|From left to right: "A Clockwork Orange", "Don't Look Back", "Round Maze"|
Gabe's Comment: As a freelance game artist, my favorite jobs are the ones were I get to do art consultation. It's challenging to find the line between deliberate stylization and underdeveloped work. I think this project is dripping with character that can sometimes be lost in a lack of overall polish. This is the first time I've given a full review of William's art, so buckle in.
Consistency is by far the biggest problem game artists encounter. I think this is a challenge in all forms of art, but specifically game art. Over the span of years of development, artists tend to grow, styles tend to develop clearer rules and ultimately, visions change. The major issue here, is that a cohesive art style is how people recognize your game. Every piece in which the style is changed or modified makes the game that much harder to consolidate into a clear visual memory.
These pieces look like they are from the same game, however, they clearly involved a dramatically different artistic process. The result is a notable gap in style.
Notice how, on the left, every pixel is deliberate. There is this elaborately detailed structure built out of binary unites. The negative space is as valuable and significant as the positive space. When viewed from a distance this piece reads clearly and beautifully.
On the right, you have what the player can easily identify as a pillar but it doesn't strike the awe that the other piece does. the pixels inside the pillar feel random and sporadic. Its hard, if not impossible for me to tell what these pixels are meant to represent, cracks, engravings, moss? It feels like the time and effort that went into the first piece was simply not matched in the second.
Now of course the pillar is a smaller piece with less room for detail but, this is where committing to a style is important. The pillar needs to match the detail in the building, relative to its image size. Don't try and do more than you have room to do.Perspective
Consistent perspective in 2D games is how the user interprets their viewing angle. Without consistent perspective, nothing in the world feels properly grounded, because it's unclear where the ground is.
This is the sort of thing that really breaks a style. The angle of the players view can make similar styles look like drastically different games. The characters' animations would suggest a forward, slightly downward tilted camera. this is perfectly matched in the scene on the left. The structures here look clearly grounded and inline with the player. On the right however, we have multiple perspectives represented in a single scene, making the world feel floaty and confusing.
The critique of perspective extends beyond the primary structures into the randomized floor tiles...
...and, I think upward and downward character animations would go a long way for bringing the viewing angle to fruition.
Lastly, I need to address the random NPC generation system. It's so fucking charming. I really hope the NPCs contribute something significant to gameplay. They each have such unique and fascinating personalities, I wanna talk to all of them!
This style is unique and interesting. I fear it has the ability to be overlooked by people who happen to see the wrong set of scenes together. I also feel that seeing some of the many very well constructed scenes, coupled with catching gameplay, could make this project very intriguing and memorable.
I encourage you to take the time necessary to polish the universe. The very occasional totally bizarre scene will be interesting, but don't alienate players with inconsistency. Make your style consistently recognizable, even in the strange scenes. Don't let inconsistency stifle this games wonderful charm because, god can it be charming.