Game looks amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your process and behind the scenes work with us. Love the 80's vibe too❤
Art style evolution
Introduction to the game's art style
Bubblegum Zombie Hunter at its conception was meant to be a very colourful bright and fun game with over the top characters and agreat atmosphere. to encapsulate this the arts main focus is COLOUR. The more of it the better. But even with a strong idea at the start your ideas will always evolve as you progress. Our journey so far is certainly proving that change and evolution is a key component of our development cycle. It's dangerous to constantly search for the "best" look as art is rarely even "finished" you have to choose to abandon it at a certain point.
The initial vision for the art style
Obviously I wanted bright colours, and that's hard to do and keep it "horror" as the genre is more know for muted colours and darkness. Shows like stranger things were a big influence, their use of colour whilst keeping it freaky is a great benchmark. Our world isn't set in the 80's but I wanted everything to feel like it could belong in that era. To make the game feel more authentic, I would reference places and objects from that time period when designing anything. Its incredible how different things were back then and personally I love that era... there's no denying it has very popular aesthetics, and the fun and colourful memories it can conjur make it an ideal artistic approach for us.
Evolution of the art style over time
Naturally things change over time and Kaylee's sprite and the sprites in general have taken on the biggest changes
We made the decision after the first demo came out to re size all the sprites. The original sizes for standard enemies and the player was 32x32.. but it didn't give a lot of room and it limited the characters quite a lot. so we opted to go a little bigger to 48x48. the slight increase keeps the characters "cute" stature but it allows the character to fit the promo art better. We added more frames to Kaylees run , and the whole sprite had a big overhaul. We're really pleased with the new sizes now and all our standard sized enemies and characters are 48x48, with boss characters being 64x64.
Challenges and successes in developing the art style
The challenges faced when designing a world, characters and everything they interact with are many... staying consistent across many months can be hard. Sometimes you have to stop yourself from going back to old work to "re do it". The tile set for the school hasn't been touched since the original demo. It's probably the only art asset in the whole game that hasn't had a re touch. but I think that adds to it, it feels old to me.. and that's good, in a way.
The Dead Ringer - coming soon to a graveyard near you
Other challenges include animating 64x64 characters...(above) there's a lot that goes into animation, and the bigger the sprite, the harder you have to work, but it looks great when its done.
Every sprite in BGZH has been hand animated and it's a long process with a steep learning curve. The success comes when you finally have a beautiful sprite that looks so awesome in the game. I've often wondered how environment artists feel on something like Uncharted... Those worlds are so detailed and yet as a gamer, we tend to blast through them in seconds. The months of tree placement and lighting that goes into those levels is insane. It's not nearly as difficult as that on Bubblegum Zombie Hunter, but i'd like to think its still cool to look at whilst you're running around blasting the undead. The harder part for me is being the only animator on the project, you have to know where and when to cut corners. If i want to keep my sanity and actually get the game released then it's important to say things like "i'll keep this simple".
Final thoughts on the art style and its impact on the game
The art is my favourite part, it's the things people remember, a cool scene, a character they love, a certain effect on a weapon.. a sound... those things that stick in your brain, and creating those is one of the most satisfying feelings you can have. Bubblegum Zombie Hunter's art is dripping with colour and nostalgia references that I think many people can and will connect with. I want people to feel the games heart beat and take in all the sights and sounds, so a lot of care and attention is going into those aspects, as well as making it fun and challenging of course.
Preview of future art style developments
Obviously the game will continue to grow and, the style will evolve and shift some more as we build out the remaining levels. but overall I feel like we've hit a nice flow and the game will only benefit greatly from more and more of it.