/future/other nations and undersea parts) because I simply can't get them all added in time. But with simpler graphics I could have the whole thing ready in the first release of the game, and that's really getting me salivating.

Finally, a polished and consistent but minimalist style might, just MIGHT get closer to the Holy Grail of story telling: Give the reader just enough hints and no more, so they create the most incredible story and graphics in their head as they read. That would be just sublime. Maybe it's an unrealistic hope, but you have to dream.
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Old 06-07-2007, 12:49 PM   #27
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What would you think of minimalistic characters on the current backgrounds?
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Old 06-07-2007, 01:23 PM   #28
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people playing the game found the changes in style jarring (which seems to be the main concern) Is this something that could be made clear upfront in the setup/story for the game?
Yes, that's the plan. The back story revolves around the hero's unwanted ability to move between "objective" and "subjective" realities. I have a new intro section that begins with a video of me walking up a hill near my house, then this becomes the hill at the start of the game, just to drive home the point about layers of (un)reality. (The main character animation was based on me - its a long story)

HOWEVER... even if I explain it, I think most people won't get it. First, people tend to form judgements very quickly. I will have lost half the potential users before they even get as far as the exolanation for the odd art. Second, the concept is fundamentally complicated (at least until you get used to it). I want the game to be accessible not just to sci-fi geeks, but to other people as well.

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I wasn't sure about the boat when you approached it but when you said it was part of "kid's world" then it fit in
If I do go down the minimalist route, that's the section I will miss the most. The kids' world has some really fun parts, and most of it is drawn by my own children when they were younger, so I'm quite attached to it. On the other hand, a sketchy style gives far more potential for using kids' drawings, just in a different way...
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Old 06-07-2007, 01:37 PM   #29
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What would you think of minimalistic characters on the current backgrounds?
It's an interesting idea. But it's the backgrounds that change most and have the most obvious jaggies. Also, a major advantage of uber-simple backgrounds is the potential for more creative backgrounds. Take the city streets in Paris for example. I don't think any feature on the video, but I have several thousand generic streets that are created from the same hundred houses. So all but a few of the streets look boring. Which is frustrating to me, bacause if you look at any paintings of nineteenth century the streets look amazing! I want to suggest streets like that. I can do it with very simple sketches, but I can't do it with any style that takes time to draw. And the sketches can easily draw on copyright images, while more detailed pictures can't. So many possibilities!
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Old 06-07-2007, 02:46 PM   #30
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Not exactly minimalist but a different graphics style with minimal animation whilst still maintaining a level of detail.

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Old 06-08-2007, 12:18 AM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stepurhan View Post
Not exactly minimalist but a different graphics style with minimal animation whilst still maintaining a level of detail.

Menulis
That's a really good example, thanks! Obviously I plan for mine to be smoother and to show more background, but it's good to see the precedent for simple sketches being animated.
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Old 06-10-2007, 03:20 AM   #32
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Here are three "minimalist" screenshots, so you can see what I'm talking about.

Most people haven't see the full size art from the existing game, but trust me, there's a BIG difference. I still haven't decided whether to switch styles, but I am sorely tempted, as the new style offers so many possibilities (as it's quicker to create).



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Old 06-10-2007, 05:46 AM   #33
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I've been comparing the two different styles for a short while now and my first impression is: keep the old style. Imho it'll be a completely different game with the minimalistic style, at least for the eye. It's not that I don't like the new screenshots, on the contrary. They are very elegant and I really like the woman by the window. But it's such a huge difference from the original screenshots which I immediately were impressed with and liked.
The minimalistic screenshots definitely need some colour or it'll be hard on the eyes playing a game with a mostly white and not so much to look at -screen. (My opinion again of course.)
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Old 06-10-2007, 06:55 AM   #34
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What's holding you back from just throwing the minimalist style in the mix you already have? Wouldn't that be the ideal solution?
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Old 06-10-2007, 07:15 AM   #35
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What's holding you back from just throwing the minimalist style in the mix you already have? Wouldn't that be the ideal solution?
The main reason for all this is that, based on everything I can discover, non-adventure gamers like polish and consistency. And non-adventure gamers are in the vast majority. Even if all the new stuff I added was minimalist, more than half of the game would appear unpolished and inconsistent.

I'd also need a completely new set of sprites and new work patterns for the minimalist sections, and if I'm going to all that trouble then it's not a great leap to just make everything minimalist and be done with it.

Having said that, if the new art gores down like a lead balloon then I'll have to try plan "C." One person suggested that I keep the existing art but shrink it down and design the game so all that stuff happens inside a window. Like maybe you take a book off the shelf, and each book opens ot become a window on another world, with its own distinctive art style. Shrinking the art into a window-within-the-game would make the quality look better. (But it would also make floors into a nightmare! Sludge doesn't like narrow floors, and many of mine are already very narrow indeed). So that's the fallback position.

If it turns out that most people like the new style, then fear not, the existing animations and stuff won't be wasted. I'll probably create an archive of free Sludge resources so anyone can use them to make their own Sludge game. Or donate them all to Squinky. There's a couple of very nice animations that nobody's seen yet (ideal for a mind-blowing sci fi story), so it would be a shame to lose them completely.
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Old 06-10-2007, 07:20 AM   #36
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Even though I think it would be foolish to throw away years of work, I kind of like the style of the recent screens too (I have a feeling they might look very cool animated), so I say that it's all up to you...
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Old 06-10-2007, 08:19 AM   #37
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Here are three "minimalist" screenshots, so you can see what I'm talking about.


Those pics would look great with simple watercolour effects. The buildings and stuff look too solid and precise compared to the living creatures so I think watercolour would readress the balance.
Great pics though.
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Old 06-10-2007, 09:44 AM   #38
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Those pics would look great with simple watercolour effects. The buildings and stuff look too solid and precise compared to the living creatures so I think watercolour would readress the balance.
Great pics though.
That's a tricky problem. Adding a ton of color and precision takes a long time. The simpler it is, the more I can get away with! On the other hand, if I remove the color and bold lines from the buildings then it becomes hard to see what's happening. But I might experiment with giving the character outlines some kind of hint of color. A lot will depend on how it looks when animated.
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Old 06-10-2007, 11:31 AM   #39
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I actually really like the minimalist style too. Very clean and elegant, and a lot more capable of conveying emotion. Are those actual screenshots from the SLUDGE engine?
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Old 06-10-2007, 12:29 PM   #40
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Are those actual screenshots from the SLUDGE engine?
Not yet, but they will look pretty much the same, although with slightly more detail. I'm working on some experimental sprites right now.
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