First, I think an introduction is in order. I am half of the game studio Pixel and Texel, more specifically the Pixel half, and I'll be sharing my thoughts, screenshots, and progress as we develop our new action RPG for the iPhone! My real name is obviously not Pixel (it's Andrew), but I think the name is indicative of what I've had on the brain lately. As we work on our new game, I've had to come to grips with creating a visual style that balances nostalgia with our modern game engine. Here's a first peek at some screenshots taken from our current build:
I'm so excited to share these first images! It's been an interesting process figuring out the style for our game. As our studio began thinking about the kind of title we'd like to develop, we realized we had a deep love for classic action/adventure/RPG games. Titles like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and The Secret of Mana live on in many gamer's minds as fantastic games. We decided to take our love of this genre and create something new for the iPhone.
One aspect of these classic games that always bothered me was repetition. Before I understood sprite, tiles, and the technical limitations of older game consoles, I constantly pondered the "sameness" of game worlds. I hated how every tree in the forest looked the same and how this rock looked just like the last fifty rocks I saw. Some action RPGs on the iPhone still use the tile convention for game creation, and, frankly, I think the look is too stale for the modern era.
Avoiding this stagnation became one of the most important parts of our design as Texel began creating his engine. In the end, we were able to treat the entire game world almost as a living painting, where I'm given a giant canvas and an almost infinite number of object types I can place. This sort of freedom has been immensely satisfying, because I can avoid the dreaded "tile" look and have the sort of variety in the world that makes it feel like a living and breathing place.
I love 2D pixel art. From Metal Slug to Street Fighter II, some of the most beautiful things I've ever witnessed on a game screen are loving animated sprites. As development on our game continued, I felt like I wanted to convey this nostalgia in our game world. My solution was that all characters should be rendered in a classic pixel style. I first worried that sprites with a hard black outline would seem out of place in a carefully painted world, but was pleasantly surprised when I finished the first character. The difference in style really helps the characters stand out against the background! As development goes on, I'll share some tricks/thoughts I've had as I create these little guys. Pixel art is really difficult but very satisfying!