Art Dev Blog #2: Thoughts On Improvement

By @ 03/28/13 in artblog

I imagine a common conundrum for many artists who work on one project for an extended period of time is looking back on past work that had been greenlit and seeing utter garbage. Then comes the troubling task of deciding whether to keep what is there and endure hours of eye twitching or remaking it and possibly wasting precious hours.

This issue is no stranger to the games industry and occurs across the board, be it AAA titles, indie companies and one-man projects. Fez, L.A. Noire and Spore are some of my favourite examples and extended development caused problems after release for these games regardless of how beautiful and fun they are.

So where is the sweet spot between time and quality?

As Township’s development deadline looms ever closer and my final list of tasks is compiled I have to start seriously thinking about this. A year and a half ago my artistic skill was peanuts compared to today and I’m starting to find cracks in some of my original assets that I once found acceptable.

The personal rule I’ve been following is the harmony between consistency and feasibility. My latest completed asset was an updated crafting table, it took about 5-6 hours to complete (around the same time as the original) and it will slip into the game comfortably where the old asset stuck out like a sore thumb.

In retrospect, something I wish I could turn back time and change is the original template we chose for the characters. I’ve found the current one has become awfully restrictive to work around. The characters were the very first art assets that was created for the game and I was much less experienced then. If I redesigned the characters now, this is more the direction I would take (on the right).

Regarding character art, it would be impossible at this stage of the game to start over. Too much work has been poured into hundreds of items of clothing and frames of animation. I try my best not to let it affect me as the characters have such an integral part of the game. Maybe the odd eye twitch every now and then.

On a positive note, it’s gratifying to see how much you can improve in a short amount of time when it’s ugliness is staring you right in the face day in day out.


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