The Names Art, Environment Art.
Developing an art style and producing assets for a game is extremely challenging, even more so when working within the technical limitations of mobile phones. This was the case with Punch Perfect which also came across my desk with one extra caveat. The game had already begun development using a 2D pipeline. Meaning that all assets would ultimately need to be distilled into 2D sprites to be used in unity. Whereas this keeps the game very lightweight, a boon for mobiles, it means that I had to think outside of the box in terms of towing the line between 3D development and 2D output.
First things first, however – as it is with all projects – INSPO! I use lots of different ways to collate reference and inspiration but when developing a game aesthetic from top to bottom ( character, environment, menus/UI, branding etc) it helps to be able to work quickly and in wholesale. I use online mood boarding software to pull tons of images from Google and Pinterest and organise them into the different game aspects mentioned above. Nothing is too insignificant at this point but I try to hone in on very classic boxing motifs by looking at boxing films, watching clips of old matches and studying the vintage motion graphics, and looking at old posters and promo materials.
I work very iteratively, getting ideas down quickly and then refining and stripping away the fat until a desirable look is found. This pragmatic approach benefits the game in every department – it helps me nail down an achievable look which can be executed upon – but it also helps Sean begin to visualise his code and highlight any hiccups in the art implementation pipeline. Thankfully, the sprite-based method we opted for turned out to be very efficient and offered us a surprising amount of flexibility.
The interesting thing about working in 3D with a look to exporting 2D sprites, is that you get a lot of stuff for free, I’m especially thankful for not having to think about perspective and having the flexibility to move elements around in a free-form way and seeing how they translate in my 2D view.
As my bigger elements are nailed down it’s just on to adding textures and little bits of polish and flavour that combine to make a characterful environment. Using sprites means that very simple background animations (lights flickering for example) are achievable using sprite sheets, just like you would do with a character.
So that’s a quick run through of my process with regards to producing the environment for Punch Perfect.