Arcen Games

General Category => A Valley Without Wind 1 & 2 => : x4000 June 21, 2012, 12:16:39 PM

: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 21, 2012, 12:16:39 PM
Update: If you just want to see the latest samples and not all the discussion, then please see the following locked thread: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,11063.0.html

If you want to actually discuss those samples (and we'd love you to), please come back to this thread and do so.  It was suggested in this thread that we make a locked thread with just the latest versions of the art, so that there's not so much scrolling around to see things side by side, so that's what we've done.  Cheers!



Originally here: http://forums.indiegamer.com/showthread.php?30388-PAID-Looking-for-artist%28s%29-to-develop-new-style-for-existing-2D-Steam-game.

And here: http://www.wayofthepixel.net/pixelation/index.php?topic=14189.0

Figured I'd also make a post here in case there are any pixel artists (or similar) that olks here know.



The game in question
You may or may not have heard of A Valley Without Wind (http://store.steampowered.com/app/209330/), or my company's other projects AI War and Tidalis (also both on Steam). AVWW is our latest title, just having arrived on Steam in late April.  So far it has done reasonably well for us, but there seems to be a very big divide in opinion of the game based around the art in particular.

The Problem
The art that is currently used by the game is all spritesheet animations, mostly which was rendered in Vue or DAZ 3D and then which was post-processed rather heavily in photoshop to give it a painterly look.  Some of the tiling backgrounds were from Genetica or other sources.  In other words, mostly the art used here is royalty-free stock art which I then lit, rendered, and post-processed into a semi-consistent somewhat-painterly style.

Some people seem to genuinely like the art style, and I think that it is beautiful in parts.  Other aspects do not gel however, and I know that some things could be better.  There are also inherent limitations of doing prerendered 3D for enormous numbers of objects: all those textures make loading slower, take up RAM, etc.  That puts extreme limits on the number of frames we can have in a given enemy animation, for instance, and makes something like a transition from one state to another impossible.

That's less of a problem with something inherently more abstract, like pixel art; but I think we're falling into something akin to the "uncanny valley" with the current art style.  It's causing lots of moaning on various forums, and it's my belief that we could see wider success with an art style that was more universally accepted.

The catch-22 with this is that AVWW has already been a very expensive game to make, and it has thousands of images already comprising it.  And we are always working to add more enemies, more spells, more objects, etc.  So this means that if we want to try out a new art style, that's going to be very expensive because of the amount of rework to be done, as well as then the ongoing cost of adding ever more content.  On the surface, this would make it sound like we are either stuck with the current art style or going to have to rely on incredible amounts of charity from artists -- the former may wind up being what happens, but the latter is not ethically acceptable to me (or remotely sustainable in the long run).

The Project
Ultimately, right now what I want to do is work with several artists to develop out several different prospective art styles.  Some of them will be pixelart-based (hence my posting here), but I'm also going to look at other forms of 2D art via other forums.  Right now I can honestly say that I'm not sure what I'm looking for, except that I'd like for the artists to take the foundation that I've laid down (the game is already released, after all), and transform it into something that makes people go "wow" instead of "ugh."  I could see a number of ways that could happen, but the specific style depends on the artist in question.

As I said, right now I'm looking to develop proof of concepts.  This is a paid offer, not a speculative one.  The process would be:

1. I'd like to see portfolio work from anyone who is interested in this, and what your usual hourly rates are.

2. If you have any specific ideas that you would like to propose for the art direction, feel free to mention them, but this is not required.

3. For the artists whose style I believe would be fitting with the project, I'll be back in touch with more information about the specific prototype art I'd like you to work on.  Even if your style isn't quite what I'm looking for, I'll at least have the courtesy to let you know.

4. When we look at the specific scene in question, based on your rates and estimate of time it would take to recreate the scene in your style, I can then be certain that this particular prototype fits into my budget for this.

5. Ideally within the span of the next two weeks or so, multiple artists will complete the work in their style, and then if any further tweaks are requested by myself to the initial work, those would also be paid at the agreed-upon hourly rate.

That's the whole of this project, at the moment.  It's essentially for R&D only, from my perspective.

Next Steps After This Project
Once an art style is selected, the next step will be to work with that artist to determine what the likely total project cost would be to convert the entire existing game over to that style.  Not to mention the timeframe.  My expectation is that multiple artists will be needed, ultimately, so then the next challenge will be seeing if we can find multiple people who can work in that style.

At that point I'll have a more accurate idea of exactly what the revision costs as well as the ongoing-development costs of the new art style would be (although I already have a pretty decent idea, having worked with 2D, 3D, and pixel artists on other projects in the past).

With those cost figures in hand, plus an actual visual prototype that people can see and look at, the next step will most likely be a kickstarter.  It's possible that a discount sale from our game could give us enough of a windfall to fund the entire thing ourselves directly (this sort of thing has certainly happened to us before), but we already have a fulltime staff of 5 and so there's a limit to how much extra financial burden we can take on even if we hit another major windfall this summer.  Most of our general budget goes toward expanding the game itself, which is what keeps bringing in new players the most reliably at the moment.

My hope is that with a solid prototype in hand, plus reasonably accurate conservative cost figures (aka, with overage built in just to be safe), a kickstarter for improving the art of this game should be a popular idea and something that people can get behind.  This has been a pretty high-profile game as far as indie games go, but you can gauge that for yourself.  Short-term this is basically just a paid stint doing a prototype of what the game could look like, and then if we're able to procure the funding to make that a reality, then this would turn into something larger.

More Project Details

Currently the game is prerendered 3D, with most characters being 128x128 images with running animations that are typically 21 frames or so.  Some of the monsters have a lot more frames than that, and vary in size from down to 32px square all the way up to 1024px square.  Most monsters don't get larger than 512px pixels square because of RAM limitations.

Generally speaking, aside from the running/flying animations, everything else is single frame -- characters spin as they jump based on rotation of a single sprite frame, then have a different frame for falling or ducking, etc.

The particle effects are something that I will probably continue to handle -- I'm quite pleased with how they've been turning out, and I don't think anyone has been particularly complaining about them.  Those are generally sprites rendered in particle illusion individually, and then animated procedurally in-game using our own custom particle system.

At the moment the game supports anything from 800x600 screen resolution all the way on up to anything above that.  The size of the viewport simply changes, rather than scaling individual elements.  That gives a fairly different feel to playing at 1080p and makes repeating background textures a lot more glaring, for instance.  My thought is potentially to cap the maximum resolution at 720p and just employ scaling above that rather than allowing the viewport to get any larger.  I mention this because I know that has some substantial effect on the amount of repetition and thus the size that background repeated textures must be.

There a few different art directions that seem viable to me, and which I'm interested in exploring.  But if you have ideas beyond the below, don't hesitate to suggest them:

Option 1: The simplest and probably least expensive option would simply be to tidy up what is already there.  There's a painterly aesthetic already, so if you have a tablet and good drawing skills you could probably add some flourishes and corrections that would help quite a bit.  Plus potentially there are some things that I'm overlooking about differentiating the foreground and the background that might be worthwile, etc. 

I don't think that this option would ultimately be transformative enough to win over the people who absolutely abhor the current style, but I could be wrong.  And if it turns out that I'm not able to procure a large art budget for the actual implementation phase of this project after the prototypes are all done, then this could be a middle-of-the-road route that would at least improve things somewhat.

Option 2: Going hardcore pixelart.  This would be replacing basically everything except the particles and probably the font, and it would be a pretty big job for several people, to put it mildly.  One immediate challenge of this is the scale of the art that we are currently using: 54 pixels per meter at the level of the characters (though some things are closer or further away, obviously). 

Doing a pixelart character that is extremely detailed at 128px square strikes me as expensive and perhaps infeasible, though I'm sure it could be very beautiful.  Perhaps a better idea would be to instead do the art at half-scale (which I know is still twice the resolution of the SNES), and then I can program the game itself to upscale your sprites to the appropriate in-game scale.  That would make things look extra blocky, but the scaling should be sufficiently high-quality that we wouldn't see blurriness.  That's something we'd have to experiment with.

However, that option appeals to me the most because it is relatively simple technically-speaking, and lets us save a lot of RAM.  Presumably with pixelart, instead of 21 frames for running we could get away with 2-4 instead, too.  For some of the larger monsters that have animations, rather than them being completely frame-by-frame of course they could have their component parts individually animated like the larger bosses were back in the SNES days.  That would take more coding, but not a whole lot.

Option 3: Whether it's pixelart or some other 2D art style, we could convert the entire game to a radically new look (again keeping the font and the particle effects, and potentially even the GUI if it's not a pixelart look).  But rather than doing frame-based animation, we could do a system that worked based on smaller component parts that then are animated via something like Spriter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/539087245/spriter) (or, if need be, an in-game surrogate tool that we'll code; we did that for our game Tidalis, to excellent success visually speaking).

This route would mean that we could have very high-res art, but it obviously would have to be of such a style that hero arms and legs could move against the body as separate entities without looking strange.  So that limits things and makes anything remotely 3D prerendered right out of the question.  But it would let us keep a very high resolution on things while also having very low RAM usage.  Depending on the nature of the artist, I imagine that this could be relatively faster to do since pixelart takes longer based on the size of the image whereas traditional 2D drawing does not.

Conclusion
It might seem odd that I'm mentioning the non-pixelart options I'm considering on a pixelart forum, but I figure that it's best if I'm as upfront and clear about what I'm trying to do as possible.  Right now I'm just looking to work on some prototypes with a handful of talented artists and to see what we can cook up that would be inspiring for people who might fund us in a kickstarter.

Thanks for reading!

Chris Park
[email protected]
Founder, Arcen Games, LLC
http://www.ArcenGames.com/\
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Goncyn June 21, 2012, 12:22:57 PM
I'm really happy to see you exploring this possibility. I think you would be able to reach a much larger audience with more appealing character art, in particular. I like a lot of the background art, but the player characters look out of place and awkward. Best of luck with the search.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r June 21, 2012, 01:02:06 PM
It may be worth mentioning that if the awkward animations are the main reason for this saying that pixel art animations get away with 2 to 4 frames is a bit misguided ;) If anything, pixel art needs as much or more animation frames, because you can't do transitions with IK you need to account for hair movement, cloth movement, and assorted and it gets worse if you do transitions.

And the reason the characters look awkward is really because they have no transition animations whatsoever (and are missing some variation in movement styles ,p). So making less animations is not exactly the direction that seems to be wise. That's not saying a redo of the character art wouldn't be good, but they need proper and more animations too.

If anything the decision should made to search for a distinct more or less unique art-style, and not just pixel art vs render art. The problem is there is nearly nobody around who could do this for a 2d game anymore. I mean creating a unique (coherent throughout) art style. And as characters tend to move in a scene, scenes and characters need to fit, so to speak.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Hearteater June 21, 2012, 01:32:32 PM
I am also very excited to hear you exploring this.  Uncanny Valley is my main issue with AVWW and the few friends I've shown AVWW to have had "meh" reactions entirely because of the look.  So anything that gets them to see the light works for me!

That said, 21 frames for running seems insanely high.  On my current project I'm working with 6-8 frames for movement and it looks pretty smooth.  And from what I've seen from various sprite exports from common games, that's pretty standard.  Have you tried cutting your running frames in half and seeing how that looks (e.g., remove all even frames)?
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: BobTheJanitor June 21, 2012, 01:50:32 PM
(e.g., remove all even frames)?

Don't do this, then the running will just look odd. (*rimshot*)

Also glad to hear that you're looking for a fix for the graphical complaints. I've never had an issue with it, but I can completely understand how aesthetics can completely make or break a game for some people. It's pretty much how popcap games makes all their money. I swear they could release a tic-tac-toe game and pretty it up with shiny happy rabbits and sparkles and music and people would still buy it like mad.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r June 21, 2012, 02:06:26 PM
Imo, the most important thing for animations is that they blend together. But this is about revising the graphic style for everything right? :o Seems like a huge investment... that said.. aesthetics do matter. And it's true characters, their animations, and the bg.. are not exactly in harmony. But it does not bother me all that much.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: TechSY730 June 21, 2012, 03:25:33 PM
Hmm, so when you said art may go under revision, but later, I guess now is that "later"?
Good to see you are at least exploring options.


How about another option, use a graphic (or graphics) for each "part" of a character/monster, and the animations are defined by how they move, scale, and animate relative to one another, similar to what you do with animating 3D models.
I'm not well versed enough in computer graphics to know what this technique is called, but I know several games, like flash games, to use this technique so you can get new character animations without tons and tons of new full images, saving quite a bit on how many textures you have to keep around (though at the cost of extra CPU cost to actually move the components around as defined in the animation rather than just fetching the next part of the spritesheet)
This also lets you do cool stuff like rag-doll physics and slightly varying the animation based on things like the shape and slope of the ground you are currently on.

Also mentioned in that forum post, this would be very difficult to develop, get right, still look natural, and fit the art style of the game (though you mentioned that completely changing the art style of the game is not out of the question), so this might not be a practical option, but you could leave it open so that someone could try to take a "stab at it". Who knows, maybe someone can create such a set of parts and animation definitions that would work with game.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Bluddy June 21, 2012, 03:30:12 PM
I think the background art generally has a good style already. My suggestions would be:

- Render all buildings together in the same environment, with a uniform sun positions or a night sky. You can render your buildings as many times as you want -- since the sun is always ever in one position, the assets will never co-exist in memory. The only difficult part is when you have sun transitions -- there you'll have to switch the assets in realtime.
- Avoid the excessive glow that exists around every object. It's too much.
- I think if characters fully animate, that'll be much more impressive than having better looking characters. What you could do to save RAM is to create polygons that aren't square.  Currently, because you're using squares, every texture has to have a lot of wasted space. This isn't what 3d games do, and it's not what you have to do either. If you make flat polygons that form a minimal convex shape around the character/monster, you can then cram a lot more frames into a much smaller space in the texture. Each frame will then have data telling it where to read the frame from in the animation. The trick is automating this process.
- Limit the amount of detail on background entities, much like the ValleyWithoutDepth texture pack does.
- Limit the background objects that can spawn together in the same area. If the materials or designs are very different, they shouldn't be allowed to spawn around each other.
- I never liked the look of the mushrooms. IMO they detract from the look of the caves. Part of this has to do with the fact that they just have too much variety, and part of it is just that they don't look that good.
- I'm glad to hear that you're thinking of limiting the maximum effective resolution. It really kills the graphics IMO to see them shrunk down and repeated.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: TechSY730 June 21, 2012, 03:41:38 PM
- Avoid the excessive glow that exists around every object. It's too much.


+1 to that. What has glow and what doesn't isn't very consistent right now. Such as many unimportant things have glow, and some things that probably should have glow don't.

- Limit the amount of detail on background entities, much like the ValleyWithoutDepth texture pack does.

I don't think the detail of background entities is the problem as much as the brightness and saturation of them. Background entities should generally be "not as bright" or "not as color saturated" or related as game objects that players normally care about.

- Limit the background objects that can spawn together in the same area. If the materials or designs are very different, they shouldn't be allowed to spawn around each other.

I would agree with reducing the spawn rate of background "doodads" and plants and stuff in most areas, especially in caves.
While classifying stuff into groups of "aesthetic similarity" and aiming to only allow things from the same group or things from "aesthetically compatible" groups near each other (and keeping things from two groups that are deemed "aesthetically ugly when near each other" away form each other), that seems like a very difficult problem to figure out a good classification system, classify all the objects and art assets, and then some hard, quite subjective work to figure out which classes of aesthetics would work with each other, and which sets should be kept apart at all costs. But it might be worth it to make those occasional "piles" of background objects (which there still should be some of, but maybe not the the frequency they currently occur at) less likely to be visually, well, odd.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 21, 2012, 04:54:28 PM
When I say fewer frames, and pixelart, I'm thinking of this: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,10653.0.html

Not quite that extreme, but something more along those lines is in keeping with what we can reasonably accomplish.  Perhaps Super Mario World would be a better example of what I mean, or Super Mario Allstars.  That has more colors and so on, but still a simplicity that would look cohesive and which doesn't need more animations.

The only way that more animations could possibly happen is if we were to do something like Spriter and have multi-part animations where body parts move relative to one another in code, not in frames.  We need fewer frames than we have now, as people are already starting to have RAM problems on occasion.  Adding more frames is out of the question, so it has to be one of two radically different approaches.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r June 21, 2012, 11:40:54 PM
But wouldn't it be better to just.. make a new AI War expansion?  ;D
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: TechSY730 June 21, 2012, 11:49:05 PM
But wouldn't it be better to just.. make a new AI War expansion?  ;D

Ahh, the joys of trying to factor in opportunity costs. ;)
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery June 22, 2012, 12:35:18 AM
I think the background art generally has a good style already.


This.  I've always been pretty positive about the art in the game, and that's the major reason.   The backgrounds and terrain/trees/objects/whatever that make up the actual areas are, for the most part, very nice, and have a unique style to them.  I have a hard time picturing them looking any other way.   Some may say they're too bright or whatever, but that's the sort of thing that might do for an option in the graphics settings, something like that.   There are exceptions in that occaisionally I'll see a background (almost always in a building) that looks really funky for whatever reason, but most of the time, definitely liking the way all of the areas and the things in them look.   Games like, say, the original Metroid, have a certain special "ambiance" to them (hard to explain), and really, this is pretty rare in games these days;  many games dont manage this.    I really think THIS one does, though.

That being said, the main issue with the art, at least as I see it, is stuff like animations and whatnot.   The player characters obviously animate rather oddly, but they sure arent the only ones.  Like those wasps.... what the heck ARE they doing?  Or the T-Rexes, which sort of moonwalk from side to side while biting at nothing..... stuff like that.   I dont think the actual models for any of these look bad at all, but they do often animate very strangely indeed.


I do find the spell effects pretty nice, also.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r June 22, 2012, 02:48:45 AM
But wouldn't it be better to just.. make a new AI War expansion?  ;D

Ahh, the joys of trying to factor in opportunity costs. ;)

Well as an outside onlooker I have the pleasure of just being able to watch ;) I wouldn't want to have to decide something like this or calculate what would be the best choice.

That said I think with some downscaling of the amount of units (but not the gameplay) AI War could be made very very nice looking and that would maybe bring more people to buy that. Or hell, AI War 2.0 as a new release so all addons inside + beefed graphics with downscaled unit numbers and some game play improvements and additions like civilian traffic more point of planets and stuff, pre-owners of AI War 1 get 50% off and so on.

Well, yeah ;) Sure am glad I can just watch what happens :) That said I have no idea whether this is a profitable endeavor or not. I can't really believe different graphics would help much, they would have to be clearly better. And that is a huge effort for an already released game of this size, no?
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: doctorfrog June 22, 2012, 02:49:58 AM
FWIW, I still like the original art style, it kinda grew on me. But this move is definitely in the best interest of the game.

I'd nominate Auntie Pixelante (http://"http://games.adultswim.com/lesbian-spider-queens-of-mars-twitchy-online-game.html"). Though her style tends to look more 8-bit than 16-bit, she has an amazing way of coaxing detail and personality out of blocky sprites.

Actually, what I'd really like is to see her take a whack at reskinning AI War, even if (and perhaps, because) she'd turn the whole game into an elaborate bondage metaphor. The world needs at least one sci-fi space-based bondage RTS.

(http://i.imgur.com/DzDa4.gif)
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r June 22, 2012, 03:07:58 AM
Yeah I'd be totally behind an alien lesbian bondage invaders of doom AI War redesign..... but somehow I don't think x4000 would go for that ;P And imo the goal should be to look better than a free flash game, at least.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Hearteater June 22, 2012, 09:25:33 AM
I'd nominate Auntie Pixelante (http://"http://games.adultswim.com/lesbian-spider-queens-of-mars-twitchy-online-game.html"). Though her style tends to look more 8-bit than 16-bit, she has an amazing way of coaxing detail and personality out of blocky sprites.
That link, was, uh, not what I was expecting.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe June 22, 2012, 09:36:52 AM
Actually, what I'd really like is to see her take a whack at reskinning AI War, even if (and perhaps, because) she'd turn the whole game into an elaborate bondage metaphor.
Wait, wha- *Smashes panic button

Abort Thread! Abort Thread!


Good grief ;)


One aspect of Chris's approach here is to be able to minimize the impact of any proposed new AVWW art style on Arcen's existing staff and financial resources.  I.e. minimize the impact on our ability to do more work on AVWW (the game, not the art) and AIW, including an AIW expansion :)  Timeframes are still very much up in the air, but another AIW expansion is definitely something we've planned on doing for a long time.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: BobTheJanitor June 22, 2012, 01:51:42 PM
The response in those linked threads seems kind of lukewarm. I hope you get some bites at least. I'd like to think you could get someone involved that you could just throw all the art work at and leave you guys free to make games.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: tigersfan June 22, 2012, 02:18:39 PM
The response in those linked threads seems kind of lukewarm. I hope you get some bites at least. I'd like to think you could get someone involved that you could just throw all the art work at and leave you guys free to make games.

I know Chris has gotten several e-mail responses to those. At least one of them has potential from what I can tell.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: yllamana June 22, 2012, 02:28:06 PM
Was attempting 3d instead of 2d art ruled out? Trine was super beautiful while being a 2d platformer (though I assume you'd go for something simpler than Trine).

I'm really interested in seeing where this goes, though. The art style works for me, but I've certainly had people say it put them off trying the game (especially since it seems to video/screenshot really badly - it looks so much better in the game itself).
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr June 22, 2012, 02:30:01 PM
Trine is a gleaming gem among indie games. Even the first was absolutely gorgeous and pretty much unheard of in the indie world when it came to graphics. Unfortunately, a billion tons of talent likely went into that game. That talent is either hard, or very expensive, to come by.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r June 22, 2012, 02:39:51 PM
Doing procedural usable 3d graphics is a lot harder than 2d ones... sadly ;/
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: syndicatedragon June 22, 2012, 06:18:20 PM
Doing procedural usable 3d graphics is a lot harder than 2d ones... sadly ;/
It might not be too bad if you could keep the terrain etc 2D and make the actors 3D. That way you could animate/reskin fairly easily, and keep the procedural stuff as is.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Shardz June 23, 2012, 01:54:30 AM
There's one game in particular from the deep past that stands out which offers some amazing fluid character animation; Abuse. It's circa 1996 by CrackDotCom and it's now open source.

It got great reviews when it came out simply due to the fluidity of the character controller and the interactivity of the game in general. It was the first "twin stick 2D platform game" that I can remember and it was fun just to move the dude around, even if you weren't all that good at the game. When I first saw the new Valley, the first thing I thought of was Abuse in context. Screenshots would look very similar in place actually, but getting that controller in your hand (especially a keyboard/trackball combo) was what it was all about.

Here's a gameplay video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMFUOUz2TZw

And the Wiki Entry.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abuse_%28video_game%29

It had WSAD for movement and the mouse for aiming, similar to Valley I suppose, but it just felt *right*. Kind of like the old Blizzard games that just felt solid. You felt like your character was part of your hand. I'm glad to see the decision has been made to look into the graphics portion of the game, but the character controller is what feels clunky and stiff to me. It really does jack up my wrists playing for any length of time 'cause I'm trying to make my dude move in ways he can't. It's like cramming toothpicks down Gumby's pants and having him do deep knee bends.

And you should be able to fire when you are ducking and all that, too. The range of movements the character offers and the combination in which he can actually maneuver and shoot is what is killing me. Perhaps some sort of skeletal/physics/procedural system for the character would overcome memory limitations and make it more life-like, and that would also have to tie in with the art direction somehow...

Which is exactly the entire point to this endeavor; more consistency with the visuals in a more aesthetic fashion. I do agree that some parts contrast nicely together and the colors are very vivid, but I'm seeing a ton of EyeCandy filters all over the place. I can spot the Alien Skin Fur filter a mile away and almost everything organic in Valley (grass, trees, dirt, rocks) has that signature filter run on it. I'm not saying it's wrong, but coming from a graphic dabbler who has been around, it's very blatant and distracting. You can still use those filters, but just layer them in with overlays subtly and tweak transparency to lend texture without dominating the base art.

I'm not bashing anything here, just making my personal observations that have kept me from getting into this project converting from AI War. I don't think anyone will disagree that this project will be a huge undertaking and shouldn't be taken lightly. Also, a nice stout community vote on finalists might be a *really dang good idea* to avoid ending up in the same scenario twice. I still hear people who prefer the old Valley with the perspective view and want to revisit that idea again.

It just never ends I guess, but I thought I would toss my opinions in there if anyone cares.

: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: jonasan June 23, 2012, 02:18:54 AM
interesting to see this happening. would surely be a step in the right direction to widening the payer base... so many people cant touch something they find visually disappointing.... dont understand too good myself, but then i remember being amazed by and very happy with the graphics on my ancient BBC micron and ZX.... kids these days...

for me any change in art style has to retain the unique feel you guys have created (and better animation would surely help the feel of everything)... dont know what others think but i am quite taken by the cel shaded style Nanashi is experiementing with...

http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,10971.0.html

best of luck with the hunt for an inspired style and talented artist!

: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery June 23, 2012, 03:56:03 AM
interesting to see this happening. would surely be a step in the right direction to widening the payer base... so many people cant touch something they find visually disappointing.... dont understand too good myself, but then i remember being amazed by and very happy with the graphics on my ancient BBC micron and ZX.... kids these days...



Aye, same here.

Frankly, I think MANY games released these days are, well, ugly as heck.  I really, honestly prefer things like the NES or 2600 (seriously, I tend to think games for both look nice) as opposed to the "hyper gritty EVERYTHING IS BROWN AND GREY because SUPER DUPER REALISM" crap that is SO freaking common these days.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Dizzard June 23, 2012, 06:46:37 AM
Wow this is definitely a huge undertaking. I never hated the graphic style of the game, I suppose individually everything does look fairly nice...it's just when it all starts coming together some things just clash.

I wish I knew some sprite artists personally (with previous game experience)  but I don't really. :( I hope you find the artist you need.

I'll support this as much as I can though. (like with Kickstarter)
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r June 23, 2012, 07:05:42 AM
I strongly contest that anything from the ancient days still looks good or from the consoles you mentioned for that matter..., the standard resolution nowadays is 1920x1080 (at least) and the standard resolution back then was EGA or at best VGA (640x480) (or TV resolution which is even more terrible) If you ever played on of the old games (or the pixel indy games) on a LCD you know why games nowadays usually do not go that route. The detail level required for a game not to look completely ugly is so high that you can never reach it with pixel art (where images are drawn pixel by pixel), only with proper sprite art (where they are drawn in sections at the least).

Look at Bastion or Limbo for beautiful looking games. And to be fair, AVWW tried to do something along these lines but using pre-rendered objects was maybe an odd decision after all. Sprite artists are drawing while pre-rendered needs to be modeled for that. Using a 3d model that was made for HQ renderings as a sprite usually never turns out well (lines and definitions are blurred and not pixel perfect, light is weird). This is also why I decline most if not all job offers where someone wants sprites from my 3d-models. You'd need to go to the resolutions of GSB to make that viable (ie, around 512x512).

AVWW is not ugly, it is just weird looking, incoherent might best describe it (Background vs Characters). And that is not easy to solve. If you want to see ugly, try Resonance on a 1920x1200 HD desktop ;P 4x linear scaling is not pretty. And no scaling is tiny. So either tiny or ugly.. not exactly a good choice.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery June 23, 2012, 07:53:56 AM
I strongly contest that anything from the ancient days still looks good or from the consoles you mentioned for that matter..., the standard resolution nowadays is 1920x1080 (at least) and the standard resolution back then was EGA or at best VGA (640x480) (or TV resolution which is even more terrible) If you ever played on of the old games (or the pixel indy games) on a LCD you know why games nowadays usually do not go that route. The detail level required for a game not to look completely ugly is so high that you can never reach it with pixel art (where images are drawn pixel by pixel), only with proper sprite art (where they are drawn in sections at the least).

Look at Bastion or Limbo for beautiful looking games. And to be fair, AVWW tried to do something along these lines but using pre-rendered objects was maybe an odd decision after all. Sprite artists are drawing while pre-rendered needs to be modeled for that. Using a 3d model that was made for HQ renderings as a sprite usually never turns out well (lines and definitions are blurred and not pixel perfect, light is weird). This is also why I decline most if not all job offers where someone wants sprites from my 3d-models. You'd need to go to the resolutions of GSB to make that viable (ie, around 512x512).

AVWW is not ugly, it is just weird looking, incoherent might best describe it (Background vs Characters). And that is not easy to solve. If you want to see ugly, try Resonance on a 1920x1200 HD desktop ;P 4x linear scaling is not pretty. And no scaling is tiny. So either tiny or ugly.. not exactly a good choice.


Neh, I'll still take the old systems, thanks.   As a retro gamer I'm used to the older ones, and I very rarely find recent games that I honestly think are good looking.  Stuff like Bastion is decent enough (didn't like Limbo at all), but very, very rare.    At least, to my perception, anyway.

I'm well aware my tastes are pretty rare; in that I'll take something like, say, the original Super Mario Bros, with it's simple sprites and stark, bright color schemes, or, I dunno, Space Invaders on the 2600, over...... well, damn near anything produced in the last 15 years.  Particularly anything on the PS1 (I find pretty much EVERYTHING on that console to be really fugly).   As it is, it's so rare I find something I like the look of, that I tend to simply not give a rat's ass about the graphics of most games.    I've always put gameplay over graphics ANYWAY, even back then, but still, I usually just dont care.

Particularly with games rendered in 3D.  I cannot off the top of my head think of any that I honestly thought were pretty.  Usually, my thoughts on them are "meh", which sums everything up nicely.

And having been stuck with bloody ancient monitors for the longest time (I only JUST got a monitor capable of 1920x1080 very recently),  I've no issues with resolution at all either.  I was perfectly happy with 640x480 back in the day, thank you very much.    Geez, this probably makes me sound old, doesnt it, despite that I'm not.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr June 23, 2012, 09:18:21 AM
You haven't een Trine then. Trine is beautiful, no matter how you look at it.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery June 23, 2012, 09:38:23 AM
You haven't een Trine then. Trine is beautiful, no matter how you look at it.

I do have that one actually.   It was okay, I guess.  Beyond my limited patience to actually finish, though.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: darkchair June 23, 2012, 06:44:47 PM
The one thing I ask is if you go through substantial changes, that you give us a convenient option to keep the old graphics. I enjoy them, and you might as well use what you've spent this time on. If it's too complicated to switch back that's fine.

One thing that might be turning people off is how your very first settlement is the Ice Age. It's a bleak time on the timeline, and that seems to show through in the bland white-ness of everything in the tutorial and first settlement. Maybe that could be changed? I'm not saying that it's a bad setting in general, it's good to have the dull, bland scenery to mix with the ridiculous and beautiful scenery elsewhere. Maybe the feeling of starting in a bland setting demoralizes people.
I could be completely wrong, but it's something I felt a bit when I started whenever the beta was released.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Wanderer June 24, 2012, 08:31:11 AM
To toss in my not so honest opinions...

I liked Limbo's feel.  It worked for that game, the same way Braid's artwork worked into its own overarching story.  This might mean I'm old, but a half-way throwback to old 8bit art with the 16bit look worked for a random reinforcement of the cold war nuclear concerns.

I do agree with Darkchair on this though.  Toss the player into the 'modern' realm and I'd have had a better feel for the time travel.  Identifying with an Ice Age character being tossed forward is a lot harder than indentifying with Joe Schmoe down the block getting tossed into the Ice Age.  That and the 'current' realm has a lot more, artistically, going for it than the Ice Age.  Biased opinion, of course... it's just a preference.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: TechSY730 June 24, 2012, 12:43:56 PM
I do agree with Darkchair on this though.  Toss the player into the 'modern' realm and I'd have had a better feel for the time travel.  Identifying with an Ice Age character being tossed forward is a lot harder than indentifying with Joe Schmoe down the block getting tossed into the Ice Age.  That and the 'current' realm has a lot more, artistically, going for it than the Ice Age.  Biased opinion, of course... it's just a preference.

That is interesting, but it would require a good bit of work. The ice age regions and native monsters, along with the traits of the ice age characters were designed to be very "newbie friendly". The modern era stuff would need to be reviewed and possibly tweaked some to also make it "newbie friendly".

That, and the tutorial would need substantial work, as it is hand designed. It would need to be updated to use modern age background elements, modern age art assets, modern age native monsters, and in some cases, redoing of the terrain to closer match what modern age chunks tend to generate (different ages have different "templates" used for their various areas)
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: nanostrike June 24, 2012, 01:08:53 PM
Honestly, I think the game NEEDS a new art style pretty bad.  I can tolerate the environments and some of the enemies, but the character models are really, really awkward-looking, to the point that it was distracting me from the gameplay.

Once I used a Texture Pack to replace them with traditional, 2-D sprites, that went away.  I think the classic SNES-to-PS1 era sprites really work with this game better than the rendered stuff.  It meshes with the old-school chip-tune like music so well that it's crazy.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r June 24, 2012, 01:26:38 PM
Well I admit that texture pack that replaces the char sprites made a huge difference but even those had awkward animations sometimes. So it isn't just a simple art change that someone externally can do. The game simply needs more animation types (at the very least a proper idle stance) and animations that are created with love. Love for details, flowing hair, clothes.. some dust particles swooping up. The whole feel of the physicality of movement needs to be there.

ATM it feels like the characters are card  boxes moving through a dream world. Kinda weird.

So to change my stance.. yeah a more crisper look might not be such a bad thing. The problem is really that everything is kinda.. sharp and blurry at the same time. That when my char falls there is no dust puff when I land, there are no dust particles swooping slowly through the air. No butterflies and birds. Everything is so .. static. This goes imo against the game, because the game is not static at all. So yeah, let's see what change comes ;P
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: TechSY730 June 24, 2012, 01:57:16 PM
The problem is how can the number of animations or frames per animation be increased without also adding additional memory load? As Chris mentioned, they are already starting to scrape the limitations on RAM usage imposed by the Unity engine.

If they want to go with the more detailed character animations route, a different sort of character animation system (or different texture "buffering/caching system" or something) may be needed in order to prevent more memory usage. Problem is, that is rather tricky and will be quite a bit of work.

Or as mentioned, a new art style for characters could be used that wouldn't look as awkward with fewer animations or frames per animation, but again, that would require quite a bit of work.

So yea, I don't really see any non-difficult solution to this.  :-\
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Professor Paul1290 June 24, 2012, 03:01:39 PM
I kind of think if other animations needed more frames you could just reduce the number of frames in the running animation somewhat.

This could be a matter of opinion, but I think the running animation is currently overkill in how smooth it is, especially when compared to everything else.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Hearteater June 24, 2012, 06:07:49 PM
The problem is how can the number of animations or frames per animation be increased without also adding additional memory load? As Chris mentioned, they are already starting to scrape the limitations on RAM usage imposed by the Unity engine.
Did Chris say running was 21 frames?  If other animations are remotely similar, I'd say fewer frames are needed, not more.  For example, from some Disgaea 3 sprites (http://94.23.155.226/cp/preview/sheet.php?id=33956) you can see they use roughly 127 total sprites for an entire character.  In most cases any given action is only 6 frames.  You can do a lot and make it look damn good with just 6 frames.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: TechSY730 June 24, 2012, 06:38:14 PM
The problem is how can the number of animations or frames per animation be increased without also adding additional memory load? As Chris mentioned, they are already starting to scrape the limitations on RAM usage imposed by the Unity engine.
Did Chris say running was 21 frames?  If other animations are remotely similar, I'd say fewer frames are needed, not more.  For example, from some Disgaea 3 sprites (http://94.23.155.226/cp/preview/sheet.php?id=33956) you can see they use roughly 127 total sprites for an entire character.  In most cases any given action is only 6 frames.  You can do a lot and make it look damn good with just 6 frames.

So, maybe cut out some frames from existing animations that don't need quite as much detail as they currently have so there is room for new animations? That could work.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Wanderer June 24, 2012, 08:26:49 PM
Hey guys, I've never done much if any animated sprite work, I'm used to doing more with layers in gifs and the like.  I found the png dictionary for the running character but I'm not locating the component that determines what order and the like the dictionary is used in.

So, since I'm basically just banging my head on the wall, can anyone link me a site or two that goes through the basics of sprite animation encoding or let me know where the image order definition file is hiding?  Also, I'm using GIMP 2.0 at the moment, I'm assuming I can do most if not all of my work graphically via that and notepad/etc for the animation of them.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi June 24, 2012, 09:49:13 PM
Hey guys, I've never done much if any animated sprite work, I'm used to doing more with layers in gifs and the like.  I found the png dictionary for the running character but I'm not locating the component that determines what order and the like the dictionary is used in.

So, since I'm basically just banging my head on the wall, can anyone link me a site or two that goes through the basics of sprite animation encoding or let me know where the image order definition file is hiding?  Also, I'm using GIMP 2.0 at the moment, I'm assuming I can do most if not all of my work graphically via that and notepad/etc for the animation of them.

1) Bitmaps aren't animated by nature. A spritesheet is a texture, not an animation - the coding for reading animation frames is usually handled externally within the game code itself as a result.

The short non-technical explanation is that AVWW uses PNG as its image format (I'm not sure it accepts BMP, but it probably should, Unity is a mystery to me). PNG is a single-image format without animation data coded in. It's not like GIF - GIF has animation data coded into the file itself, but you can't use just use GIF animations in games because (short explanation) objects in games use textures, and you'd need to code an interpreter anyway. GIF is generally not a popular choice for games, because it uses a limited palette of 256 colours and more importantly only supports binary alpha transparency (i.e. something is either only visible or invisible). This is a killer if you want any sort of translucent effects whatsoever.

2) You could technically do all your work in GIMP. GIMP is a very powerful tool - however (and this is personal opinion) it manages to be even more counter-intuitive than Photoshop and is generally a crappy program to draw or do animations in - it's like trying to slice a cake with a chainsaw. I find it best for the 2D equivalent of "post processing".

3) Although it's much more difficult to actually alter animation data (short of decompiling the program, you'd need help from the coders themselves), it's easy to alter the sprites themselves - if you don't own a sprite editing program, just divide the original sheet into a grid and draw over them. Make sure you're familiar with alpha channels (there's zillions of tutorials on the internet). If you just intend to replace sprites with ripped content, all you'll really need is the copy-paste tool. If you really need to approximate animation delays, you could just double frames for the time being.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe June 24, 2012, 09:58:49 PM
it's like trying to slice a cake with a chainsaw
As an engineer, I find that concept highly appealing.

But yes: the png files are just raw textures; the entity-type definitions that refer to them are also told (hardcoded) the frame size and number of frames to expect.  It's also told how fast to switch between frames, etc.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: BobTheJanitor June 24, 2012, 10:03:14 PM
The one thing I ask is if you go through substantial changes, that you give us a convenient option to keep the old graphics. I enjoy them, and you might as well use what you've spent this time on. If it's too complicated to switch back that's fine.

That's a good point actually, I'm not sure if that is planned in the long run or not. If there is an artist that redoes all the art from the ground up, then any new art that is added would need to be in that style. Unless Chris wants to keep making new art in the original style, and keep two concurrent options running at the same time, which seems a bit of a time waster.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Coppermantis June 24, 2012, 10:52:07 PM
Totally agreed. I may be in the minority in that I enjoy the current graphics, but I do and would like to keep them unless the new style is breathtakingly amazing.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Wanderer June 24, 2012, 10:58:50 PM
1) Bitmaps aren't animated by nature. A spritesheet is a texture, not an animation - the coding for reading animation frames is usually handled externally within the game code itself as a result.
Ah!  That's why I couldn't find some kind of definition file to tell it the animation order.  For note, I was debating on seeing if I could lower the # of images in the run animation and not have it look moronic.  I suppose I could really just do that via an animated gif and muck with the layering.

2) You could technically do all your work in GIMP. GIMP is a very powerful tool - however (and this is personal opinion) it manages to be even more counter-intuitive than Photoshop and is generally a crappy program to draw or do animations in - it's like trying to slice a cake with a chainsaw. I find it best for the 2D equivalent of "post processing".
Well, not having sprung for Photoshop ages ago Gimp and I are very old friends, so that's probably more a matter of convenience.

3) Although it's much more difficult to actually alter animation data (short of decompiling the program, you'd need help from the coders themselves), it's easy to alter the sprites themselves
Yeah, I really wanted to goof with the number of layers really.  Alright, I've got a few ideas on that, thanks for the brief intro to sprite animation. :)
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Bluddy June 25, 2012, 06:58:57 AM
I still think there's a lot of potential in reducing RAM usage by reducing the size of the PNGs (and corresponding textures). Too much space is wasted on blank backgrounds because square polygons (really 2 triangles) are used to display the images. Back in the old days, you'd use palettized textures which use up 1/4 of the space. Nowadays graphic cards don't support that anymore. But you can probably reduce texture size by about 1/5 if you take every image in the dictionary and squeeze it in right next to another image, then create polygons that are much more fine grained to display each image.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi June 25, 2012, 08:00:17 AM
I still think there's a lot of potential in reducing RAM usage by reducing the size of the PNGs (and corresponding textures). Too much space is wasted on blank backgrounds because square polygons (really 2 triangles) are used to display the images. Back in the old days, you'd use palettized textures which use up 1/4 of the space. Nowadays graphic cards don't support that anymore. But you can probably reduce texture size by about 1/5 if you take every image in the dictionary and squeeze it in right next to another image, then create polygons that are much more fine grained to display each image.

In my opinion, that'd just create more issues, especially for modding. I like squares.

Palettes still exist - they were never really much of a graphics card optimisation. This actually has a little to do with one thing I mentioned in my obsessive ravings about how AVWW was poorly optimised - Most of the PNGs in the game are actually unnecessarily large, but when I saw that the total filesize for an entire run animation was running only about 250ish KB, I kind of figured it wasn't worth mentioning. Just as an example though, this is the running spritesheet for the character I'm using - Dave2. The original file is 220 Kb.

I've uploaded a properly optimised and indexed version of the exact same file (this takes literally 3 seconds to do!) - it's 68Kb. Feel free to compare it, I doubt you'll see any difference at all between the two. This means the image is at the very least 66% larger than it absolutely needs to be.

But I'm also of the opinion that if you're playing any 2d game long enough to cause RAM problems, you should probably take a break before you turn into yet another horrible news story on how gaming kills people.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r June 25, 2012, 09:00:20 AM
I compared it and you removed all smooth edge transparency from the file, which is generally what happens when you set an actual perfect transparency inside a PNG image to index with black matte ;) Which results in very non-smooth blending or put different, pixelation at the borders.

I would bet that in game you would see the difference instantly given white or bright BG
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi June 25, 2012, 09:37:42 AM
@eRe4s3r:

I didn't do anything to it except index the colour - and this is a series of animated frames, making it even less relevant.

If you're referring to smooth edges, the word you're looking for is antialiasing. Antialiasing is a low return process with regard to sprites, especially with regard to animation (still sprites can be kept antialiased), and should generally be kept to a minimum if you're trying to keep file sizes low. The original image used 7912 colours. The indexed one uses 256. Most of that (over seven thousand) is wasted on antialiasing. If you're that convinced it matters, here's a simple test:

The following picture has some a mix of indexed and non-indexed character pngs in it. This screencap is non-lossy, so what you see, is basically what you get. Your task is to tell me exactly which images are the indexed ones. (Note this is easier than it sounds - but if you took more than 5 seconds to do this, it's not noticable ingame.)

You can actually even do minor antialiasing with indexed files while still retaining file compaction - and I can prove it. It just takes slightly longer than 3 seconds. -_-
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Bluddy June 25, 2012, 10:21:24 AM
I still think there's a lot of potential in reducing RAM usage by reducing the size of the PNGs (and corresponding textures). Too much space is wasted on blank backgrounds because square polygons (really 2 triangles) are used to display the images. Back in the old days, you'd use palettized textures which use up 1/4 of the space. Nowadays graphic cards don't support that anymore. But you can probably reduce texture size by about 1/5 if you take every image in the dictionary and squeeze it in right next to another image, then create polygons that are much more fine grained to display each image.

In my opinion, that'd just create more issues, especially for modding. I like squares.

Palettes still exist - they were never really much of a graphics card optimisation. This actually has a little to do with one thing I mentioned in my obsessive ravings about how AVWW was poorly optimised - Most of the PNGs in the game are actually unnecessarily large, but when I saw that the total filesize for an entire run animation was running only about 250ish KB, I kind of figured it wasn't worth mentioning. Just as an example though, this is the running spritesheet for the character I'm using - Dave2. The original file is 220 Kb.

I've uploaded a properly optimised and indexed version of the exact same file (this takes literally 3 seconds to do!) - it's 68Kb. Feel free to compare it, I doubt you'll see any difference at all between the two. This means the image is at the very least 66% larger than it absolutely needs to be.

But I'm also of the opinion that if you're playing any 2d game long enough to cause RAM problems, you should probably take a break before you turn into yet another horrible news story on how gaming kills people.

All graphics cards are dropping support/have dropped support for palettized (indexed) textures. It's no longer a technique that can be used. While you can do in inside the PNG file, as soon as you convert the image to a texture, the background will have to be filled in with full, non-indexed colors.

One option is to pre-compress the textures. I know Arcen said in recent patch notes that texture compression was added, but I think it needs to be done on the bundled images themselves to be effective -- it takes a long time to compress textures, and would take way too long to do each time you load the game. It also introduces artifacts which can stand out in 2d games sometimes.

While squares are nice and clean, they're very wasteful for animations. If you look at textures for 3d games, they pack in as much as they can into one 512x512 texture. There's no reason this can't be done for 2d animations. You simply create a different polygon for each frame, with an offset to know how to center said polygon, and then you take turns making each polygon non-transparent. As I said, the hard part is getting this stuff to be done automatically ie. transforming square images to 'compressed' polygon images.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi June 25, 2012, 10:54:22 AM
All graphics cards are dropping support/have dropped support for palettized (indexed) textures. It's no longer a technique that can be used. While you can do in inside the PNG file, as soon as you convert the image to a texture, the background will have to be filled in with full, non-indexed colors.

If your program doesn't have 16-24 bit image support, the problem is in the coding/settings. It has little, if anything, to do with your video card. Having a limited palette will save RAM simply because you require fewer bits to represent the same amount of data. That's why many doujin games either force your display into limited colour modes or ask you on startup if you want 16 or 32 bit colour.

Secondly, triangles for animation simply is not practical from a design standpoint. You're thinking like an engineer, not an artist. A 2D texture is not a 3D texture - the reason images are compacted is simply because you're dealing with 2D textures mapped onto 3D surfaces and it's an efficient use of space as the actual order of the 2D image is irrelevant. You can't do morphing, nor mapping with a 2D image, and it'd be absolute hell to align properly.

It doesn't even save much space because of the nature of 2D images. Imagine animating a square. For you to represent a square in a triangle, you need to use a triangle with double the area of the square (don't argue with math). This loss is identical to that of trying to represent a triangle in a square. Unfortunately, animations are NOT STATIC. Mathematically, we can approximate the area needed with a circle (i.e. all directions of expansion are equally likely!) and superimposing a circle within a triangle causes quite a lot more wasted space than a circle in a square. Anything more complicated than a square, and it ceases to tessellate properly, good luck coding a viewer for that (not to mention most if not ALL animation viewers do not support triangles).

With 3D models, this is not an issue because you are just mapping onto a model. Irregular shapes are fine. You can't really use 3D theory in 2 dimensions because simply specifying the limits of each separate irregular polygon would take FAR more memory than anything you'd ever save.

Edit: Before you reply with "Hexagons tessellate and are more space saving compared to squares!" I'd like you to consider 2 things.

1) Why is the majority of our media in rectangular shapes? (hint: X and Y axis make it easy to isolate coordinates)
2) What is the simplest mathematical formula to describe a hexagon?
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Bluddy June 25, 2012, 11:30:36 AM
If your program doesn't have 16-24 bit image support, the problem is in the coding/settings. It has little, if anything, to do with your video card. Having a limited palette will save RAM simply because you require fewer bits to represent the same amount of data. That's why many doujin games either force your display into limited colour modes or ask you on startup if you want 16 or 32 bit colour.

I don't know if you realize it, but virtually all 2d animation in games nowadays is done with 3d textures. That means that in order to do palletized images, you need the 3d card to support palletized images, which they don't anymore (at least not the recent ones). This means that before displaying the image on screen, every palletized image must be converted to a full 16/24/32 bit image. It's true that 16 bits allows you to make images that are half the size though.

Secondly, triangles for animation simply is not practical from a design standpoint. You're thinking like an engineer, not an artist. A 2D texture is not a 3D texture - the reason images are compacted is simply because you're dealing with 2D textures mapped onto 3D surfaces and it's an efficient use of space as the actual order of the 2D image is irrelevant. You can't do morphing, nor mapping with a 2D image, and it'd be absolute hell to align properly.

It's actually a pretty simple idea. Right now every image is projected onto a square polygon before it can be displayed in the game. This is wasteful, because it forces you to space every image far apart. Instead of doing this, you can 'cut out' the smallest shape possible around the region you're interested in. Then you could save the images very close together. This wouldn't be difficult to morph or do anything else with -- the software would take care of the offsets.

It doesn't even save much space because of the nature of 2D images. Imagine animating a square. For you to represent a square in a triangle, you need to use a triangle with double the area of the square (don't argue with math). This loss is identical to that of trying to represent a triangle in a square. Unfortunately, animations are NOT STATIC. Mathematically, we can approximate the area needed with a circle (i.e. all directions of expansion are equally likely!) and superimposing a circle within a triangle causes quite a lot more wasted space than a circle in a square. Anything more complicated than a square, and it ceases to tesselate properly, good luck coding a viewer for that (not to mention most if not ALL animation viewers do not support triangles).

I think you're really not getting this. You can build more complicated (2d) shapes to contain the area you're interested in within the image. Sometimes a square may be the only option. Other times you can make far better shapes that'll allow you not to waste space. For example, every frame of the bat animation can be contained in something like a side-oriented ellipse, and the bats can then be crammed into a very small space. It's really not a complicated idea -- the hard part is creating the automatic infrastructure for it.

Maybe you think you need to create a shape that allows for all possible animations -- but you don't. You just make a shape per frame, and flip through those polygons, just as through currently animate through polygons for square images.

With 3D models, this is not an issue because you are just mapping onto a model. Irregular shapes are fine. You can't really use 3D theory in 2 dimensions because simply specifying the limits of the each separate irregular polygon would take FAR more memory than anything you'd ever save.

I'm not talking about having hundreds of polygons here. Most of the time 10 polygons would be the maximum you'd need per image, with the average being lower. It definitely wouldn't take anywhere near as much memory.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Wanderer June 25, 2012, 01:22:45 PM
*blinks*

I have just learned that all the little things I thought I knew for graphics were a drop in the ocean due to the conversation you guys are having.  Please, continue, I just had no idea that graphics optimization had gotten this deep.

Oh, yeah, if possible please don't bring it offline... I'm learning a lot here... or at the least a lot of what I need to research.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r June 25, 2012, 01:53:35 PM
@eRe4s3r:

I didn't do anything to it except index the colour - and this is a series of animated frames, making it even less relevant.

If you're referring to smooth edges, the word you're looking for is antialiasing. Antialiasing is a low return process with regard to sprites, especially with regard to animation (still sprites can be kept antialiased), and should generally be kept to a minimum if you're trying to keep file sizes low. The original image used 7912 colours. The indexed one uses 256. Most of that (over seven thousand) is wasted on antialiasing. If you're that convinced it matters, here's a simple test:

The following picture has some a mix of indexed and non-indexed character pngs in it. This screencap is non-lossy, so what you see, is basically what you get. Your task is to tell me exactly which images are the indexed ones. (Note this is easier than it sounds - but if you took more than 5 seconds to do this, it's not noticable ingame.)

You can actually even do minor antialiasing with indexed files while still retaining file compaction - and I can prove it. It just takes slightly longer than 3 seconds. -_-

It took me about 1 look in bridge to spot the one in the whites that is index (you should know that most forum software does not let you see png's unmolested), the middle one in the bottom row ;) To black is impossible to tell because the matte defaulted to black. But I guess you have a point, it is hard to tell unless you look for it. So maybe it is a good thing to do that after all.

Anyhow you are correct that it is a good way to save space, I just wish the game would use alpha maps, we could easily maintain file compaction and get rid of the transparency completely. By just indexing the RGB channels, then reconverting it to normal RGB mode and add the 4th channel (which would be just grey tones). The result is a super low sized 32bit PNG. ^^ Or hell, a DDS texture and just load that as-is. Is Unity 3.3 not supporting DDS compressed textures? Or is it internally converting them?
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe June 25, 2012, 02:03:15 PM
I have just learned that all the little things I thought I knew for graphics were a drop in the ocean due to the conversation you guys are having.  Please, continue, I just had no idea that graphics optimization had gotten this deep.
It's pretty insane.  Chris and I both have a very deep background in enterprise database/web programming but he also has a pretty extensive background in graphics programming where I have nearly none.  So periodically we have the "Chris, please explain to me again why it's 2012 and drawing 200 rectangles on a screen is in any way a performance challenge?" discussion.  I'm not sure if I'm actually getting any better at understanding it ;)  Well, a little bit: texture swapping being a major pain makes sense, the bus to the video card can only handle so much so fast.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Wanderer June 25, 2012, 02:18:02 PM
Yeah, I'm coming to that conclusion.

Then there's the other part.  You know how some people can see when a car got a repaint in just one section of the vehicle?  I can't, even when my boss was pointing it out to me over and over when I drove for an Auction House.

What's the point?  I literally can't see Anti-Aliasing unless the object in question ends up with a significant halo.  Toss in a few of the other optimization/non-optimization pieces that I can barely, if at all, see and I've found my digital art ends up like the guy with no talent in singing who can still hit every note in Rock Band Expert... but you don't want to hear him.  Most of my art is simply paper art.  Doesn't mean I don't occassionally have fun goofing around with it.

Err, rambling.  Where I was going with that was I personally can't tell the difference for a number of higher end options for graphics unless they're glaring, and I'm running 1400x900 on 18" duals for years now.  Thus, some of these discussions end up going over my head simply because I can't see what they're talking about.  Add that to my personal opinion of I have 8 gigs of memory, why are we fighting for a few k/object and yeah, I'm RIGHT there with you Keith.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: nanostrike June 25, 2012, 02:38:36 PM
All I know is that without a texture pack, the characters are so awkward-looking that it makes me feel like I'm playing a slapped-together flash game, where they just use various magazine pictures as "Sprites".  No offense, but that's just the way I feel.  And a lot of my friends feel the same way.

Ditto for some of the enemies (The Mech and T-Rex really stand out in this way).

The environments are more-or-less okay, if a bit bland and generic.  Overall, I'd say that the characters would benefit from somewhat or a more cartoony, characterized look.  The "Realistic" thing just looks really awkward.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Bluddy June 25, 2012, 02:47:07 PM
Anyhow you are correct that it is a good way to save space, I just wish the game would use alpha maps, we could easily maintain file compaction and get rid of the transparency completely. By just indexing the RGB channels, then reconverting it to normal RGB mode and add the 4th channel (which would be just grey tones). The result is a super low sized 32bit PNG. ^^ Or hell, a DDS texture and just load that as-is. Is Unity 3.3 not supporting DDS compressed textures? Or is it internally converting them?

The problem is that since modern graphics cards don't support indexing, you have to convert it back to a full image. So your savings are only so long as you keep the image in PNG form. Once you have to actually display it or keep it as textures for easy access, you're wasting huge amounts of space (though 16 bit textures would save you 50%): Each 512 by 512 32 bit image uses 1MB of RAM.

DDS compression takes time, which is why I don't think it's possible that Unity does it on the fly. The textures need to be pre-compressed. Also, the factor of compression is still limited and it leaves some artifacts. I still think it should be done though, but since the character graphics use only a few colors each, 16 bit might be a good enough solution. If you combine that with the method I proposed (which isn't trivial to implement), you could probably cut animation RAM usage down to 20% or less of the original amount. 
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 25, 2012, 03:25:37 PM
Whew!  Step away for a few days and miss a lot. ;)

Okay, I've skimmed a lot of this thread, and have a few things to add/say.  If there are any pressing questions that folks have that I miss here, please feel free to repeat them as I simply didn't see them:

1. In general, there are two approaches we are considering: "articulated sprites" which are basically procedurally animated.  And in that case they would be packed in a dictionary much more like what Bluddy is suggesting.  The alternative is full-frame pixelart sprites but at a lower resolution, in which case we'd keep to the general approach we have now.

2. The question of graphics formats is irrelevant, as unity 3D only supports runtime loading of PNGs.

3. At this time we have contracted three separate studios to do prototypes of what the game would look like with a re-skin.  We'll select one of these to go to the kickstarter with, and that will be "the style going forward" for the game if the kickstarter succeeds.

4. Keeping the old art available is something that we will of course do, but we will not be including it within the game anymore.  And it's possible that it may very well become incompatible with the game if we massively change the resolution, or move to articulated sprites, or even just change the number of frames being used.  In fact there's quite a good chance that most of that art wouldn't even be able to function with the game in its revised state, the more I think of it.

5. A lot of that comes back to the fact that this is not a skin-deep cosmetic change.  One way or another, this is also going to have a number of technical consequences on our render pipeline, and I strongly suspect that this will also impact our gameplay and enemy design going forward, as well.  We've trended toward having (by game standards) really enormous foes, and I feel like that has a lot of drawbacks from a gameplay standpoint as well as from an artistic standpoint (many times you can't even see but a tiny part of the foe you are fighting).  That's not to say there would be no massive enemies, but that they would be used more sparingly -- hello overlords, etc.  I think a lot of inspiration from the older Metroid and Megaman and even Mario games is in order here.  Heck, actually most any game I can think of that is a platformer, come to that, tends to have enemies that are mostly the size of the player or 2x that size at most.

6. Most likely we will make some changes to viewport functionality despite my previously having said that would never happen; scaling everything so people get a more consistent viewport regardless of their screen resolution would solve a number of issues (again more of a gameplay nature rather than an artistic one, although also an artistic one).

7. Currently two of the studios we have contracted are working on what is primarily pixel art (with some bitmap-style art for the backgrounds) at a lower resolution.  The third studio is working on articulated painterly sprites at something a lot closer to the current resolution.  I have no idea which will win out, it all depends on the final results; I have high hopes for them all.

8. If we go through an overhaul of this nature, it's going to invalidate all existing tilesets most likely, but it won't prevent anyone from making new tilesets just like they can now.  What we're talking about here is really a v2 of the entire concept of the visuals of AVWW.  The scope of this is enormous -- well over 4,000 pieces of existing art to convert (though not really quite all of those, since many of the particle effects will be left alone I think), and not only do we have to think about the time and cost of this initial conversion, we also have to think of the ongoing costs of supporting the new content as we add more stuff to the game.  Thus only if the kickstarter succeeds in being funded or we fall into a LOT of money will this go ahead.  But I am confident we should be able to make a pretty darn compelling kickstarter.

7. In the short term this does take away some of my capacity for work on AVWW and otherwise, because I have to see to the art as it is progressing and discuss with now three studios for the art.  However, within a month or two this should actually be a time savings instead, because they'll be used to me and I'll be used to them (whichever studio we continue on with, if the kickstarter succeeds), and I'll no longer have to spend any of my personal time on making art for the game.  That's variably between 10% and 30% of my personal time on this project, depending on what exactly we're working on at a given time, and all of that time of mine will suddenly be freed up if we're able to move to this sort of process.  So we'll be able to do a lot more, not less.

8. This will in no way impact the coming of another AI War expansion, either.  We'll have more news on that front in early August, when we expect to start development on that one; that one is going to be pretty much Keith's show, which should be happy news to everyone since his have been the most popular features of the game since I laid down the core game itself.  I will be acting in more of a support role on that particular expansion, so that I can continue to have my core focus be on AVWW.

I hope that helps to clear some things up!
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r June 25, 2012, 03:59:22 PM
@ Bluddy
You are right ;) I always forget that if you don't use DDS what you end up with in memory is a blob of uncompressed image. But with DDS compression I meant that we could use DDS files and a proper engine would load them and use them WITHOUT uncompressing them ;p That is the entire point of the DDS file format. (All hail nvidia/3dfx(S3TC) for that ,p)

Side effect is we could zoom back 1 step (50% size) because we could just switch to the smaller mipmap stages on the fly) without using any extra memory.

Personally I hate PNG, it's a cumbersome to edit format that is completely superseded by DDS for games. And for games where you don't need bin transparency but need to use alpha maps (for various reasons relating to shaders) you should just go for TGA if you don't want (or can't) use DDS (which by the way, also supports near lossless compression). But really, if your engine doesn't support DDS, it's time to get out of that time paradox that kept you stuck in 1990 (Unity 3 sadly has abhorrent DDS support, meaning none). Actually I can not even fathom why unity uses internally only PNG and as such, uncompressed blobs in memory, sounds like a veritable design flaw of epic proportions.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Brise Bonbons June 25, 2012, 04:03:15 PM
Sounds great Chris! My group of friends just picked up 5 copies of AVWW to play together, and we're loving it so far, it's such a unique and intelligent game. I personally find the current art endearing and beautiful in places, but I'm also excited to see a new vision of the game.

Personally I'm rooting for the articulated sprites, because I think that can be a really sharp, modern looking animation style. But I agree with others in the thread that a pixel art style would mesh incredibly well with AVWW's gameplay and music.

In short: Bring on the Kickstarter; I will prepare all of my moneys to throw at my monitor as soon as you are ready to catch it.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: TechSY730 June 25, 2012, 04:08:01 PM
But really, if your engine doesn't support DDS, it's time to get out of that time paradox that kept you stuck in 1990 (Unity 3 sadly has abhorrent DDS support, meaning none). Actually I can not even fathom why unity uses internally only PNG and as such, uncompressed blobs in memory, sounds like a veritable design flaw of epic proportions.

Wouldn't be the first massive design flaw they have hit when working with Unity. However, IIRC, the other engines that looked at had even more design flaws of even more epic proportions. So essentially, Unity was the lesser of N evils. ;) (Or at least, for they need in a game engine)

Still, these kinds of issues are why many companies either use an in-house engine or why they don't agree to an engine unless they also get a copy of the source and permission to redistribute in their product their modified version of it (often at a pretty large increase in cost to buy these rights). However, there is a good chance that neither of those options are very cost effective for Arcen at the moment.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Castruccio June 25, 2012, 04:14:38 PM
RE #3 Above:  I'd certainly be willing to participate in a Kickstarter for this, but I wonder whether anyone other than the Arcen faithful will be willing to pay more for a game they have already paid for.  I can hear the controversy now:  Terraria cost $9.99 and they got the art right the first time, whereas AVWW cost 14.99 and now we have to pay for new art. 
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 25, 2012, 04:16:22 PM
Thanks, Brise -- I really appreciate it. :)

To the others, regarding unity support for varying types of compression, this is what they support: http://unity3d.com/support/documentation/ScriptReference/TextureFormat.html

Or if you like: http://unity3d.com/support/documentation/Manual/Textures.html

However, because of the way we are loading textures from disk at runtime rather than precompiling them into bundles via unity (which has all sorts of drawbacks), the only format we can store them on disk is PNG.  Unity then is able to store them in a compressed or semi-compressed state in RAM, but the more compression that is applied the more artifacting you get.

In terms of running away from unity because of lack of support for DDS: don't make me laugh.  If they eventually get to it that would be great, but that's not even on my radar as one of the major flaws of the engine. There are other things that bug me far worse. ;)

Even so, there is no better engine than unity 3D if you want to program in C#, and I don't believe there is any more productive language than C# (certainly not for Keith and I at this point in time).  So the question of us leaving unity is extremely moot.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 25, 2012, 04:25:47 PM
RE #3 Above:  I'd certainly be willing to participate in a Kickstarter for this, but I wonder whether anyone other than the Arcen faithful will be willing to pay more for a game they have already paid for.  I can hear the controversy now:  Terraria cost $9.99 and they got the art right the first time, whereas AVWW cost 14.99 and now we have to pay for new art.

It all depends on how it's presented.  If it's not worth it to players, then it's certainly not worth it to me.  But for all the people moaning "I'd play this game if only it didn't make my eyes bleed," this is a chance for them to put their money where their mouth is.  If they are serious, then they can help in the kickstarter and get whatever perqs come with that at the level of contribution they make.  If they were just mouthing off, then that answers that question and we can proceed with the current art style forevermore for this game.

This game was very expensive to make, much moreso than Terraria, I think largely because we tried to do so many new and exploratory things.  R&D costs money, as anyone can tell you.  Terraria and Minecraft both had a big leg up from the simple fact that players could construct so many things on their own: if you give someone a lego set, they don't need that many different unique pieces in order to have fun.  Our game doesn't have a construction component and so it's all about the worldbuilding and adventuring and so forth for us.

If people feel like it's a good value and they want the new art style, then they're free to invest however much it's worth to them.  If they don't, then the kickstarter will fail and it will answer the question definitively: this game isn't failing to reach some larger audience because of lack of art budget.

In point of fact, I rather hope that it's largely NOT the Arcen faithful who are doing most of the investing.  At some contribution level we'll undoubtedly be giving away a copy of the game as part of the perqs, and so I hope that this is a way for people to get into the game who otherwise would have given it a miss for the reason of graphics alone.

It all comes down to what people want.  People can make a controversy out of anything, but if they want to have a hand in deciding the future of titles that at least try to bring something new to the table, then this is one such chance.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r June 25, 2012, 04:59:55 PM
Can I ask something stupid? What are the drawbacks of precompiliing the textures so that Unity can use them compressed properly? Because if you'd use DXT5 on those transparent png's you'd save 2 to 8 to infinity times as much ram and vram as if you didn't. So those ought to be some pretty massive drawbacks ;p Quality it can not be, unless Unity uses some silly "super-fast" compression setting for DXT5, you should not be able to see any visual difference, no difference really.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 25, 2012, 05:02:20 PM
Can I ask something stupid? What are the drawbacks of precompiliing the textures so that Unity can use them compressed properly? Because if you'd use DXT5 on those transparent png's you'd save 2 to 8 to infinity times as much ram and vram as if you didn't. So those ought to be some pretty massive drawbacks ;p Quality it can not be, unless Unity uses some silly "super-fast" compression setting for DXT5, you should not be able to see any visual difference, no difference really.

The drawback is that unity has no way of loading an image at runtime that isn't a PNG.  And to my knowledge I don't have a way of creating a DXT5 file, although I'm sure that is the more slight of the two problems.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r June 25, 2012, 05:15:34 PM
But.. why do you load images at runtime? Actually, I think I need to explain what I mean, in that 2nd link you showed that you can Import images into Unity and have them handled internally as DXT5, that is great. Do that for everything except normal maps ;p I assume what you mean is that Unity packs this all into a .. pack somehow and you'd have to load it at start completely? But is that really a problem? With DXT5 compressed textures internally your memory footprint would be small enough to do that. You'd use less than 250mb RAM if everything was DXT5 compressed (that is for all the graphics).

I assume I miss a huge obvious point here, because If you could do that you probably would... just seems like.. the obvious thing to do. To me ;)
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe June 25, 2012, 05:49:12 PM
But.. why do you load images at runtime?
I don't remember everything, but the big thing is:

Precompiling them into the unity asset bundle would mean that every time we added a new art asset the next prerelease would have to include a new copy of the entire asset bundle.

That obviously precludes support for texture modding though we could live with that if necessary, but the big thing is much higher costs (your time, our money) for updates.  And fast updates are kind of important :)

It also basically means that for anyone to test a new piece of art in the game they have to have our unity project and a copy of unity pro; right now we're doing fine with just two unity licenses and in theory we could keep doing that if Chris is the artist, but it would be much more complicated if someone else was doing the art.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: tigersfan June 25, 2012, 05:53:52 PM
But.. why do you load images at runtime?
I don't remember everything, but the big thing is:

Precompiling them into the unity asset bundle would mean that every time we added a new art asset the next prerelease would have to include a new copy of the entire asset bundle.

That obviously precludes support for texture modding though we could live with that if necessary, but the big thing is much higher costs (your time, our money) for updates.  And fast updates are kind of important :)

It also basically means that for anyone to test a new piece of art in the game they have to have our unity project and a copy of unity pro; right now we're doing fine with just two unity licenses and in theory we could keep doing that if Chris is the artist, but it would be much more complicated if someone else was doing the art.

Also related to that, it would mean that it would be harder for me to test art, as I don't actually have (or need) a Unity seat.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi June 25, 2012, 08:29:05 PM
@Bluddy: Actually, I have no idea how Unity handles 2d rendering. Most of my 2d ventures are non3d in nature because I use older engines software (with no 3D support at all, such as ScummVM) with 16 bit colour support - however, they also support lossy compressed formats for bitmaps (even jpg and gif). As far as I can tell, no conversion is necessary because your display is forced into limited colour from the very beginning.

If Unity (which I don't use, since it's primarily a 3D engine) forces everything to render in 3D before converting to 2D - I've already said that firstly, it's fundamentally a coding problem which wastes RAM (Why more than two rendering passes?) and secondly, that seems like a *really inefficient* way of handling sprite data.

Doesn't Unity have a VGA renderer plugin?

Edit: I just took a look at Unity's 2D support page and I see the problem. Its really is completely pseudo-2D - you're rendering mapped 2D vertices into a plane. This is definitely not how *most* engines do it - and if you're going to have this sort of rendering, it's probably a bad idea to have separate sprite sheets for everything. Why not combine all of your static object categories into one file?

Also, even if indexing the colour mode can't save active memory, reducing the palette is a very simple form of image compression that's pretty much compatible with anything. Given the same dimensions, a 256 colour image is always going to take up less active memory than a 7k+ one simply because it decreases the processing power needed of each memory call.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: tigersfan June 25, 2012, 10:00:50 PM
...
Why not combine all of your static object categories into one file?
...

See post #70, above.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r June 26, 2012, 02:31:39 AM
@Nanashi

Unity doesn't have a 2D renderer (all modern engines actually don't) and the performance of 2D engines (Direct Draw....) is abysmal. It is always faster to render a 2D sprite in a 3D engine than it is to render it in a 2D engine.

AI War 1.0 was Direct Draw based and it ran pretty dang terribly compared to now ;) Direct Draw is also end-of-life. Microsoft explicitly said not to use it anymore because broad compatibility is no longer a given. Microsoft says to render to polygons instead. With hardware acceleration this is up to 100 times faster too ;p

Anyhow, as a 3D engine unity doesn't care about what comes in, if it isn't DXT compressed it renders it to uncompressed image state with whatever bitrate the image had and then pushes it to the GPU wasting memory in the process (2 images are in memory, compressed and uncompressed which as you can imagine is a nightmare for ram usage). Lowering the colors to 256 works imo, as engines take it as it comes, so 512x512 * 256 colors would indeed use less ram and vram. That means even if you index it down to 3 colors, the image is loaded as a 256 color image and uses that much ram/vram the other 253 colors would then be considered black, still use the memory as if it was a full 256 color image ;p

Hence, converting what can be converted to 256 colors might be worth considering and it may be worth a test whether this lowers ram and vram usage or not, it is very well possible unity converts it to a specific color mode internally no matter what we put in. ;)
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Jerebaldo1 June 26, 2012, 03:01:46 AM
I'm strongly in support of articulated sprites if any change goes through; it's a refreshing change from the low-fi trend as of late, which is great to be sure but I still prefer something more sophisticated for this game.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Bluddy June 26, 2012, 08:45:54 AM
@Nanashi

Unity doesn't have a 2D renderer (all modern engines actually don't) and the performance of 2D engines (Direct Draw....) is abysmal. It is always faster to render a 2D sprite in a 3D engine than it is to render it in a 2D engine.

AI War 1.0 was Direct Draw based and it ran pretty dang terribly compared to now ;) Direct Draw is also end-of-life. Microsoft explicitly said not to use it anymore because broad compatibility is no longer a given. Microsoft says to render to polygons instead. With hardware acceleration this is up to 100 times faster too ;p

Anyhow, as a 3D engine unity doesn't care about what comes in, if it isn't DXT compressed it renders it to uncompressed image state with whatever bitrate the image had and then pushes it to the GPU wasting memory in the process (2 images are in memory, compressed and uncompressed which as you can imagine is a nightmare for ram usage). Lowering the colors to 256 works imo, as engines take it as it comes, so 512x512 * 256 colors would indeed use less ram and vram. That means even if you index it down to 3 colors, the image is loaded as a 256 color image and uses that much ram/vram the other 253 colors would then be considered black, still use the memory as if it was a full 256 color image ;p

Hence, converting what can be converted to 256 colors might be worth considering and it may be worth a test whether this lowers ram and vram usage or not, it is very well possible unity converts it to a specific color mode internally no matter what we put in. ;)

Sorry guys. 256 colors doesn't work on modern GPUs. There's no support for 8-bit color -- 8-bit color by definition is always indexed since the color value itself can't describe an RGB triple. So you have to index into a palette of 256 colors, which are either 16, 24 or 32 bits. The PSP can do this (for example) for efficiency. Modern graphic cards don't bother supporting it, possibly because it complicates shader architecture. So you have to take that 16 or 32 bit palette and fill out the whole texture with those values, losing all the savings in the process.

2D game engines like ScummVM use SDL which on Windows translates to DirectDraw calls. These calls are slow, but for old games running at <20fps it's fine. Even ScummVM though is moving towards OpenGL (from a GSoC project a few years back), which is basically the same way of rendering 2d sprites in 3d. You get huge advantages from doing this, including rendering speed boosts, free bilinear filtering, free aspect correction, etc.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 26, 2012, 09:11:36 AM
AI War 1.0 was Direct Draw based and it ran pretty dang terribly compared to now ;) Direct Draw is also end-of-life. Microsoft explicitly said not to use it anymore because broad compatibility is no longer a given. Microsoft says to render to polygons instead. With hardware acceleration this is up to 100 times faster too ;p

AI War has always been Direct3D9; the various optimizations in that game have all been in our learning to better leverage that platform.  I have worked with DirectDraw in the past, however (all the way back with DirectX7, the last time that was even supported) and I can confirm what you say about terrible performance.  Not only that, but alpha transparency isn't even possible with it IIRC.  It's been since 2002 or so since I worked with DirectDraw, and after that it was all Direct3D (first Direct3D8, then Direct3D9 since then).
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: TechSY730 June 26, 2012, 09:56:47 AM
Wait, the topic was renamed to [FILLED]...

So, are you going to let us know who the "lucky winner" was, and your chosen direction about what to do with the art, or is that a "surprise" announcement for later. ;)
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: TechSY730 June 26, 2012, 09:59:55 AM
We'll have more news on that front in early August, when we expect to start development on that one; that one is going to be pretty much Keith's show, which should be happy news to everyone since his have been the most popular features of the game since I laid down the core game itself.

Aw, don't sell your short. :)
Sure, Kieth has implemented some popular "wild and crazy" ideas lately, but you are the one who, as you mentioned, laid down the core of the game and helps to keep it "grounded" to it's design goals. So while you may have been spending less time in its code lately, but you still play a major role in it's development. ;)
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 26, 2012, 10:09:14 AM
Wait, the topic was renamed to [FILLED]...

So, are you going to let us know who the "lucky winner" was, and your chosen direction about what to do with the art, or is that a "surprise" announcement for later. ;)

It's filled in the sense that we have chosen three different studios to work on various prospective art styles as prototypes that will lead toward the kickstarter, as I noted a few posts back (easy to miss in all this, though).  Now it's up to their artists to work with their own art directors and me in order to make sure that we have three different sets of art that are each as awesome as they can be, and then it's time to choose one to go forward with for the kickstarter and so on, and then it will be time for the kickstarter.

I don't plan to reveal the names of the three studios, but rather will just be revealing whichever one we actually wind up going with.  I feel that's most fair to them, as I don't wish to create any sort of negative perception about another studio just because their style didn't mesh quite as well with my vision for this particular game as another studio did.

We'll have more news on that front in early August, when we expect to start development on that one; that one is going to be pretty much Keith's show, which should be happy news to everyone since his have been the most popular features of the game since I laid down the core game itself.

Aw, don't sell your short. :)
Sure, Kieth has implemented some popular "wild and crazy" ideas lately, but you are the one who, as you mentioned, laid down the core of the game and helps to keep it "grounded" to it's design goals. So while you may have been spending less time in its code lately, but you still play a major role in it's development. ;)

What I mean is, he's the guy behind hybrid hives and fallen spire and such, and you'll be in good hands with him.  I only have so much attention to devote to everything that is going on, so I'll be helping in a support role with this particular expansion of AI War, and will be the primary on AVWW.  Trying to have me as the primary on both projects would be... not to the benefit of either project. ;)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: mrhanman June 26, 2012, 10:59:44 AM
I know this is a bit early to be asking, but do you have a ballpark figure in mind for the Kickstarter?  Closer to $100,000, or $10,000?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 26, 2012, 11:19:53 AM
I know this is a bit early to be asking, but do you have a ballpark figure in mind for the Kickstarter?  Closer to $100,000, or $10,000?

It really depends on the studio and what their costs wind up being for whatever the final selected style is.  There are over 4,000 pieces of art that need to be transitioned as it stands (though a lot of the particle effects and some other minor things like that can remain), not to mention we then need to also have a budget to continue to do art for new enemies and objects and such as we develop out the game further.  Arcen can cover a certain amount of that, but depending on the style we go with we're increasing our cost-per-enemy by quite a lot.  As it stands, for us to code you a new enemy and do all the art and such typically costs between $20 and $100.

It could be more like $400 per new enemy in the new system, depending on who we go with and what art style we choose; which is why we'd need extra money to carry us further with development of new content.  We don't want to hit a point where we simply can't proceed anymore because the code is willing but the art is just too darn expensive.

My gut tells me that $80k to $100k ought to be in the ballpark of what we'd need for this, but I could be undershooting it depending on the style chosen, etc.  For a bit of perspective, bear in mind that I've already personally invested more than $200k into this project, or even as high as $300k depending on how you do the accounting (depending on how you allocate various costs, you can make accounting numbers say all sorts of things, eh?).  The largest cost for this game has always been the essentially R&D efforts to come up with new ideas and gameplay mechanics, and because we're small that left no room for an art budget that could have easily made the project incomplete-able prior to this point.  Remember that we've been working on this project for 18 months straight at this point, with pretty much 3 people fulltime most of that time, and 5 people fulltime for about half that time at this point.  That costs.

Anyhow, the $80k to $100k is just my gut ballpark feeling -- this game has a lot of art already, and frankly it has far less art than I'd like it to in order for the sense of exploration to really be palpable as you go through each region, etc.  I'm investing probably between $1k and $3k on the prototypes for kickstarter alone (it depends on how far each prototype with each studio we really take this as to what final costs will be), and I look at that as basically art R&D costs since it's doing exploratory work on three different styles of art for the same scene.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: TechSY730 June 26, 2012, 11:22:26 AM
My gut tells me that $80k to $100k ought to be in the ballpark of what we'd need for this, but I could be undershooting it depending on the style chosen, etc.  For a bit of perspective, bear in mind that I've already personally invested more than $200k into this project, or even as high as $300k depending on how you do the accounting

 :o

Good night, since when did game development get so expensive?

And this is an indie game. What kind of insane costs go into a AAA Studio Game!?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 26, 2012, 11:24:54 AM
My gut tells me that $80k to $100k ought to be in the ballpark of what we'd need for this, but I could be undershooting it depending on the style chosen, etc.  For a bit of perspective, bear in mind that I've already personally invested more than $200k into this project, or even as high as $300k depending on how you do the accounting

 :o

Good night, since when did game development get so expensive?

And this is an indie game. What kind of insane costs go into a AAA Studio Game!?

Are you kidding me?  The marketing budget of the larger AAA games is $10 million.  How much do you think it costs to keep a staff of 300 people working away on a game for 1-3 years for those AAA studios?

EDIT: If you assume an average salary of $50k among those 300 people (which might be undershooting it, given the pay of top talent and executives, but then again is also being weighed against the QA folks making next to nothing in those companies), then that's $15 million per year.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe June 26, 2012, 11:27:59 AM
Yea, indie vs AAA budgets is a matter of orders of magnitude.
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r June 26, 2012, 11:50:04 AM
AI War 1.0 was Direct Draw based and it ran pretty dang terribly compared to now ;) Direct Draw is also end-of-life. Microsoft explicitly said not to use it anymore because broad compatibility is no longer a given. Microsoft says to render to polygons instead. With hardware acceleration this is up to 100 times faster too ;p

AI War has always been Direct3D9; the various optimizations in that game have all been in our learning to better leverage that platform.  I have worked with DirectDraw in the past, however (all the way back with DirectX7, the last time that was even supported) and I can confirm what you say about terrible performance.  Not only that, but alpha transparency isn't even possible with it IIRC.  It's been since 2002 or so since I worked with DirectDraw, and after that it was all Direct3D (first Direct3D8, then Direct3D9 since then).

Ah I was confusing this with something else then ;) But I seem to recall something about D3D and AI War 1.0.. obviously wasn't Direct Draw, something else, GUI or how sprites were rendered? Mhh, bad memory ftw ;p

When do we get to see what style it could be? ;P


@Bluddy
I guess you are right ;) I haven't really tried doing such sprites ever so I wasn't exactly sure... as you say it's got to be fit the 255,255,255 scheme so it can't be 256 colors. However I am not sure whether we couldn't load those images anyway and get away with huge RAM and HDD savings, just not VRAM savings. I never tried... maybe Unity converts it on load in which case we'd be wasting RAM. Anyhow..
: Re: [PAID] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 26, 2012, 11:54:39 AM
AI War 1.0 was Direct Draw based and it ran pretty dang terribly compared to now ;) Direct Draw is also end-of-life. Microsoft explicitly said not to use it anymore because broad compatibility is no longer a given. Microsoft says to render to polygons instead. With hardware acceleration this is up to 100 times faster too ;p

AI War has always been Direct3D9; the various optimizations in that game have all been in our learning to better leverage that platform.  I have worked with DirectDraw in the past, however (all the way back with DirectX7, the last time that was even supported) and I can confirm what you say about terrible performance.  Not only that, but alpha transparency isn't even possible with it IIRC.  It's been since 2002 or so since I worked with DirectDraw, and after that it was all Direct3D (first Direct3D8, then Direct3D9 since then).

Ah I was confusing this with something else then ;) But I seem to recall something about D3D and AI War 1.0.. obviously wasn't Direct Draw, something else, GUI or how sprites were rendered? Mhh, bad memory ftw ;p

Not a worry. ;)  We were using Direct3DXSprite, which was one thing that was really unhelpful back then.  That's part of the Direct3DX extensions, and not great.  We switched away from that when we switched away from SlimDX, but we could have switched away from that even staying with SlimDX.

When do we get to see what style it could be? ;P

I'm honestly not sure.  I think I'll be seeing the first samples tomorrow from at least one but probably two or three of the studios, and then starts my nitpicking with them, etc.  I'm not sure at what point they'll be comfortable having their work shown to the forumites here, but my intent is that you'll be able to see all three styles before we head to kickstarter.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe June 26, 2012, 12:06:10 PM
Were the GDI+ parts of pre-Unity-AIW's drawing using DirectDraw under there somewhere?  My guess is it was that or something even worse ;)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Aklyon June 26, 2012, 12:26:13 PM
Well.

That was much more detail than I expected on the subject of game art. Like someone said before in the thread, keep going if you can, this is interesting.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 26, 2012, 12:34:13 PM
Were the GDI+ parts of pre-Unity-AIW's drawing using DirectDraw under there somewhere?  My guess is it was that or something even worse ;)

GDI and GDI+ are both software-only rendering modes.  They are actually really excellent for 2D (same as WPF is) so long as the 2D is not having a lot of animations going on.  So, great (and quite high performance) for static menus and such, but terrible for actual gameplay.  At one point I had a 100% GDI+ version of Alden Ridge running, and it was functional although the buffering of GDI+ meant that it couldn't do more than about 10-20fps even with the CPU sitting there idle half the time.  And it was doing it all on the CPU rather than the GPU, given that's the nature of GDI: to be ultra-flexible with hardware and good at drawing mostly-static 2D stuff, including text and complex shapes.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Brise Bonbons June 26, 2012, 03:11:02 PM
The transparency in this discussion is wonderful. Can't wait to see some of the art prototypes; if they actually get shown off on the forum that would be amazing, though it's honestly not something I expected.

Also as someone making a go at learning Unity, the discussion of its capabilities and strategies to optimize 2D art has been very educational. Thanks to everyone for that!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Professor Paul1290 June 26, 2012, 03:41:50 PM

It really depends on the studio and what their costs wind up being for whatever the final selected style is.  There are over 4,000 pieces of art that need to be transitioned as it stands (though a lot of the particle effects and some other minor things like that can remain), not to mention we then need to also have a budget to continue to do art for new enemies and objects and such as we develop out the game further.  Arcen can cover a certain amount of that, but depending on the style we go with we're increasing our cost-per-enemy by quite a lot. As it stands, for us to code you a new enemy and do all the art and such typically costs between $20 and $100.

It could be more like $400 per new enemy in the new system, depending on who we go with and what art style we choose; which is why we'd need extra money to carry us further with development of new content.  We don't want to hit a point where we simply can't proceed anymore because the code is willing but the art is just too darn expensive.

I really don't want to be a too negative about this, but my enthusiasm for this idea just dropped like a stone here. I don't have a complete picture of how you do things and may be this isn't as bad as I think it is.

As far as Kickstarter goes, this is worrying because there seem to be projects much more publicized and more liked by the public than AVWW that can't make $100,000.

I can easily see this being very negative publicity for Arcen. Personally from what I've seen so far on Kickstarter, I can't see an AVWW art Kickstarter going well, and I can see it making Arcen look bad.
Maybe I'm horrifically cynical, but I'd be surprised if the majority response outside of those who already like the game was anything other "They're seriously asking for money for this? Are they really this incompetent? I can't believe we liked these guys in the first place!".

I really hope I'm wrong, but I would be lying if I said this idea isn't conjuring up really bad possible scenarios for me right now, some being "worrying the game won't see any updates next year" kind of bad.


I'm being a worrywart right now. I'm gonna get some ice cream... :-\
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Aklyon June 26, 2012, 03:52:52 PM
Ice cream solves a lot of problems. But not many art-related ones that I can think of.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 26, 2012, 04:07:45 PM
Professor Paul: from what I've seen, quite lesser projects have gotten lots more budget, I humbly submit.  Some folks that seem barely able to code at all, and have pre-Quake-II-looking art have managed to get $60k+ by making extravagant promises they can't hope to keep.

In our case, I'm going to present the facts and let people decide.  The fact is, making games costs a lot of money.  Another fact is, there's a lot of repetition and staleness in games; we genuinely try to do something new, and we put our own budget to that at the expensive of art.  We don't have budget to do both.

Since some people gripe that the art stinks, we're offering them a chance to help change that via a kickstarter.  If they don't find the idea appealing, they can simply vote by not funding it.  On the plus side, unlike a lot of kickstarters people will know exactly what they are getting: the game already exists, and the prototype of the new graphics will be complete enough that people can fund it if they like it.

At worst it can help to bring to light the costs of art development in games: if people want to bemoan the lack of innovation in games while at the same time demanding AAA quality out of anything they play, they're going to be perpetually disappointed.  The people with the AAA budgets have corporate overlords that won't let them take the sorts of creative risks we do.  People like myself don't have the AAA sort of budgets, and so there's no question of my being able to fund it at that level.

I'm not sure what is distressing to you about the costs I mentioned above.  Did you think it was free for us to create a new enemy?  All the art and coding just pops magically into place?  Even if we were paying coders only $15 an hour (which we do not), $20 for an enemy is incredibly cheap.  I bet you the average enemy in a AAA game costs over $10,000 to create when all is said and done.  And that's probably undershooting it when you figure the concept artists, the modelers, the riggers, the animators, the coders, the AI, and whatever else.  A lot of AAA games have something like 20 unique enemies but took 10+ years and millions of dollars to create.  It's not like all their time was spent on enemy creation, but that's certainly a big part of it.

We're incredibly lean and efficient about the whole process here at Arcen, but the fact is we're not one of the ultra-tiny indies that do 4-bit or 8-bit graphics and a small game, or even one of the teams of 6 people who are 1/3 artists and they do something that looks pleasing but which also gives you a couple of hours of playtime.

But if your enthusiasm is dropping like a stone when you contemplate the huge costs of each enemy added when it's all custom art that looks nice, that's pretty close to how I felt early into this project.  There was no way that was going to be sustainable on my budget, and so hence the stock art approach with myself doing all the lighting and post-work and such.  Since that has been met with derision, I'm offering those who seem to want to like the game but don't like the graphics a way to get what they want: the game with graphics they like.

If there aren't enough people who want that, then the kickstarter won't get funded, and I'm only out a few thousand dollars, and life moves on.  I won't be offended; in some ways having the kickstarter NOT get funded would be a vindication of my past choices, wouldn't it?  But if it does get funded then presumably we're reaching a larger audience and making more people happy, and having a better-looking game to boot.

Depending on what style and what studio we go with, our ongoing cost-per-enemy could be quite a bit lower than the $400 high water mark I mentioned, of course, as well.  But that's likely to be a lower-res pixelart style that will at least look pleasingly cohesive (and probably load faster and be better on RAM, I expect).

If anyone thinks that designers/programmers are incompetent because the art they produce looks like what is what is in AVWW based on the budget we've had, then I don't know what to say to that.  Those sorts of folks aren't reasonable and likely already hate us anyhow -- certain people already go out of their way to do things like sign up on metacritic just to give us a 0/10 review for the game.  So it's clear there are some haters one way or the other.

In the end, I think it's about choice.  There's no way I'm going to gamble and try to fund a major art overhaul myself.  That would be madness, and could end the company if the gamble didn't pay off.  That would be incompetence.  On the other hand, I see relatively little harm in offering players (prospective or actual) a choice of whether the art is worth it to them.  There are already plenty of people who think I'm highly incompetent anyhow, so a few more won't make any difference.  The lucky thing is there's a lot of people in the world.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: TechSY730 June 26, 2012, 04:12:54 PM
I'm going to have to share some of Professor Paul1290's concerns about publicity here.

It seems like soliciting money for a major refactoring of a major aspect of a product, that by many people's standards, should of been done right in the first place (or right enough such that a new "project fund" had to be created to "fix" it) isn't something that will inspire much confidence.
An art revamp of this magnitude (assuming an major art revamp is what is chosen) without declaring it a new product line I rarely see outside of free software projects, where that culture is much more willing to embrace the idea of art and the game engine being developed separately.
(EDIT: Note, this implies that this is in large part a problem of unrealistic expectations of many consumers of games, aka, a cultural problem, not a developer competency one)

Now, as a long time "lurker", and as someone who has seen this product evolve from its brainstorm phases, to its first public beta release, to where it is now, I know that the primary focus of the funds has been into R&D. The art, while by no means neglected, didn't get as much of a percentage of the funds as many people might expect in project, and that this new initiative is primarily here to help give the art the extra "oomph" to sort of "catch up" from that earlier decision. (BTW, I think focusing on the engine and gameplay first was the right decision, even if it lead to tricky issues like what we have now) (EDIT: And you guys did a great job with the art even as it is now. This whole initiative seems to be about fixing some inconsistencies and gaps in the current art, that due to both stylistic and unforeseeable technical reasons, will possibly turn out to be expensive to fix)
However, this would be VERY hard to communicate to someone who hasn't been seeing the history of this product as long in a convincing enough way to overcome that initial negative first impression.

(EDIT: Semi-ninja'd by Chris)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: freeformschooler June 26, 2012, 04:15:13 PM
This is normally the point where I suggest making the game be ASCII so you can forego the art costs...

...but somehow I doubt that works here. :P Regardless, hope it works out.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe June 26, 2012, 04:22:18 PM
If people fuss when a game lacks depth, and fuss when a game's art isn't what they want, and fuss when the developers of a deep game seek funding to improve the art, then I think we're already in an situation that is not winnable regardless of our competence level or what we do :)

Hmm, so maybe that's what it feels like when you scout a homeworld and see 3 core raid engines and an eye...
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: KingIsaacLinksr June 26, 2012, 04:23:03 PM
Id like to point out that a certain project asked for more $$ in order to complete its game. That game going by the name of Xenonauts.

And it got supported. So I don't see how that's any different from AVWW asking for money to complete its game. The difference being is that it's asking after the game has been completed, not before.

Just pointing this out. Kickstarters fund some off-the-wall ideas and people can literally vote with their wallets on whether those ideas go through or not. If people decide they hate this idea, then, it doesnt happen. But tbh, to worry about public opinion too much at this stage is folly. Many hated on the art before without trying the game so if those people hate this decision, Arcen has lost nothing.

King
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: mrhanman June 26, 2012, 04:30:13 PM
I really hope that this is successful.  Not because I have a particular problem with the art as it is, but because I think it will widen the audience for the game.  That will lead to more money for Arcen, and that leads to more content for me.   8)

And really, isn't that what it's all about?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: yllamana June 26, 2012, 04:31:40 PM
A Valley Without Dwarf.

I've never done a kickstarter before, so I'm looking forwards to seeing what incentives there are to fund it. I'll put a bit of money down whatever they are. :)

I hope there are good incentives for people who haven't already bought the game to give it a kick, too.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Professor Paul1290 June 26, 2012, 04:40:00 PM
But if your enthusiasm is dropping like a stone when you contemplate the huge costs of each enemy added when it's all custom art that looks nice, that's pretty close to how I felt early into this project.  There was no way that was going to be sustainable on my budget, and so hence the stock art approach with myself doing all the lighting and post-work and such.

That pretty much hits the nail on the head about my concerns about the art costs.
I'm not surprised it costs as much as it does to add enemies, objects, and other assets and such. What really hits hard is the increase per asset this could represent.

The idea that this can quadruple the costs of adding stuff to the game is what I find particularly worrying. From my perspective this sounds almost "pipeline crippling", for lack of a better phrase.

Again, I'm not entirely familiar with your process or what sort of scale is involved, so I'm probably not seeing this in context.


Anyway, I'll admit I don't feel quite as nervous about this now that you've laid it out a bit more.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r June 26, 2012, 05:18:12 PM
So I am the only one who thinks 100k is maybe even cutting it a bit close on the lower end? Remember taxes, fees, and non payers, so you are calculating (I hope) with at beast 80k$ guaranteed if it succeeds assuming a clean 100k at the end, and that is VERY little money for a project to redesign the art of this entire game from scratch. I mean what, 4000 fixed sprites and 45 animated potential player characters.....

@Professor Paul1290

Buying someones time to make animated sprites for games is extremely expensive, that is not a skill that is taught, people go straight to 3D suites, animation of 3d characters, high detail sculpting nowadays or hard modeling/rendering. It takes extreme skill in art design to make a detailed character move and DRAW that properly by hand. Even more so when it is "low" resolution and has to fit an established art-style relating to the background...

I don't think it'll be bad PR to be honest. If ye don't want to pay the art remains the same, if ye pay, the art will change (which hopefully means improve ^^) Kickstarter is the only viable way but a success is not guaranteed, if it fails it's something for the life lessons ;) And even if it fails AI War addon ought to come and maybe a new proper 4x game hehe ;P I just hope whatever happens, the sustainability of Arcengames is not engangered. As long as that is 100% certain I don't see why not at least try this ;P
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: BobTheJanitor June 26, 2012, 06:56:30 PM
There's always the tried and true method of corner cutting: palette swaps. Blue esper, green esper, red esper, etc. etc. Not that I'm advocating it, but it's one way to cut down on art. Instead of unique character models, you have guy with red hair, guy with black hair, etc.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: madcow June 26, 2012, 08:19:03 PM
I hope we get a chance to see the different artist takes, even the styles you decide not to go with. I'm not sure if it was mentioned already (a lot of posts here to wade through), but will the art revamp include more frames in animations, or will that be left as is? I personally liked the background features, but found the characters a little jarring - though not to the point that it really bothered me.

As to a kickstarter project. I don't know, I think people tend to fund projects based on those lofty ambitious goals that seem unreasonable to actually reach - rather than cold hard facts. But if the kickstarter doesn't get enough, its not like anything is particularly lost, so its worth a try.

My 2 cents when it comes to the actual kickstarter ad, it would definitely be worth pointing at, or hinting at what future features are going to be going into the game (and of course saying it'll happen regardless of the kickstarter funding), and the amazing near-daily updates that adds tons of new free content which most other companies would charge as DLC for.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Wanderer June 26, 2012, 10:42:02 PM
If people fuss when a game lacks depth, and fuss when a game's art isn't what they want, and fuss when the developers of a deep game seek funding to improve the art, then I think we're already in an situation that is not winnable regardless of our competence level or what we do :)
It's a perception of expectation.  *shrugs*  People need to remember you get what you pay for.  I'm sorry, but that's the simple truth FAR too many people (not the majority of forumites) are forgetting.  This isn't a $65 XBox game.  It's something we bought on Steam (or direct), probably on sale, for the price of lunch.  Maybe two lunches if you're on the cheap.  Some of it comes down to used game purchases too.  Every used game that went up for sale was originally purchased at the original price.  That we're buying used doesn't discount the original purchase point/recovery.  However, it skews the vision.  I paid $25 for this amazing game and what the hell, man?!  Um, seriously?  Whateva.

So, in my personal opinion... and one that doesn't mind the art style so I'm in full disclosure... if you liked the game but hated the art cough up the same amount you paid for at the purchase point to the kickstarter and for twice the price, you'll get twice the game.  *shrugs* 

Hmm, so maybe that's what it feels like when you scout a homeworld and see 3 core raid engines and an eye...
No comment.

I'm afraid I have to disagree with Paul.  I don't think, presented well, this will in any way hurt Arcen.  Arcen (well, Chris) has never claimed to be big budget or well supported.  I believe most of the community out there will respond well to a simple idea of: "We made what we could with what we had, and it's pretty good in general.  If you want more, help us out.  Here, donate the price of a game (or two) and we'll even GIVE you a copy."  Even if it doesn't, I doubt it will create negative publicity.  They're doing their best, and they're willing to do all the legwork to make it happen. 

Given the fact that you could download a demo before posting your money noone out there can say they even got surprised by 'fake box artwork' or whatever... which is something I HAVE dealt with... and that's a whole different problem.  I can't see a negative to this unless it's a pure gut reaction by the public... in which case they need a damned wake up call anyway if they can't put it together. 

To misquote:  "You've got to remember that these are just simple anonymous. These are people of the internet. The common clay of the new Electronic Frontier. You know... morons and trolls."
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Coppermantis June 26, 2012, 11:50:08 PM
I have to agree. I wouldn't think that anyone should react negatively to an indie company needing money to satisfy a need that apparently a lot of customers have. That said, a lot of people on the internet are crazy hotheads but a few crazed fools won't be that bad for Arcen, I think.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Shardz June 26, 2012, 11:53:14 PM
I think all this will work out as both a profitable and integral journey. From the sound of it, Chris has the game plan almost worked out to the last nickel as to the resources he'll need and has the path set on how to get there.  Let's not speculate on failure before we start because I think people might be surprised to learn something different in this case.

We already know that Arcen has the core brain power to program some relatively amazing software. We have already seen the superb support thus far for all their titles and they aren't a fly-by-night operation, by any means. It's been said by nearly everyone, myself included, that there is something to like about the project in one way or another. I really can't see this trek not being an option at this point now that the gears are in motion and the cat's out of the bag...doing cat stuff somewhere.

Most of us fans who have been around a few years love Arcen because they realize what their strengths and weaknesses are and don't mind discussing that with the community in a detailed constructive fashion. Then momentum is built up, resources are gathered, and big things start to happen. This is the way it's always gone and will go again this time around...albeit, with some extra help!

All we can do now is jump on the support wagon and see where that badboy takes us, but this is an answer to a plea sent by a large consensus that wanted change and they got it.  Pretty impressive stuff if you ask me.

 
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi June 27, 2012, 12:30:43 AM
@Bluddy & Co: I see. That's quite a shame - most of what I know about old game coding and performance does come from 8 years ago, so I have to admit that it's taking me awhile to wrap my head around this new information. The sad bit is that I personally prefer 2D games to 3D ones, but sprites are fundamentally a really inefficient way of doing animations.

Having 2 identical sized images (monocolour and truecolour) take up exactly the same amount of RAM sounds a bit stupid since limited palettes do help with innate PNG compression (Since DEFLATE is string-based). If only there was a way to bypass the step for whatever is converting the PNGs into completely re-rendering in 24/48 bit colour...

It actually makes me wonder if AVWW would have worked better in pseudo-3D.

I'm really looking forward to what the studios manage to do - assuming they get funded, it's a really good thing that they eventually managed to agree on payment on a per piece basis (I personally don't think working hours is the best scheme for commissioning art).

Art is inherently a subjective thing - but in practice, it tends to work almost exactly like the visual presentation of food (not exactly though - Art is more of a food wrapper than the actual food). It doesn't have to look appetizing, but it helps to get people to eat it. The only thing I could pseudo-objectively label as "Bad art" is when the look of the food actually detracts from the eating experience in a negative fashion (such as if you dye it with blue food coloring). It's still an important aspect to games though (as games are a multimedia experience). Dwarf Fortress is enjoyable, but take the art and music away from Bastion and render it with ASCII and I doubt it'd have had as much attention.

As a result, I kind of have the philosophy that if you dislike a game's art, it's neat to be able to mod it to suit your own preferences (sort of like having free use of condiments or just rearranging the presentation of the food yourself.) - Take Morrowind for example; it has pretty craptacular art, but that's okay because the gameplay is there and people that don't like it will eventually mod it (and build a mod db) to suit their purposes - and it lets the developers just concentrate on making their game, while excusing them from liability from all of the inevitable less-salubrious mods that follow. This would be easier if AVWW had a larger player base of art modders though.

Mr Chris Park's motivation seems a bit disturbing to me though (And for the record, I think he did a really good job considering the resources and time at hand. It's not something I could do.) - is vindication a healthy motive? I got the impression of a deep-seated feeling of resentment against game art critics when I read his last post, and maybe a hint of malice. But it's not possible to control how other people think and feel (and yes, they can seem a bit irresponsible at times because it's very easy to be negative and hurt other people without getting hurt yourself) - so getting resentful about it is probably a waste of time.

It might just be better to keep trying to make AVWW a better game by focusing on your core strengths - it works for DayZ (ARMA 2 gets a lot of criticism for ugly textures, but the success of that mod was not so much about advertising, but more about word-of-mouth)
: a few thoughts
: doubtful June 27, 2012, 05:09:42 AM
I would just like to say that Arcen has my support in whatever you ultimately choose to do regarding this matter.

I feel that, while AVWW's art style is a bit unorthodox, it fits quite well with the game's concept: that of the amalgamation of a dozen  different eras and places.

The only significant flaws I find with the art is that which has already been said:

1) Some of the animations--namely the rather wooden (single frame?) spellcasting animations--are a bit rough around the edges, and allocating some of the finite space for frames toward that might be in order.  Although as I understand it, this would probably require delving back into the original stock art and reprocessing/rendering it all over again and isn't strictly necessary.

2) The backgrounds in some locations (Swamp!) are bit busy or lack contrast necessary to be able to easily recognize terrain vs background vs generated objects.  As previously suggested, lowering color saturation or otherwise increasing the contrast between the "important" stuff and the background stuff might be helpful!

3) Something I have noticed, which may or may not  be my eyes, my monitor, or my graphics card, is that the game sort of "blurs out" things in the background any time the screen is panning and it's a bit disorienting and frankly kind of painful on my eyes.  I'm not sure if this is an artifact of the game engine or what, though.

At any rate, I would happily chip in on a kickstarter to improve/tweak/whatever the  game's art, if that's genuinely what Mr. Park, et al., want.  But I sense frustration and other negativity in his words as well, and it pains me to think that he may be compromising his principles for the sake of placating a few naysayers who may ultimately never be pleased with what this unusual (and frankly, wonderful) game is trying to be.

Chris, if you're reading this, I think in making any decision(s) about this whole mess, you should look at it strictly in terms of a business venture and nothing more.  Don't let people get under your skin.  If you think you  can generate more revenue/sales by doing this, awesome, give it a shot! But don't do this just to try and deflect the whining of unappreciative jerks who belong to this (sadly, to a point, my) "entitlement" generation.

I haven't been a fan of your games nearly as long as most of this community, but I have been simply amazed at how connected you and your team are with the community and how conscious you are of what we want and how willing you are to deliver.  And just in few weeks since I purchased AVWW, when it first released on Steam,  I have watched this game transform over and over into something greater and more refined.  I barely "know" you guys, and I'm already in love.

A Valley Without Wind is going places at a pace I'd never have dreamed possible, and if you'd rather leave the art as it is, and leave to us, your loyal fans, a Valley without Whiners, I am totally okay with that. :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: MouldyK June 27, 2012, 05:59:56 AM
Well looking at the most-funded games on Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/discover/categories/games/most-funded?ref=more#p1), it seems like there are a lot of irregular things on there, so it's hard to tell which way it will go based on the amount what have raised $100,000+ and reached their target. Although I don't think it will be impossible with:

- The right pitch noting the reasons for the change and the cost. (I mean Leasure Suit Larry's FAQ asks why they need money for a game announced back in October and why they needed $100,000 more than Double Fine needed in the first place)
- The right incentives for people to give money. (maybe some AI War thrown into some Pledges, the already-cheap-soundtrack
- Some indie sites or other sites (ones which said the art might not be for everyone) advertising it.


In a numbers way, to raise $100,000 in like 30 days, it would need:

- 6,666.67 backers pledging $15 at least (the game's retail price).
- $3,333.34 a day on average.
- 222 or 223 backers per day on average paying $15 or more.
- Like 9 or 10 people pledging at least $15 an hour.


...I make it sound easy. :P

Plus, AVWW has something a lot of other projects don't have: A demo. xD
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r June 27, 2012, 06:49:53 AM
I don't think a DEMO is a plus. Kickstarter sells hope ;p Most kickstarters are fully based on hope, most don't even have a design document before starting a kickstart. now THAT is absurd... but i am blabbering...
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Bluddy June 27, 2012, 08:28:12 AM
I don't think a DEMO is a plus. Kickstarter sells hope ;p Most kickstarters are fully based on hope, most don't even have a design document before starting a kickstart. now THAT is absurd... but i am blabbering...

I think there's some truth to that. So long as a game is a promise or an idea, it has no limits -- it fills up your imagination with potential. Once there's an actual product, the reality sinks in, and you start to find flaws. It's much less exciting to fund something that's real, even though it's a more sound business decision.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Hearteater June 27, 2012, 09:39:41 AM
I don't know, I looked at those Megaman WIP textures for AVWW and that filled me with hope.  I image brand new art from a professional studio would be at least as powerful, if not significantly more so.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: zebramatt June 27, 2012, 09:49:02 AM
I'm a big fan of Arcen and of Valley but the art totally jars with me. I'd definitely contribute here!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 27, 2012, 09:51:17 AM
Thanks for all the thoughts, folks.  My responses, in no particular order:

1. Yes, something like this is uncommon.  That's kind of the status quo around here, though, right?  We've already seen some positive press leaking out (http://indiegames.com/2012/06/a_valley_without_wind_to_get_n.html) about this and we haven't even announced anything yet or shown the art.

2. Yes, I agree that kickstarter sells hope.  I also think that a lot of those hopes are going to be horribly dashed in the next year or two, and I don't know what will happen to kickstarter then.  No amount of awesomeness can live up to the expectations that some people have for the projects they fund.  That's why I want to be so concrete about things here; because I have zero desire to be part of the fallout that happens when the kickstarter bubble bursts.

3. Contrary to how it might seem with my tossing a few figures around, I don't yet have this worked out to the penny as to what this will cost.  The reason is simple: we have yet to even select our final studio or style yet.  Each studio charges a different rate, and each studio has a different style and takes different amounts of time to complete work of different styles (and possibly quality).  Quadrupling the cost is something I mentioned because that's the high end of what my gut tells me is sustainable, and the $100k figure is also a rough ballpark "is it bigger than a breadbox" sort of figure.

4. If this does make the game a lot more attractive to folks, then I expect this will also have a very positive impact on our sales of the game.  Meaning that even if our costs were worst-case 4x higher per enemy and such, and even if $100k was only enough to do the revamp but not go much further than that, then we should be able to cover the difference.  Not least of which because then none of my time will be taken up on working on art myself, so I'll have more time to dedicate to other aspects of this or other projects.

5. The solubility of Arcen really isn't an issue here.  We aren't spending big money on this (a few thousand), nor are we going to be directly making money off the kickstarter itself (that all goes right back into the project in terms of the art budget).  So at worst this wastes some of my time and we come out with a better-looking game (or a failed kickstarter but some interesting publicity, I guess), while at best we come out with a game that a lot more people find acceptable to buy and play thanks to the new art style.  Which in turn would give us more than enough resources to continue to do a bunch of more stuff in the new style.

6. Also bear in mind that enemies and buildings and such aren't our only expense, nor our largest.  For one thing, there has to be good loot and such, and thus far I think I've been doing a largely quite-good job with the particle effects, with a few exceptions.  Those pieces of art get subtracted out of the 4k pieces that have been mentioned.  And the cost of doing new spells that are particle or projectile-based won't increase at all with this sort of new art style, I wouldn't think.

7. As to the question of how many frames there will be, that all depends.  If we go with an articulated sprite style, then there won't be any frames in the classic sense, but rather a variety of body parts that get moved around in a puppet-like fashion to create extremely smooth animations.  If we go with a pixelart style, then the framecount will massively drop overall, rather than rise, but we'll also have some things like probably standing animations and such rather than just burning 21 frames on running and then doing 1 frame for everything else.  These details remain to be worked out, and I'm working it out in different ways with each of the studios to explore what is possible given their talents and our desire for "better," whatever that means.

8. At the present, if I were to do a kickstarter it would be exactly one of those "high hopes" sort of things, because you haven't seen any art and all there is is the vague promise of something that costs more to make but must surely look a lot better.  That's what this initial R&D period is about, is taking those vague hopes and turning them into a concrete "this is what it would look like."  AND "this is what it would cost."

9. As I already noted, this won't impact our plans for AVWW content in general, or AI War's next expansion, in any way.  There are quite a few substantial revenue sources remaining for us in the remainder of 2012, and none of them have to do with this kickstarter business, which is really an exploratory side venture.  Don't fund this kickstarter because you think it will help us stay afloat; fund it if you want the new art, whatever your motivations are for that.

10. I definitely won't be forgetting to talk about the game itself, or our plans or what we have going on.  Obviously with 1.104 (http://arcengames.com/mediawiki/index.php?title=AVWW_-_Post-Launch_Series_2_Release_Notes#Beta_1.104) right now there are some exciting things going on, but prior to doing our kickstarter I intend to have some features that are even more exciting out the door in at least beta form.  I finally had some epiphanies on a few things that are missing from the actual gameplay itself (sod the art) last night, and I know in general what to do in order to get the first iterations of that off the ground.  As always, on our own dime of course.

11. Beyond even these things I think there will be more to do, of course -- isn't there always?  But things like new terrain generation or new mission types or whatever generally don't require as much art as they do programming.

12. In terms of getting to see revamped art samples, here is one that I'll share with you.  The urban sniper balloon enemy (which is completely un-animated in the game at the moment) has been attached, as well as a gif file of its prospective replacement from a studio we'll call K.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: mrhanman June 27, 2012, 10:02:36 AM
 :o

So... where do I put my money?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 27, 2012, 10:10:30 AM
My hope is to have things to a point where we can start the kickstarter around July 9th or 10th, but that will depend on a lot of other factors to do with the various studios.  Bear in mind there's still a lot more work to do with all three of them, but hopefully there will be a lot more samples to share this week in multiple styles. :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: madcow June 27, 2012, 10:26:04 AM
Those mockups look really cool, can't wait to see what the other studios come up with as well.

Are you going to decide on a style before putting up the kickstarter?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: zebramatt June 27, 2012, 10:38:42 AM
@madcow:

Short answer is yes.

Long answer is...

Next Steps After This Project
Once an art style is selected, the next step will be to work with that artist to determine what the likely total project cost would be to convert the entire existing game over to that style.  Not to mention the timeframe.  My expectation is that multiple artists will be needed, ultimately, so then the next challenge will be seeing if we can find multiple people who can work in that style.

At that point I'll have a more accurate idea of exactly what the revision costs as well as the ongoing-development costs of the new art style would be (although I already have a pretty decent idea, having worked with 2D, 3D, and pixel artists on other projects in the past).

With those cost figures in hand, plus an actual visual prototype that people can see and look at, the next step will most likely be a kickstarter.  It's possible that a discount sale from our game could give us enough of a windfall to fund the entire thing ourselves directly (this sort of thing has certainly happened to us before), but we already have a fulltime staff of 5 and so there's a limit to how much extra financial burden we can take on even if we hit another major windfall this summer.  Most of our general budget goes toward expanding the game itself, which is what keeps bringing in new players the most reliably at the moment.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Goncyn June 27, 2012, 11:15:05 AM
Chris, reading all your posts about the art creation process and the cost of producing your games has been fascinating. Thanks for being so verbose! FWIW, I think the articulated-sprite style of animation would suit this game very well. Looking forward to the kickstarter.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 27, 2012, 11:20:27 AM
It's my pleasure -- I always try to be as transparent as possible, while respecting the privacy of third parties.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: SerratedSabre June 27, 2012, 11:38:56 AM
I have no doubt in my mind that whatever y'all pick as an art style is gonna be awesome. The only thing I ask is that the caves in the ocean shallows still look like the interior of a conch shell. It's a nice unique touch that should be carried over.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr June 27, 2012, 11:41:19 AM
Holy baloney this turned out to be quite the project! But, I got a nice fat salary this month, so bring on the Kickstarter! ^_^
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: orzelek June 27, 2012, 01:36:13 PM
It looks like a good time to finally get a kickstarter account. I already missed few things like Grim Dawn there so it would be about time :D
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Aklyon June 27, 2012, 01:55:16 PM
I won't be able to do much, but if i spot something nifty in the lower tiers I'll toss my (potentially pixelated) hat in.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: goodgimp June 27, 2012, 07:08:08 PM
I signed up for a Kickstarter account for this. I've been tempted in the past but this put me over the edge. I actually like the current art style, but if this can A) Improve it even further and B) make the game reach a larger audience and provide more money for Arcen to make more games, I'm all for it.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Professor Paul1290 June 28, 2012, 09:00:09 AM
I'm going to have to share some of Professor Paul1290's concerns about publicity here.

It seems like soliciting money for a major refactoring of a major aspect of a product, that by many people's standards, should of been done right in the first place (or right enough such that a new "project fund" had to be created to "fix" it) isn't something that will inspire much confidence.
An art revamp of this magnitude (assuming an major art revamp is what is chosen) without declaring it a new product line I rarely see outside of free software projects, where that culture is much more willing to embrace the idea of art and the game engine being developed separately.
(EDIT: Note, this implies that this is in large part a problem of unrealistic expectations of many consumers of games, aka, a cultural problem, not a developer competency one)

Now, as a long time "lurker", and as someone who has seen this product evolve from its brainstorm phases, to its first public beta release, to where it is now, I know that the primary focus of the funds has been into R&D. The art, while by no means neglected, didn't get as much of a percentage of the funds as many people might expect in project, and that this new initiative is primarily here to help give the art the extra "oomph" to sort of "catch up" from that earlier decision. (BTW, I think focusing on the engine and gameplay first was the right decision, even if it lead to tricky issues like what we have now) (EDIT: And you guys did a great job with the art even as it is now. This whole initiative seems to be about fixing some inconsistencies and gaps in the current art, that due to both stylistic and unforeseeable technical reasons, will possibly turn out to be expensive to fix)
However, this would be VERY hard to communicate to someone who hasn't been seeing the history of this product as long in a convincing enough way to overcome that initial negative first impression.

(EDIT: Semi-ninja'd by Chris)

This is pretty much what I'm worried about.

At the risk of again sounding really negative, there's also the fact that most Kickstarters have a positive image or no image to start out with.


There's the fact AVWW's image outside of its fans just isn't very good at all. I would even go so far to say it's quite negative right now.

The opinion among most observers outside these forums is that "AVWW was a failed project and in a few months Arcen is going to whine that they've run out of money again".
That doesn't hold water in a lot of ways, but that's more or less what a lot of people think right now.

I can understand that rationally, a Kickstarter doesn't indicate anything like that. The problem is that the public isn't really rational and often can't be bothered to look into details. A Kickstarter may reinforce this negative image unless it's done really well.


I'm not saying it shouldn't be done, in fact I think this is something that should at least be given a try. I'm just saying you're going to have to be really careful with how this is going to be presented.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 28, 2012, 09:09:46 AM
Unless you've been following all our press very closely, I think your perspective is skewed by whatever bits you have read.  To refresh:

Kotaku, Joystick, Boy's Life, and Tom Chick have said really positive things about it.  Big, big, big.

Most smaller indie sites have given it at least 4/5 stars, a couple a perfect 5/5 stars.

Most of the "middle of the road" size sites that are on Metacritic but not huge, and then also some of the larger sites like IGN, Gamespot, and Eurogamer and RPS, actively disliked it or at best gave it 6/7 out of 10.  A lot of the complaints that they had at 1.0 we addressed with 1.1, and RPS recently wrote a much more positive article about it.

Beyond that, our main problem isn't that people think bad things about the game -- it's that they have no clue it exists.  And beyond that, I can't control people's perceptions.  We're not asking for general-purpose funding.  We're doing fine on that point.  But a certain contingent of people are griping that they want us to add something expensive to the game that is beyond our budget, and then they'd enjoy it.  Well -- we're giving them, as a group, the opportunity to fund that themselves.  Whether they do or not makes little difference to the future of Arcen, but I should think it's far preferable than our just saying "sucks to be you, we call all the shots" like a big studio would.

If you look at anything Arcen has done, it's all been statistically unlikely.  AI War?  Who would have thought there would have been so many units of that sort of game sold, and yet most people still would never have heard of it?  Everything is unlikely until it happens, and then it's 100% likely because it's happened.

If I was the sort that got scared out of doing things because somebody on the Internet might think badly of me, I'd never be in this business.  Some people are going to think badly of me no matter what I do, and I just have to let that go.  Acting from a position of fear, or "let's only do things that have worked for other people already" just isn't my style.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi June 28, 2012, 10:06:31 AM
I think he's more referring to the amount of negative comments there are on such sites. I always take a glance at the vox pops too (even if just out of morbid curiousity), and even on the site that you linked earlier (Indiegames) there seems to be an overwhelming amount of negativity. (I think Mr Park's cat probably set Amanda Chen's house on fire).

ProfessorPaul seems to have actually posted there in order to ameliorate some of the negativity, but fighting jaded people is a waste of time.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe June 28, 2012, 10:13:22 AM
Bashing AVWW has been a recreational pasttime for some sections of the internet gaming community since very early pre-alpha coverage on RPS, and they've never really kicked the habit.  Actually, one of the reasons given for the abuse was that we were bothering them with such an early version of a game.  And yea, the chen was one of the recreational-abuse participants there, though I think that came later.

I don't have much of an idea how many distinct people are represented in that "following", or how much their comments reflect how other people feel, etc, but in general I don't worry about it.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 28, 2012, 10:17:09 AM
I think he's more referring to the amount of negative comments there are on such sites. I always take a glance at the vox pops too (even if just out of morbid curiousity), and even on the site that you linked earlier (Indiegames) there seems to be an overwhelming amount of negativity. (I think Mr Park's cat probably set Amanda Chen's house on fire).

ProfessorPaul seems to have actually posted there in order to ameliorate some of the negativity, but fighting jaded people is a waste of time.

Oh, that?  Welcome to the Internet.  AI War and everything else we've ever done has usually had that sort of vitriol in comments.  It amounts to nothing.  Amanda Chen in particular seems to make a habit of bashing lots of things in overly negative ways on RPS and now apparently other sites, as I've seen her post with that same level of vitriol many times unrelated to my own stuff.

People read too much into comments -- for good or for ill.  For everyone that posts something nice or something nasty, there are hundreds of people who either don't read the comments, don't bother to post, or whatever.

If I had listened to RPS comments during alpha for the game, I should have just given it up and not ever made AVWW in the first place.  But it's been selling 3x faster than AI War ever did.  See what I mean?  People in comments can say what they like, but they thankfully don't get to set the rules of reality.  Neither do I, of course.  But the point is that fearing the vitriol of commenters is futile at best -- they'll hate you unless you have the courtesy to drop dead or stop making games, and nothing short of that will stop all of them.  Some get converted one way or the other (liking you after not, not liking you anymore after they did for a while), but this isn't a popularity contest.

At the end of the day, we hang our shingle out and make what interests us, and if enough other people also are interested that they want to support us, then we stay in business.  When we stop making interesting things, people will go away and that will be the end of us.  All the rest of that stuff is sound and fury.

Know the only two things that have had a measurable sales bump in our income?  Being mentioned on Kotaku and Total Biscuit.  Nothing else had any measurable short-term effect, in either a positive or a negative sense.  Though we did see another sales bump recently when the 1.1 trailer was on the front page of Steam.

My opinion is that the majority of the people using the Internet are smarter than we give them credit for.  They stay out of the flamewars and spats, they keep their own counsel after reading what various parties say, and then they do what they feel is best.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi June 28, 2012, 10:29:20 AM
Oh, I don't doubt that at all. I never played AI war because it's not my kind of genre (I'm quite sure it's excellent, I've even seen videos of it and it's beautiful, but I don't really like RTSes because I prefer my strategy turn-based) - but when I heard about AVWW, I was instantly hooked into the basic idea of it because I'm a RPG/Platform addict.

I didn't expect you to take the comments seriously either - ProfessorPaul just seemed a bit worried on your behalf, and that's really a nice thing to know, because he loves the game enough to take such ill-spirited trolling to heart.

Otherwise, I'm really glad to hear AVWW is selling well! I hope you keep improving the game - I really love the direction you're taking AVWW with the next patch - and from what I hear (from trusted sources), Arcen has quite the reputation for intelligent and interesting development.

What something is doesn't matter so much as what it's striving to be.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 28, 2012, 10:40:12 AM
I'm definitely always really moved whenever someone cares that much on our behalf -- that anyone is that worried about our continued survival as a company other than those of us working here is kind of surreal to me.  So it's always appreciated when people are looking out for us, and goodness knows we can use the support in comment threads and whatever else because otherwise the trolls just run rampant.  Which isn't the end of the world, as I already noted, but sure stings.

Anyhow, I'm not trying to slap down the opposition to the idea of the kickstarter, but this is actually an idea I've been toying with since way back into beta, and it's something that we've discussed internally from time to time.  We made the decision to give it a shot at this particular timing knowing that there are certain risks, but that they seem acceptable compared to the potential gains.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: BobTheJanitor June 28, 2012, 12:50:23 PM
Oh come now, some of us spend so much time living on these forums that of course we'll grow to care a bit. If I were ever in the right part of the country for it, I'd love to just buy one of you guys a beer or beverage of your choice and hang out. But enough sentimentality. A question: If and when the kickstarter... er, starts do you plan to offer a reward tier with the game in it? And if so, when will people get the game? Most kickstarters don't actually have a purchasable product ready to go, so people are happy to wait. But you don't get the money until the funding is done, so will people have to wait until then? Or will you recommend they just go buy the game instead of donating?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 28, 2012, 01:07:41 PM
Oh come now, some of us spend so much time living on these forums that of course we'll grow to care a bit. If I were ever in the right part of the country for it, I'd love to just buy one of you guys a beer or beverage of your choice and hang out. But enough sentimentality.

Sure, I understand this intellectually.  And I've been on the other side of things, too -- and indeed have come to know quite a number of you well through your actions and speech.  But it's all very intellectual, isn't it?  I just go into my office and work on stuff, and don't really speak verbally to anyone all day long, and that's that.  So when I say that it's surreal, that's what I mean.  I think there's a book or something called "alone together?"  I guess that makes sense, though I think the premise of that book is negative, which isn't how I feel about it.  Anyway, enough rambling. ;)

A question: If and when the kickstarter... er, starts do you plan to offer a reward tier with the game in it? And if so, when will people get the game? Most kickstarters don't actually have a purchasable product ready to go, so people are happy to wait. But you don't get the money until the funding is done, so will people have to wait until then? Or will you recommend they just go buy the game instead of donating?

Probably there will be a reward tier with the game in it, yes; but that has to eb worked out internally since normally staff would get royalties on these things, and in the case of the kickstarter they would not -- so in one sense that would be eating into our own profits if we give away too many copies of the game.  It's kind of a muddle, there, and I haven't yet decided what makes the most sense all in all.  Given that this whole kickstarter is intended to be a side thing where it's not directly contributing to our income, having it actively draw away potential income might not be the best; though if the art really is that big a barrier and our audience grows then it all balances out.  See how that logic can go round and round? ;) If we were to do that, anyway, then when the kickstarter was funded we'd hand those out.    No reason to make people wait.

In terms of other reward tiers, I think there are plenty of compelling in-game things that we can make exclusive to the kickstarter.  Custom characters or spells that only get unlocked for these people (sort of like a mini-expansion that has more depending on your tier), a few high-dollar ones for getting to custom-design something major in the game (a whole time period? it's a possibility), and so forth.  We'll have to work on figuring out exactly what the compelling rewards will be, and we've got about 2ish weeks to do that.  Suggestions are certainly welcome, although that might make for a better thread.

The idea is that whatever these rewards are, they wouldn't be balance altering, but they wouldn't be purely cosmetic either.  I recall that Wizards of the Coast used to do promotional cards themed with some of their novels, and if you got those cards they were actually useful... just not moreso than other cards that were already in the game and more widely available.  But the exclusivity of those cards was cool, and you got some unique art as well as some slightly unique mechanics out of it.  That sort of thing strikes the right sort of idea to me.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: MouldyK June 28, 2012, 01:21:57 PM

In terms of other reward tiers, I think there are plenty of compelling in-game things that we can make exclusive to the kickstarter.  Custom characters or spells that only get unlocked for these people (sort of like a mini-expansion that has more depending on your tier)

I think that would be a nice little incentive for people who already have the game as well as it means they can contribute and get something out of it as well. :) Though if it did go that way, i'd hope they were time-exclusive and available to all at a later date (via part of a larger expansion or just on it's own later so people don't miss out).
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 28, 2012, 01:34:48 PM
I dunno -- timed exclusive seems a bit unfair to the people who get that as a reward tier, don't you think?  If it was a physical good we were making, we'd make a batch of X number of those units and ship them to people, then never make any more of them.  That's basically how those promotional cards did (and I believe still do) work with M:TG.

Now, being a digital good we somewhat come into an issue of ethics.  Given that we're going to be continuing to give everyone a bunch of extra free stuff anyhow, I don't see where giving the kickstarter backers something that is exclusively always only to them would be that bad a thing.  Besides, it would be based on a little DRM-free installer, and as soon as people feel like sharing those installers everyone has it anyhow.  Piracy happens, and in this case it's barely piracy since it wouldn't be something we'd be selling anyhow.

I don't know what the right answer is there, honestly.  It's new territory for me.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe June 28, 2012, 01:45:50 PM
I dunno -- timed exclusive seems a bit unfair to the people who get that as a reward tier, don't you think?
I'm used to seeing preorder and whatnot goodies that are made generally available later.  Actually I can't recall offhand a single digitally-distributed game where "exclusive" goodies were not made generally available at some point later; sometimes they'd charge for it, but it was never "nope, sorry, missed the window, you can never ever have that".  I have seen something like that in LoL and other FtP stuff, but not elsewhere.

I think one ethically-workable way is to say upfront that the additional stuff will be available generally later but at a cost, so they're basically getting early access and a discount for their troubles.

A common approach I've seen in kickstarters has been letting certain highish reward tiers actually specify/help-design something in the game.  Obviously that has to be pretty minor (to be cost efficient) or pretty high-ticket, but it's one way to fill out the tier list.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Penumbra June 28, 2012, 01:48:32 PM
specify/help-design something in the game.

Like you guys don't let us do that already ;)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe June 28, 2012, 01:49:14 PM
Another thing to bear in mind in terms of custom characters is that the actual art will probably need to be distributed through a normal patch to everyone so that people don't see pink squares in multiplayer.  In AIW we got around that by requiring all players in an MP game to have all the expansions enabled-for-that-game (albeit in trial mode if they hadn't bought it); and I guess in AVWW we could do something similar, but I don't think that would fly for the "kickstarter exclusive content mini-expansion" because that seems a bit odd to fragment on.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 28, 2012, 01:51:51 PM
All good points Keith... and Penumbra as well. ;)

The help designing on something would have to be pretty high-ticket and pretty unusually involved compared to what we already do.  Or something really specific: commission a character in your likeness or the likeness of your D&D character or whatever.  That's something that would become part of the game and that normally we wouldn't even entertain; but with an art studio able to work with us on it if the kickstarter succeeded, that sort of thing would suddenly be possible.

So potentially it's not exclusive content per se, but rather the ability to commission certain pieces of art that would be what they want and that everyone would then see.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe June 28, 2012, 01:52:24 PM
specify/help-design something in the game.

Like you guys don't let us do that already ;)
Shhh! Don't tell the customers that don't know that ;)

I meant more specifically; when one of y'all say "I want a spell that makes a whale drop from the sky and cause a massive explosion" we kind of take it under advisement; if we made a $500 kickstarter tier and said that people at that level could "design a new spell (within reason)" and gave that as what they wanted, it'd be a little more direct to our to-do-list :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Penumbra June 28, 2012, 01:57:05 PM
"I want a spell that makes a whale drop from the sky and cause a massive explosion" we kind of take it under advisement; if we made a $500 kickstarter tier and said that people at that level could "design a new spell (within reason)" and gave that as what they wanted, it'd be a little more direct to our to-do-list :)

So your saying the game just went Pay to Win?   :P
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: zebramatt June 28, 2012, 02:00:04 PM
I dunno -- timed exclusive seems a bit unfair to the people who get that as a reward tier, don't you think?
I'm used to seeing preorder and whatnot goodies that are made generally available later.  Actually I can't recall offhand a single digitally-distributed game where "exclusive" goodies were not made generally available at some point later; sometimes they'd charge for it, but it was never "nope, sorry, missed the window, you can never ever have that".  I have seen something like that in LoL and other FtP stuff, but not elsewhere.

I've bought several physical special editions which come with exclusive unlockables for other games which haven't later been made generally available; and Steam does it quite a bit too.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe June 28, 2012, 02:01:08 PM
"I want a spell that makes a whale drop from the sky and cause a massive explosion" we kind of take it under advisement; if we made a $500 kickstarter tier and said that people at that level could "design a new spell (within reason)" and gave that as what they wanted, it'd be a little more direct to our to-do-list :)

So your saying the game just went Pay to Win?   :P
I was talking about stuff where they pay for it and we add it to the base game, not that we add it as an exclusive :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: BobTheJanitor June 28, 2012, 02:02:53 PM
Shy away from anything time exclusive and purchase only. One or the other seems to be perfectly acceptable to gamers, but for some reason the combination of buying something and never being able to get it later makes people go mad. I think it reminds people too much of pre-purchaser exclusive weapons and whatnot in some games. You can do 'sign in today only and get free hat' and that's fine, or you can do 'prepurchase to get this hat as a bonus, other people can buy it later' but combining them will unleash the wrath of the internet. The shadowrun kickstarter I think was going to do some tier with exclusive content and people went mad with rage. They pulled that idea pretty quickly.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: BobTheJanitor June 28, 2012, 02:22:00 PM
I've bought several physical special editions which come with exclusive unlockables for other games which haven't later been made generally available; and Steam does it quite a bit too.

Cosmetic stuff is ok, anything else = internet rage.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: madcow June 28, 2012, 02:22:25 PM
I would also be concerned about physical rewards which I sometimes see people do (mailed posters/shirts/etc), at least at lower tiers, as that can add up to extra expenses.

Something that would be an interesting reward, is something akin to play a game of X with us. Where X is whatever, AVWW, AI War, or even a non-arcen game (within reason of course). There would need to be a limited number of slots for that one, obviously.

I think another very interesting idea is something that was floating around in the brainstorming thread since before the official release - epitaphs. A tier to submit an epitaph which would randomly seed in the game world. I'm sure a lot of people that already have AVWW would kick in some money just for that, I know I would. Higher tiers could allow more epitaph submissions.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: yllamana June 28, 2012, 03:09:18 PM
I don't really like the idea of in-game exclusive stuff either, unless it's something purely cosmetic (donate over $x and get ~a hat~ for your in-game character!!). It just seems like making the game worse than it could be for everyone who didn't donate, because they're missing out on the cool whatever it is.

Game licenses seem like a pretty logical reward for those who don't have the game already. One potential problem is those of us who do have the game already would then have to give ours away, and that might be to someone else who would have bought the game. :) I mean, hopefully if this does go through it'll open up the game to many more people, so the lost royalties wouldn't really be an issue (lose x royalties on kickstarter, gain 5x royalties post-new art release).

I could maybe go for something like preordering an expansion as well, which has the same issue from Arcen PoV (since you'd be betting on the gained sales from the new art to outweigh the loss of expansion income). Sort of like a loan from the playerbase I suppose.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Hearteater June 28, 2012, 03:47:17 PM
I'd probably go with having in-game things named after (named by) top contributors.  That way you don't have "separate" DLC or anything else, but it still feels good to the contributor.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: TechSY730 June 28, 2012, 03:50:59 PM
Game licenses seem like a pretty logical reward for those who don't have the game already. One potential problem is those of us who do have the game already would then have to give ours away, and that might be to someone else who would have bought the game.

I'm pretty sure that Kickstarter supports "ORing" of rewards per tier for this very sort of reason, which the donator can select which reward on that tier they want. Also, a donator can opt-out of a reward tier and instead get a lower tier reward, or even opt-out of any sort of reward.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Dizzard June 28, 2012, 04:00:45 PM
It's probably been mentioned before but for a kickstarter reward you could always have your other two games A.i War and Tidalis as rewards....for people who have AVWW but not the other two of your games.

It would make for a good incentive.

Maybe you could also include soundtracks too?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Brise Bonbons June 28, 2012, 04:27:45 PM
I've also noticed that in past kickstarters, certain in-game rewards (i.e. custom spells) seem to be frowned on. As has been mentioned, it seems they appear too similar to pre-order exclusive DLC in AAA games, which bear the weight of much internet kvetching these days.

I'm not sure how I feel about it. For me, helping to kickstart a project is an inherently communal action, and I'm doing it in order to let a project exist for everyone to enjoy. Thus the idea that I'm paying for access to something which much of the community won't have is actually counter-productive to my desires. If anything I'd rather it be like a stretch goal, where me upping my contribution means that everyone gets better stuff.

Hypothetically:

$50 - Design a room for the game with your own tombstone inside!

Sounds much more exciting to me than:

$50 - Get 3 unique character sprites only kickstarters get!

Now, the problem here is that it's probably cheaper to design a handful of unique character sprites that can then be duplicated and sent to players than it is to process and integrated dozens of room ideas from excited fans.

For me, I want getting cool and unique stuff to be a thing that happens inside the game as a natural outgrowth of the game logic; if I know I got a sprite or a spell because I paid extra money outside the game, it cheapens the experience.

Anyway, I know myself to be an oddball in this respect, so my opinion is of limited value. Just one more perspective.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: mrhanman June 28, 2012, 04:36:01 PM
All you have to do to make the Kickstarter an overwhelming success is to have exclusive TF2 hats as a reward.  Just offer up a floating glyph "hat", and the droves of hat-crazed TF2 players will fill your coffers to overflowing!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe June 28, 2012, 04:46:20 PM
Just offer up a floating glyph "hat", and the droves of hat-crazed TF2 players will fill your coffers to overflowing!
Hmm, but what would we use for the hat itself?

"Fool those pesky Blu Team buffoons by disguising yourself with this ultra-clever Sapphire Vein hat!  It's a favorite of mine!"
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Aklyon June 28, 2012, 10:23:29 PM
Sapphire Hat, Ruby hat.

Or Glyph and (damage indicator) Glyph.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe June 28, 2012, 10:30:49 PM
Or Glyph and (damage indicator) Glyph.
Ooh, now there you might be on to something ;)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: zebramatt June 29, 2012, 02:43:26 AM
Given that this is about the new art style, I'd definitely be interested in getting cosmetic arty things for my $$. Kickstarter-exclusive character sprites and enemy variant sprites; one-of-a-kind character sprites; collaborate on the aesthetic of a new character for everyone; or a new type of enemy; or a new chunk type.

Although that's starting to sound expensive!  :D
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Tobias June 29, 2012, 02:23:31 PM
Potential point about the kickstarter idea

Most people who like the game have bought it

Most people who don't like the game probably aren't going to give you money to make the artstyle better

Also I might suggest a site like indiegogo rather then kickstarter. Kickstarter is full of hipsters and assholes.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Hearteater June 29, 2012, 02:27:21 PM
If I recall correctly, with Indiegogo, you get the money even if you don't meet your goal.  With Kickstarted, you only get the money if you meet the goal.  For this project, Kickstarter is more appropriate.  So Kickstarter protects the contributor more and that could be a powerful factor in people deciding to donate, especially initially.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Aklyon June 29, 2012, 02:30:21 PM
Most people who don't like it, is because of the artstyle. If Arcen is planning to change said artstyle, they can put their money where their mouth is and have it be better for everyone (more or less) involved. If they don't, then the art isn't as big as it seems, and it can cool off for awhile again.

I think, except for the large graphical discussion, that sums up the point here.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 29, 2012, 02:31:09 PM
Indiegogo raises very little money compared to kickstarter.  And if you're thinking that we've hit our market cap on the number of people who already have bought the game, then you know a lot more than I do.  I personally think we are ridiculously below our potential market cap for this game, based on past performance with other games and so forth (our own and other studios').  Many people who would buy the game did not yet do so because either it hasn't gone on sale, they couldn't get past the art or some other aspect that we've been working on improving, or -- in the vast majority of cases -- they've simply never even heard of it.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe June 29, 2012, 02:31:45 PM
Most people who don't like the game probably aren't going to give you money to make the artstyle better
And if it's not funded, we're totally fine with that, and it will be a major point in our responses to further "this art style stinks!" feedback :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Teal_Blue June 30, 2012, 01:15:37 AM
fairly simple, and perhaps easiest might be to start with the assets you already have, and 'remove' the 'painterly' effect?
this might be just taking what you have (if they still exist non-processed) and working up a test build with the unprocessed art and seeing what you think of it?

Also, if models or pieces are different from one another in their unprocessed state, then perhaps a method similar to your painterly style could be overlaid on all of the art?  Not painstakingly by hand, but by running all the art through some new 'filter'? Like the basic colors in a Mario game, or contrasting colors like in Metroid ?

Just some thoughts

-Teal





: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 June 30, 2012, 07:29:05 AM
The models would look horrendous without their painterly effect.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Bluddy July 01, 2012, 09:49:57 AM
After playing again after not having played for a while, I'm of the opinion that the graphics need tweaking rather than a reboot. I also think it's unlikely that the Kickstarter idea will work (sorry -- don't want to discourage you).

Get an artist to render all the assets for midday, night, sunset, and sunrise. Limit the possible combinations of conflicting assets. Replace the bad indoor textures with good ones. Reduce the memory footprint of animations with the technique I outlined + make sure you're using compressed/16 bit textures and add some more animations. Other than these (relatively minor) things, the graphics are fine, and sometimes even beautiful.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Hearteater July 01, 2012, 11:48:53 AM
I think without seeing what the candidates are proposing it might be early to disregard them.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r July 01, 2012, 02:32:24 PM
After playing again after not having played for a while, I'm of the opinion that the graphics need tweaking rather than a reboot. I also think it's unlikely that the Kickstarter idea will work (sorry -- don't want to discourage you).

Get an artist to render all the assets for midday, night, sunset, and sunrise. Limit the possible combinations of conflicting assets. Replace the bad indoor textures with good ones. Reduce the memory footprint of animations with the technique I outlined + make sure you're using compressed/16 bit textures and add some more animations. Other than these (relatively minor) things, the graphics are fine, and sometimes even beautiful.

As someone who does this I can assure you that at 128x128 resolution something rendered out without extensive post editing (ie, line tracing) would look incredibly bad, blurry, undefined. No strong contrasts or clear details. You can never beat drawn art in low resolutions
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Bluddy July 01, 2012, 10:31:50 PM
After playing again after not having played for a while, I'm of the opinion that the graphics need tweaking rather than a reboot. I also think it's unlikely that the Kickstarter idea will work (sorry -- don't want to discourage you).

Get an artist to render all the assets for midday, night, sunset, and sunrise. Limit the possible combinations of conflicting assets. Replace the bad indoor textures with good ones. Reduce the memory footprint of animations with the technique I outlined + make sure you're using compressed/16 bit textures and add some more animations. Other than these (relatively minor) things, the graphics are fine, and sometimes even beautiful.

As someone who does this I can assure you that at 128x128 resolution something rendered out without extensive post editing (ie, line tracing) would look incredibly bad, blurry, undefined. No strong contrasts or clear details. You can never beat drawn art in low resolutions

Not entirely sure which specific thing you're referring to. Animation art could be kept as it is. Animations would be squished together to use up textures effectively, and textures could be 16 bit to take up half the space.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 02, 2012, 09:26:30 AM
As a reminder:

1. Squishing textures together would make the creating process incredibly more difficult and time consuming for us, and is Right Out. We'd have to have some manner of determining where frames are via some new process, or define it all by hand, and that's not something I'm willing to invest that level of time into.

2. Being able to switch to 16bit textures is not a possibility with the unity engine the way we use it.  Their flexibility when it comes to importing at runtime is minimal at best, and our pipeline (for reasons already outlined) absolutely depends on being able to import at runtime.

3. The people who aren't of an opinion that the art is "a little bad" or "in need of slight tweaking" are likely not going to be looking at anything like what you mention.  We deliberately and painstakingly pick the best of the best screenshots to show with press releases (as do all games), and people still kvetch over them to an extreme degree.  IE, to reach those people an entire overhaul is needed.

4. Whether or not a kickstarter is theorized to work or not is irrelevant; we're going to try it.  If it doesn't work we've learned something interesting from that, and if it does work then we've got a new art style that more people like.  I'm not investing money into prototype art at the moment just to back away at the last second because a kickstarter might not work, you know?

5. Yes, without the post-processing the rendered 3D stuff at 128x128 or even larger looks abominable.  Blurry, no contrast, etc, etc, etc.  Hence our move to drawn art, since the post-processing approach has led to so much divide.  Also, it would be nice to have people with more formal expertise in art (plus their "10,000 hours" in) compared to myself, a relative amateur when it comes to art.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: MouldyK July 02, 2012, 10:09:23 AM
I hope we can see prototypes of the other 2 studios soonish as the first one from "K" was pretty cool. :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 02, 2012, 10:24:46 AM
Here's an evolution of the Darrell character with Studio K, as we've been working towards getting a style that would be appropriate and not too cartoony.  It's still not fully there yet, but getting closer.  My main complaint now is the head.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 02, 2012, 10:28:14 AM
And here's a design sketch for the multi-layer background from what we'll call Studio H.  Below that is the small town screenshot with the parallax layers that currently exist in the game.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: MouldyK July 02, 2012, 11:06:21 AM
Yeah, I agree the head could be a tiny bit better, but the body looks nifty.

Most sprite-like heads always look kinda cartoony thing. Still, looks promising.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r July 02, 2012, 11:43:08 AM
Character art is gonna fail or win me over with the walking animation to be honest, particularly with females vs males, and choosing a bald character was maybe a bit bad an idea ;p Can't judge hair movement in animations without.. hair

As for the head, I think the mouth should be less pointing towards us and be smaller (who stands around with open mouth?), the ears be a bit less pronounced and that'd be basically it. Head size does not matter to me, but it'll only ever get my sanction when I see female character art and the walking animations, and particularly whether clothing is going to be animated in the non-armored versions.

Also, the eye form should maybe be a bit more "scary dude" style, because we are glyph bearers, on our command continents change!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: LayZboy July 02, 2012, 02:25:58 PM
Why is the 3rd ones head animu style, and the other two have tiny heads.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: SerratedSabre July 02, 2012, 02:35:19 PM
Hmmm, it feels like it's missing something. The colors on the sprites seem kinda bright, in contrast to the games darker palette. We'd just have to see what it would look like in-game to get a better feel for it. As for the head, how much can the guy de-cartoonize the thing? I'm kinda curious to see what would turn out.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: yllamana July 02, 2012, 02:43:28 PM
I think the top Darren looks pretty cool, though he has some serious Warcraft shoulders going on and looks like he needs to relax a bit. I'll also be interested to see if they can get the female characters right.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: madcow July 02, 2012, 03:37:40 PM
That head bob, oh god. I hope that's not the idle animation, it would drive me insane!

The actual terrain looks the same, is it not getting touched up? ...Or am I just like going blind?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Bluddy July 02, 2012, 04:02:27 PM
I'll be really sad to see the current art style go away. An artist going over what you have now and making small changes could really make this work. Too bad.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 02, 2012, 04:07:41 PM
I'll be really sad to see the current art style go away. An artist going over what you have now and making small changes could really make this work. Too bad.

You may well get your wish.  If the kickstarter isn't funded, then we'd probably try to punt and do something along those lines.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r July 02, 2012, 04:37:22 PM
I think instead of decartoonizing it has to become more anime ;)

(my little modification)

1) Flattened head shading
2) added 1 px more head border (black)
3) removed head-bob
4) replaced white highlight by light grey highlight (smooth gradients..)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Coppermantis July 02, 2012, 05:29:03 PM
I personally would not like an anime-styled AVWW. Just my personal preference, I have nothing against anime specifically but I don't find it an attractive style for games.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: yllamana July 02, 2012, 05:44:12 PM
I think the edit there looks really good. The black bit above the head looks sort of strange but maybe it'd look different against a real background.

It looks promising to me. :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r July 02, 2012, 06:14:10 PM
Hmhhh, I guess i could just have made the head that 1 px larger, i only did that because the eye brows needed 1 px extra space to fit right ;p

At this resolution the art style is bound for at least pseudo western anime style and there is no way around that. Whether you do eyes 1px or 2px large makes no difference to me, and that is the only thing I meant with Anime style ;P

Personally, I want a character that looks like my avatar ,p

Anyway, here is another variation(s) only the eyes change between the 2,p
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe July 02, 2012, 06:31:23 PM
Personally, I want a character that looks like my avatar ,p
+1

I never expect it to happen here, but all my most-favorite game art styles are anime-ish.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: yllamana July 02, 2012, 06:52:37 PM
I'm not sure what a westernised style in this format would look like. Flashback (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flashback_%28video_game%29), maybe? Or I guess perhaps what it looks like now.

Flashback did look really fantastic at the time, but a lot of that was its incredible animations.

On the last two Darrens, I sort of like the top one. The bottom one looks a bit vacant. :P Though in the same way, the top one looks a bit unimpressed. :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r July 02, 2012, 07:09:25 PM
Not a lot of possibility for facial expressions for this resolution and head size ;p Though maybe the nose or mouth are in the wrong position or have wrong transition, I am not exactly a professional when it comes to expressions (nor pixel art) ,p

Good animation could play with the facial expressions too ^^
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Wanderer July 02, 2012, 07:41:11 PM
On the last two Darrens, I sort of like the top one. The bottom one looks a bit vacant. :P Though in the same way, the top one looks a bit unimpressed. :)

Of course he's unimpressed.

"Hah!  Did you guys see those last seven glyphbearers?  All died to overlords and strange traps!  I won't let that happen, I'll be the one to save the village!"

*Steps out the front door, is eaten by a grue, and the glyph returns to the village*

Elder: "Now that that's out of the way, NEXT!"
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi July 02, 2012, 11:09:02 PM
@Mr Park: Thanks for understanding and not doing the squishy textures thing. It makes life for us modders really -freaking- difficult.

edit: This has been gnawing away at me for some time, but I'd like people to realise that using dismissive terms like "animu" (which is used entirely to mock or in an otherwise derogatory fashion) is REALLY freaking disrespectful to the artist, considering that he hasn't even been contracted officially.

Art is subjective and it is impossible to satisfy everyone no matter which style you use. As an amateur artist myself, I can tell you that it's not easy to create drawn art and it requires a lot of investment of emotional effort. A little consideration for the feelings of others would be nice.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: BobTheJanitor July 03, 2012, 02:06:12 AM
I don't think it's intended to mock the artist, just anime culture in general. And for that matter, I don't think anyone is really mocking it, it's more playful joking. It's hard to find a group of people discussing anything on an internet forum (i.e. nerds) that's not full of current or past anime fans. And even there, I'm not saying nerds to try and actively upset anyone. It's just a joke, and part of the age old tradition of co-opting terms that could be or once were used as insults and making them your own in order to take the legs out from under them. In the whole world of fandom, most 'insulting' terms are probably going to be jokes. When you get right down to it, none of us have the right to look down on anyone.

(Except furries)

Edit: It was a joke please stop hitting me
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 03, 2012, 03:14:52 AM
I agree, I doubt anyone here would be mocking that sort of thing.

I generally like an anime artstyle for games (depending on the specific artstyle, as sometimes I'll find one I really just think looks stupid)

But I wouldnt want it for this game for one simple reason:  It's been WAAAAAYYYYYYY overdone everywhere else.   I've said before that this game has a unique ambiance that most games lack, and that, to me, would kill it.

Also, what I think of as "westernized anime", ehhhh.... it always just looks a bit off to me.  It's hard to pinpoint just why, but it does.  Obviously it depends on the artist, but in most cases I cant honestly say I like it much.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi July 03, 2012, 04:35:51 AM
I don't think it's intended to mock the artist, just anime culture in general. And for that matter, I don't think anyone is really mocking it, it's more playful joking. It's hard to find a group of people discussing anything on an internet forum (i.e. nerds) that's not full of current or past anime fans. And even there, I'm not saying nerds to try and actively upset anyone. It's just a joke, and part of the age old tradition of co-opting terms that could be or once were used as insults and making them your own in order to take the legs out from under them. In the whole world of fandom, most 'insulting' terms are probably going to be jokes. When you get right down to it, none of us have the right to look down on anyone.

(Except furries)

Edit: It was a joke please stop hitting me

I'd rather have him speak for himself. I'm referring to the comment
"Why is the 3rd ones head animu style, and the other two have tiny heads."
and not the later discussions about anime.

Even if you take the term "Animu" as a joke - what's being made fun of? The laughter is at the expense of the artist or at the anime culture. I could go more in-depth onto why it's a retarded thing to say (is Archie anime? That and golden age comics with exaggerated proportions have been around longer than the entire history of animation in Japan.), but that's besides the point. The comment was at best a malicious attempt at being facetious.

There's petty criticism and there's constructive or supportive criticism. The difference is often a matter of attitude. When giving criticism to someone else's work, I believe there's a modicum of responsibility that you have to shoulder.

Edit: I know it's a very sensitive topic around me because I believe it's innately wrong to solicit your own criticism unless you're friends with the artist, it's asked for, or you express it tactfully. You can speak personally and say "This is what I like" - but for me, that above comment is tantamount to saying "Your art sucks" (and providing no useful detail whatsoever). It hurts, especially on a professional level.

This is why I prefer the modding culture, because the only person you're obliged to satisfy is yourself (and maybe the people you care about). If you have gripes with someone's art, mod the art yourself for yourself. (Of course, this is harder to apply on the professional level, which is why I find that criticism painful.)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: MouldyK July 03, 2012, 04:55:25 AM
I use the term "Animu" just as the best way to describe things a lot of the time, not to disrespect in anyway. I mean I would be fine with the head being how it is in the third one.


Also, I was the one on Skype who explained it to LayZboy that I told him about the pictures. I did not mean it in any offence by it though or even as a joke really. Just the first thing which came into my head when I saw it. Plus, I use the word "Animu" a lot as well to describe Anime to people because I just prefer the word really.

I mean when I said it, I didn't mean any offence by it, it's just the effects of being on the internet a lot. Don't know what LayZboy meant by it though...
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: zebramatt July 03, 2012, 05:58:40 AM
Whoa, when did animu become such a dirty word??
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Tobias July 03, 2012, 06:43:02 AM
anime artsyle for avww

insert the office oh god pls no video here

you finally get to the overlord's lair and find he's all moe n shit and has a big speech bubble that says "I- It's not like I w- wanted to take over the continent.... or anything..."
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 03, 2012, 07:46:39 AM
anime artsyle for avww

insert the office oh god pls no video here

you finally get to the overlord's lair and find he's all moe n shit and has a big speech bubble that says "I- It's not like I w- wanted to take over the continent.... or anything..."


Ugh, kinda like what happened to the shmup genre.

I love shmups, and I'm fine with moe and lolis and whatever.....

......but bosses in a shmup should be like, a giant helicopter or a battleship or a giant freaking spider or something like that.  Not A SMALL LOLI GIRL.


Just..... aaaaaaagh.

This game at least does bosses right.  They're huge and menacing.   ....usually.   Except for the fairies, mainly.   But giant wasps and giant robots and giant other stuff is definitely the right direction to go.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 03, 2012, 07:51:53 AM
Shrinking the bosses for gameplay purposes has actually been one of the bigger things on my mind. Anime style has not been remotely a goal for me, except insofar as painterly non-western style inherently means anime-like. Crystalis or Nausicaa or FF6, not dragon ball z.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi July 03, 2012, 10:35:20 AM
A large part of the problem is that I'm just hypersensitive to the term being used as a label for anything that isn't realism. People don't use the word "Cartoon-ish", so much of the time it carries connotations of being generic and shallow. I feel that "Animu" is mainly a dirty word in the art world because it neatly encapsulates the attitudes of nearly everyone who has contempt for you.

I don't mind people using the term as self-referential humour - but I saw that one quote as being particularly mean-spirited and dismissive. He could just have said "I find one of the heads too large and the other two are a little too small for my liking". Personally speaking, doing art usually takes a lot out of me - and I find that art is very rarely appreciated except by other artists since art is such an easy medium to absorb (I think coding is much the same).

I've actually been working on a personal project to show my appreciation for AVWW (I believe modding is sometimes one of the best tokens of sincerity) - it's less than half done, but the nice part about being a modder is if that people complain that it's "too anime" or whatever, I can just go tell them to stuff themselves because it's for me, not for them. And if I get fed up with slogging away it - I can just go off and play something else instead (A new mmorpg just came out). Contracted artists don't even have that option because their livelihood depends on customer satisfaction.

Anyway, I was going to save it for the update, but I probably won't make it in time thanks to other priorities, so I'll just throw what I have up here to show my support. Thanks for the good times, Mr Park, Mr Keith Lamothe and co. - here's hoping you have a smooth release of 1.2.

(http://img194.imageshack.us/img194/139/icerunsmall.gif) (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/194/icerunsmall.gif/)

Uploaded with ImageShack.us (http://imageshack.us)

(Edit: took it off attachments because it didn't animate properly.)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Bluddy July 03, 2012, 10:41:21 AM
Very nice job Nanashi. I actually think that the game could really use a style like that ie. regions of flat colors, but it could also be punctuated here and there by the game's painterly filter.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe July 03, 2012, 10:43:28 AM
Yea, I actually like that one much better than any of the studio samples I've seen, though it's not really a fair comparison because those were idle/stationary and that's running/animated.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi July 03, 2012, 10:52:15 AM
It's just cel shading, it's easier to animate that way because it takes less time to draw.

Details are hell though - I started with this idle pose which I need to redo because animating it gave me a headache.

(http://img717.imageshack.us/img717/4035/icew.png) (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/717/icew.png/)

Glad you liked it. Till next time! (busy this week)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: mrhanman July 03, 2012, 11:27:25 AM
Forget the Kickstarter and paying somebody.  Just let Nanashi do it for free!  :P
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Martyn van Buren July 03, 2012, 11:42:43 AM
Shrinking the bosses for gameplay purposes has actually been one of the bigger things on my mind. Anime style has not been remotely a goal for me, except insofar as painterly non-western style inherently means anime-like. Crystalis or Nausicaa or FF6, not dragon ball z.

It would be cool if bosses had a bit more personality --- most of them now just don't look very aggressive.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: LayZboy July 03, 2012, 11:43:34 AM
I'd rather have him speak for himself. I'm referring to the comment
"Why is the 3rd ones head animu style, and the other two have tiny heads."
and not the later discussions about anime.

Even if you take the term "Animu" as a joke - what's being made fun of? The laughter is at the expense of the artist or at the anime culture. I could go more in-depth onto why it's a retarded thing to say (is Archie anime? That and golden age comics with exaggerated proportions have been around longer than the entire history of animation in Japan.), but that's besides the point. The comment was at best a malicious attempt at being facetious.

There's petty criticism and there's constructive or supportive criticism. The difference is often a matter of attitude. When giving criticism to someone else's work, I believe there's a modicum of responsibility that you have to shoulder.

Edit: I know it's a very sensitive topic around me because I believe it's innately wrong to solicit your own criticism unless you're friends with the artist, it's asked for, or you express it tactfully. You can speak personally and say "This is what I like" - but for me, that above comment is tantamount to saying "Your art sucks" (and providing no useful detail whatsoever). It hurts, especially on a professional level.

This is why I prefer the modding culture, because the only person you're obliged to satisfy is yourself (and maybe the people you care about). If you have gripes with someone's art, mod the art yourself for yourself. (Of course, this is harder to apply on the professional level, which is why I find that criticism painful.)

I said Animu eyes because the 3rd one has Animu eyes (https://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&newwindow=1&safe=off&rlz=1C2ASUT_enGB414GB455&q=Animu+eyes&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1303&bih=683&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=VhLzT-DjFKik0AX1jdSwCQ). It was a question with a forgetten question mark.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: BobTheJanitor July 03, 2012, 12:39:25 PM
I don't know where that guy is headed, but it looks like the person at the destination is going to get a stern talking to.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe July 03, 2012, 12:46:03 PM
I don't know where that guy is headed, but it looks like the person at the destination is going to get a stern talking to.
I wonder what kind of modifier full powered armor gives to tackle checks.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: SerratedSabre July 03, 2012, 12:55:50 PM
Even in anime, there's a diverse array of art styles that creators use, so it's not really all the same. Between two different series like say, Cowboy Bebop and One Piece, you have two completely different types of art styles, yet each of them fits their respective settings and overall themes.

And then there's that walking animation stuff.... huh. Nice. Why don't you just work a bit of smoothing out that animation? Right now he looks like he is stomping WITH PURPOSE, which is cool, but if I imagine that stomp with storm dash, I'm gonna start giggling a bit. And while you're at it, what would a pre-industrial in that style look like? Ice age is pretty baller, but I think it's a little overdone.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Oralordos July 03, 2012, 01:21:59 PM
This game at least does bosses right.  They're huge and menacing.   ....usually.   Except for the fairies, mainly.   But giant wasps and giant robots and giant other stuff is definitely the right direction to go.
Shudders Those fairies are scary when you don't have the proper anti-fairy equipment. They are currently my most feared boss. Although I don't go into water or the deep often enough to see what's there.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r July 03, 2012, 01:45:41 PM
Whoa, when did animu become such a dirty word??

It's been a derogatory mocking of Anime fans for as long as I can remember.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Brise Bonbons July 03, 2012, 02:09:22 PM
Even in anime, there's a diverse array of art styles that creators use, so it's not really all the same. Between two different series like say, Cowboy Bebop and One Piece, you have two completely different types of art styles, yet each of them fits their respective settings and overall themes....

This is an extremely good point. My problem with a lot of modern cartooning work (inside or outside Japan) is that it feels like the style has been lifted whole or borrowed by the artist, and is not an organic outgrowth of the their artistic (most commonly anatomy) studies and the needs of the project. Now, that is beyond the scope of the current discussion, and I don't think this critique applies to any of the art on display in this thread. The point being, any designed art style for a game has to serve the project before the artist, on some level.

There is also a simple question of artistic mastery. Artists like Amano and Miyazaki (of FF6 and Nausicaa respectively) are so flexible and brilliant that they can bend their styles to suit the project at hand. But there are very few people who can do that.

For AVWW, I think the question becomes "do we try to preserve the realistic proportions and scale of the current art, or can the game's tone adjust and mesh with a more exaggerated and "cartoony" look?" Personally I'm fond of the naturalistic art style in the game, I find it refreshing when so many platformers these days rush to adopt exaggerated retro styles. But I don't think there's necessarily anything about the game mechanics that would clash or seem out of place if the art style was more Japanese in flavor.

So while I might personally prefer that AVWW's art be remade with sprites that evoke Secret of Monkey Island rather than Metroid, I think the number of artists working in that style today is pretty damn small. The guy who did the art for the Sword and Sworcery EP, maybe? That one 2d adventure studio from Germany?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: SerratedSabre July 03, 2012, 03:27:41 PM
For AVWW, I think the question becomes "do we try to preserve the realistic proportions and scale of the current art, or can the game's tone adjust and mesh with a more exaggerated and "cartoony" look?" Personally I'm fond of the naturalistic art style in the game, I find it refreshing when so many platformers these days rush to adopt exaggerated retro styles. But I don't think there's necessarily anything about the game mechanics that would clash or seem out of place if the art style was more Japanese in flavor.
Personally, I think that the current art, while rough around the edges, captures the theme of the game pretty well. That theme is the post-cataclyism world, the lonely exploration of the now empty civilizations, and the Overlord and his minions that you fight against for control of the land. The music helps too, as it's pretty catchy and cool, and fits what area you're in or what event you're doing.

I think to make it have more appeal, the art style would need to be smoothed out in some way. However, I'm not an artist, so I haven't a clue as which direction to go either.  :P
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: zebramatt July 03, 2012, 04:29:10 PM
Whoa, when did animu become such a dirty word??

It's been a derogatory mocking of Anime fans for as long as I can remember.

Yeah but in the same way that "Yank", "Limey" or "Frog" are derogatory; not in the way racial slurs are derogatory!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 03, 2012, 05:42:26 PM
Interesting.  As an American I don't mind the term "Yank," but for the other two I'd lump those as closer to racial slurs.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Tobias July 03, 2012, 07:14:44 PM
It's just cel shading, it's easier to animate that way because it takes less time to draw.

Details are hell though - I started with this idle pose which I need to redo because animating it gave me a headache.

(http://img717.imageshack.us/img717/4035/icew.png) (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/717/icew.png/)

Glad you liked it. Till next time! (busy this week)

Just pitching in that I really don't like this. It seems way too bright and cartoonish, much prefer the gritty and sharp look the current textures have. Just don't forget the game is set in a post apocalyptic wasteland, please.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi July 04, 2012, 12:47:55 AM
Mr Tobias, I think you missed a point I was repeatedly trying to make.

I don't mod to please you, I mod the game to please myself. This is the basis of modding! I'm not a professional artist, and nobody is ever going to be satisfied with one particular art style, so if you ever want an art style you'll be perfectly happy with, you have to create it yourself.

Criticizing it is perfectly fine (I have thick skin for my own work and I find criticism useful), but don't expect me to take your advice too seriously unless I know and respect you as having a keen aesthetic sense which I resonate with. That bit is important. (My art style for AVWW modding is a slow gestalt overhaul. Obviously it'd look out of place if inserted ceteris paribus.)

If you don't like it, that's perfectly alright! I don't even release most of my stuff for that very reason since I know it's a deeply personal experience. -_-
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 04, 2012, 01:59:34 AM
Mr Tobias, I think you missed a point I was repeatedly trying to make.

I don't mod to please you, I mod the game to please myself. This is the basis of modding! I'm not a professional artist, and nobody is ever going to be satisfied with one particular art style, so if you ever want an art style you'll be perfectly happy with, you have to create it yourself.

Criticizing it is perfectly fine (I have thick skin for my own work and I find criticism useful), but don't expect me to take your advice too seriously unless I know and respect you as having a keen aesthetic sense which I resonate with. That bit is important. (My art style for AVWW modding is a slow gestalt overhaul. Obviously it'd look out of place if inserted ceteris paribus.)

If you don't like it, that's perfectly alright! I don't even release most of my stuff for that very reason since I know it's a deeply personal experience. -_-

Ah, but making art for a game like this is a little different.  You do have to, at least somewhat, be making it appealing for the players that MIGHT BUY THE GAME.  It's already been proven that the art (much as *I* like it) the game already has can shoo away some players entirely.

This topic isnt really about modding (which is ENTIRELY different and something I'm familiar with), it's about an actual, OFFICIAL batch of art to be used in the game.

That type of feedback and whatever does need to be considered for something like this that can actually affect sales and whatnot.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi July 04, 2012, 02:33:32 AM
@Misery: I believe I already said exactly that two pages ago. I never claimed to be interested in producing official art to please everyone and the only reason I've been working on this at all is as a token of my appreciation. Did you read what I wrote before you started lecturing from your soapbox?

The person in particular I was replying to was making a comment about my art, which is a mod made primarily to suit myself and not you nor the public. My reply to his comment is therefore about the mod, and not about the official art candidates, which I have defended for exactly that reason. What's your point?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: jonasan July 04, 2012, 02:41:47 AM
really like you art style nanashi... would love to see a cel-shaded valley something along the lines of your approach!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 04, 2012, 03:06:57 AM
@Misery: I believe I already said exactly that two pages ago. I never claimed to be interested in producing official art to please everyone and the only reason I've been working on this at all is as a token of my appreciation. Did you read what I wrote before you started lecturing from your soapbox?

The person in particular I was replying to was making a comment about my art, which is a mod made primarily to suit myself and not you nor the public. My reply to his comment is therefore about the mod, and not about the official art candidates, which I have defended for exactly that reason. What's your point?


.....excuse me?    Might wanna think about rephrasing that.   "Lecturing from a soapbox".... good grief.

It was a simple comment, no more.  If you blow things out of proportion like that, that's a whole OTHER issue.   There's no call for rudeness here.  This forum has avoided that pretty darn well so far.


Perhaps I didn't phrase things right (or lost track of what I was saying halfway through, which is more likely.  It happens OFTEN).   Comments about the art in here is not necessarily going to AT ALL take into account whatever your intentions for the particular art may be.   It's a topic about official art.... you're likely to get comments from those who assume that is what yours is for.   I am guessing that that's what Tobias did, and that's probably all his comment was.

My point is, dont jump at people for doing exactly that.   I for one know little about art (or I should say, I know little about how to actually DRAW it), and though I'll happily comment on it, I dont care to read 15 pages of it.   I'll pop into this topic every now and then to quickly glance and see what's going on with it (since I'm interested at least as a sense of sheer curiosity), but no, I'm not going to read EVERY post on every page.  It wouldnt matter if I did anyway:  My memory is TERRIBLE.   I'd have forgotten half of what I read (or more than half) by the time I go to respond.   I'm absent-minded;  I'm GOING to make posts like that sometimes, and they have no particular meaning towards anyone (and I'm also going to repeat myself fairly often due to this, or go off on a tangent randomly).   I made the same assumption upon seeing that art, that it's an idea for what the official art could be.  Combining that with your comment at Tobias resulted in my response.   Nothing more.   Believe me, if I was "lecturing", you'd know it, due to the fact that it'd be 5 pages long.


As it is I dont actually really have an opinion yet myself on the actual art (yours OR otherwise).   I'd need to see ALOT more before I comment on any of it.   But it's at least vaguely interesting to see where it's currently headed, and I tend to have alot of respect for artists in general, as I cannot draw worth a damn.    Unless you need a picture of something that resembles a cat's hairball gone horribly wrong:   THAT I can probably produce.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Wanderer July 04, 2012, 03:19:10 AM
The person in particular I was replying to was making a comment about my art, which is a mod made primarily to suit myself and not you nor the public. My reply to his comment is therefore about the mod, and not about the official art candidates, which I have defended for exactly that reason. What's your point?
Considering this is an official art thread, you're in the wrong place for that particular discussion, as Misery longwindedly said above.  Anything that goes by is assumed to be a piece of production art and nothing stops a 'quick scan of the topic' as much as a randomly huge animated piece smack in the middle of the textwall.

This thread is huge and only going to get longer.  A 4 page discussion on modding really doesn't need to happen in the middle of the official artwork thread.  It's going to derail enough as is.

I personally like your work Nanashi.  Animation needs a bit of a touch up but that's just some time.  I'd love to see you post a link to another thread discussing your mod work and what, if any, you're willing to release as texture packs for others to use.   There's a subforum just for that.

So, moving off of that tangent... Chris, any chance you have samples from the other studio yet?  You mentioned you had 3 studios who were proposing artwork, and, unless I missed it in the last few pages, you've only had the opportunity to post two of them.  Or did I miss something?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: zebramatt July 04, 2012, 04:52:58 AM
Interesting.  As an American I don't mind the term "Yank," but for the other two I'd lump those as closer to racial slurs.

I can tell you as a Brit, we don't give a rat's derrière what anyone calls us. Somewhat humorously, the Frogs sometimes call us English "Rosbif" because, you know, eating roast beef is obviously pretty weird!  ;)  (Incidentally, I quite like frogs' legs although it's an awful lot of trouble to go to for such a small quantity of meet per animal - but hey, c'est la vie.)

Back on topic, did anyone play the IOS game Waking Mars? I think that did simple, stylised and atmosphere-appropriate graphics really well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ai8DFc33Bco (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ai8DFc33Bco). Not that I think it's a match for Valley; just an example of not having to push the graphical boat out far to achieve a pretty captivating result in that instance. Valley's much broader, with a lot more diversity of scenery, inhabitants, even time period - so it's always going to be a lot more difficult!

That said, as a fairly old-school gamer I'm a big fan of the pixels!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 04, 2012, 08:56:41 AM
Here's the latest from Studio K.  I think I'm happy enough with this one to call it pretty well ready except for the head bob.  As a refresher (since it was many pages back), here's the enemy that Studio K also did.

In terms of Studio H, they are still working through layers of concept art before coming up with stuff that will be show-ready.  I have some various things from them, but I don't think that it would be inspiring to show it at this rough stage quite yet.

In terms of the last studio, there's been a lot of discussion back and forth about techniques and styles and trying to nail down the specifics from a technical standpoint.  In a lot of respects I think that their work would be most in keeping with the "feel" of the current art of the game, while moving to articulated sprites instead of frame-based sprites, though.  One thing that I think is slowing them up a bit is that I've asked them to provide their articulated body parts via Spriter or similar, and Spriter as a particular program is new to them.  So I don't have anything concrete from them yet, anyhow, but they've been really doing their due diligence and asking all the right questions.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Tobias July 04, 2012, 10:05:38 AM
Why is that dude leaning forward so hard. That also looks really cartoonish, both of them look like pokemon game boy game sprites.

Just saying.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 04, 2012, 10:13:31 AM
Post apocalyptic can work exceedingly well with a pixelart style, which is inherently a bit cartoony.

https://www.google.com/search?q=crystalis&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og

https://www.google.com/search?um=1&hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&q=final+fantasy+vi&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 04, 2012, 10:32:32 AM
I'm liking what I'm seeing, tbh. Might not be perfect, character wise, but that enemy is downright SEXY. Relay this to the artist. Love the work. Seriously :P
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 04, 2012, 11:17:26 AM
Okay, so here's a couple of pieces that Studio G is working on.  More cartoony than I'd like for the characters, but there are some interesting new techniques in here that I think we can make work from a technical standpoint.  Having some depth to the ground layer is pretty cool, although it would require introducing some new rules to the actual procedural generation to prevent grounds that are too small, etc.  That's a substantial amount of technical work, but it would just really be a layer over top of what we already have, so that's not the end of the world.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: LayZboy July 04, 2012, 11:31:05 AM
1st picture looks pretty decent.
2nd one the person is just... wot.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 04, 2012, 11:31:45 AM
1st picture looks pretty decent.
2nd one the person is just... wot.

Yep.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: MouldyK July 04, 2012, 11:39:57 AM
1st picture looks pretty decent.
2nd one the person is just... wot.

Yeah, the first one looks cartoony, but could be fun to play in, but the 2nd one seems to have gone to a new level of weird.


I mean it's the difference between this:

(http://images.wikia.com/halomega/images/7/72/Halo-wars-wallpaper-2.jpg)

AND

(http://www.blogcdn.com/www.joystiq.com/media/2008/02/wearehalo3kubrixxx2.jpg)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe July 04, 2012, 11:58:19 AM
Yea, exploratory art efforts go pretty far afield :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 04, 2012, 12:26:34 PM
Yea, exploratory art efforts go pretty far afield :)

Couldn't have said it better meself.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: SerratedSabre July 04, 2012, 01:13:14 PM
Ooooo, that's a pretty nice mockup. The character has kind of a GI-Joe action figure feel to it, and I like the design of the sniper balloon. It is a balloon, THAT IS A SNIPER. Even if though it is cartoony, it's good in its own right.

Also, if you ever release the lego version of AVWW, you know who to contact.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: yllamana July 04, 2012, 01:49:22 PM
That looks pretty incredible! A bit of an unfair comparison given the other style is just a couple of sprites instead of all of that together, but it looks great. :)

Can the guns on the balloon rotate? I think that would be pretty important for getting a really believable enemy.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 04, 2012, 01:52:51 PM
In terms of gun rotation, we're talking a lot more coding per enemy to make that sort of thing happen.  While technically it would be possible (other enemies do something kind of similar), for this particular enemy type it can only shoot horizontally by design anyhow, so the gun not rotating would be the goal.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 04, 2012, 02:42:54 PM
Second picture is a big NO :P
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nethellus July 04, 2012, 03:12:15 PM
The most beautiful game ever made in my opinion is Heroes of Might and Magic II (http://spriters-resource.com/pc_computer/heroesofmightandmagic2/blackdragon.png).

The art of Studio K is in some ways reminiscent of that style. Therefore I approve.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 04, 2012, 06:04:35 PM
Second picture is a big NO :P


Yes, I'm gonna just try to pretend I never saw that.


Though honestly, both of them are waaaaay too cartoony for my taste.   They're not BAD, but they look like one of those western shows that's trying way too hard to be an anime, and not quite managing it.  Never could stand that sort of style.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: nanostrike July 04, 2012, 07:33:49 PM
That second picture...holy.  Crap.

I hope it was a joke?



Also, in the first one, why does the guy have bright pink armor?  Seems kinda...un-manly.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: yllamana July 04, 2012, 07:45:37 PM
He's from the future. Insecurity about gender norms is a thing of the past, and the guy likes pink.

Alternatively: he's from the past, and pink is still regarded as a manly colour and blue a womanly colour. He is from the year 700 or something after all, right?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Coppermantis July 04, 2012, 08:01:43 PM
I'm liking the first one. Agreed that it may be slightly too cartoony, but It's a step in the right direction. The second one is...strange. I can't say I like it.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Jerebaldo1 July 04, 2012, 08:27:27 PM
Agreed that the first one is well done, but of course would be better if done less cartoony
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: tigersfan July 04, 2012, 09:47:45 PM
He's from the future. Insecurity about gender norms is a thing of the past, and the guy likes pink.

Alternatively: he's from the past, and pink is still regarded as a manly colour and blue a womanly colour. He is from the year 700 or something after all, right?

Heh, I'm pretty sure that Darrel. He's from the future time period. :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Wanderer July 04, 2012, 10:41:16 PM
Okay, so here's a couple of pieces that Studio G is working on.  More cartoony than I'd like for the characters, but there are some interesting new techniques in here that I think we can make work from a technical standpoint.  Having some depth to the ground layer is pretty cool, although it would require introducing some new rules to the actual procedural generation to prevent grounds that are too small, etc.  That's a substantial amount of technical work, but it would just really be a layer over top of what we already have, so that's not the end of the world.
Thanks for the studio explanation and additional sample, Chris.

It's sad to hear that a lot of additional work would be required to the depth piece, but I have to say that style looks really neat to me.  I'm not entirely sure an entire game that looks like that would be cool or not, personally, but that first one's a pretty neat piece of standalone art.  As for the attack of the six foot lego... well... *snort*, that's cute.  :D
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Tobias July 05, 2012, 01:13:34 AM
I think an important thing to keep an eye on is character body portions and stances and animations. That's one of the biggest things that contributes to how cartoony something looks.

Take a look at this.

http://www.sprites-inc.co.uk/vania/DraculaXStyle/DoS/Players/Soma/CVDOS_Soma.gif

This is no way looks anime or catoony, but the samples from studio K and G do.

Please for the love of all that is adequate, discourage the use of over sized heads/hands/feet.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Coppermantis July 05, 2012, 01:36:24 AM
Even the cartoonieness is growing on me now. Maybe the character should be more proportional as Tobias points out, but I really like the background and sniper balloon. The second picture is still cute but not fitting of AVWW's style of gameplay.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: zebramatt July 05, 2012, 02:42:20 AM
I like it.

Even the funny little block man doesn't particularly offend me.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe July 05, 2012, 09:25:44 AM
Even the funny little block man doesn't particularly offend me.
My first response when I saw it was "Bomberman!"
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: zebramatt July 05, 2012, 11:00:31 AM
Even the funny little block man doesn't particularly offend me.
My first response when I saw it was "Bomberman!"

I love bomberman!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: mrhanman July 05, 2012, 12:07:33 PM
I'm not crazy about the character art, but the environment is outstanding!  The balloon is pretty awesome, too.  8)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: freeformschooler July 05, 2012, 02:26:16 PM
That style would be pretty much amazing. The only thing is the characters look awfully small compared to the environment. I'm pretty sure that's due to the depth on the grass.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Aklyon July 05, 2012, 02:33:16 PM
I agree with what freeform is saying, the character looks a bit too small for how big the background looks.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Fiskbit July 05, 2012, 07:16:36 PM
Okay, so here's a couple of pieces that Studio G is working on.  More cartoony than I'd like for the characters, but there are some interesting new techniques in here that I think we can make work from a technical standpoint.  Having some depth to the ground layer is pretty cool, although it would require introducing some new rules to the actual procedural generation to prevent grounds that are too small, etc.  That's a substantial amount of technical work, but it would just really be a layer over top of what we already have, so that's not the end of the world.

I've found that this kind of angled ground makes jumps in platformers more difficult because it's hard to tell where a ledge begins and ends when jumping to or from them. In modifications I've played that add this in to games that didn't already have it, I think it has a negative impact on gameplay. That said, with the procedurally generated terrain in A Valley Without Wind, it may not be a problem because the gap distances won't be fine-tuned like they are in a traditional sidescroller.

Also, it looks like it would make it so things can hide behind the left side of a wall because it's angled in front of them; based on the mockup, that's probably big enough to completely hide some things from view.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 05, 2012, 07:43:44 PM
Okay, so here's a couple of pieces that Studio G is working on.  More cartoony than I'd like for the characters, but there are some interesting new techniques in here that I think we can make work from a technical standpoint.  Having some depth to the ground layer is pretty cool, although it would require introducing some new rules to the actual procedural generation to prevent grounds that are too small, etc.  That's a substantial amount of technical work, but it would just really be a layer over top of what we already have, so that's not the end of the world.

I've found that this kind of angled ground makes jumps in platformers more difficult because it's hard to tell where a ledge begins and ends when jumping to or from them. In modifications I've played that add this in to games that didn't already have it, I think it has a negative impact on gameplay. That said, with the procedurally generated terrain in A Valley Without Wind, it may not be a problem because the gap distances won't be fine-tuned like they are in a traditional sidescroller.

Also, it looks like it would make it so things can hide behind the left side of a wall because it's angled in front of them; based on the mockup, that's probably big enough to completely hide some things from view.


This.

That wierd angled ground thing would get on my nerves fast.


......but not as fast as those backgrounds.   Just.... ugh.  I know that's only one example, but if that's indicative of the overall style..... I'd hope there'd be some option to simply turn them off / remove them / replace them / stop them from appearing at all.    Otherwise I'd end up trying to dive into the game files to rip them out, which is likely to lead to lots of yelling.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Huaojozu July 06, 2012, 06:44:07 AM
Okay, so here's a couple of pieces that Studio G is working on.  More cartoony than I'd like for the characters, but there are some interesting new techniques in here that I think we can make work from a technical standpoint.  Having some depth to the ground layer is pretty cool, although it would require introducing some new rules to the actual procedural generation to prevent grounds that are too small, etc.  That's a substantial amount of technical work, but it would just really be a layer over top of what we already have, so that's not the end of the world.

This. Is. Gorgeous.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 06, 2012, 10:42:46 AM
Excellent points on the angled grounds being really problematic and for the reasons you noted; it's not something I've ever experimented with before, so it's good to have some better explanations of why that doesn't work.

Meanwhile, studio H has more concept artwork (this is what they do before handing to their pixel artists so that the pixel art then goes faster).  See attached.

The Sniper2 was something that they submitted a while back but it wasn't the right fit for this time period; still, I think it could be an interesting monster for somewhere else in the game later.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: zebramatt July 06, 2012, 11:52:12 AM
You're right: those are more in keeping with the current style.

I've also been leaning towards the more technological sniper drones until that last one. Now I'm thinking something just slightly more technological than that but still very organic would be perfect!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 06, 2012, 02:53:32 PM
This is the latest from Studio G.  Their comments:

I have attached some variations.
In AVWW_1.jpg the character has a sharper shading, while the others are smoother. The other difference between them all is just the background color.
The grass is not created as tiles yet, it's just a quick draw, but the grass tiles won't be much different from that.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Coppermantis July 06, 2012, 03:05:51 PM
Those are GORGEOUS. I don't like the red lighting on the last one but the others are all great. The Studio H ones are also nice, but the mechanical Sniper drone is better than the Biological one in my opinion.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 06, 2012, 03:08:56 PM
Yeah -- I'm seriously in love with what Studio G is putting together here.  And very quickly and cost-effectively, I might add.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: yllamana July 06, 2012, 03:43:46 PM
It's still a really unfair comparison without larger comparison pieces from the other studios, though. That said, the style is fantastic (though Darren is way better in pink).

And yeah I wasn't offended by the little block guy either. He's cute!

How well these animate will probably be a big question as well, but it's very promising that they screenshot much better than the current game. I think one of its bigger problems is it looks so much better in motion right now.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: goodgimp July 06, 2012, 04:22:15 PM
Extremely impressed with those Studio G shots. Not to dismiss the others, I find the other studio work to be pretty amazing too. I have no no artistic talent myself, being somewhat equivalent to week-long frozen meatloaf in terms of ability, but my eyeballs are duly reporting nice things.

I'm not one to complain about AVWW's current graphics, but what I'm seeing in some of those shots I think is really appealing and could go over really well with others who has qualms about the game's look. They look very stylish to me.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Fiskbit July 06, 2012, 05:15:38 PM
That's a substantial improvement over the last version, both in terms of gameplay and aesthetics. Definitely a nice style that I think works well with the game.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nypyren July 06, 2012, 11:24:03 PM
Whoa, I really like that art in post #258!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 07, 2012, 02:21:08 AM
Yeah, the last ones from Studio G was honestly quite spot on. That was some class work right there! Without doubt the best so far.

EDIT: I feel I need to emphasize here a bit. I wasn't a fan of Studio G's earlier renditions with the more "cel-shaded" kind of plastic look. But these latest example just hit the mark spot on. Excellent atmosphere, dimmed colors...I love it to bits. If AVWW looked like that, I'd never stop playing for the simple reason of the awesome eyecandy xD

If I was the one calling the shots, I'd definitely go with Studio G's latest. It feels very much "right" in terms of feeling, atmosphere, coloring and "heroism". Studio K had something going with that monster sprite though. That was really cool too, but I'm finding I like the more soft look of Studio G's latest more.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Coppermantis July 07, 2012, 02:55:01 AM
It's still a really unfair comparison without larger comparison pieces from the other studios, though. That said, the style is fantastic (though Darren is way better in pink).

And yeah I wasn't offended by the little block guy either. He's cute!


Yeah, I'd like to see the Studio H art in-game. The Block Guy is cute, yeah, but AVWW is not a cute game. I like the sprite itself, but it just doesn't fit.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 07, 2012, 05:41:15 AM
After having scanned them a fifteenth time, I find that either the first or the third of the latest samples are the ones looking the best. I like the sharped shading of the first for gameplay reasons (easier to see, stands out from the background etc), but the third "looks" better to the eye.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Jerebaldo1 July 07, 2012, 08:24:22 AM
Another big upvote for studio G's work; the improvement to Darrel is perfect, like a more badass megaman X!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Dizzard July 07, 2012, 11:02:53 AM
This is the latest from Studio G.  Their comments:

I have attached some variations.
In AVWW_1.jpg the character has a sharper shading, while the others are smoother. The other difference between them all is just the background color.
The grass is not created as tiles yet, it's just a quick draw, but the grass tiles won't be much different from that.

Wow these are really cool. I've been a bit of the AVWW loop for the last while so it's really a huge surprise coming back to all these changes.

I think the third one is my favourite out of all the pictures so far.

Although I personally prefer how the ground/grass looks in the previous more cartoony works. The grass in these newer pics look a bit flat. Apart from that I like the latest ones the most, so much more detail on the buildings and the character.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: madcow July 07, 2012, 11:08:02 AM
The latest from G is pretty awesome (much better than the first ones). I'm kind of interested to see how H's looks once they move past concept art.

Is it possible we could get a new locked thread just updated with all the images so far in it. Or have the first post edited with them in so we don't need to scroll through pages of messages to find the different artwork that's been shown so far?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 07, 2012, 11:51:06 AM
The latest from G is pretty awesome (much better than the first ones). I'm kind of interested to see how H's looks once they move past concept art.

Is it possible we could get a new locked thread just updated with all the images so far in it. Or have the first post edited with them in so we don't need to scroll through pages of messages to find the different artwork that's been shown so far?

That's a good idea, yeah.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 07, 2012, 11:58:17 AM
Okay, so that's now here: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,11063.0.html
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Hearteater July 07, 2012, 01:09:43 PM
G is looking particular impressive.  I like K's bug monster.  H is too soon to tell, I'd need to see some non-concept art to see how the concepts are realized in-game.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: BobTheJanitor July 07, 2012, 01:45:11 PM
Okay, so that's now here: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,11063.0.html

Might be worth sticking that thread as well, since no one can bump it, although probably no rush. The last thread on the first page of AVWW threads was last updated on June 22nd, so I guess it will manage to hover on the first page for a while. And I guess you might actually bump it with new graphics as they are added. So there wasn't much point to this post. But now I've typed it all out, so... postcount ++
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 07, 2012, 01:49:36 PM
Yeah, it was probably worth a sticky. :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Aklyon July 07, 2012, 02:02:17 PM
His head is more or less just a brown blob as far as I can see, but otherwise thats a pretty nice improvement over the last one. Like the others, I approve of it.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 07, 2012, 04:47:17 PM
The latest from Studio H.

We've got our pixel artist on it now.  In the meantime, I've attached a full screen mock-up of all of the sketched assets assembled together.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: goodgimp July 07, 2012, 04:49:53 PM
It sounds silly because I've always been fine with the current art in AVWW, but I'm really excited at seeing some of this artwork. I will totally pay towards a kickstarter for this, especially if it helps this gem of a game reach a larger audience.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 07, 2012, 04:57:18 PM
I'm sorry, Studio H, but you've been badassed by G :(
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 07, 2012, 05:03:54 PM
I'm sorry, Studio H, but you've been badassed by G :(

Give them a chance -- you're comparing their sketch to the other's final assets.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Wanderer July 07, 2012, 05:19:17 PM
The latest from Studio H.

We've got our pixel artist on it now.  In the meantime, I've attached a full screen mock-up of all of the sketched assets assembled together.

Be forewarned:  Our grass is radioactive and our buildings are made from cardboard.  This really IS the end of the earth.... You, Glyphbearer!  Yea, you!  We're all gonna hide here, you go find out why the grass is neon!   :D

I should mention I really like the stylized trees in that one.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: darkchair July 07, 2012, 06:39:36 PM
I like H's interpretation a lot, but if the objective is to please people who won't buy the games unless the art is fixed to their liking, G is probably the answer.
I mean G is great too, just my hopes and preferences.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Shardz July 07, 2012, 07:58:32 PM
I'll have to chime in and cast my vote for G's environments overall. I believe that H's direction shares some of the very same problems the core game has...and even more so in some cases. It's not easy putting 8,000 elements together and try to make them work; this is just my little old opinion anyway, but the direction G is going in seems immediately recognizable at a glance without question as to what we are looking at on the screen.

I would rather see something semi-realistic that simply looks solid and believable as opposed to something artsy and abstract. I'm not real big on abstracts in any form, so I can see more than just a face lift happening with G's set (so far). It's also kind of soon to judge and perhaps both elements might work together somehow, too. But those are my two coins...
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r July 07, 2012, 10:09:01 PM
I think before we judge any studio too quickly their animation skills are the primary thing we should be REALLY caring about, and especially the mockup by Studio G has no trees or foreground objects in it which is why it looks cleaner and slicker (maybe we should think about removing these objects from the foreground, and there is also to consider that due to how the tiles work in AVWW the sleek look will quickly crumble inside a building). And let's not forget that the 3rd studio if I remember right, is doing as the only one the (imo) superior animation method.

: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 07, 2012, 10:43:47 PM
I'll have to chime in and cast my vote for G's environments overall. I believe that H's direction shares some of the very same problems the core game has...and even more so in some cases. It's not easy putting 8,000 elements together and try to make them work; this is just my little old opinion anyway, but the direction G is going in seems immediately recognizable at a glance without question as to what we are looking at on the screen.

I would rather see something semi-realistic that simply looks solid and believable as opposed to something artsy and abstract. I'm not real big on abstracts in any form, so I can see more than just a face lift happening with G's set (so far). It's also kind of soon to judge and perhaps both elements might work together somehow, too. But those are my two coins...

I have to disagree.   I like the ones from studio H for a simple reason:  They're UNIQUE.   Similar to the game's current graphics in that particular regard.   The ones from G?  To me, extremely generic.  I've seen that sort of style about a bazillion times, and it's the sort of thing where, if I'm looking at screenshots of various random new games, I honestly wouldnt give it a second look, as it would not stand out whatsoever.

The more I see of them, the more I dont like them.   The character and other thing, whatever it was (I suddenly cant remember), were at least OK;  the background and the actual ground/grass are...... well, again, I'd be trying to take them out and replace them.    The current graphics may not be perfect, but they are at least pretty colorful throughout.   A bazillion games have already gone with the "REALITY IS BROWN" sort of idea (which is exactly the impression I get from that background), or the "gritty" look, and aside from getting tired of them, I always find them pretty ugly.


The other studio with the animated sprites..... they didn't give an example as to what their ideas would look like in a complete screenshot, but those sprites ARE impressive, and rather nice looking.  I'm actually interested to see what they might do with the non-sprite stuff.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: nanostrike July 08, 2012, 02:24:37 AM
While studio G's might be "Generic", it's a style that I absolutely love and I think they nailed the mix of detail and cartoony enough to be modern, but still evoke 16-bit nostalgia vibes.  In post #258, they really nailed it.  The sleek enemies, the nice environments, the no-longer-pink-and-now-badass armor.

G has my complete vote right now.



To be bluntly honest, and no offense to H here, that looks worse to me than the current art style by FAR.  The colors are eye-bleedingly bright, everything looks to be in some sort of pseudo-chibi "Fat" style, and in general, the stuff looks more "Wacky" than realistic-looking.  Everything is obviously a bunch of different things thrown together and most look like they're from some sort of abstract painting.

It honestly has a more "We just pasted everything together randomly" vibe to it than the current artwork does (No offense to the current artwork), not seeming believable or realistic at all.  And the glyph looks like freaking Navi from Ocarina of Time.  In general, I just hate it completely.  I don't think it's different enough from the current art-style (Which I don't like, I'm sorry to say :( ) and would actually be a step backwards to me.

I could be wrong.  Maybe they'll have mind-blowing animation or something.  But so far, H kinda makes me wanna hurl.



Haven't seen enough of K to make any real judgements on it, other than the fact that the head-bobbing part of the idle animation was god-awful and the pink-armor was kinda lame.  Need to see some environments from them.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: kof91 July 08, 2012, 02:31:57 AM
I am just posting in directly forgive me if I said something silly.. have not followed this thread  from the beginning but seems like AVWW wanted a new art style.
What's wrong with the current one? personally liked the current graphics set a lot.

Will user be able to choose btw the current gfx and the future ones?

Pretty cool idea to allow gamers to cast votes based on preference. Are we gonna be able to cast votes like what endless space is doing via their games2gether portal? simple forum poll will do nicely.  :)

Studio G looks very nice and gave a post apocalyptic feel..
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 08, 2012, 03:12:55 AM
I think before we judge any studio too quickly their animation skills are the primary thing we should be REALLY caring about, and especially the mockup by Studio G has no trees or foreground objects in it which is why it looks cleaner and slicker (maybe we should think about removing these objects from the foreground, and there is also to consider that due to how the tiles work in AVWW the sleek look will quickly crumble inside a building). And let's not forget that the 3rd studio if I remember right, is doing as the only one the (imo) superior animation method.
Aye, I'm also eager to see some animation work. But as far as this goes, we can't make a judgement on anything but what we see so far.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 08, 2012, 03:14:17 AM
I'm sorry, Studio H, but you've been badassed by G :(

Give them a chance -- you're comparing their sketch to the other's final assets.
I'm not a nice person ;) But yeah, I'm not outright dismissing them and I wasn't actually comparing its "completeness", but it's style. I'm just not a fan of the character art and very odd looking buildings from H. Again, just a personal opinion.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 08, 2012, 03:30:02 AM
While studio G's might be "Generic", it's a style that I absolutely love and I think they nailed the mix of detail and cartoony enough to be modern, but still evoke 16-bit nostalgia vibes.  In post #258, they really nailed it.  The sleek enemies, the nice environments, the no-longer-pink-and-now-badass armor.



Ehhh? Interesting; I didn't get that from those pics whatsoever (and I'm big into retro-gaming).   And that's part of the problem.... if the graphics really, honestly gave a "16-bit" vibe to me, I'd be all over it.   Instead, I get the direct opposite from it.   I dunno where you see that graphical style in there.   Hell, the current graphics of the game dont do that either (but are still bright/colurful/interesting, so I still like them).  These new ones still look only like an "anime-wannabe" TV show to me, which isnt a good thing.

Unfortunately, I dont think I'll ever be able to see that style as anything other than ugly/annoying.   It's the rare sort of graphics that can actually turn me away from the game as a whole (and I have to find them *really* freaking bad for that to happen.  Normally, this never occurs.)   Unless of course I can indeed find a way to alter/wreck them enough to where it stops irritating me.

*Really* hoping the support for texture packs or whatever they're called is kept if this goes through at all.   I've a feeling I'll be wanting it.



I am just posting in directly forgive me if I said something silly.. have not followed this thread  from the beginning but seems like AVWW wanted a new art style.
What's wrong with the current one? personally liked the current graphics set a lot.

Will user be able to choose btw the current gfx and the future ones?

This.   Somehow I doubt that'd be the case, but it'd be pretty darn nice if the option to just NOT screw with the graphics was there.

Kinda like Minecraft and it's texture packs:  I know alot of people dont like it's really-pixellated style, but some..... such as myself.... really do like it.  I honestly havent found even ONE texture pack for that game that I dont find absolutely horrid.  I'm glad they stuck with that look for the base textures.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 08, 2012, 07:14:42 AM
I was under the impression that AVWW already supported texture packs. What's to stop anyone from using the old graphics as a mod? We did it in AI:War when Chris implemented a graphics mod and someone didn't like it. They simply modded in the old graphics. Not a big deal, tbh.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: tigersfan July 08, 2012, 07:21:26 AM
Unfortunately, if the graphics do get updated, we won't be able to keep the current ones in the game. Even if the new animations and such end up going into the game the exact same way as the current graphics (which is not necessarily likely), then we still won't be able to keep up two different graphics styles. Sorry, but, that's just not feasible.

Now, as for what's wrong with the graphics... Well, there is some debate about that. But, there have been a lot of comments to the effect that the graphics are ugly, and are the primary reason that people aren't even willing to try the game. So, this, with the ensuing kickstarter are an experiment to see if there really are enough folks out there who feel that way who are willing to help fund new graphics. If not, then, oh well, the graphics stay. If there are, and new graphics open the door to a lot of new players being willing to try the game, then all the better for (most) everyone.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: tigersfan July 08, 2012, 07:23:54 AM
I was under the impression that AVWW already supported texture packs. What's to stop anyone from using the old graphics as a mod? We did it in AI:War when Chris implemented a graphics mod and someone didn't like it. They simply modded in the old graphics. Not a big deal, tbh.

Well, this is true, until we get to the point where we add in new graphical assets. New enemies, new buildings, new background objects, new... whatever. Once we start adding that stuff back in, there won't be any of the old style graphics to use in the texture pack anymore.

The other issue would potentially be animation. If we use a different style for animation with the new graphics, then the old ones just may not work at all.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 08, 2012, 07:27:05 AM
I think most of my dislike for the studio H stuff stems from the fact that it's disjointed. They've either not made any effort, or not succeeded, to make it blend together like G did. Sure, G needs work, especially as far as ground textures go, but it's coherent and pleasing to the eye.

H is too bright, unfinished and very disjointed. In their mockup, for instance, the glyph looks abysmal (a blue blob, really?), the enemy looks cut n' pasted into the picture compared to the building behind. The buildings have a completely different color scheme and atmosphere about them than the foreground, some of the lines are blurred and soft, while other lines are sharp and "pencil-y". It just doesn't work, in my eyes. That's why I don't like it. I'm also definitely not a fan of the character/enemy design.

Now on to G. G looks coherent and I love the character/enemy design. I'm sorry if it's been done 2000 times before. If it has, I've never seen it (but then I don't watch cartoons so). The buildings have just the right degradation dismal tone to show the downfall of the time period. I fully expect other time chunks to be a lot more colorful and lively (such as forests and villages for instance). The enemy design intrigues me. It makes me think about "what is that thing? Is it conscious? Is it just a robot? Who made it? How does it work? Is it dangerous?" Something about the very picture makes me want to get in there and explore until I fall flat on my face.

This is just my opinion though. G just clicks with me. It makes me want to play. H is even worse off than current graphics in my opinion, and the current graphics aren't bad. There's some extremely busy backgrounds that grate my eyes, and the jump animation drives me crazy after a while, but other than that, it's fine.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 08, 2012, 07:28:06 AM
I was under the impression that AVWW already supported texture packs. What's to stop anyone from using the old graphics as a mod? We did it in AI:War when Chris implemented a graphics mod and someone didn't like it. They simply modded in the old graphics. Not a big deal, tbh.

Well, this is true, until we get to the point where we add in new graphical assets. New enemies, new buildings, new background objects, new... whatever. Once we start adding that stuff back in, there won't be any of the old style graphics to use in the texture pack anymore.

The other issue would potentially be animation. If we use a different style for animation with the new graphics, then the old ones just may not work at all.
Never underestimate what a motivated modder can accomplish ;) Leaving the option in there for alternate texture packs is all that is needed. The modders will take care of the rest.

Of course, in order to do that, the actual pack has to be made available for download somehow, and I'm not 100% sure Chris would want that after all the job he went through to make it.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Chomper July 08, 2012, 08:14:16 AM
Hey folks,

Haven't posted since pre-1.0, but as aesthetics do tend to enhance/hinder my gaming experiences (as much as I am loathe to admit it) I feel I should chime in. Here are a few thoughts:

I don't mind the current graphics, but I would like more cohesion. From what I've read this seems to be a thought other players have as well. With that in mind, I really dislike H's proposed graphics. As unique as they might be, at best they don't improve on the cohesion side of things. And at worst, they look like they would create some background/foreground issues. While this isn't a problem for me in the current game, I know it is for some people hence the creation of texture packs that tone down the background.

In addition, while H's graphics are marginally interesting, they're too painterly. This is an action game! If there's one thing that's missing from the current graphics it's a sense of badassery, which I think G has in spades. I've read some on this thread who say it looks generic, which is a perfectly valid opinion. But my question isn't about generic vs. unique. My question is which graphics will make the game enjoyable for you to play? I think we all should consider this; these are the graphics we'll be left with for the rest of our time with this game. I want a game that doesn't turn me off from playing it, and conversely entices me to come back. H's graphics would NOT do that for me. In fact, I find them hideous compared with the current state of graphics.

On the positive side of things, G looks awesome to me. I dig that it looks a bit cartoonish but manages to look like everything exists in a self-contained world that makes sense with itself. That sort of internal cohesion is something that is lacking currently, and that I gravely desire in my secondary fantasty/science fiction worlds. So G is my vote for now.

Also, I'd like to see where K goes. That much more pixelated style might go really well with the music for example. Give it an even further retro vibe, which I can see people, especially new customers (I'm looking at you hipsters) getting into.

One last thing! Please Arcen, don't forget us customers with terrible computers. If implementing one of these styles hampers the ability for the game to perform on a machine with a cough...GMA X3100...cough graphics card, it would really mess up my day. As it stands, this is one of the few exceedingly awesome games my computer can run. In fact, it might be the only one. Just a thought.

Sorry for the rambling incoherence, best this ADD-riddled college kid can do.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Chomper July 08, 2012, 08:17:42 AM
Another thought. I like that G looks so clean. Clutter messes with my head, the washed out feel of H makes it hard to distinguish objects from one another. At least, I can see that being a problem when the spells are flying. (I'm colorblind, so that might be part of the problem, but hey, don't leave us minority groups out of consideration)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 08, 2012, 08:42:16 AM
Wow. Seriously, Chomper...don't do that. It's creepy. Now where's my tinfoil hat, I need to keep you out.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 08, 2012, 05:01:13 PM
If there's one thing that's missing from the current graphics it's a sense of badassery, which I think G has in spades. I've read some on this thread who say it looks generic, which is a perfectly valid opinion. But my question isn't about generic vs. unique. My question is which graphics will make the game enjoyable for you to play? I think we all should consider this; these are the graphics we'll be left with for the rest of our time with this game.

I think this is part of my problem with it, this "badassery" bit.   I could walk into a game store, close my eyes, and randomly point in a random direction, and chances are, I'm pointing in the direction of at least 15 games that are obsessed with looking like that.   It's not just getting old..... it's already ancient dust.   I think of things like Gears of War when I think of something like that;  when I really think about it, GoW is more of what I'm reminded of than anything else, when looking at the stuff from G;  this being due to the much, much-hated "reality is brown" bit that is absolutely oozing out of their examples.    Cant stand it, never could;  as it is, GoW is one of those very rare games I find SO absolutely unholy butt-ugly that I never could bring myself to even try it;  and this aspect is shared with SO many others these days as every idiot developer tries to copy them for reasons I REALLY dont want to understand.


AVWW's actual GAMEPLAY does not bring up a sense of "badassery".   I wouldnt want it to, frankly.   What it brings up is memories of older platformers of the 8-bit & 16-bit days.   Those games were often COLORFUL, as opposed to having a palette consisting of brown, almost brown, more than brown, brown-brown, and super-brown.    And those games often looked *good*.   Brings up thoughts of shmups as well, which is another often very colorful genre, as the graphics go.

That's what the gameplay has always made me think of.   That's part of why G's graphics just seem absolutely out-of-touch with the game to me;  they dont evoke thoughts of those whatsoever.  Just thoughts of things like the crappy early-morning cartoons there are nowadays, and also thoughts of freaking GoW and it's brown/grey everything.   .....and the ugliness, I cant get over that part either.


I know these are just examples, but.... somehow I've a feeling more from G will be more of the same.    The enemy sprites and the actual ground, they arent THAT bad..... character is pretty terrible.... but the background is the worst for me, in those shots.  That's the part I'll end up trying to rip out, above all else.


And yes, I agree, H's dont have much cohesion..... but I wasnt basing my opinion of them on that.   I just looked at each part seperately, since it looked thrown together randomly, I figured it probably wasnt going to look like that in a "full" shot, it seemed like they were just trying to show off a number of ideas all at once.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nethellus July 08, 2012, 06:41:30 PM
I'd still say
Studio K
all the way.

...

Cos Studio K is hardcore badass dudebro.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: yllamana July 08, 2012, 06:54:03 PM
I actually really like the G one. It seems like a colourful world that I want to explore.

I sort of like Pink Darrell more than the later one. The later one is so much less expressive and my inkling is that there's a reason sprites at this size tend to be stylised rather than trying to look realistic - because it just works better on that scale.

H has the same issues as the existing game going on, but it's just a mockup, so maybe the finished art will appear better, and we still don't know what they look like animated. So it's all waiting and seeing. :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Aklyon July 08, 2012, 09:02:32 PM
You know, as much as H's looks like a 2d Navi, no one else has shown a Glyph yet.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 09, 2012, 05:16:39 AM
As far as the Glyph goes, the stock one is actually really good. :P
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 09, 2012, 09:00:55 AM
Yep, particle effects are not planned to change all that much in most cases. A few need it, but not that one.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: goodgimp July 09, 2012, 01:41:49 PM
Off topic, but I'd vote for Forest Rage as a candidate for particle updates. A friend (who is a fan of the game) joked that I was shooting carrots at enemies, now I can't stop seeing it in the way. ;)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe July 09, 2012, 01:50:44 PM
Off topic, but I'd vote for Forest Rage as a candidate for particle updates. A friend (who is a fan of the game) joked that I was shooting carrots at enemies, now I can't stop seeing it in the way. ;)
Yea, it's always funny until someone takes a mach-2 carrot in the knee.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Martyn van Buren July 09, 2012, 02:10:15 PM
Vote for G so far.  I really like the air of menace their version has; the others seem a bit SNES-cheerful to me.  I think Environ is supposed to feel dangerous and overwhelming.

Would like to make sure that kind of tone comes through in whichever style prevails.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: nanostrike July 09, 2012, 02:21:04 PM
I'm sure the entire palletete isn't going to be brown.  But there will definitely be some environments (Ice Age, Time After People) that will have a lot of brown because...it would be natural.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 09, 2012, 03:38:44 PM
Off topic, but I'd vote for Forest Rage as a candidate for particle updates. A friend (who is a fan of the game) joked that I was shooting carrots at enemies, now I can't stop seeing it in the way. ;)

Yeah, that one I really hate, and is the main one I'm thinking of for replacement of particle effects.  Though there are a couple of others, too.

I'm sure the entire palletete isn't going to be brown.  But there will definitely be some environments (Ice Age, Time After People) that will have a lot of brown because...it would be natural.

Yep, exactly.  If you look at the original tones of the abandoned towns in the game even now, it's very brown also.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Brise Bonbons July 09, 2012, 05:08:27 PM
Uh oh, as expected, choice of art overhaul direction looks to be a divisive topic!  :o

G's work is the most polished and finished looking at the moment, which I think a lot of people are consciously or subconsciously latching onto. It seems like it would be an OK match for the tone of AVWW, based on what we've seen here. It does feel a little bit conventional, which is troubling given that, to me, the tone of AVWW is more "idiosyncratic and sophisticated intelligence" rather than "your normal action game".

K's looks promising, though I worry that the style is a bit too exaggerated for the tone of the game. I worry it will overemphasize the SNES/Comic vibe. While AVWW clearly draws inspiration from SNES and 16 bit era games, I feel like it is still primarily a sophisticated, modern game made in the age of procedural generation and "naturalist" SF (the BSG decade, if you will). I think the art should reflect that.

H's work is clearly still rough, and as such I don't want to say much about it. If their sprite artist can make things look good in motion, then I think their style has great potential to capture the sophisticated, modern tone that I think best suits AVWW.  But the fact that the composite concept piece looks so disjointed is a little worrying to me. That said, I often see artists trained in 3D work doing concept stuff, and it shows - they are simply not specialists in drawing and color design. What really matters is what the sprite artist does with the concept pieces. EDIT: I adore their concept for the sniper balloon. The drawing is a bit crude, but it's super weird and cool as an idea. It's one of the reasons I'm so intent on waiting to see their finished work; if they can realize polished versions of that concept and the character art they've shown, I think they are by far the best match for AVWW's unique style.

Can anyone from Arcen clarify which of these studios is doing the sprites and which is doing the articulated mesh style? I assume at this point G and K are the sprite shops? If so, H's finished work could look very different indeed.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: goodgimp July 09, 2012, 05:25:49 PM
Off topic, but I'd vote for Forest Rage as a candidate for particle updates. A friend (who is a fan of the game) joked that I was shooting carrots at enemies, now I can't stop seeing it in the way. ;)

Yeah, that one I really hate, and is the main one I'm thinking of for replacement of particle effects.  Though there are a couple of others, too.


I vote for a amorphous emerald bolt trailing leaf-like particles. Or a screaming monkey bazooka.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: yllamana July 09, 2012, 05:34:51 PM
Pretty as some of the current effects are, I think it's really likely to be good for the overall look and coherency of the game if all or almost all of the current particle effects are redone by the new studio. It'd be a real shame to try to cut costs there and have an important element of the game look jarringly out of place.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe July 09, 2012, 05:42:16 PM
I vote for a amorphous emerald bolt trailing leaf-like particles. Or a screaming monkey bazooka.
Fixed.

"Furious George"
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: BobTheJanitor July 10, 2012, 10:57:39 PM
I saw an interesting post (http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3473379&pagenumber=100&perpage=40#post405431060) on the SA forums today from someone involved with a recently failed Kickstarter project. (Retrovirus (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cadenzainteractive/retrovirus), an interesting little game that I'm kind of disappointed didn't make its goals.) Since there's a Kickstarter looming in the future, I thought some of that information might be interesting or useful for you guys.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 11, 2012, 12:42:27 AM
I vote for a amorphous emerald bolt trailing leaf-like particles. Or a screaming monkey bazooka.
Fixed.

"Furious George"

....DO THIS.

The game needs more summons anyway, right?  I mean..... screaming monkey bazooka!  Every game should have one of these.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 11, 2012, 02:30:43 AM
Also, I wanted to mention one other thing related to this whole issue:

(http://i.imgur.com/WBxhy.jpg)


This is a pretty good example of what I meant.

There's alot of brown in this colorscheme.  BUT.  This is still a bright, colorful screen.   Sky is blue, grass is proper green, various trees in the area are various tree-tastic colors, and even the brown isnt the "ZOMG GRITTY" of games like Gears.   Some argue that the color saturation may be a bit too high, which is possible, but it still outlines my point.

G's stuff, in comparison..... washed out.   EVERYTHING is washed out.  Everything in the pic is either "grit" brown, ugly "grit" brown, grey, unpleasant grey, or a sort of sick-looking green.    The character and the.... er..... floaty dude, those dont look too bad.  They're pretty well drawn and such.  But that background is horrid.   There's about 8 squillion games already using the "ZOMG GRIMDARK GRITTY!!1111" colorscheme these days, and one thing that initially drew me to this game was the very simple fact that it WASNT doing that, and therefore stood out.  The colors brown & grey was used in places that seemed to make sense, as opposed to the usual thing of making EVERYTHING brown & grey.   Even places like the desert areas in this game, which are mostly one dominant color, are at least still bright and vivid, instead of the GRIMDARK!!!1 that is so annoyingly trendy lately.

Maybe the abandoned town isnt the best example for G here.... what would their version of the Deciduous Forest look like?  Or the Lava Flats?   The screenshot they've shown various versions of, I find ugly as dirt, but that may not be the case with other area types..... though, somehow, I suspect it will be.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r July 11, 2012, 02:38:12 AM
Except the world in AVWW is supposed to be the apocalypse in different time zones, the whole point of a style is to cater to the mood of a game, and this current style has absolutely no (coherent) mood. It's like having Pinkie Pie over for a funeral. Completely erratic color and sense over saturation, that is.

How bad it is is really perfectly demonstrated by that screenshot. It took me like 10 seconds to even find where the character is standing because everything is more saturated and colorful than the char is. (Including the ground he stands on ,p) I think the art mockup by G is perfectly showcasing how it should look, it can always be brighter and colorful as long as the character is always the most noticeable piece of art on the screen.

: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Coppermantis July 11, 2012, 03:46:47 AM
It's like having Pinkie Pie over for a funeral.


 :D


However, I do think Misery has a point. I like G's art overall, but depending on the region there should be some more color. I honestly would have been fine with the first of G's art with the Pinkish armor and cartoony look. Perhaps a more proportionate character but the style was a nice mix between what the public seems to want and the current style. Maybe brighten up the current G a little more and we have a good compromise?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 11, 2012, 04:03:30 AM
It's like having Pinkie Pie over for a funeral.


 :D


However, I do think Misery has a point. I like G's art overall, but depending on the region there should be some more color. I honestly would have been fine with the first of G's art with the Pinkish armor and cartoony look. Perhaps a more proportionate character but the style was a nice mix between what the public seems to want and the current style. Maybe brighten up the current G a little more and we have a good compromise?

Aye, pretty much that.

I've had the thought before of "hm, but it's an apocalypse sort of thing".   The one in this game, though, isnt the normal sort.   Now, the Skelebot Junkyard area..... THAT makes sense, to look like that.  That is exactly the area I EXPECT to look dreary and washed out (or to have a dark, metallic look).   Other time shards though..... well, that's what they are:  Time shards.  It's not a world that got hit by a giant nuclear fireball of horrible doom;  it's a world that's stitched together from multiple time periods;  this concept allows for many different themes, graphically, among the different areas.  Something like the Deciduous Forest?  SHOULD be bright and colorful (and full of monsters of course).    The Abandoned Towns as they are right now look about right to me;  the area is bright and vivid, but they're eerily devoid of any actual population.


There are damaged areas in the game due to the general chaos..... usually represented by destroyed rooms...... but it seems alot of things were left intact (or at least mostly intact).  Having the ENTIRE GAME WORLD be all "dreary apocalypse" would frankly be pretty dull.   It's been done absolutely to death.   I'd get a little tired of exploring if I'd go into an area and "Oh.... yeah.  Another smashed up place, just like the previous 239560274567 areas.   Goody.  How very exciting."
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 11, 2012, 08:51:12 AM
I saw an interesting post (http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3473379&pagenumber=100&perpage=40#post405431060) on the SA forums today from someone involved with a recently failed Kickstarter project. (Retrovirus (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cadenzainteractive/retrovirus), an interesting little game that I'm kind of disappointed didn't make its goals.) Since there's a Kickstarter looming in the future, I thought some of that information might be interesting or useful for you guys.

Very interesting stuff.  Just watched their video and looked at their Kickstarter page.  I can see a lot of reasons why it didn't do well.  The developer himself summed it up best:

Looking at Kickstarter as a metagame, we failed to adequately explain the differences between a successful funding drive and a failed one, and we also failed to provide the urgency that so many other projects thrive on. Truthfully, there wasn't a financial knife to our necks, and I think that made people waver some in pledging to us. Obsurveyor pointed that out here a week or so ago, and was correct in doing so. We needed to be more clear about what our funding was going to do for us, and for the players funding us.

Basically: their game already looked really gorgeous and fun, and the things they were touting would only be of interest to a few people.  "Voice acting" and "modding tools sooner" were the only things that really came across to me out of their pitch.  For someone intensely interested in modding the game, then great.  For 99.99% of the rest of players, why invest in something you wouldn't even use and which relies on unknown third parties (modders) to create something of unknown quality?  I mean, even major games struggle to get quality mods a lot of the times, so the prospect of a few modders working on an indie engine is not inherently that exciting.

Similarly, while a lot of people like voice acting, they didn't show anything related to story mode or whatever would need voice acting in that video.  So it really seems like a superfluous expense.  The game itself is cool, but in no way would I have funded that kickstarter either.

It's quite possible that there was a lot more that they were planning to do with this money, but that didn't come across in the video, and that's basically all that I watch to weed out the projects that I don't even want to read any more about.  The rest of their page was a clutter of information, most of which was superfluous to the kickstarter (telling about story, etc).  It wasn't to the point or a clear message in any way on the rest of that page.

So, there again, I can see why the press failed to pick it up and talk about it more: the press are generally busy and only give a casual glance to something they aren't intimately familiar with or immediately struck by, and in journalism parlance these guys "buried the lead."  Just watching their video, my impression -- and I'm sure I'm not alone in this -- is that the game sounded interesting, but seemed to be doing great on its own, and I had interest in neither modding tools nor expensive voice acting, so this kickstarter was immediately of no interest.  Though it did flag me to remember to keep an eye on the game itself in the future, because their video did sell that well.

TLDR: These guys are right that they aren't very good at PR, but it looks like they're making quite awesome games.  I wish them the best, and I hope that they get what they need to make it a success.  But their experience with kickstarter doesn't inherently worry me, because if we fail (which we may very well) it won't be for the same reasons as them.  We'll clearly articulate what the stakes are, and the main reason for failure should hopefully be lack of interest in what we're trying to do (revamp the art) if we fail.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 11, 2012, 08:58:37 AM
Regarding the whole "this is too brown" thing: I agree with basically all of the above, and don't worry. 

Essentially, if you look at the game as it stands now, most areas of the game have really strong color sets: the grasslands very green and blue; the junkyards very poison green and brown; the lava flats very red; the ice age very white and blue; the forests very green, brown, and yellow (with bits of blue, or lots of orange depending on the forest type); etc.  I don't want or expect any of that to change.

However, the abandoned towns are one of the ugliest parts of the game because they don't have a consistent color scheme at the moment.  And given their theme, I think that their colors are appropriate.

Once this particular scene has been done by all three studios (and Studio H is now going to be doing both a painterly and a pixelart version, by the way), then the next step is choosing one of them based on that scene and their animation skills.  Then before we ever hit the level of a kickstarter, my next goal is to have them do one or two other area/enemy mockups.  I don't think that one area is going to sell this idea to a kickstarter crowd, and also I don't want people to get the impression that this is going to go all monochrome. 

The deciduous forests are also kind of ugly, so would make a great comparison screenshot for them to do.  And those could be suitably brighter.  And possibly if need be we could have them do the desert or something, although the background there already looks wicked good.  It's mainly some of the buildings and the ground itself that look bad there, so that would have to be emphasized.

We'll see; to do this right, we're further out from a kickstarter than I had originally hoped.  But it's certainly a good process to take the appropriate amount of time with.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 11, 2012, 09:00:56 AM
The latest from Studio K:

I'm sending you a rough sample of the Darren's running animation...let me know what you think about it. It's still rough and still needs a lot of work but we're just wanna let you know the progress, and as always feel free to give comments so we can do that along with the revisions we'll going to make...We're on jumping animation now so hopefully we can send it tomorrow for you to check out...
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 11, 2012, 09:25:28 AM
Aside from the fact that he seems to be missing a nose, that looks quite ok, by my standards. K is definitely a contender with their more distinctive pixelart style. I likes! G is still appealing to me more though, but it will likely come down to coherence and how it looks in movement (animation) more so than style.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 11, 2012, 09:33:01 AM
The problem with the pixelart style from K is that it is easily 2-3x more expensive than either of the other styles.  Given that G is so compelling (and so much faster developed), I've asked K to halt work on their pixelart efforts.  I really like a lot of what they did, and it was a good experiment, but I don't feel it's right for the game.

Part of it also is that it's too big a departure for the graphics of the game.  I'm talking with K about some alternative options that we might be able to explore with their studio at a lower cost (basically trying to improve what is already there and add to it, which isn't an approach that we've yet tried with any studio; and I don't know if that will fit with K or be to their interests, but it strikes me as one unexplored avenue to try).

Meanwhile, H is going to be doing both a pixelart and painterly style of the stuff that they have mocked up so far.

And meanwhile meanwhile, I still really love what G has put together thus far (and it's been lowest-cost and fastest, too, note).
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 11, 2012, 09:40:17 AM
Aye, in the end it's usually "money rules", and seeing as G's style is pretty much universally praised (Misery aside ;) ) and cheaper by several magnitudes then... yeah.

If K had gone with the style they had in the enemy mockup, I would've loved if all of it was made that way. But then again, backgrounds could've been messy in that style.

H still needs to prove themselves to me. I just cannot stomach their style yet, so I'm waiting for more mockups.

G is like that gorgeous "girl next door". I can't stop looking :P
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 11, 2012, 09:44:00 AM
Pretty much sums up how I feel at this point, too. :)

Though I've seen H's other work, unlike others here, and I know that they do particularly amazing stuff when given the chance.  So I don't put a lot of stock in the crude mockups of their stuff yet.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: zebramatt July 11, 2012, 10:04:49 AM
I had hopes for K too!

Oh well.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 11, 2012, 10:13:45 AM
I had hopes for K too!

Oh well.
Well, K aren't out of the picture. They're just spendy. We'll see.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 11, 2012, 10:14:58 AM
I had hopes for K too!

Oh well.
Well, K aren't out of the picture. They're just spendy. We'll see.

Their pixelart style is out of the picture, anyhow.  And it remains to be seen if they'll agree to doing what amounts to an "extreme makeover touchup" of the existing assets, or if that's even feasible for them.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 11, 2012, 10:18:01 AM
Their pixelart style is out of the picture, anyhow.  And it remains to be seen if they'll agree to doing what amounts to an "extreme makeover touchup" of the existing assets, or if that's even feasible for them.
Oh. Bummer. Well, that's pretty much them out of the picture then, because the pixel style was really their strong side. Though I don't think we've seen any of their non-pixelart stuff yet, right? (As in, us on the forums)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 11, 2012, 10:21:01 AM
Their pixelart style is out of the picture, anyhow.  And it remains to be seen if they'll agree to doing what amounts to an "extreme makeover touchup" of the existing assets, or if that's even feasible for them.
Oh. Bummer. Well, that's pretty much them out of the picture then, because the pixel style was really their strong side. Though I don't think we've seen any of their non-pixelart stuff yet, right? (As in, us on the forums)

Correct on all counts.  I just couldn't continue investing in a prototype style that I knew wouldn't be sustainable even with a kickstarter at this point.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 11, 2012, 10:23:23 AM
Oh. Bummer. Well, that's pretty much them out of the picture then, because the pixel style was really their strong side. Though I don't think we've seen any of their non-pixelart stuff yet, right? (As in, us on the forums)

Correct on all counts.  I just couldn't continue investing in a prototype style that I knew wouldn't be sustainable even with a kickstarter at this point.
Understandable. Doesn't matter how awesome something is if it isn't economically feasible. The big reason why I'm not driving a Tesla Model S. It's too frigging expensive! Doesn't stop me from going "Want, want, want!" everytime I see one though.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 11, 2012, 10:24:51 AM
Yeah, there are a lot of things in life like that for all of us, I think. :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: madcow July 11, 2012, 01:20:48 PM
I was looking back through the art, I really think the time of how long its taking them to churn it out is a huge plus in G's favor.

I'm not really liking the stuff from K, though the monster does look nice - the rest I'm not too fond of. Maybe with a background it would be better though.

I actually love studio H's mockup, I know the concept art isn't how it'll end up looking, but I actually really like the concept art background. Its not in theme with AVWW really, and I'm probably a minority, but I like that surreal/sketchy look. I am sure the pixelated version they come up with will look rather different, so that's not really an endorsement of the final version.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Stx11 July 14, 2012, 06:56:25 PM
Hi all,

New to the game, newly introduced to Arcen (another "thank you" to TotalBiscuit is due), new to the forums, and new to AI Wars as well!

The gameplay really intrigues me (I've gotten to start with all the benefits of 1.1 and 1.2 already in place) but please add me as yet another "+1" for Studio G's work...

I clicked on the sample and my jaw hit the floor  :o

If they are also the cheapest and fastest, is it even a debate anymore?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 14, 2012, 08:57:41 PM
Hi all,

New to the game, newly introduced to Arcen (another "thank you" to TotalBiscuit is due), new to the forums, and new to AI Wars as well!

The gameplay really intrigues me (I've gotten to start with all the benefits of 1.1 and 1.2 already in place) but please add me as yet another "+1" for Studio G's work...

I clicked on the sample and my jaw hit the floor  :o

If they are also the cheapest and fastest, is it even a debate anymore?
No, to me it isn't. It isn't unanimously loved, but obviously, neither is the current art ;)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Stx11 July 14, 2012, 09:48:16 PM
]No, to me it isn't. It isn't unanimously loved, but obviously, neither is the current art ;)

Ouch... thanks for the "warm welcome"  :-X

I still really appreciate the support Arcen puts into their games and community and look forward to seeing the results in the future  ;)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe July 14, 2012, 11:22:03 PM
Hi all,

New to the game, newly introduced to Arcen (another "thank you" to TotalBiscuit is due), new to the forums, and new to AI Wars as well!

The gameplay really intrigues me (I've gotten to start with all the benefits of 1.1 and 1.2 already in place) but please add me as yet another "+1" for Studio G's work...

I clicked on the sample and my jaw hit the floor  :o

If they are also the cheapest and fastest, is it even a debate anymore?
Welcome to the forums :)

Studio G certainly appears to be the frontrunner, but another thing to bear in mind is that "best of the three" doesn't necessarily mean "good enough.  I mean, I think it is because I love G's style, but even I would want to see an animated sample of a character with long hair (as long as any of our characters wear it, at least) before actually moving forward.  And there's probably other things I should want to see first but I'm not very discerning ;)  Thankfully I'm not the one making the call.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Hearteater July 14, 2012, 11:34:06 PM
]No, to me it isn't. It isn't unanimously loved, but obviously, neither is the current art ;)
Ouch... thanks for the "warm welcome"  :-X
I believe Moonshine Fox was agreeing with you that there isn't a debate in his mind either.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Vinraith July 15, 2012, 12:00:05 AM
G is definitely the best of what's presently on offer. Then again, I actually kind of like the current art...
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 15, 2012, 04:44:27 AM
]No, to me it isn't. It isn't unanimously loved, but obviously, neither is the current art ;)
Ouch... thanks for the "warm welcome"  :-X
I believe Moonshine Fox was agreeing with you that there isn't a debate in his mind either.
That. I was most definitely agreeing!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Stx11 July 15, 2012, 05:15:50 AM
I believe Moonshine Fox was agreeing with you that there isn't a debate in his mind either.
That. I was most definitely agreeing!

Oh whoops!  :o

I profusely apologize  :-[

And agreed with those above who stated we still need to see animations and other samples and such. Still I've become a big fan of Arcen very quickly because of the amazing Support and dedication to fun and engaging gameplay. I'm really excited to see where things go  :D
: studio G
: doubtful July 15, 2012, 08:28:05 AM
I said before that I personally thought that AVWW's art style is fine as-is except for some of the animations being a bit lacking in frames or appearing strange.

But I have to say that I am /very/ pleased with some of the art samples you posted in the other thread!

They really look excellent, and in particular I love the..."painted" look of studio G's background art--it's gorgeous and reminiscent of Braid to me.

I also very much like all the other studios' work, but of the ones that painted a complete picture if you will, I think G's feels the most "right".

P.S. I love you guys. *sniff*  :'(  :D
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 15, 2012, 09:03:32 AM
Just a heads-up -- there are going to be 8 new styles to choose from from studio H, which actually turns out to be potentially the cheapest and fastest studio.  The 8 should be arriving throughout this next week. Also there will be a painterly mockup from studio K, who wanted another shot since the pixelart was not a hit.  I don't know exactly how costs would work out with them with painterly versus pixelart, but typically painterly is cheaper.

So: we should have a lot more cool options to choose from very soon!  Studio H does professional-style animation that I've seen, and it's very good.  There's a question of how good is good enough for the purposes of this game since it's not unlimited RAM that we have to work with.  But I'm thinking that we're going to be having a lot of good options really soon rather than one good option and two inferior ones.

I'll keep you posted as the art starts coming in!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 15, 2012, 09:08:04 AM
Awesomesauce! Bring on the goodies!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Martyn van Buren July 15, 2012, 01:41:55 PM
By the way, something that worries me a bit --- how are we going to know from the samples given that any of the studios' work will look good when chopped up and remixed by the procedural engine?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 15, 2012, 01:44:18 PM
By the way, something that worries me a bit --- how are we going to know from the samples given that any of the studios' work will look good when chopped up and remixed by the procedural engine?

Well, most of the major elements don't actually get chopped up: characters, buildings, backgrounds, enemies, objects, etc.  Only the ground really has that happen, and the grass on the ground, and the doodads that would newly be placed on the ground to break up the repetitive tiling.  Beyond that it's just a matter of how things are arranged, now how they are chopped up -- most things are not tile-based in this game.  In act, the only things that are is the ground.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Martyn van Buren July 15, 2012, 01:48:34 PM
So to take G as an example, there are two buildings in the near background, one of which is the start of a row of buildings receding into the distance.  I've been assuming that these are two separate "blocks" of scenery and that the bright buildings at the front are going to be the enterable buildings of the town.  Am I reading it right?  The darker buildings in the background, are they going to be repeated as a block every few times the front building turns up?  Or are they actually part of a single repeated background we're going to see in the same form in every abandoned town if we go with this design?  Sorry if that doesn't make any sense.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 15, 2012, 01:53:04 PM
It's pretty much like now.  G's scene is actually built out of stuff that tiles (aside from their grass, which was a rough sketch).  So that means there are the following layers:

1. Sky layers (several, actually)
2. Background parallax layers (2 -- in this case, the distant buildings you refer to).
3. Actual interactive objects that you walk past (buildings, trees, and so forth -- the two buildings in the foreground are this).
4. The actual main index of characters and monsters and crates and walls/grounds and spells that you would normally collide with, plus their attendant doodads and details.
5. Any sort of foreground stuff that your characters/spells walk behind.  Usually there's not much of this.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Martyn van Buren July 15, 2012, 03:19:11 PM
Okay, cool; so I assumed. 
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: nanostrike July 15, 2012, 10:47:03 PM
I just hope H's new efforts aren't as nausea-inducing as their last one...
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 15, 2012, 11:14:26 PM
I just hope H's new efforts aren't as nausea-inducing as their last one...

That one wasn't an effort in the same vein -- it was a sketch, not a final-quality art piece.  And the sketch was actually four sketches by four artists cobbled together to show what could be possible.  Big communication misunderstanding there, basically, but we got it worked out this weekend.  I think that, based on their other work I've seen, their final-quality stuff this week will be impressive.  We shall see.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 17, 2012, 01:45:36 PM
Here are the first four of eight from studio H with different of their artists all doing differently-styled mockups.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: madcow July 17, 2012, 02:12:31 PM
I really like the second of those four. I like the first but its also way too rough to tell what it would actually end up looking like.

Incidentally, my art style preferences might be slightly influenced by the fact that I think "A Braid Without Wind" would be a cool look. Though I doubt many would agree with that!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mick July 17, 2012, 02:15:25 PM
I really like the painterly look, but I find that still images can be deceptive.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Hearteater July 17, 2012, 02:31:53 PM
1 - It's not final, but I really like the feel it evokes.  The guy/gal looks very much like a pretty boy Chaos Space Marine.
2 - Good, but something about the character pose seems off to me.  Looks kind of like this guy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRYNYb30nxU&t=40s).
3 - Least favorite.  Very flat to me, too little distinction between character and background.
4 - Nice background, works very well for me.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: konfuzed July 17, 2012, 02:40:41 PM
I LOVE the style of the first one. Too bad it's not a bit more finalized.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Coppermantis July 17, 2012, 03:16:27 PM
The first and last are my favorites of those.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe July 17, 2012, 03:43:42 PM
1 - It's not final, but I really like the feel it evokes.  The guy/gal looks very much like a pretty boy Chaos Space Marine.
There are Chaos Space Marines with a full mane of hair left?  I don't recall one with a truly intact face.

That character's my favorite bit of all the art thus far :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 17, 2012, 03:48:51 PM
I'm torn, tbh. Sure, they're nice and all, but they don't provoke that "click" feeling that Studio G's images did. The second is likely the better one, but the background was largely uninspiring. I did like the pose. Looks like the animation work could be really good there.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 17, 2012, 04:50:57 PM
Bear in mind that most of the strongest elements from each mockup will likely be combined into the final product. Not much from image 3, I agree. And there are still 4 other concept pieces coming from this studio, and one from studio K in a painterly form.

Personally I'm loving the shaping of 1 with the detail of 2 as my top at the moment.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: yllamana July 17, 2012, 05:25:07 PM
I wonder what 4 looks like when it's not tiny (it seemed to be on a different scale to the rest?). It looks really cool.

I think G still looks overall more coherent, though.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Martyn van Buren July 17, 2012, 05:39:56 PM
I'd really like to see the "ruined" feeling from G come through in the final product, whether or not they do it.

By the way, with the costs the studios are quoting, is there any chance of a new art style happening without a Kickstarter?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 17, 2012, 06:24:40 PM
By the way, with the costs the studios are quoting, is there any chance of a new art style happening without a Kickstarter?

At this point, definitely not. For the first weeks AVVW was out, it was selling at 3x the rate that AI War was when it was first on steam. Then Diablo 3 came out and the very next day our sales plummeted. They did not recover, but it was also summer (which is always a slow period) so we were not too concerned. We knew we had the steam summer sale coming up, and if that went well then potentially we could fund this on our own. Either way it could be really good money if we even just matched what AI War made last year in the summer sale, let alone hit 3x what AI War had sold as the trend had been before Diablo 3.

Instead we sold 1/6th what we thought the minimum bar was. This doesn't jeapordize the company as a whole, but it does mean that a number of things are going to have to shift soon. More on that coming up, but a successful kickstarter is completely a prerequisite at this point for the art reskin.

On the bright side, with studio H we should be able to do the entire reskin for about $30k or at most $40k AND have it done by November, in time for the holidays. The press has largely ignored our awesome 1.1 and 1.2 updates, so the graphics really seem to be a barrier here. The plan is for Arcen to fund about $15k of the makeover, and ask for about $15k (if that's what the final number turns out to be) from kickstarter.

Again, more news on all this soon (early August, mostly). But suffice it to say, Arcen as a company now has to get creative and split focus a lot more than I would have preferred in an ideal scenario. Still, I think we've got a lot of really exciting things going on, a lot of which we haven't even talked about publicly yet. That whole "open development" thing was a really interesting experiment, but it led to astronomical expectations for AVVW. We don't want a repeat of that, as that sets ourselves up for failure.

I still think that AVVW can get where it needs to go, ultimately. But it's going to take longer and likely take a new visual look, etc. That's going to be the main focus for the next few months, along with bugfixes and balance tweaks and new bits of content (spells, etc) every week or two. As opposed to an ongoing massive focus on reinvention and broad expansion of mechanics like we have been doing; that will need to wait until after the art reskin is completed.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: nanostrike July 17, 2012, 07:28:02 PM
There are Chaos Space Marines with a full mane of hair left?  I don't recall one with a truly intact face.[/quote]

Slaanesh loves pretty-boy Space Marines in his Chaos bunch.




Still not too keen on H's styles.  They just look really blurry, abstract, and disjointed.  To me, they don't seem to fit together.  G still has my vote, by far.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Ulrox July 17, 2012, 07:37:09 PM
On the bright side, with studio H we should be able to do the entire reskin for about $30k or at most $40k AND have it done by November, in time for the holidays. The press has largely ignored our awesome 1.1 and 1.2 updates, so the graphics really seem to be a barrier here. The plan is for Arcen to fund about $15k of the makeover, and ask for about $15k (if that's what the final number turns out to be) from kickstarter.

The stats for games seeking funding on kickstarter is 25% success rate, everything else has something like 35% sucess rate (possible higher)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 17, 2012, 07:49:50 PM
On the bright side, with studio H we should be able to do the entire reskin for about $30k or at most $40k AND have it done by November, in time for the holidays. The press has largely ignored our awesome 1.1 and 1.2 updates, so the graphics really seem to be a barrier here. The plan is for Arcen to fund about $15k of the makeover, and ask for about $15k (if that's what the final number turns out to be) from kickstarter.

The stats for games seeking funding on kickstarter is 25% success rate, everything else has something like 35% sucess rate (possible higher)

The statistics of that sort of thing aren't really too meaningful. How many of those games are just at the "hopeless concept" stage? How many are from new studios with no audience or fans yet? Etc.

I'm not saying we'll be successful for sure, but if we aren't it won't be because of those statistics. Those statistics encompass far too many variables.  Also? Getting an article written about your indie game on kotaku, or getting your indie game on steam, both have success rates far lower than the kickstarter success rate. Yet here we are.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 17, 2012, 08:02:26 PM
Ok, opinions on these:

1:  ......what IS this?   This seriously looks like what happens if *I* try to draw something.   AKA, it's all scribbles.   We've got ScribbleGuy there standing in front of some squiggly lines, with more squiggly lines off in the distance, and yet more squiggly lines in the foreground.  I'm just gonna try not to think too hard about this one.  I cant give a real opinion on this because aside from ScribbleGuy and what I *think* is supposed to be a door on the left, I cant tell what any of that is.

2:  No. 

3:  This so far is probably the only one I DONT instantly dislike.  This being because it's NOT dreary and colorless like all of the others.   The character and Flying Bladed Whatsit look a little off, though.   

4:  Definitely no.





By the way, with the costs the studios are quoting, is there any chance of a new art style happening without a Kickstarter?

At this point, definitely not. For the first weeks AVVW was out, it was selling at 3x the rate that AI War was when it was first on steam. Then Diablo 3 came out and the very next day our sales plummeted. They did not recover, but it was also summer (which is always a slow period) so we were not too concerned. We knew we had the steam summer sale coming up, and if that went well then potentially we could fund this on our own. Either way it could be really good money if we even just matched what AI War made last year in the summer sale, let alone hit 3x what AI War had sold as the trend had been before Diablo 3.

Instead we sold 1/6th what we thought the minimum bar was. This doesn't jeapordize the company as a whole, but it does mean that a number of things are going to have to shift soon. More on that coming up, but a successful kickstarter is completely a prerequisite at this point for the art reskin.

On the bright side, with studio H we should be able to do the entire reskin for about $30k or at most $40k AND have it done by November, in time for the holidays. The press has largely ignored our awesome 1.1 and 1.2 updates, so the graphics really seem to be a barrier here. The plan is for Arcen to fund about $15k of the makeover, and ask for about $15k (if that's what the final number turns out to be) from kickstarter.

Again, more news on all this soon (early August, mostly). But suffice it to say, Arcen as a company now has to get creative and split focus a lot more than I would have preferred in an ideal scenario. Still, I think we've got a lot of really exciting things going on, a lot of which we haven't even talked about publicly yet. That whole "open development" thing was a really interesting experiment, but it led to astronomical expectations for AVVW. We don't want a repeat of that, as that sets ourselves up for failure.

I still think that AVVW can get where it needs to go, ultimately. But it's going to take longer and likely take a new visual look, etc. That's going to be the main focus for the next few months, along with bugfixes and balance tweaks and new bits of content (spells, etc) every week or two. As opposed to an ongoing massive focus on reinvention and broad expansion of mechanics like we have been doing; that will need to wait until after the art reskin is completed.


hmm, that's a shame, really.

One reason I stick to indie games mostly, is because they tend to NOT get hung up on graphics, as opposed to 300% of the crap that gets released at retail these days.  .....stupidly, as a result, many indie titles end up looking MUCH better than those ever do, but that's a whole other rant. 

I have to wonder though, how much of the low-ish sales really has to do with the art?  I mean, a couple of things I can think of..... firstly, Diablo 3 happened.   ......I dont even need to say anymore about THAT one.   Secondly...... I find that alot of people honestly havent the foggiest idea what this game is.   I might mention the name to someone I know, be it locally or online on AIM or a forum or whatever, and NOT EVEN ONCE have I had someone respond with something other than "What?  What's that game?  I've never heard of it."    Granted, that one seems to happen alot with indie titles.   I imagine it's not at all easy trying to advertise the things!  I would never have known about this game myself if I hadnt been checking IndieGameBlog every day as I do.  I dont think I've ever seen it mentioned anywhere else (besides Steam, that is).   Dont get me wrong, I understand the art is still a factor (all those bloody stupid "everything is brown" games seem to be  still popular, after all, for reasons I'm very happy NOT to understand), but I cant imagine it's the only factor.


So, what does this mean as far as updates go?  Are you guys gonna be holding off on these for now, or something like that?




: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Hearteater July 17, 2012, 08:05:09 PM
For what it's worth, I just wanted to toss this link (http://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/comments/sj595/can_you_help_me_think_of_a_good_amountgoal_for_a/c4elgwy?context=3) out as far as Kickstarter goes for "tips" on picking the dollar amount.  Also check out Update 19 from here (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/starcommand/star-command-sci-fi-meets-gamedev-story-for-ios-an/posts) which is a first hand account of funds received vs. actually funds.  Also quoting the Reddit post since it is short:

  • Decide what you think you need to complete the project
  • If you are giving away prizes, keep physical "prizes" (maps, posters, shirts, etc) value to at most 20% of the pledged amount. You'll find your estimate is wrong when you get to fulfillment, that's why we stuck to 20%.
  • Add $5000
  • Double the amount
  • Increase the amount to compensate for Amazon's fee, which should mean roughly an 11% increase
  • Round up to a multiple of $25,000
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Ulrox July 17, 2012, 08:08:55 PM
That is correct. Excuse me if I'm not too articulate right now. I've just taken my anti psychotic medicine. (can't sleep without them) . A main problem with avww is it's steep steep learning curve. I'm not saying valley is a bad game. I'm a huge supporter of you guys but I compare valley to a game like E.Y.E Divine Cybermancy (that name alone O_o) ... Its a game that is incredible hard to learn because it has so many different systems in place. I honestly think valley would have done better with no procedurally generated content and no overworld map, and then just one path that you have to follow.  Ever play sacrifice or giants citizen kabuto? those games were RAD, but they also didn't sell very well. The same can be said about heroes of might and magic. How come so such awesome gameplay as heroes of might and magic doesn't have various clones on the market? Instead we have skyrim and call of duty. If you want I'll beat skyrim with only one hand. I'll find a way. It's so eaaasy. Look at topsellers on steam and compare the learning curve to valley without wind :P

I remember reading an article about EA's most lucrative games. Battlefield, the sims,  fifa and then SWToR (Remembering it from my head so not 100% accurate) Battlefield is a nobrainer. The sims, I dont really want to comment :P - fifa is the same game released year after year, and then we have SWToR which is almost exclusively a wow clone. ohh I forgot another brilliant example. Planescape Torment is (by me) regarded by many as the best RPG ever made. How well do you think it sold? :P

and again, I have something like 50 hours played on avww this week. I definately dont want it to change into a game with no procedurally generated content / only one path. I'm just sadly saying that learning curve means a lot. Take my little brother. I bought him AI war. He has yet to play it at all with me... why? its hard to read the tutorial. :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 17, 2012, 08:15:01 PM
That is correct. Excuse me if I'm not too articulate right now. I've just taken my anti psychotic medicine. (can't sleep without them) . A main problem with avww is it's steep steep learning curve. I'm not saying valley is a bad game. I'm a huge supporter of you guys but I compare valley to a game like E.Y.E Divine Cybermancy (that name alone O_o) ... Its a game that is incredible hard to learn because it has so many different systems in place. I honestly think valley would have done better with no procedurally generated content and no overworld map, and then just one path that you have to follow.  Ever play sacrifice or giants citizen kabuto? those games were RAD, but they also didn't sell very well. The same can be said about heroes of might and magic. How come so such awesome gameplay as heroes of might and magic doesn't have various clones on the market? Instead we have skyrim and call of duty. If you want I'll beat skyrim with only one hand. I'll find a way. It's so eaaasy. Look at topsellers on steam and compare the learning curve to valley without wind :P

I remember reading an article about EA's most lucrative games. Battlefield, the sims,  fifa and then SWToR (Remembering it from my head so not 100% accurate) Battlefield is a nobrainer. The sims, I dont really want to comment :P - fifa is the same game released year after year, and then we have SWToR which is almost exclusively a wow clone. ohh I forgot another brilliant example. Planescape Torment is (by me) regarded by many as the best RPG ever made. How well do you think it sold? :P

and again, I have something like 50 hours played on avww this week. I definately dont want it to change into a game with no procedurally generated content / only one path. I'm just sadly saying that learning curve means a lot. Take my little brother. I bought him AI war. He has yet to play it at all with me... why? its hard to read the tutorial. :)


That, though, isnt really a problem with the game itself.   It's more of an industry problem.   Alot of games are super hyper may-as-well-play-themselves easy as heck, and WAY too many gamers are used to this.   If the game in question isnt utterly braindead, you're GOING to lose potential buyers literally "because thinking is hard".   Or because ANYTHING is hard, really.

I'm glad AVWW didn't do that kind of crap.  There's enough games out there that I could play and beat while asleep, I dont really need another one, heh.

It's not so much that the learning curve is bad;  it's that it HAS a learning curve. AKA, you have to read stuff and think about it.

Feh.   As always I miss the days of the NES and such.  Where the game ASSUMED that you read the bloody manual beforehand.   And THEN it kicked your ass into next week.    And this was the norm.   Ah, good times....
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 17, 2012, 08:26:03 PM
hmm, that's a shame, really.

One reason I stick to indie games mostly, is because they tend to NOT get hung up on graphics, as opposed to 300% of the crap that gets released at retail these days.  .....stupidly, as a result, many indie titles end up looking MUCH better than those ever do, but that's a whole other rant.

That's something I prefer, too, and yet we've been roasted by half of the Internet for that philosophy.  At this point we've not remotely made back the money from making the game in the first place, and every month that we just focus on free updates to the base game is a month where we lose more money.  Over ten thousand dollars of money.  So that's obviously not a viable business practice for us.

The one big thing that people keep mentioning as holding them back from buying the game is the art.  Over and over and over we hear this.  So that's what we have to address.  Similarly, in a Steam sale or similar people rarely play a game; they look at screenshots and videos and the blurb about the game, and then buy based on that when the discounts are good enough.  If our screenshots are underwhelming to people, then we fail to reach the sales that we need in order to recoup the costs of such an ambitious (for us) game.

From the start we always promised that we'd be updating this game as long as there was player support, or three months for sure at worst, and it's now been three months and the player support is not there in enough volume to sustain the kinds of updates we've been doing.  Aka, I have to lay off Josh and Erik if we keep down this path, and then the other three of us get majorly financially squeezed as well.  The company isn't in jeopardy, as I said, but we've done everything we could on the gameplay side to address all of the major deficits that people complained about.  At this point we've hit a point of diminishing returns there I think, and additionally they have garnered us almost no additional word of mouth or news coverage.  So that's not working.  Given how often the art is cited as the reason that people don't want to play the game or even try it in some cases, it seems the only rational course is to see if those people are just full of hot air or really are telling the truth.  If the latter, then we see a renaissance of the game and we move back into heavier updates and do an expansion early next year, yadda yadda yadda.

I have to wonder though, how much of the low-ish sales really has to do with the art?  I mean, a couple of things I can think of..... firstly, Diablo 3 happened.   ......I dont even need to say anymore about THAT one.   Secondly...... I find that alot of people honestly havent the foggiest idea what this game is.   I might mention the name to someone I know, be it locally or online on AIM or a forum or whatever, and NOT EVEN ONCE have I had someone respond with something other than "What?  What's that game?  I've never heard of it."    Granted, that one seems to happen alot with indie titles.   I imagine it's not at all easy trying to advertise the things!  I would never have known about this game myself if I hadnt been checking IndieGameBlog every day as I do.  I dont think I've ever seen it mentioned anywhere else (besides Steam, that is).   Dont get me wrong, I understand the art is still a factor (all those bloody stupid "everything is brown" games seem to be  still popular, after all, for reasons I'm very happy NOT to understand), but I cant imagine it's the only factor.

The art seems to have other factors, such as reviewer opinions (people really do have their opinions tainted by art they consider bad, and won't give the game as much of a chance because of it; on metacritic many of the bad reviews mention the art.  Actually, I think all of them do).  Then there's the matter that news and word of mouth really is secondary to the all-important Steam sale.  And that's where people just buy what is put in front of them on sale, if the price is right and the description/video is cool, and the screenshots look interesting.  Plus some other factors.  This is where, so far, the game has failed since Diablo 3 came around.

Some of that might still be the influence of Diablo 3 rather than anything to do with our art, but if that's the case then we simply need to move away from this game anyhow and into something that isn't competing head-to-head with Blizzard.  I tend to take a more positive view that we can salvage this with a revamped art style that will hopefully catch the media's attention in a way that our painstaking work and long hours for the last three months has not.  Tom Chick aside.

In short: I don't get to make the rules of the marketplace, but I do have to survive in them.  I don't view AVWW as dead or even dying, but I think that it is in need of a major jolt in the form of the art rework in order to hit that next level.

So, what does this mean as far as updates go?  Are you guys gonna be holding off on these for now, or something like that?

We'll be doing updates every week at least, but they will be smaller and less frequent for sure.  Once the final art style is selected, that will start being integrated immediately, for one thing.  On the other end of the spectrum, I'll be doing a new spell or some other piece of content ideally every week (or two at the outside).  We'll continue to do balance updates and think about how to make things run more smoothly and shave off the grind.  And of course bugfixes.

In terms of the things we had planned for 1.3, those are on hold, though: stuff like yet more features for citybuilding; events that randomly happen to you; etc.  Those sorts of things are the things I'm just itching to do, to be honest, but for now they have to wait.  We have to be able to pay the bills, and we're going to hit a point where we can't without layoffs unless we take different actions.

It was high time for another AI War expansion anyhow, we had originally said that would be out something like 9 months ago; so Keith is working on that.  And barring an enormous infusion of cash from kickstarter, that might have some stretch goals related to having 1.3 content coming sooner than later, I'll be working on another project that is currently TBA in September.

This isn't a Terraria situation: we aren't divided on how to proceed, we aren't out of ideas or bored with the game, we aren't halting all development on it and stopping all updates.  If you think about it, in a lot of respects the art overhaul itself is going to be one of the largest updates the game has ever seen, so we're really trying to rejuvenate things.  But in the meantime while we're trying that, we also have to have other ways to actually make some money; Erik and Josh have been proving indispensable, and I'm loathe to lose them just because I wanted to bang my head on a brick wall, so to speak.

Hope that makes sense!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 17, 2012, 08:29:56 PM
For what it's worth, I just wanted to toss this link (http://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/comments/sj595/can_you_help_me_think_of_a_good_amountgoal_for_a/c4elgwy?context=3) out as far as Kickstarter goes for "tips" on picking the dollar amount.  Also check out Update 19 from here (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/starcommand/star-command-sci-fi-meets-gamedev-story-for-ios-an/posts) which is a first hand account of funds received vs. actually funds.  Also quoting the Reddit post since it is short:

  • Decide what you think you need to complete the project
  • If you are giving away prizes, keep physical "prizes" (maps, posters, shirts, etc) value to at most 20% of the pledged amount. You'll find your estimate is wrong when you get to fulfillment, that's why we stuck to 20%.
  • Add $5000
  • Double the amount
  • Increase the amount to compensate for Amazon's fee, which should mean roughly an 11% increase
  • Round up to a multiple of $25,000

Thanks for that!  In terms of a lot of advice, that's for completing a whole game whereas we're talking about an art revamp.  But point taken.  In terms of physical prizes, we definitely won't be doing any of that -- we're not equipped for such a thing.  We'll likely be giving away other copies of our other games, plus some other sort of exclusives that people can help design some something for the game, etc.  There will be another thread about that in the next week or two from Erik.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 17, 2012, 08:44:25 PM
That is correct. Excuse me if I'm not too articulate right now. I've just taken my anti psychotic medicine. (can't sleep without them) . A main problem with avww is it's steep steep learning curve. I'm not saying valley is a bad game. I'm a huge supporter of you guys but I compare valley to a game like E.Y.E Divine Cybermancy (that name alone O_o) ... Its a game that is incredible hard to learn because it has so many different systems in place. I honestly think valley would have done better with no procedurally generated content and no overworld map, and then just one path that you have to follow.  Ever play sacrifice or giants citizen kabuto? those games were RAD, but they also didn't sell very well. The same can be said about heroes of might and magic. How come so such awesome gameplay as heroes of might and magic doesn't have various clones on the market? Instead we have skyrim and call of duty. If you want I'll beat skyrim with only one hand. I'll find a way. It's so eaaasy. Look at topsellers on steam and compare the learning curve to valley without wind :P

I don't think the learning curve is relevant at all.  The game isn't one where loads of people are trying the demo and then giving up on it.  Our demo conversion rate on Steam is 12.6% lifetime at the moment, and I think that holds up with other sources of the demo anecdotally rather than based on hard numbers.  To put that in context: average demo conversion rates that are good are generally considered 2-3%.  So out of the people who get to trying the demo, our conversion rate is excellent -- not quite as excellent as AI War, which sits at a whopping 16% lifetime on Steam, but still really good by industry standards.

If we were seeing a really low conversion rate, or a really low rate of people completing the various achievements, then that would be one thing.  But the percentage of people who played it at least for a few hours based on achievements unlocked is actually comparing really favorable to other games of this general genre.

Going along with that, if we did a linear non-procedural world that had no world map and basically was just a straight Metroidvania clone, that would not have been newsworthy and would not have gotten many people's attention.  The fact that this game is actually something different is a key selling point.  And the fact that we've had so much coverage and interest from those parties that have heard about it really reinforces that.

I remember reading an article about EA's most lucrative games. Battlefield, the sims,  fifa and then SWToR (Remembering it from my head so not 100% accurate) Battlefield is a nobrainer. The sims, I dont really want to comment :P - fifa is the same game released year after year, and then we have SWToR which is almost exclusively a wow clone. ohh I forgot another brilliant example. Planescape Torment is (by me) regarded by many as the best RPG ever made. How well do you think it sold? :P

You're comparing apples to oranges, though.  We don't need sales on an EA level to break even or make a profit.  We don't even need Minecraft or Terraria levels of sales, not remotely.  Few indies do need that; though of course it would be nice to have that sort of warchest security.  But dumbing down games for the masses is the province of AAA -- they deliver the incredible polish and ease of play, while indies deliver the experimental, the out-there, the niche.  It is possible to make a very niche game and make well over a million dollars.  I know lots of indies who have done so, and I'm not that far off myself from that with AI War.  Which is a thousand times more inaccessible than this game.

and again, I have something like 50 hours played on avww this week. I definately dont want it to change into a game with no procedurally generated content / only one path. I'm just sadly saying that learning curve means a lot. Take my little brother. I bought him AI war. He has yet to play it at all with me... why? its hard to read the tutorial. :)

Not to put too fine a point on it, but you're using anecdotal evidence about a few specific people in cases where the game was bought for them and they then didn't play it.  I'm talking about people not trying the demo and not buying it at all.  Aka, looking at the screenshots and scurrying away during a Steam sale, and otherwise just generally being unaware of its existence.  The interesting thing about the Internet is how many people there are that buy games there.  Steam has well over 35 million registered users last I checked, and it's always growing.  And that's just Steam.  Nine in ten people could reject this or any game (and likely do), and that game could still have profits in the tens of millions of dollars.  Ninety-nine in a hundred people can reject it, and you can still have millions of dollars of profit.

That's the power of having such a massive potential audience pool.  And the way we typically reach them is through Steam sales.  But at a Steam sale, they look at -- screenshots and video.  The video is good, I think, except for the art being shown in it.  So many more people move on than I would prefer.

Having had very divided press about the game also doesn't help, and is something that ideally we could get some re-reviews on with all the changes between 1.0 and what will be 2.0 with the new art and all the changes from 1.1 and 1.2 and whatever we do between now and the art being done.  But we've been unable to attract press attention without doing something drastic like the art overhaul.  So... time to get drastic.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 17, 2012, 08:52:55 PM
That, though, isnt really a problem with the game itself.   It's more of an industry problem.   Alot of games are super hyper may-as-well-play-themselves easy as heck, and WAY too many gamers are used to this.   If the game in question isnt utterly braindead, you're GOING to lose potential buyers literally "because thinking is hard".   Or because ANYTHING is hard, really.

I'm glad AVWW didn't do that kind of crap.  There's enough games out there that I could play and beat while asleep, I dont really need another one, heh.

It's not so much that the learning curve is bad;  it's that it HAS a learning curve. AKA, you have to read stuff and think about it.

Feh.   As always I miss the days of the NES and such.  Where the game ASSUMED that you read the bloody manual beforehand.   And THEN it kicked your ass into next week.    And this was the norm.   Ah, good times....

You've really hit upon two points there:

1. People like you who actually want a game that differs from the industry norms are are bread and butter target audience.  In other words, people who are happy with the way that AAA titles are structured and their difficulty and graphics and so forth are never going to buy from an indie like Arcen anyhow -- why would they?  EA can give them a much flashier package, and we can never compete on graphics at that level.  So all we have to go on is actual gameplay, plus offering an artistic style that people find endearing or fun or nostalgic or whatever -- the problem being at the moment that many people have found the art style actively abrasive and driving them away.

2. As I noted just a second ago (after you wrote the above), the difficulty isn't actively turning people away.  Our demo conversion rate is six times the average for most AAA games.  If anything, those who try our game at all are far more likely to buy our game than they are if they try a demo of a major AAA game.  For whatever reason. 

Now, the problem is that the pool of people either trying the demo or outright buying the game without trying the demo is far too small -- so that means that they are using only the following sources as guides:
a. The videos on Steam.
b. The screenshots on Steam.
c. The description text on Steam (which we are pretty confident is strong).
d. Reviews, to a lesser extent, if they google them (and depending on what sites they visit, or if they go to Metacritic or whatever, they will form vastly different opinions).
e. Word of mouth, to a disappointingly low extent on this game so far, but it's early yet.  It took a while for this ball to get rolling with AI War, too.


The only two items that we can directly control at this point are a and b, and they are both solved by the art revamp.  They have a chance of also influencing both d and e positively, especially when combined with the 1.1 and 1.2 updates we've already done that have made the game so much better.  Plus the ongoing small bits of content between now and then.

That's my read on the situation, with the data that I have.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe July 17, 2012, 08:57:20 PM
In other words, people who are happy with the way that AAA titles are structured and their difficulty and graphics and so forth are never going to buy from an indie like Arcen anyhow -- why would they?  EA can give them a much flashier package, and we can never compete on graphics at that level.
One key reason for some people (probably a pretty small group, but still) is that generally indies don't add DRM/online-services-platforms/etc that actively hurt your ability to enjoy the game.

But to some extent that probably just drives people away from gaming, rather than towards indies, unless the indies were doing something they liked apart from the lack of that kind of interference.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 17, 2012, 09:00:49 PM
In other words, people who are happy with the way that AAA titles are structured and their difficulty and graphics and so forth are never going to buy from an indie like Arcen anyhow -- why would they?  EA can give them a much flashier package, and we can never compete on graphics at that level.
One key reason for some people (probably a pretty small group, but still) is that generally indies don't add DRM/online-services-platforms/etc that actively hurt your ability to enjoy the game.

But to some extent that probably just drives people away from gaming, rather than towards indies, unless the indies were doing something they liked apart from the lack of that kind of interference.

That, too.  Though some indies use online activation and such anyhow.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe July 17, 2012, 09:03:25 PM
That, too.  Though some indies use online activation and such anyhow.
That's nothing compared to some of the crap I've had to go through for some games.  It's rare that I buy anything AAA nowadays due to DRM, but when I do it reminds me why I don't ;)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: madcow July 17, 2012, 09:05:29 PM
Its sad to hear that after AVWW's initial high sales it tapered out a little too much. Hopefully the art style revamp will help with both awareness of the game, and the resulting change in look will help with sales as well.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 17, 2012, 09:22:12 PM
Its sad to hear that after AVWW's initial high sales it tapered out a little too much. Hopefully the art style revamp will help with both awareness of the game, and the resulting change in look will help with sales as well.


I for one do think that Diablo 3's violent, explody release *really* didn't help any of this..... the timing was very..... bad.   Not just for AVWW and Arcen, but for plenty of others in general.   There was alot of "Yup, not gonna play anything else for the next 2000 years, Diablo just came out!" sort of thing.    ......the fact that half of those players ended up WHINING about it is another matter, but still. I'm gonna take a wild guess and say that quite alot of games had their sales damaged pretty badly just by that ONE release.   




Beyond that though.....

.....based on all this, it sounds like the problem isnt getting players to stick with the game after trying it..... it's getting them to try it in the first place.    Or, getting them to even know about it.   And I swear, the "press" can be REALLY random with these.   Even just on IndieGameBlog, which is the main (only) one I use most of the time.... this being due to the fact that I actually remember it's there.... sometimes they'll show some awesome stuff, sometimes they'll show some deeply stupid stuff, and sometimes they'll completely ignore some things that you'd think they WOULD highlight, or perhaps highlighting something but giving the written equivilent of "Yeah, so, here's this game, it exists, bye now". 

Though, I'm surprised that the demo-to-actual-purchase conversion rate is so high.  Usually it really does seem like anything whatsoever complicated is ignored half the time, even in the indie scene.  I think this is at least proof that you've hit upon a genuinely good, fun game.


On the note of Steam though:   Steam can be sometimes..... hard to browse.  I'll often hear about something on there that I know I'd really like, and even being on Steam pretty much daily I'd NEVER ONCE HEARD OF, which is..... kinda stupid.   This happens really often though (to me, anyway).   Likely isnt helping matters.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: madcow July 17, 2012, 09:27:33 PM
On the idea of getting knowledge of the game out there. A good LPs series, especially by a popular youtube personality could give tons of exposure, and a new and distinctive art style can really help with that. So there's always hope.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Ulrox July 17, 2012, 09:33:12 PM
I cannot find flaw with your argumentation X4000. I personally think the D3 factor has a lot to say too. I have 250 hours played lifetime in D3 but when you consider its good items dropchances and how the whole game design revolves around the auction house I began seeing it more and more as a trap to lure money out of me, which isn't something I feel good about ;)

I have to admit that I'm no fan of the art, but that doesn't hinder me from enjoying the game. If *I* had my will with this game it would be a complete castlevania revamp with castlevania/turrican music (lol :P) but I'm nutty :)

The main thing which drove me to buy AI war was the coop. There's just not enough good coop games out there. Your entire game company just seem to revolve around making solid coop experiences, which is why I hope dearly that you succeed in keeping yourself afloat, even if avww doesn't work out.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Ulrox July 17, 2012, 09:37:04 PM
Sorry about double posting, but Brian Fargo just tweeted these article/documents about kickstarter. You might find them to be interesting.

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2088298

http://venturebeat.com/2012/07/17/the-untold-story-behind-kickstarter-stats-infographic/#.UAX8v8Tbpfc.twitter
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 17, 2012, 10:05:41 PM
I cannot find flaw with your argumentation X4000. I personally think the D3 factor has a lot to say too. I have 250 hours played lifetime in D3 but when you consider its good items dropchances and how the whole game design revolves around the auction house I began seeing it more and more as a trap to lure money out of me, which isn't something I feel good about ;)

I have to admit that I'm no fan of the art, but that doesn't hinder me from enjoying the game. If *I* had my will with this game it would be a complete castlevania revamp with castlevania/turrican music (lol :P) but I'm nutty :)

The main thing which drove me to buy AI war was the coop. There's just not enough good coop games out there. Your entire game company just seem to revolve around making solid coop experiences, which is why I hope dearly that you succeed in keeping yourself afloat, even if avww doesn't work out.


I would love Castlevania-style graphics for this.   Though it depends on exactly WHICH one, but mostly they're all pretty darn good.    The 2D ones that is.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Armanant July 18, 2012, 02:12:40 AM
: x4000
... sad stuff about steam sale not doing well...

.... >:(

Just bought 2 extra copies of AVWW and an extra copy of AI war. I'll find someone to give them to i'm sure. Time to show them off during my lunch break at work!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r July 18, 2012, 03:52:40 AM
brings to mind a very famous quote

"never compromise your message to attain a greater audience" at some point there has to be a simple reality-meet-wishes situation that goes like this:

How many people nowadays still care for side-scrolling platformers (no matter the kind) (the answer is very, very few*)

*The second problem is that many people would have played AVWW if it had stayed Isometric (or something other 2.5D) even with ugly graphics because that was a very unique idea with much potential and If it had become a "procedural isometric build your civilization and go out explore push back the wind and care for the people you rescue" kind of game, the impact would have been immense indeed (how many of those do you know?). But a sidescroller no matter the content (which is fairly good now in AVWW) will never have the pull to bring in new people. People do not grow up with sidescrollers anymore unless the sidescroller is doing some of exceptional quality and uniqueness they will not be aware of it at all.

And those who grew up with sidescrollers are either sick of em (no offense) or are looking for particular challenges (I assume the SHMUP crowd sorta likes AVWW because it often needs real skill).

I think the current game is not bad. It's just that to me, what AVWW is now is the battle mode. And what AVWW was before the switch to Isometric was the core game idea. So basically, my dream AVWW is isometric (even 3D) and for combat it switches to side-scroller. Because.. that would be unique and imo, great fun ;p

As for sales in Summer Sales. Now that steam doesn't do game challenges anymore there is likely not a huge pull to Indy games when this sale is. 99% of my indy games on Steam are from potato sack, humble bundles or some insane bundle sales.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 18, 2012, 04:48:40 AM
brings to mind a very famous quote

"never compromise your message to attain a greater audience" at some point there has to be a simple reality-meet-wishes situation that goes like this:

How many people nowadays still care for side-scrolling platformers (no matter the kind) (the answer is very, very few*)

*The second problem is that many people would have played AVWW if it had stayed Isometric (or something other 2.5D) even with ugly graphics because that was a very unique idea with much potential and If it had become a "procedural isometric build your civilization and go out explore push back the wind and care for the people you rescue" kind of game, the impact would have been immense indeed (how many of those do you know?). But a sidescroller no matter the content (which is fairly good now in AVWW) will never have the pull to bring in new people. People do not grow up with sidescrollers anymore unless the sidescroller is doing some of exceptional quality and uniqueness they will not be aware of it at all.

And those who grew up with sidescrollers are either sick of em (no offense) or are looking for particular challenges (I assume the SHMUP crowd sorta likes AVWW because it often needs real skill).

I think the current game is not bad. It's just that to me, what AVWW is now is the battle mode. And what AVWW was before the switch to Isometric was the core game idea. So basically, my dream AVWW is isometric (even 3D) and for combat it switches to side-scroller. Because.. that would be unique and imo, great fun ;p

As for sales in Summer Sales. Now that steam doesn't do game challenges anymore there is likely not a huge pull to Indy games when this sale is. 99% of my indy games on Steam are from potato sack, humble bundles or some insane bundle sales.


That REALLY depends on the audience.   There's actually been quite a ton of platformers lately.   Not necessarily on the consoles, mind you.... frankly, I wouldnt know if there were, consoles and their AAA games (and damn near everything else on them) just bore me most of the time, so I pay them no mind....   I think that genre is more popular than it sometimes seems, considering the EXTREME NUMBERS of things like FPS games, FPS games, and FPS games that tend to obscure it (and other genres).

I've seen some of the videos of the previous incarnation of this game, the overhead stuff..... frankly, I'd not have stuck with that very long at all.   The combat looked slow, and looked mostly numbers-based, as opposed to the current version where you can actually dodge stuff, and the areas in particular honestly just looked dull.   That, and it's an idea that's been done about 10 kersquillion times already.    I'm not entirely sure just what prompted the change, but I'm glad they did it.

It's another thing I like about indie devs:  usually, they make the games THEY want to make, as opposed to ALWAYS trying to pander to a certain audience like the big devs do.    If someone wants to make a shmup instead of yet another bloody FPS, they can do so.   The big guys cant really do that (and also just WONT do it even when they probably could).   AVWW isnt for everyone, but it's darn good for those that it's right for.

Never got tired of platformers myself, and I know many others who would say the same.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r July 18, 2012, 05:43:48 AM
Yeah, which is why I want side-scrolling for combat, but for building a town and traveling on the world map, a pseudo 3d view (or even a 3d-view) is superior. See Total War or Heroes of M&M ;)

It's just that, I don't see how AVWW could ever have any pull on the masses. It has no feature where you would say "that is totally awesomely unique" and that means you have literally 0 hope to draw in people who don't like SHMUPS because while it is a platformer in a sense, with a story (barely) at the core it is a complex side-scrolling shooter. And imo a game in that kind of genre has nearly no chance nowadays, I mean, no chance to break-through into the million sales.

This is mainly why I think that if the Kickstarter fails, AI War new expansion and then NEW GAME would be the better choice. AVWW is there, and it is what it is. Changing the graphics has as much chance not to draw in a single new customer as it has to draw in a million. The thing is, if Arcengames has other ideas to pursue maybe that should be done instead. Because unlike AI War which is always a different experience, AVWW is essentially always the same so an addon would need to add so much new content that it likely becomes prohibitively expensive. Particularly if the Kickstarter succeeds.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: cupogoodness July 18, 2012, 06:21:32 AM
On the idea of getting knowledge of the game out there. A good LPs series, especially by a popular youtube personality could give tons of exposure, and a new and distinctive art style can really help with that. So there's always hope.

I think so too. We've already had LP videos and series from a few pretty popular channels (and lots of smaller ones), though our one time WTF is? video from TotalBiscuit is far and away the most traffic our game has received via Youtube.

As far as getting in contact with these 'popular youtube personalities', I've found that to be about as difficult as getting in touch with any big name press (at least most of the time).

Regardless it's something we've tried and will keep trying. It's amazingly helpful to have someone other than us promote, and perhaps more importantly explain the game when trying to show potential players what exactly they're missing out on. ;)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: yllamana July 18, 2012, 06:25:48 AM
It's really easy to blame the market for not buying the game. It's less easy to figure out how the game could be better in ways that might attract people.

I'll say that among other things, the game is perhaps still lacking in bubble-popping. That is the big problem, and really? At the end of the day, most of the AAA stuff is about bubble-popping and lowering barriers to that bubble-popping. Graphics? They're a big part of bubble-popping, too, as is sound (after all, the reason you pop the bubbles in the first place is the fun pop!).

The UI is also something I've heard singled out as offputting, and it's definitely a bit raw. That's part of the presentation (and it's the first thing the player sees) and could probably do with refinement.

Don't be too quick to write off the gaming market when the game itself is far from perfect.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi July 18, 2012, 07:00:41 AM
I'd like to reassert a few opinions here to bring the discussion back down to earth:

1) Art is important.

It's all very well to use the time-old saying that "looks don't matter" - but if you're job hunting, you have to look professional and presentable. Soliciting purchases isn't altogether too different - I've already said Bastion is an example of a game that is 80% art/music and 20% actual gameplay. Myst would be somewhat closer to 90%.

I would not say that AVWW's art is bad (I don't think it is), but it I will say that it won't sell nor carry the game on its own.

2) I beg to differ - AVWW is not a complicated game.

NetHack is a complicated game. Dwarf Fortress is a very complicated game indeed.  AVWW does not require much knowledge to master, even with the esoteric citybuilding. There is little strategy behind AVWW, because progress is ultimately multi-linear without opportunity costs. I can describe a foolproof method to 'win' AVWW very easily - complete missions and build structures until you gain the resources to defeat enough lieutenants so that the overlord on every continent is beatable. You can use this same method for every single continent without fail, and your just reward is another continent with bigger numbers (and possibly a few more unlocked hazards).

Trying to describe a foolproof method to win at chess or NetHack would be far, far more difficult, if not nigh-impossible.

3) It's difficult to spread AVWW by word of mouth to my friends. Some games get exponentially better when played with friends (perhaps because they were designed to be played with friends). AVWW is not one of them.

The difference between AVWW and Minecraft/Terraria is also pretty obvious - AVWW is not a sandbox. Up until the citybuilding update, you have little control over the world whatsoever - and unlike in Minecraft or Terraria, where completing a personal project of great effort leads to you wanting to show off and people getting impressed, I can think of no reasons to show my AVWW game to my friends. Additionally, it's just transient - even with the citybuilding (if that for some surreal reason was something I was proud of and wanted to show off), the presence of the next continent eliminates any attachment to the previous one.

Obviously, AVWW doesn't have to be one to do well, but it helps to maintain perspective before saying something is unfair.

4) Ultimately, the problem with procedurally generated worlds is that they are procedurally generated. It's the difference between a cake made by a patissier and a mass-produced one  - and this is the biggest obstacle that AVWW has to overcome.

Edit: If there's ONE thing I could ask you to work on in AVWW (if you wanted popularity), it'd be this: Do something that makes people want to post on Facebook or Youtube or whatever and go "Hey, look what I did in AVWW!". It's not an easy thing to do, but if you find an answer, it'll be worthit.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 18, 2012, 07:40:09 AM
Yeah, which is why I want side-scrolling for combat, but for building a town and traveling on the world map, a pseudo 3d view (or even a 3d-view) is superior. See Total War or Heroes of M&M ;)

It's just that, I don't see how AVWW could ever have any pull on the masses. It has no feature where you would say "that is totally awesomely unique" and that means you have literally 0 hope to draw in people who don't like SHMUPS because while it is a platformer in a sense, with a story (barely) at the core it is a complex side-scrolling shooter. And imo a game in that kind of genre has nearly no chance nowadays, I mean, no chance to break-through into the million sales.

This is mainly why I think that if the Kickstarter fails, AI War new expansion and then NEW GAME would be the better choice. AVWW is there, and it is what it is. Changing the graphics has as much chance not to draw in a single new customer as it has to draw in a million. The thing is, if Arcengames has other ideas to pursue maybe that should be done instead. Because unlike AI War which is always a different experience, AVWW is essentially always the same so an addon would need to add so much new content that it likely becomes prohibitively expensive. Particularly if the Kickstarter succeeds.


That's the thing though..... not every game is gonna be one of those.    And.... not everyone wants one of those.   Normally I like strategy games, for instance, but I find the total war games to be a bit dull, and frankly a bit strange.    There's the actual "RTS-ish" combat, but then you've got this..... funky management bit that is what you're doing when you ARENT in combat.  And it's like.... cant I just skip this?  Why is this in here?  They're good, popular games, but they always seemed to me like they were never sure what genre they wanted to be in.   Feels like 2 games squashed together, and they also *always* feel like each seperate half would be better off by themselves..... that's the impression I get, anyway.   If AVWW was like that, I'd have lost interest 2 hours in.  I bought the game for procedurally-generated Metroid-vania style action, with some (light) management on the side.  I think it does these things well, though I also think the management stuff isnt finished yet.   If the light management though were to turn into heavy-handed strategy complete with politics and economics and blah de blah, I'd be just done with it, and back to just Minecraft and DF.


I know I dont speak for the whole, but usually when a developer starts really obsessing over "reaching to the masses", this is when I start to lose interest (and no, I dont think that the art-change idea for this game is that, I just mean in general).   THE game that comes to mind with this:  Miner Wars.  It's been in development for AWHILE.   Why?   Because they've been UTTERLY OBSESSED with the graphical engine for a freaking year (and originally, it was supposed to have released..... about a year ago).  Because they see so many people that think graphics are everything (or something).   The game originally looked interesting..... alot of gameplay ideas that I thought might be kinda neat.   And then...... nothing.   For a year.  Because graphics.   My interest in the game isnt just dead, it was brutally murdered with a flaming pickaxe and then thrown into the sun.    THE reason, the central reason, I focus on indie games is BECAUSE most of them dont try to reach to the masses.   They make the games THEY bloody well want to make.  If it only draws a niche crowd?  Then so be it.  If something like Minecraft happens?  Hey, that's great.   And note with Minecraft:  Notch didn't design that to pander to the masses.  He made the game that *he* wanted to make..... and he happened to stumble upon a very winning set of ideas  (and heck, when he finally got tired of it, he didn't hesitate for even a moment to hand it over to Jeb and go work on something completely seperate).  I've always had alot of respect for him for this.


It's really easy to blame the market for not buying the game. It's less easy to figure out how the game could be better in ways that might attract people.

I'll say that among other things, the game is perhaps still lacking in bubble-popping. That is the big problem, and really? At the end of the day, most of the AAA stuff is about bubble-popping and lowering barriers to that bubble-popping. Graphics? They're a big part of bubble-popping, too, as is sound (after all, the reason you pop the bubbles in the first place is the fun pop!).

The UI is also something I've heard singled out as offputting, and it's definitely a bit raw. That's part of the presentation (and it's the first thing the player sees) and could probably do with refinement.

Don't be too quick to write off the gaming market when the game itself is far from perfect.


......what in the world is "bubble popping"?

Though I'm not entirely sure I want to know.   I absolutely and completely DESPISE most AAA games (and this is after actually TRYING them, mind you!), so anything that's a major aspect of most would likely just irritate me....


And the reason I tend to speak against the gaming market as often as I do is because of how unholy boring/bland it's become.   Just how many more super-ultra-grimdark-gritty-brown shooters do we NEED?  It'd be one thing if more of them were honestly creative and different..... like Borderlands' combination of FPS with Diablo loot and RPG elements.... but the vast majority (AKA, nearly all of them) are just clones of some other super-ultra-grimdark-gritty-brown shooter.    That genre is just one example, but it's certainly the most prominent.    Indie games, I find good because the developers will, you know, TRY new things, and be creative, and they dont think that graphics and cutscenes substitute for good gameplay (usually).

That though, is a whole other (10 page) rant, so I'll stop here.



I'd like to reassert a few opinions here to bring the discussion back down to earth:


NetHack is a complicated game. Dwarf Fortress is a very complicated game indeed.  AVWW does not require much knowledge to master, even with the esoteric citybuilding. There is little strategy behind AVWW, because progress is ultimately multi-linear without opportunity costs. I can describe a foolproof method to 'win' AVWW very easily - complete missions and build structures until you gain the resources to defeat enough lieutenants so that the overlord on every continent is beatable. You can use this same method for every single continent without fail, and your just reward is another continent with bigger numbers (and possibly a few more unlocked hazards).

   

I dont think AVWW is SUPPOSED to be hyper complicated though  (and the devs can correct me if I'm wrong on this one....).  Metroid-vania games, and shmups.... the two things it appears to draw nearly all of it's inspiration from..... rarely are.  And complicated can turn players off just as much as "simple" can..... there are SO many players for instance that might really like DF, and will actually say so..... but wont actually TRY it because they immediately assume they cannot handle it.   Nethack, and the entire Roguelike genre, are very similar.   I love the hell outta Roguelikes, but I know full well it's a very niche genre, and I also know full well that pretty much everyone I know ISNT gonna want to play those.   That's fine, though.

The difference between AVWW and Minecraft/Terraria is also pretty obvious - AVWW is not a sandbox. Up until the citybuilding update, you have little control over the world whatsoever - and unlike in Minecraft or Terraria, where completing a personal project of great effort leads to you wanting to show off and people getting impressed, I can think of no reasons to show my AVWW game to my friends. Additionally, it's just transient - even with the citybuilding (if that for some surreal reason was something I was proud of and wanted to show off), the presence of the next continent eliminates any attachment to the previous one.


I have to wonder if this might actually be an issue..... some players thinking they're getting a full sandbox game, because they hear "procedurally generated"..... with games like Minecraft being so big, they may associate that with those, instead of with things like Roguelikes (which were doing it WAY before Minecraft..... and there's also just MORE of those than "sandbox" games).



And I apologize if I should sound a bit snappy here or, more likely, am not entirely making sense.     I kinda blanked out and started thinking about food partway into that, so I kinda lost track of just where in the world I was going with it.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Ulrox July 18, 2012, 08:33:36 AM
I think so too. We've already had LP videos and series from a few pretty popular channels (and lots of smaller ones), though our one time WTF is? video from TotalBiscuit is far and away the most traffic our game has received via Youtube.

As far as getting in contact with these 'popular youtube personalities', I've found that to be about as difficult as getting in touch with any big name press (at least most of the time).

Regardless it's something we've tried and will keep trying. It's amazingly helpful to have someone other than us promote, and perhaps more importantly explain the game when trying to show potential players what exactly they're missing out on. ;)

Totalbiscuit lives and breathes to try to give indies a chance though. I wouldn't think it would be that hard to get in contact with him, but I've not really tried. He has people reading his mail for him and stuff like that.

Edit: I've also just tweeted him about it, but god nows the guy never reads my tweets I bet :P

Ohh and I agree with misery on everything else. Dont need to write anything more on this subject cause misery has already done so :P
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 18, 2012, 09:30:07 AM
I'm really not up for a big debate here. But a few points:

1. We're not reaching for a million players. That would be nice, but also unneeded. Depending on the discount levels, 100k-200k would do fine. AI War has hit those numbers and is far more obscure, so don't lecture me about "mass appeal." Rather, our strategy is just the opposite, to appeal very strongly to a dedicated and smaller niche. It's what indies can do that AAA companies can not.

2. In terms of various gameplay deficits the game may have, points taken. I'd like to resolve those. However, I don't think most folks here understand how the PC game market works online these days. It's all about the steam sales. Not being found in their listings, not word of mouth, not even the demo. People buy on impulse when they see something intriguing that is on deep enough discount at the right time. For better or for worse that is the market as of today. So really, improving gameplay has no bearing on our ability to make more income from the game. The only thing that matters is getting more people to decide, during a steam sale, that yes they want to fork out the cost of a coffee for this game. My premise is that the art is the big thing holding this back, based on general reactions.

3. All of the stuff in point 2 sounds cynical and like we don't care about games. But that's just where the dollars come from, which then let us make the kinds of games we want to make. We are being patronized by large numbers of people who buy the game (or not) in a snap decision, and that makes all the rest of the business possible.

4. Yes we are going to also be working on a new game before the holidays. No hints at this time, though. Unless the kickstarter floods us with money and then requires our attention more, we hope to be to beta/preorder of this new game in September. It has already seen 8 months of heavy development, so it is very far along.

5. In terms of the social component and the urge to get friends to see what you are doing in the game or to share with them, that certainly is one secondary vector for spread. That leads to the terraria-like success. I think it even helps some with ai war, though only 30% of ai war players seem to play multi by my rough estimate. In an ideal world this would be a problem that we solve. But it's like putting on your things on your feet and then putting socks on -- that doesn't work so well. The art is a turnoff enough for many people that it even seems to stifle word of mouth from anecdotal evidence.

Hence our focus.

EDIT: That's not to say that your efforts a spreading the game via word of mouth are pointless. To the contrary, that's been absolutely instrumental for AI War through forums far and wide. But generally most forums that discuss AVWW seem to devolve into slamming the art pretty fast these days, too.

Arguably better art will even help with the sense of exploration and adventure for all of us. It's more exciting to be exploring a cool-looking world.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 18, 2012, 09:35:30 AM
Back to the subject of art, just how in love with studio g are people? Their estimate for the whole project is more like $50k instead of $30k with studio h. That makes a kickstarter that much less likely to succeed.

Also bear in mind that some of the studio h stuff is very sketch-like because these are storyboards, and once the general style is found then we come to a final style with h that incorporates many elements. For instance #1 is very sketchy, but it has an amazing sense of perspective, scale, and style. Just not detail. I think that one was done with their sketch artist.

Now imagine that person laying down sketches, and then the details being filled in in the style of one of the other three. And bear in mind there are still four more upcoming pieces from this studio, as well as a painterly piece from studio k to arrive soon.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: yllamana July 18, 2012, 09:53:41 AM
I like G a lot more than H so far, but it's been my understanding that all of the H pictures are works in progress where the G ones have been more or less representative of the final style. Not really a fair comparison! Also, how well they animate could be a pretty big deal too.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: zebramatt July 18, 2012, 10:30:54 AM
G have managed to produce something which is stylistically exciting and appropriate for Valley in the quickest timeframe for a fairly decent estimated price. That makes them incredibly difficult to discount at this stage. 60% harder? Maybe not. Adages about birds, hands and bushes are nonetheless appropriate.

H are starting to close in on something, for sure. For me, something with the aesthetic of 1 and the detail of 4 above would completely blow G out of the water - making it No Contest. But can they get there, hearts-and-minds, as G did so very quickly? And if (when) they do, will they be able to maintain the momentum? Their collaborative approach is a certain kind of advantage; but is it also a hindrance?

Basically, we (I) don't have enough information all round - but my gut says stay the course for now and see where we're at once H get something concrete together.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Ulrox July 18, 2012, 10:44:50 AM
1. We're not reaching for a million players. That would be nice, but also unneeded. Depending on the discount levels, 100k-200k would do fine. AI War has hit those numbers and is far more obscure, so don't lecture me about "mass appeal." Rather, our strategy is just the opposite, to appeal very strongly to a dedicated and smaller niche. It's what indies can do that AAA companies can not.

Sorry if I sounded like I was lecturing. That was not the point at all. I simply made the point - I'm not a video game developer so I obviously dont know more about market functions than you do.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Shroom Mage July 18, 2012, 10:47:52 AM
Studio G's stuff looks very good, but I think the more painterly style of Studio H a little better. Pixel art would also be nice, but after looking at the sketches, I think painterly works better, especially considering the unpredictable nature of world dungeon generation.

I only just found out about this game a day or two ago. Someone on Steam asked me if it was any good because it was on sale. I hadn't even heard of it. I checked the store page was really turned off when I saw the screenshots. He tried it out and said I should too so we could maybe get the 4-pack, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

The only reason I haven't purchased the game yet is because I want to find two more people and get the 4-pack. Once I tried it, I was immediately impressed. I couldn't figure out how I hadn't heard of it before. I thought that maybe it had just come out. Surely the Internet was now abuzz with news of its arrival.

The graphics actually aren't so bad once the game is running. They're just... odd. I learned that they could be modded, and I figured that since the game must be popular, I could probably find a website dedicated to AVWW mods. I stumbled across this thread before finding any texture packs at all.

I was surprised when I discovered that the game had been out for months already and never achieved a great deal of popularity. After reading the thread and considering my initial judgement, I think it's obvious why.

It's an interesting point in time to jump on board, but I'm really looking forward to seeing how this evolves.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 18, 2012, 12:18:27 PM
1. We're not reaching for a million players. That would be nice, but also unneeded. Depending on the discount levels, 100k-200k would do fine. AI War has hit those numbers and is far more obscure, so don't lecture me about "mass appeal." Rather, our strategy is just the opposite, to appeal very strongly to a dedicated and smaller niche. It's what indies can do that AAA companies can not.

Sorry if I sounded like I was lecturing. That was not the point at all. I simply made the point - I'm not a video game developer so I obviously dont know more about market functions than you do.

Sorry, I didn't mean that to come off it like it sounded.  I'm just extremely stressed these days, to the point that I was quite ill yesterday.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Hearteater July 18, 2012, 12:35:53 PM
I'm just extremely stressed these days, to the point that I was quite ill yesterday.
When your stressed, just remember you are awesome.  Some guy on the internet said so, and he seems like a pretty trustworthy kinda fellow.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: LayZboy July 18, 2012, 12:37:56 PM
I absolutely and completely DESPISE most AAA games (and this is after actually TRYING them, mind you!)

I lol'd.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 18, 2012, 12:43:48 PM
I'm just extremely stressed these days, to the point that I was quite ill yesterday.
When your stressed, just remember you are awesome.  Some guy on the internet said so, and he seems like a pretty trustworthy kinda fellow.

 ;D
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Stx11 July 18, 2012, 12:53:30 PM
Back to the subject of art, just how in love with studio g are people? Their estimate for the whole project is more like $50k instead of $30k with studio h. That makes a kickstarter that much less likely to succeed.

Also bear in mind that some of the studio h stuff is very sketch-like because these are storyboards, and once the general style is found then we come to a final style with h that incorporates many elements. For instance #1 is very sketchy, but it has an amazing sense of perspective, scale, and style. Just not detail. I think that one was done with their sketch artist.

Now imagine that person laying down sketches, and then the details being filled in in the style of one of the other three. And bear in mind there are still four more upcoming pieces from this studio, as well as a painterly piece from studio k to arrive soon.

Ideal solution... get H to produce something close to the style and quality of G (with I'm sure their own touches and flourishes). In what's become a somewhat blunt thread, focus most on what's important. The are does NOT need to be amazing, just "good enough" to get people to look at and buy it on Steam. It's the gameplay that will sell the game long-term.

Speaking of "long-term" - how interested are you (or the studio) in an "initial commission" followed by "micro-updates" with new spells, gear, "cosmetic enhancements" (hair/appearance stuff, or building/settlement art, etc)?

Because if that is something that you (and/or they) are interested in, then your comfort working with them in a long-term relationship also comes into play, but might also give you the possibility to structure a different kind of contract/deal based on ongoing work.

I love the 1 (ONE) concept piece I've seen from G, but I hope you've seen more from them, as basing the decision on one mockup seems risky to me. H seems to be truly "hungry" for the job - redoing work, providing a variety of examples, and also negotiating price. There's certainly something to be said for that.

I'm truly sorry to hear how this is stressing you out and affecting you physically. I'm trying to steer all my friends to your games now as I have amazing respect for both the quality and types of games you produce.

I really hope that one day I'm able to pop on these forums and read a "Remember when?" thread about the AVWW 1.x days before the art change, the game's deserved resurgence, and all the features added to it 2.x-5.x  ;)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 18, 2012, 01:07:51 PM
Ideal solution... get H to produce something close to the style and quality of G (with I'm sure their own touches and flourishes). In what's become a somewhat blunt thread, focus most on what's important. The are does NOT need to be amazing, just "good enough" to get people to look at and buy it on Steam. It's the gameplay that will sell the game long-term.

There is definitely a point of "good enough" with any studio.  You can spend infinite money on art, and we don't have infinite money or time.

Speaking of "long-term" - how interested are you (or the studio) in an "initial commission" followed by "micro-updates" with new spells, gear, "cosmetic enhancements" (hair/appearance stuff, or building/settlement art, etc)?

Myself and all the studios are very interested in this sort of thing.  Assuming that AVWW has a resurgence after the 2.0 major art overhaul, then working with studio H in particular would let us do quite a bit of art each month for free DLC following in roughly the budget for art that I already had.  And either way, whichever studio would be up for that, and whichever studio would also be involved and interested in expansions, etc.

Because if that is something that you (and/or they) are interested in, then your comfort working with them in a long-term relationship also comes into play, but might also give you the possibility to structure a different kind of contract/deal based on ongoing work.

Yes, this is a big factor.  Thus far this is H by far, although I'm talking to K about a completely unrelated project.  With G I just don't know them as well because there is such a time zone difference, and they knocked this out on the first try rather than having lots of back and forth.  But they did a lot of early discussion and due diligence on what we were looking for, which is part of why they knocked it out of the park on the first go in so many respects, I think.

I love the 1 (ONE) concept piece I've seen from G, but I hope you've seen more from them, as basing the decision on one mockup seems risky to me. H seems to be truly "hungry" for the job - redoing work, providing a variety of examples, and also negotiating price. There's certainly something to be said for that.

Yep, all this is true.  In terms of having seen more mockups from G, no, this is it.  What you see is what I have seen.  I have seen their other work, however, and it's not like this is a one-off fluke that they produced something that nice.  They're a really good studio.

Incidentally, someone mentioned the "team" approach taken by H as both a positive and a negative.  That's true at any of these studios, and most animation houses in general.  Studio H would have 8 artists working fulltime between now and November to get this overhaul done.  Studio G would have 5.  Both think that they can do it in that timeframe.

I'm truly sorry to hear how this is stressing you out and affecting you physically. I'm trying to steer all my friends to your games now as I have amazing respect for both the quality and types of games you produce.

I really hope that one day I'm able to pop on these forums and read a "Remember when?" thread about the AVWW 1.x days before the art change, the game's deserved resurgence, and all the features added to it 2.x-5.x  ;)

I really appreciate the kind words. :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Ulrox July 18, 2012, 01:16:36 PM
Sorry, I didn't mean that to come off it like it sounded.  I'm just extremely stressed these days, to the point that I was quite ill yesterday.

That is very understandable. I'm schizotypal, that means that I am not entirely schizofrenic but somewhat. What we learn is that stress is the inciter of psychosis in people with the genetic vulnerability. As such I've been dwelving into various medicinal herbs which aid with coping with stress. Ginseng has proven to be very effective. A recommendation from the half crazy guy. :D
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: BobTheJanitor July 18, 2012, 02:46:08 PM
I am sad to hear things aren't going that great. I hope it works out. Any chance AVWW is going to get a daily deal or flash sale spot on its own in the sale? Actually I'm sure you probably can't tell me that. But I'll hold out hope. I know some of the other games that have been in indie packs this sale have still gotten their own sales as well. I'm surprised and intrigued to hear that you guys have been working on another game already. Good job keeping it under wraps, because I believe this is the first I've heard that you were doing anything outside of AVWW and AI War updates. Here's hoping it's the best game ever and makes you all millionaires. :D
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 18, 2012, 02:49:54 PM
I am sad to hear things aren't going that great. I hope it works out. Any chance AVWW is going to get a daily deal or flash sale spot on its own in the sale? Actually I'm sure you probably can't tell me that. But I'll hold out hope. I know some of the other games that have been in indie packs this sale have still gotten their own sales as well.

I can't say anything directly.  But if that were the case coming up, I certainly wouldn't have a foregone conclusion about our finances coming up, as one hint.

I'm surprised and intrigued to hear that you guys have been working on another game already. Good job keeping it under wraps, because I believe this is the first I've heard that you were doing anything outside of AVWW and AI War updates. Here's hoping it's the best game ever and makes you all millionaires. :D

Not to tip my hand too much, but I've actually talked about a former incarnation of this game before, and it's had work done on it many years ago.  Only more recently, having become a more experienced game designer, have I learned what to do to bring the game to completion however.

I don't really care about being a millionaire, I just want to keep the staff here and keep making games that we want to make, so here's hoping for that. :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: nanostrike July 18, 2012, 04:03:18 PM
Back to the subject of art, just how in love with studio g are people? Their estimate for the whole project is more like $50k instead of $30k with studio h. That makes a kickstarter that much less likely to succeed.

I like G a LOT more than any of the art styles I've seen so far, even H.  The art style in it just jumps off the screen and seems to fit together well.  And I could see it animating very well.


As far as cost goes...perhaps let G know that another studio quoted you $30k and see if they can make a counter-offer.  You'd be surprised at how often that sort of negotiation works.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 18, 2012, 04:06:05 PM
You'd be surprised at how often that sort of negotiation works.

When it comes to creative work, generally I've found that it's best not to under-pay people if you're hoping for them to give their best.  But it's a possibility.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Ragnarok July 18, 2012, 05:35:10 PM
I have no specific opinion regarding the new art style, i just want to share my little story. I'm a hardcore gamer at heart and i miss games like Master of Orion and Space Empires. A long time ago i stumbled upon AI War. I think was browsing some forums over at gamefaqs and the right banner "suggested" AI War, among 2 or 3 other niche space strategy games I downloaded the demo, but despite being pretty hardcore, i found the tutorial pretty much overwhelming. I was unfamiliar with the whole concept of AI war. I usually micro my guys in every game, but AI war is really more like total annhiliation or supreme commander. Anways, i stopped the demo and didn't bother again for several months. At some point Steam had a sale with all 4 expansions and i remembered the game and bought it rather cheap but on complete impulse. After 45 hours now i really like AI war a lot.

ONLY because of AI war did i try the Valley demo some days ago and then bought it full via Steam. The whole concept of Metroidvania with indi graphics is not to my liking, but the gameplay is fine.
The point is, i would not have bought the game judging by screenshots or a small description, because its not my genre and not my style. However, I'm still playing it (when I'm not playing AI war...)

I think in general a metroidvania is a rather uncommon (so say it nice) genre choice for a pc game. I think the target audience for a computer are quite different from a console, and that is the reason why AI war made good salesand valley did not. Strategy is a genre pc gamers like and console gamers rather dislike, its the opposite with metroidvania. I wish Arcen the best and i hope you guys focus on the right genres. Just like Microsoft did with Halo Wars for the box (despite it being HALO), an AAA or Indi company has the odds stacking against itself when they do something completely out of tune. I really cant tell if new art style will given sudden rise to Valley, but i believe it is unlikely. Art may be a problem for valley, but i think a bigger problem is genre and gameplay, which does not work too well with the PC crowd that is attuned more to strategy and rpgs. Lastly, I'm pretty sure the main audience for indis in general are old school gamers, i.e. people age 20+, who like nostaliga, good old times and stuff. The 80s and 90s where the age of Civiliation, Master of Magic, Fallout but being a gamer to the core i dont really remember and pc jump and runs from back then.

Long story short, i think the odds are stacked against valley and pouring money into the game is unlikely to have the effect you seek.
Regarding Kickstarter, i recently followed 3 game projects that were a success. Grim Dawn (Diablo), Xenonauts (UFO) and Wasteland 2 (Wasteland). These projects did suceed because of Nostalgia. People my age (28) remembering the good old days and hoping the indi remakes bring them back. Valley has no such prequel or rememberance.
I still love you guys, hoping for the best.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: tigersfan July 18, 2012, 05:51:05 PM
The 80s and 90s where the age of Civiliation, Master of Magic, Fallout but being a gamer to the core i dont really remember and pc jump and runs from back then.

Off the top of my head, there was Commander Keen, there was Duke Nukem (he was a side scroller first). There were others too, but there were the first names to jump out at me. And, when they were released, both of those games were insanely popular.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 18, 2012, 05:52:21 PM
To be clear: AVWW has so far earned about 1/3 of the total revenues that AI War has.  As far as indie games go, it's been massively income-ful... until Diablo 3 came out.  In the first three weeks of AVWW's life, it earned 1/6th of everything we've ever earned in the history of the company from all our products combined.  So there is clearly some market there.

The main problem is that things then started to slide, and then never recovered.  And the other problem is that this game took 18 months of 3-5 people working fulltime to make, and thus cost almost a quarter million dollars to produce, and so hitting the "breakeven" point for the title is a much higher bar than for AI War (which was pretty much all profits because I just did it in my spare time and used free art at the start).
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 18, 2012, 05:52:43 PM
The 80s and 90s where the age of Civiliation, Master of Magic, Fallout but being a gamer to the core i dont really remember and pc jump and runs from back then.

Off the top of my head, there was Commander Keen, there was Duke Nukem (he was a side scroller first). There were others too, but there were the first names to jump out at me. And, when they were released, both of those games were insanely popular.

And more recently you have Aquaria, etc.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Ragnarok July 18, 2012, 06:04:53 PM
Oh boy i have to say i forgot about Commander Keen and my favourite, "GODS" Sorry about that.
Well, i bought Valley, so, no harm to me. Still, i bought it because Arcen made AI War. I'm just saying I'm unsure if an art overhaul will reverse the trend in sales you have explained. I hope your plan works out.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 18, 2012, 06:17:12 PM
I'm just extremely stressed these days, to the point that I was quite ill yesterday.
When your stressed, just remember you are awesome.  Some guy on the internet said so, and he seems like a pretty trustworthy kinda fellow.

I agree with this.   You guys have been pretty darn great throughout all of this.    One way or another, I think you've created something quite nice here.... the "HOLY CRAP ITS DIABLO ZOMG" sales drop kinda sucks, but I bet you can get to where you wanna be with this one.   I think that pretty much sums it up for me, art-related complaints aside.    And even my complaints about new art arent TOO negative..... not from me, anyway.   If I'm NOT complaining about something, I'm likely asleep.  And even then, that's not a certainty.


And I apologize if I rambled too much or seemed lecture-y at all;   I tend to randomly rant like that.   Wether or not I'm making SENSE or accomplishing anything, that's random too  :D


I absolutely and completely DESPISE most AAA games (and this is after actually TRYING them, mind you!)

I lol'd.

It's sad but true.   Mostly got rid of the consoles as a result.... I got a JP 360 for import shmups, and the PS3..... well, is usually a doorstop, but it does other things every now and then.

I figure what do I need those for when I got the PC here?   I'd rather be playing games like this one anyway.



: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: nanostrike July 18, 2012, 07:09:24 PM
Well...for one thing, I haven't seen A Valley Without Wind on any of Steam's main store pages in weeks.  That's probably one issue with it.

If people don't see it on there, they don't know it exists and don't buy it.



And the second problem is the art itself.  It really turns a lot of people away from the game.  If they looked past that, I'm sure they'd love it, but they aren't gonna look past it.





Also, AI Wars still gives me nightmares where all my Green Dots are overwhelmed by a ton of Red Dots and I have no idea why.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: yllamana July 18, 2012, 09:57:57 PM
Random suggestion you've probably already come up with: maybe it'd be good to have the chosen studio redo the big steam splash (that thing that comes up when, I assume, you pay Valve a bunch of money for it to appear there, cycling through the different ads). That way people can be like, wow, what is this elegant game that I've never seen before? and click it even though they saw the old one already. The current one is actually really pretty but it might help.

I also wanted to comment on a turn of phrase in the steam blurb. I don't know how easily you can change it, but I liked most of it except for "The game adapts to how you play: as you demonstrate your proficiency, monsters and missions upgrade accordingly. Killed 100 bats? Okay, time for... bats on fire!" That seems to sell it short to me, probably largely because of the specific number of bats provided there. Something airier (like the first sentence, really) might be better.

I also really want to make a thread on bubble-popping because bubble-popping is awesome.

I hope you feel better soon, Chris.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 18, 2012, 10:36:27 PM
Random suggestion you've probably already come up with: maybe it'd be good to have the chosen studio redo the big steam splash (that thing that comes up when, I assume, you pay Valve a bunch of money for it to appear there, cycling through the different ads). That way people can be like, wow, what is this elegant game that I've never seen before? and click it even though they saw the old one already. The current one is actually really pretty but it might help.

I also wanted to comment on a turn of phrase in the steam blurb. I don't know how easily you can change it, but I liked most of it except for "The game adapts to how you play: as you demonstrate your proficiency, monsters and missions upgrade accordingly. Killed 100 bats? Okay, time for... bats on fire!" That seems to sell it short to me, probably largely because of the specific number of bats provided there. Something airier (like the first sentence, really) might be better.

I also really want to make a thread on bubble-popping because bubble-popping is awesome.

I hope you feel better soon, Chris.


I dunno, I thought the line with the bats was funny.    And the game really DOES have alot of bats, doesnt it..... other games go for just normal bats and make them as obnoxious as possible.... THIS one has fire bats and ice bats and miasma bats and sonic bats and MANY BATS.

Dunno what it is with gaming in general, and bats.   Tend to be everywhere.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 18, 2012, 10:45:33 PM
I agree with this.   You guys have been pretty darn great throughout all of this.    One way or another, I think you've created something quite nice here.... the "HOLY CRAP ITS DIABLO ZOMG" sales drop kinda sucks, but I bet you can get to where you wanna be with this one.   I think that pretty much sums it up for me, art-related complaints aside.    And even my complaints about new art arent TOO negative..... not from me, anyway.   If I'm NOT complaining about something, I'm likely asleep.  And even then, that's not a certainty.

I really appreciate it very much.  And you really never seem like you're complaining to me.  Yes, you raise a lot of issues, but the way in which you do it is always constructive and well thought-out and thought-provoking.  It's never to my recollection been antagonistic or any of those other negative things that feedback can be, and that's been really awesome of you.

And I apologize if I rambled too much or seemed lecture-y at all;   I tend to randomly rant like that.   Wether or not I'm making SENSE or accomplishing anything, that's random too  :D

I really wasn't trying to call anyone out on lecturing me, I just get weary when the discussion in general turns to "you guys picked the wrong market" or "games like this don't do well in general" or "X would have sold when this didn't."  And there was starting to be an undertone of that from a number of people, so I thought I'd just comment that those thoughts are not generally productive.  I actually have quite a bit more data about these particular markets than most of the people offering the suggestions, and each specific game in general is unique anyhow.  "Games like Minecraft" generally are niche and free and/or don't sell well.  That's pretty well always been the way, to the point that most people had never even heard of Infiniminer or similar to my knowledge.  But Minecraft itself obviously put things together right and went nuts on sales.

As an indie, it's specifically our goal to look for underserved markets that we think we can do an awesome job with.  The fact that there are few Metroidvania games on the PC at the moment is the best thing in the world for us, because that means that if you want that kind of game you have a more limited pool of games to look at, and our game comes up fast.  Generally speaking my experience has been that PC gamers are a really fragmentary group that will play basically any kind of game you can think of, but some genres are more popular than others and both platformers and adventure games are really popular.

Now I'm lecturing.  Sorry about that. ;)

Well...for one thing, I haven't seen A Valley Without Wind on any of Steam's main store pages in weeks.  That's probably one issue with it.  If people don't see it on there, they don't know it exists and don't buy it.

That's something we can't control, and is inevitable for every game.  There's only so much front-page space.  But what makes up for that is gaming news coverage, word of mouth on forums, and steam discount sales (daily deals or otherwise).  Our baseline sales are of relatively little concern because they have never paid our bills, ever.  But the fact that our latest steam discount sale failed to produce more than 1/6th the minimum numbers we were expecting was a drastic blow.  Good thing we had some cash stored up for a rainy day like that, plus some projects on the back-burner.

The market of selling games to consumers through a portal like steam is actually extremely counter-intuitive, and there's a limit to what developers can tell you because of NDA agreements.  There is a logic there, and it all makes sense, but the discount sale is basically our marketing budget is one way to look at it.

And the second problem is the art itself.  It really turns a lot of people away from the game.  If they looked past that, I'm sure they'd love it, but they aren't gonna look past it.

I agree.  Hence this thread.  I think that this is actually the sole problem, not one of two, though.  We were just on discount sale (and still are, actually) and are failing to produce adequate sales numbers on the largest gaming portal in the world.  Whereas just three months ago we were making serious money on the same game.  Either the really divided reviews killed the momentum during the lull instigated by Diablo 3 (look at our metascore, it's abysmal but not representative of the extremely positive things said by giant places like Polygon and Kotaku, or smaller indie-focused places), or else the art style of the game is seriously hampering the ability of the game to sell itself when it's mixed in with a lot of other games on crazy discount and often better graphics.

Anyhow, to put it another way, I think that the art is basically acting as a bottleneck that prevents the game from reaching whatever potential it otherwise would have.  I could be wrong on that -- I could be drastically wrong.  But based on what we've seen thus far, I don't think I'm that far off.  Out of the people who have gotten to the stage of trying the demo, we've got such excellent conversion into customers and that is a pretty strong message.  It's also a strong message that when loads of people see it on discount and don't try the demo or buy it, the art is probably to blame; the concept is something that has had press and players at places like PAX East really kind of gaga, and if anything our problem was way too high of expectations rather than "meh I don't like that concept."

So, yeah.  That's why I agree so strongly that it all comes down to the art at this particular point in time.

Random suggestion you've probably already come up with: maybe it'd be good to have the chosen studio redo the big steam splash (that thing that comes up when, I assume, you pay Valve a bunch of money for it to appear there, cycling through the different ads). That way people can be like, wow, what is this elegant game that I've never seen before? and click it even though they saw the old one already. The current one is actually really pretty but it might help.

I can't comment on Valve's splash stuff (just as a reminder to any staff who might make a comment one way or another on this).  But any promotional materials that we do with Steam or otherwise would certainly be redone using the new art assets I imagine.  A lot of times they'll have concept art that can be produced into larger pieces, etc.  And Studio H produces all their work at 4x scale and then scales it down and gives us both the smaller and the original, they say.  So that's quite a lot to work with, especially if we have their artists do the composition of the specific splash or whatever.

I also wanted to comment on a turn of phrase in the steam blurb. I don't know how easily you can change it, but I liked most of it except for "The game adapts to how you play: as you demonstrate your proficiency, monsters and missions upgrade accordingly. Killed 100 bats? Okay, time for... bats on fire!" That seems to sell it short to me, probably largely because of the specific number of bats provided there. Something airier (like the first sentence, really) might be better.

We can change it somewhat straightforwardly, and actually did change some things there just two weeks ago.  However, the line you reference really has been something that went over really well with press and players.  We talked to 300+ people about the game at PAX East, and we really got a chance to see what made people light up and what did not when we were explaining things to them.  That phrase in particular was one that was almost 100% effective with everyone on piquing their interest.  The idea of an adaptive game world is kind of radical.

I also really want to make a thread on bubble-popping because bubble-popping is awesome.

By all means; we're going to be putting many fewer hours per week into the non-art side of AVWW for a while, but there's still plenty of room for discussion and thought and making the game better in ways like that.  In some respects, having a more measured approach and thinking things through more is actually a good thing.  I'll still be doing an average of hopefully one new spell or similar per week (this week it's two spells and one enemy, coming out tomorrow), and my wife is still going to be working on new mysteries to integrate, and we'll be doing whatever else that we collectively all can think of that is cool and fits in our time budget during this particular time period.

I hope you feel better soon, Chris.

I'm feeling substantially better today.  A lot of things just hit me at once yesterday, including a virus, fairly heavy dehydration (my own fault), and a lot of stress.  But I've been guzzling water and some gatorade and the virus was just one of those 24 hour things apparently, so that's all good.  I'm also going to be taking a week of vacation next week to recharge and be with my family, so that's going to help immensely as well.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 18, 2012, 11:09:38 PM
Here's numbers 5 and 6 out of the 8 from studio H.

Also, their comments:

Thank you for all the feedback, it's very helpful!  I've attached two new ones.  I'm seeing about getting a more polished version of steam06.  I'm also working on getting polished versions of steam01 and of the very first mock-up we gave you.

Note that I had sent her my own feelings about the first four, and then I also sent her all the cumulative feedback from you folks as of about 11am EST this morning.  Which has actually been the bulk of the about-the-art feedback in this thread (since there's been a lot of discussion instead about the company's future and the game's future and markets and such).

So, definitely note that your voices are being heard, not just by me but also by the producer assigned to oversee the 8 artists each doing mockups at studio H.

----------

A reminder: they have put 8 artists of completely different specialties on this work.  In other words, they have their background artists doing characters, and vice-versa and so forth.  So none of these pieces are likely to feel unified, but each one gives parts to like and not like.  The goal is to then combine it all into a final style that makes sense once what we want is identified; they are taking this approach because it's kind of like a brainstorming session, where unexpected realizations can happen.  I think it's a smart way to do things, but you're seeing a bit "how the hotdog is made" again here.

With Studio G, by comparison, I believe they had multiple artists working on that as well.  For the actual revamp of the game, if the contract goes to G, they will have 5 artists working on the work just like H would have 8 working on it.  So it's not like one super-artist is going to sit down and whisk out the entire re-skin in any of the cases.  With Studio K, I don't know how many artists they would have dedicated to the project, but well more than 1 at a time I can assure you.

This isn't even atypical -- in games, in movies, even in comics, you generally have multiple artists working on projects of any substantial scope.  Once there is a style, then the others all stick to it and their art producer makes sure that everything stays consistent, etc.  You have senior artists and junior artists and specialists in perspective and shaping as well as specialists in shading as well as specialists in character design or coloring.

Personally, I think the character design and shaping of 1 is by far the best.  The character and monster details of 2 is probably the best, and the detail-texturing of either 2 or 4 is probably the best.  Though 4 is getting less painterly and more retro in a way I'm really not keen on.  Looking at 5 up close I'm really not keen on it, but looking at the thumbnail I think it has by far the best coloring of all the pieces.  And the most distinctive sky in a positive way.  To me, personally 3 and 6 don't have a lot to offer for this particular project.

If you're interested in shaping how the final mockup from H turn out, that's the way you have to look at these things: not holistically, but in terms of what artist you like for what sort of role.  Then once all that is identified, we'll have a chance to see how it all comes together into one piece that is hopefully very pleasing and knocks it out of the park.  But this brainstorming process is integral before that can happen in a personalized way.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 18, 2012, 11:51:35 PM
I agree with this.   You guys have been pretty darn great throughout all of this.    One way or another, I think you've created something quite nice here.... the "HOLY CRAP ITS DIABLO ZOMG" sales drop kinda sucks, but I bet you can get to where you wanna be with this one.   I think that pretty much sums it up for me, art-related complaints aside.    And even my complaints about new art arent TOO negative..... not from me, anyway.   If I'm NOT complaining about something, I'm likely asleep.  And even then, that's not a certainty.

I really appreciate it very much.  And you really never seem like you're complaining to me.  Yes, you raise a lot of issues, but the way in which you do it is always constructive and well thought-out and thought-provoking.  It's never to my recollection been antagonistic or any of those other negative things that feedback can be, and that's been really awesome of you.

Well that's a nice change.  Half the time on forums I'll eventually get a few people saying stuff like "Bah, why are you always so negative?  Do you hate EVERYTHING?  Quit complaining so much!".  And me being the way I am, this of course only makes me do it more often and louder, hah.    It's not happened here, though.    This really is a pretty nice little community you've got here.  It's good to see people throwing ideas back and forth all the time, as opposed to throwing four-letter words back and forth all the time :D .   Like on the Minecraft forums.... *shudder*.

And happy to provide constructive whatsits when I can.
Well...for one thing, I haven't seen A Valley Without Wind on any of Steam's main store pages in weeks.  That's probably one issue with it.  If people don't see it on there, they don't know it exists and don't buy it.

That's something we can't control, and is inevitable for every game.  There's only so much front-page space.  But what makes up for that is gaming news coverage, word of mouth on forums, and steam discount sales (daily deals or otherwise).  Our baseline sales are of relatively little concern because they have never paid our bills, ever.  But the fact that our latest steam discount sale failed to produce more than 1/6th the minimum numbers we were expecting was a drastic blow.  Good thing we had some cash stored up for a rainy day like that, plus some projects on the back-burner.

Ah, I gotta echo what Nanostrike said there;  I'd had NO IDEA of this sale (or the fact that the game is still on sale) until you just mentioned that above, and I check Steam pretty darn often.   While I love Steam, I often think the format in which they display things just..... gets in the way.   It's kinda obnoxious to browse, when you're looking at/for anything that ISNT on the front page in huge letters.

Out of curiosity, have you guys considered putting it up on places like Desura as well?
I also really want to make a thread on bubble-popping because bubble-popping is awesome.

By all means; we're going to be putting many fewer hours per week into the non-art side of AVWW for a while, but there's still plenty of room for discussion and thought and making the game better in ways like that.  In some respects, having a more measured approach and thinking things through more is actually a good thing.  I'll still be doing an average of hopefully one new spell or similar per week (this week it's two spells and one enemy, coming out tomorrow), and my wife is still going to be working on new mysteries to integrate, and we'll be doing whatever else that we collectively all can think of that is cool and fits in our time budget during this particular time period.

I gotta ask, are you guys going to still be incrementally doing the already-planned/mentioned bits like the further citybuilding stuffs, or the.... er.... graveyard or whatever it was?





Now, on the note of the new art things there......

......both of these are MUCH better than stuff seen before, at least to me.   There's definitely an "unfinished scribbly concept art" thing going with both of them, but I'm aware of that and am ignoring it as such.   Keeping that in mind..... yeah, these look a great deal better.   No complaints from me on either of these.   These look/feel a good bit more vibrant than the others, which I still think are dreary, and...... yeah, I could see the game as a whole looking pretty nice in either style.   

Granted, that second one looks blurry;  I'm sure that's again just the "unfinished concept" bit again, but I wouldnt mind seeing a more finished/refined version of that exact same shot, to get a better idea of the details.

: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Coppermantis July 19, 2012, 12:06:28 AM
While I liked the character design from G more, the environment in that first new sample from H is great. It seems a good cross between a more solid style and the current brighter style, which as Misery pointed out is nice in the way it distinguishes Valley from other modern games.

Also, Misery, is your username a reference to the character from Cave Story of the same name?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: goodgimp July 19, 2012, 12:24:29 AM
Chris, if you don't mind further derailment (if you do, no offense taken by just ignoring me and moving on), what are your thoughts regarding DLC for AVWW in terms of getting it listed back in the "New Releases" category on Steam? You've done massive and free updates in 1.1 and 1.2 which I appreciate, but I notice some games (such as Wargame: European Escalation) will release updates like that as DLC for the price of Free. This gets them posted back in New Releases and oftentimes on the Steam front page, especially when tied to a sale. Another example would be Crusader Kings 2, which is releasing game enhancements as free patches that coincide with DLC content releases. It makes great free advertising because it pushes that game back up front on Steam, not to mention the revenue from the DLC itself.

It sounds silly, but I'd really like to be monetized further. It sounds like Arcen wants/needs more revenue for AVWW and I want the game to be worked on like 1.1 and 1.2, but as an established customer  there's no additional way for me to patronize your studio. I'd like to see more content/enhancements to the game and I'd be very willing to pay for said enhancements.

Anyway, just my two cents. It's probably all things you've already thought about, but I thought I'd pipe up and voice my opinion.

: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 19, 2012, 01:02:23 AM
Also, Misery, is your username a reference to the character from Cave Story of the same name?

Yep.  I definitely enjoyed that game, and I noticed that Misery's personality in-game very closely matches mine IRL, so I started using the name.  Hilariously, I'm told *really often* that the name fits, even if the person saying that has no idea what Cave Story even is.

You're the first one to make that connection.... most people just assume I use the name because I tend to be really sarcastic and negative all the time.


Chris, if you don't mind further derailment (if you do, no offense taken by just ignoring me and moving on), what are your thoughts regarding DLC for AVWW in terms of getting it listed back in the "New Releases" category on Steam? You've done massive and free updates in 1.1 and 1.2 which I appreciate, but I notice some games (such as Wargame: European Escalation) will release updates like that as DLC for the price of Free. This gets them posted back in New Releases and oftentimes on the Steam front page, especially when tied to a sale. Another example would be Crusader Kings 2, which is releasing game enhancements as free patches that coincide with DLC content releases. It makes great free advertising because it pushes that game back up front on Steam, not to mention the revenue from the DLC itself.

It sounds silly, but I'd really like to be monetized further. It sounds like Arcen wants/needs more revenue for AVWW and I want the game to be worked on like 1.1 and 1.2, but as an established customer  there's no additional way for me to patronize your studio. I'd like to see more content/enhancements to the game and I'd be very willing to pay for said enhancements.

Anyway, just my two cents. It's probably all things you've already thought about, but I thought I'd pipe up and voice my opinion.


Just wanted to say that I agree with this as well.

Wether or not it's actually a good idea to DO it just yet, I have no idea, but if it were to be done, I'd gladly pay for it.   Considering how good the FREE updates were, I'm betting any PAID updates would be bloody amazing.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: madcow July 19, 2012, 01:03:19 AM
Still in off-topic land.

From a marketing standpoint, having the art revamp be marketed as free DLC (rather than a patch) is a pretty good idea in getting front page exposure and really driving home the idea that things are completely different now.

Or you could have go for a daily deal once its in. I will echo the thought that the way steam handled the Indie Bundle made it less than obvious that AVWW was on sale. You had to really dig in to finding out about it. I imagine their flash sales are pretty well set, so it would be hard to get AVWW in on a flash sale. I was actually disappointed steam didn't do special achievements this summer sale. They were both fun to hunt after in the gamble for a coupon/free game, and were probably good for the devs to get achievement related sales.

Edit: To say something on topic, the character in mockup #5 reminds me very much of megaman. Which might not be a bad style to go for in this type of game. Though of those two I prefer the painterly #6 (a style which I stick by as dubbed A Braid Without Wind)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: nanostrike July 19, 2012, 01:45:47 AM
#5 is the only thing I like from H.  It has pretty crisp character designs, it's colors aren't painful on the eyes, and it has enough contrast that you can tell what you're looking at.

I still prefer G's, just because of how well it meshes, but if H steers stuff in the direction of #5, it might have potential.



6 is a total, eye-gouging trainwreck, though.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Stx11 July 19, 2012, 03:47:32 AM
The "new #5" from H makes me happy  :)

Also, back to the "off-topic/on-topic... thing"  ???

Considering the venom and backlash D3 has now engendered, you'd have to think this is actually an awesome time for AVWW to be getting a "second wind"   ;D

(although something to keep in mind... maybe best to not release it anywhere near Torchlight II - let that run its course and maybe have AVWW help everybody recover from the end of the world in early 2013?)   :-\
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: tigersfan July 19, 2012, 07:20:42 AM

Out of curiosity, have you guys considered putting it up on places like Desura as well?

http://www.desura.com/games/a-valley-without-wind :)

As for the idea of doing more for AVWW, we've not ruled out doing something like an expansion for the game. It's something we've talked about recently, but, the general consensus was that it was probably better to wait on that stuff till the game has been out a bit longer.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 19, 2012, 10:12:41 AM
I also really want to make a thread on bubble-popping because bubble-popping is awesome.

By all means; we're going to be putting many fewer hours per week into the non-art side of AVWW for a while, but there's still plenty of room for discussion and thought and making the game better in ways like that.  In some respects, having a more measured approach and thinking things through more is actually a good thing.  I'll still be doing an average of hopefully one new spell or similar per week (this week it's two spells and one enemy, coming out tomorrow), and my wife is still going to be working on new mysteries to integrate, and we'll be doing whatever else that we collectively all can think of that is cool and fits in our time budget during this particular time period.

I gotta ask, are you guys going to still be incrementally doing the already-planned/mentioned bits like the further citybuilding stuffs, or the.... er.... graveyard or whatever it was?

The graveyard and such will be waiting until much later, I'm afraid.  Pretty much everything we'd planned for 1.3 will instead be for the first expansion or 2.1 if the game sees a major resurgence after the art makeover.  There's just a limited amount of time, and we're going to be juggling three major projects during the period between now and November (one of which is this art revamp).  I'll be doing on average one new spell or similar per week, and other cool small content additions that folks can think up, so that there's a constant sense of growth to the content but in a way that doesn't overlap with the art the studio is doing.

For instance, the graveyards stuff requires new art, which would be problematic for two reasons to do right now.  Well, three, if you count the time issue I already mentioned.  But other than that, it's first problematic because it increases the scope of the art reskin, making it less likely we can hit our November timeframe to have that out before the major holiday sales and thus get the game back on track.  And actually I guess that was two reasons, I forgot what the third was. ;)

Chris, if you don't mind further derailment (if you do, no offense taken by just ignoring me and moving on), what are your thoughts regarding DLC for AVWW in terms of getting it listed back in the "New Releases" category on Steam? You've done massive and free updates in 1.1 and 1.2 which I appreciate, but I notice some games (such as Wargame: European Escalation) will release updates like that as DLC for the price of Free. This gets them posted back in New Releases and oftentimes on the Steam front page, especially when tied to a sale. Another example would be Crusader Kings 2, which is releasing game enhancements as free patches that coincide with DLC content releases. It makes great free advertising because it pushes that game back up front on Steam, not to mention the revenue from the DLC itself.

It sounds silly, but I'd really like to be monetized further. It sounds like Arcen wants/needs more revenue for AVWW and I want the game to be worked on like 1.1 and 1.2, but as an established customer  there's no additional way for me to patronize your studio. I'd like to see more content/enhancements to the game and I'd be very willing to pay for said enhancements.

Anyway, just my two cents. It's probably all things you've already thought about, but I thought I'd pipe up and voice my opinion.

As Josh (tigersfan) mentioned, we've talked about this internally.  One of the thoughts we seriously considered was to do our first expansion for AVWW earlier rather than in Q1 of next year.  But that doesn't really solve anything if the art isn't there.  Q1 works out safer for us for a lot of reasons: it allows us to hedge with three products this holiday season instead of one; it allows for the next big splash of news coverage about the game to be with it having a shiny new look that doesn't turn people away; it gets us further and further away from the release of Diablo 3; and it lets us grow our playerbase for the base game so that the expansion actually makes sense to do in the context of having enough people who would want to pay for that. 

Our buy-in for the AI War expansions is ridiculously high; something like 60% of the people who have bought the base game have bought at least one expansion before we came out with the alien bundle, and then after the alien bundle we were seeing the bundle pretty much take over 90% of our sales of everything with AI War, which of course was great.  For AVWW I don't think we're really there yet, because the audience has to be to a certain size and devotion before expansions make sense for either side of the aisle.  I don't think that AVWW has fully earned that place yet.

Also, Misery, is your username a reference to the character from Cave Story of the same name?

Yep.  I definitely enjoyed that game, and I noticed that Misery's personality in-game very closely matches mine IRL, so I started using the name.  Hilariously, I'm told *really often* that the name fits, even if the person saying that has no idea what Cave Story even is.

You're the first one to make that connection.... most people just assume I use the name because I tend to be really sarcastic and negative all the time.

I love that game also, and always just assumed it was a reference.  Not least because of your profile picture making it fairly obvious that was the case.  ;D

From a marketing standpoint, having the art revamp be marketed as free DLC (rather than a patch) is a pretty good idea in getting front page exposure and really driving home the idea that things are completely different now.

Well, I don't think that free DLC as a literal DLC thing is something that Steam does.  To my recollection.  And it's kind of important to make sure that everyone gets the art, not just some of the players, because otherwise as we expand the game we have to maintain two art styles.  Not to mention that the new one then hopefully looks much better than the old and we want everyone to have that.

Or you could have go for a daily deal once its in. I will echo the thought that the way steam handled the Indie Bundle made it less than obvious that AVWW was on sale. You had to really dig in to finding out about it. I imagine their flash sales are pretty well set, so it would be hard to get AVWW in on a flash sale. I was actually disappointed steam didn't do special achievements this summer sale. They were both fun to hunt after in the gamble for a coupon/free game, and were probably good for the devs to get achievement related sales.

I can't comment on specifics, but suffice it to say we're all about the discount promotions whenever we have the opportunity.  And not to put it too bluntly, I feel that having a revamped art style will... ahem... open some doors that are currently closed, and I don't just mean with the public.  And yes, I was sad not to see the achievement thing from last year, too.  I felt like that really helped us in our sales.

Considering the venom and backlash D3 has now engendered, you'd have to think this is actually an awesome time for AVWW to be getting a "second wind"   ;D

(although something to keep in mind... maybe best to not release it anywhere near Torchlight II - let that run its course and maybe have AVWW help everybody recover from the end of the world in early 2013?)   :-\

Bear in mind that, in the games industry, August through September are the absolute worst months to release anything.  They're the deadlands where students are going back to school, people are short on money, and spending dries up considerably.  Then October the ball really starts rolling, and that whole last quarter of the year is often where a game company earns half of its income for the whole year.  Our goals are currently all circling around making sure that we have three awesome products in that October/November timeframe that people will be excited about and which will hopefully carry us well into the new year.

Those three projects being the AI War brand led by the new expansion, AVWW led by the new art style, and then the semi-secret thing that will be announced probably in September.

And agreed about Torchlight II, although that's much further into the next year.  Ideally if we are hitting a release schedule where all our stuff is out by November, we can be working on the first expansion for AVWW starting in October/November/December (staggered by specific staff) and then release in January or maybe February.  There's a serious AAA glut coming in next February and March apparently, so avoiding that would be good.  And getting too close to next June means Torchlight II.

All of these things were factors that we had to weigh when looking at what we could do for the future sustainability of the company at this size, as well as the ongoing viability of AVWW (which I in particular still desperately want to do more with).  It's an amazingly complex business!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: madcow July 19, 2012, 10:54:20 AM
I know dungeons of dredmor's "You have to name the expansion pack" was counted as a free DLC rather than just a patch, not sure if there are other examples or not on steam. Though point taken about it not getting the patch out to everyone and becoming the base screenshots/footage.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe July 19, 2012, 10:55:57 AM
I've seen several totally free dlc packs on steam, and from the consumer perspective it's looked like a promotional move and does get on the new releases list, etc.  Of course, they also have that "show dlc" toggle on the new releases list now, so probably a significant portion of users wouldn't see it.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 19, 2012, 11:03:14 AM
Still no fan of H :/ I guess I fell in love with G, because I just can't find stuff to like about H. The thought that keeps popping up in my head is "Well, it's not G..."
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: goodgimp July 19, 2012, 11:18:16 AM
I know dungeons of dredmor's "You have to name the expansion pack" was counted as a free DLC rather than just a patch, not sure if there are other examples or not on steam. Though point taken about it not getting the patch out to everyone and becoming the base screenshots/footage.

That's why I was thinking maybe the Crusader Kings 2 approach is good. Release a big patch that changes/enhances/adds to core gameplay via a patch everyone gets, but that coincides with a DLC pack. Some of the DLC has been fluff (character editor), some of it is content/expansion material (Sword of Islam). That accomplishes the following:

1. Everyone gets patch support and enhanced based game.
2. Optional DLC provides a source of additional income for the fans/whales or those who are just really interested in that particular content. The whales have basically subsidized the continued support of the game for all. Everyone wins.
3. It's a "New Release" and gets listed as such. If you combine it with a sale for the game, you're now listed in New Releases + Special Offers.

A problem that I see for AVWW is what Chris mentioned previously, that 1.1 and 1.2 were superbly awesome updates but they garnered very little press attention. They're patches, after all, why run a story about "a mere patch" for an indie game? Ahhh, but if it's new DLC for the game, perhaps that'll get them to take a look and actually see all the cool new stuff.

Anecdotally, I've gotten a few people to try AVWW 1.1/1.2 that disliked 1.0 quite a bit. Most of them agreed the game was significantly better, the problem was they had no idea the patches changed so much. First, most studios don't do so much in post-release patches and second, if you don't have the game installed you'll never know those patches happened to begin with! DLC, on the other hand...

Make no mistake, I'm no businessman so these lollipops and rainbows are emanating straight from my hindquarters -- I'm just a consumer who really wants to see more AVWW and thinks this game could pick up some steam (no pun intended, I swear) with some more publicity / public awareness. It'd be especially good to get this puppy out front and center if/when the art update happens, which I hope it does.

: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: tigersfan July 19, 2012, 11:25:46 AM
Make no mistake, I'm no businessman so these lollipops and rainbows are emanating straight from my hindquarters -- I'm just a consumer who really wants to see more AVWW and thinks this game could pick up some steam (no pun intended, I swear) with some more publicity / public awareness.

While I don't disagree that more visibility/knowledge about the game would be extremely helpful, I also want to make it abundantly clear that any lack of publicity the game has is not due to lack of trying. Erik is working his A$$ off trying to get the word out to folks.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: goodgimp July 19, 2012, 11:28:24 AM
Oh damn I hope I didn't come across sounding like you guys weren't doing due diligence on the publicity front. I was speaking of the press/public's reticence to pay much attention to "just a patch", not understanding that 1.1/1.2 were much more than that.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 19, 2012, 11:33:03 AM
Yep, I've spent about 10 hours on the phone this week talking with the rest of the staff about just those sorts of issues. 

I even had the wild-hair idea of saying that we were completely "stopping support" for AVWW, and then introducing the sequel "A Valley Without Wind II," which would by the way be free to all existing customers.  But there's no guarantee that Steam would take a new game like that, there's a lot of logistical challenges that could hang that up, and that could have a really negative public backlash as it's a fairly transparent ploy.  We'd be erasing the Metacritic record and asking grumpy reviewers to look at the sequel, which is prettier plus so vastly different because of all the changes in 1.1 and 1.2.  But ultimately we decided that route was too duplicitous and not something we were comfortable with.

In the end, what we're banking on is that this third project will be more exciting than an expansion to AVWW to the press, really.  And I think that will be true.  I think it will be a way to bring yet a new set of players in, and the interests of those players will likely strongly overlap between that project and AVWW.  So hopefully there then exists some opportunities for cross-selling AND for getting the press to talk about us in light of the fact that not only do we have a new expansion for AI War, not only do we have an all-new game that is exciting, but the art and gameplay is hugely revamped for AVWW.

And beyond that it's "just" a matter of making sure the new game gets onto Steam, and that ideally AI War, AVWW, and the new game get good placement in the various holiday sales that tend to exist and drive so much income.  That's our lowest-risk way of proceeding, we decided, and that will let us then get back to doing other major enhancements for AVWW beyond just the art if all goes well.

Though frankly with a spell a week for the next three months, the volume of spells in the game is going to increase by about 50% by the time this art project is done, so it's not exactly an idle period. ;)  It's just a different focus from what we might have had.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Stx11 July 19, 2012, 11:37:07 AM
Hmm... are you sure Torchlight 2 is slated for next June?
http://www.neoseeker.com/news/19916-torchlight-2-devs-runic-games-still-hard-at-it-start-blog-to-provide-status-updates/ (http://www.neoseeker.com/news/19916-torchlight-2-devs-runic-games-still-hard-at-it-start-blog-to-provide-status-updates/)
(Says they are on target for an EoY 2012 Release)

I'd hate to see history repeat itself for you guys  :-[

I know I'm the totally new (noob?) guy around here but I see AVWW akin to a potentially fine mead... just after first casking. There's a lot of potential for it to become much greater than the sum of its parts. I really want to see it get that chance, but I'm willing to wait even years for that if that's what it takes for it to be "done right" both from the standpoint of you guys being able to craft it to where you want but also what makes the most financial sense for your company.

Don't forget I'm speaking as someone who a few months ago had no idea you guys existed and now have 3 (well maybe 2.5  ::) ) amazing games from you and am really excited about both the AIW expansion and hearing more about the new title  :D
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Stx11 July 19, 2012, 11:41:13 AM
Oh and sorry for the double post...

But have you guys considered something more like "AVWW Reloaded" or "Special Edition" instead of 2.0?

The changes in 1.1 and 1.2 are truly substantial, and the Art Revamp is... well kinda literally... a re-imaging of the game.

It deserves to have Metacritic reset and reviews treat it as a new release.
(well at least I think so  8) )
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 19, 2012, 11:44:16 AM
Hmm... are you sure Torchlight 2 is slated for next June?
http://www.neoseeker.com/news/19916-torchlight-2-devs-runic-games-still-hard-at-it-start-blog-to-provide-status-updates/ (http://www.neoseeker.com/news/19916-torchlight-2-devs-runic-games-still-hard-at-it-start-blog-to-provide-status-updates/)
(Says they are on target for an EoY 2012 Release)

I'd hate to see history repeat itself for you guys  :-[

In that case that's yet another reason for us not to do an AVWW expansion anytime soon.  Let Torchlight II have the new release spotlight on the holiday season (which they will anyway, it's not like we'd be able to compete with them), and meanwhile both AI War and our third project are unlikely to be as directly contending with Torchlight at all.  Which is another reason for the third project: not having all our eggs in one basked is a really nice thing.  Or two baskets as the case may be.  Meanwhile, if we can get the press talking about us at all, hopefully they'll talk about all three of our active efforts.  And either way, if we get in Steam sales with new art over the holidays, that's really going to drive dollars regardless of if the press ignores us or not.

Anyhow, then by the time Q1 rolls around we're better positioned to do whatever makes the most sense -- hopefully the first expansion to AVWW, with an expanded fanbase from the holidays and not such stiff competition in the direct market as Torchlight II.

I know I'm the totally new (noob?) guy around here but I see AVWW akin to a potentially fine mead... just after first casking. There's a lot of potential for it to become much greater than the sum of its parts. I really want to see it get that chance, but I'm willing to wait even years for that if that's what it takes for it to be "done right" both from the standpoint of you guys being able to craft it to where you want but also what makes the most financial sense for your company.

Don't forget I'm speaking as someone who a few months ago had no idea you guys existed and now have 3 (well maybe 2.5  ::) ) amazing games from you and am really excited about both the AIW expansion and hearing more about the new title  :D

I really appreciate that!  And yeah, we're in no way "giving up" on the title.  But this year is a contentious one in this particular market, and we've had to make certain hard choices in order to ensure that we get a chance to continue doing what we want to do in the years to come.  I fully intend to be doing this 30 years from now if possible, and so I try not to let short-term setbacks get in the way of the larger picture.  I am simultaneously a very impatient and patient guy. ;)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: goodgimp July 19, 2012, 11:44:38 AM
Maybe a rebranding to A Valley Without Wind: Battleface Duty Warfare. I'll bet Arcen'll get tons of press coverage that way.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 19, 2012, 11:47:32 AM
But have you guys considered something more like "AVWW Reloaded" or "Special Edition" instead of 2.0?

The changes in 1.1 and 1.2 are truly substantial, and the Art Revamp is... well kinda literally... a re-imaging of the game.

It deserves to have Metacritic reset and reviews treat it as a new release.
(well at least I think so  8) )

Possibly.  First we have to get there, and then that sort of thing will be more clear.  Once we are finishing up the new art style and nearing release of that, we'll be able to talk to the players, our staff, Valve, other indies, and see what makes sense.  For now it's just a matter of getting the art done and getting the other two projects also done as sort of a hedge (and because they are also awesome and we totally owe the AI War folks an exciting expansion after all their patient waiting these last 18 months).

There's also a good chance that the kickstarter for the art itself will drive some press about this game, since the press that have been ignoring 1.1 and 1.2 were often heavily criticizing the art.  As we do press releases about the art, we're always going to be reinforcing that with everything else that changes, so that hopefully even if the kickstarter fails it becomes a vehicle for getting the word out about the other changes the game has seen.  We shall see.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: madcow July 19, 2012, 11:54:40 AM
Plus who knows, there's always the chance that a kickstarter will succeed so awesomely that there's cash left over to throw back into AVWW after the art revamp! Just remember to do enough KS updates along the way, or it comes off as not being interested in the project - even though this type of project is fairly self explanatory.

Is there any idea of a timeframe for when you're shooting to start the KS project?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 19, 2012, 12:03:19 PM
Plus who knows, there's always the chance that a kickstarter will succeed so awesomely that there's cash left over to throw back into AVWW after the art revamp! Just remember to do enough KS updates along the way, or it comes off as not being interested in the project - even though this type of project is fairly self explanatory.

Yep, we plan to do lots of intermediary updates.  We'll be partially funding the art revamp ourselves anyhow, so work will have started on the revamp before the kickstarter even begins.  That means that we have awesome fodder for the kickstarter updates, as we can show literally how the game art is evolving and improving and what the kickstarter would be furthering.

And if things are taking off, then we can set some stretch goals that involve not just AVWW art but also gameplay (likely deliverable in Q1 of next year on that part of it just because of workload between now and then, but we'll see).

Still, it's my job to be pessimistic, and I already am being somewhat optimistic that we can even get the kickstarter funded in general.  I think that it is imminently doable for a company with a fanbase as large as ours, and with coverage that we can often get on places like RPS and hopefully Kotaku and Polygon again, but still nothing is ever a sure thing until it happens.

Is there any idea of a timeframe for when you're shooting to start the KS project?

The single biggest factor there is really just nailing down the actual art style and getting a working prototype to a point where we can show that off to kickstarter folks and make that exciting for them.  Erik is also working on lots of ideas for the kickstarter itself (he has run a successful small kickstarter in the past: www.kickstarter.com/projects/689802380/blokes-a-comedy-series), and will likely be soliciting feedback and ideas from the forums next week while I am on vacation.

So, realistically, I think we're looking at mid-August for the kickstarter to start, and early August for work on the actual art revamp to begin (a certain amount of that has to be done before we want to kickstart the rest, so that we can show what it looks like).
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 19, 2012, 12:06:06 PM
By the way: as one indicator of just how important this art topic is, it's now the #2 most-posted-in topic that these here forums have ever had.  And it's rapidly closing in on the #1 slot, which was a general Q&A thread about AVWW early into beta where people just dumped whatever they wanted to know.

So... yeah.  A lot of people really seem to care about the art, and I think that's a pretty clear reinforcer that we're on the right path with investing our time and money into this before we continue on with what we'd planned to do with 1.3.

And then of course to hedge in case that doesn't work as hoped, there's the other two projects so that we aren't dead in the water over the critical holiday period no matter what happens.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: zebramatt July 19, 2012, 12:19:48 PM
Of course, 20%* of the posts in this thread are about how a Kickstarter won't work, art isn't the problem, time is better spent elsewhere, the market wasn't ready, the game wasn't ready, it's all going to fail, isn't life horribly pointless and futile, we might as well just all go and stick our heads in a bucket of water so God can't have the satisfaction of seeing our tears...




*Not scientifically derived
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: nanostrike July 19, 2012, 12:37:10 PM
Well, I don't think that free DLC as a literal DLC thing is something that Steam does.  To my recollection.  And it's kind of important to make sure that everyone gets the art, not just some of the players, because otherwise as we expand the game we have to maintain two art styles.  Not to mention that the new one then hopefully looks much better than the old and we want everyone to have that.

Actually, I specifically remember them doing that for Terraria.  They had a front-page post about their big "1.2 Update", with the blurb "Featuring new enemies, items, and environments!"  So I'd guess something for a major update from you guys wouldn't be impossible.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 19, 2012, 04:26:29 PM
We do care. A lot. Not only would new art be awesome, but we WANT this game to explode and be the awesomest EVAH!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Ulrox July 19, 2012, 04:36:05 PM
In the end, what we're banking on is that this third project will be more exciting than an expansion to AVWW to the press, really.  And I think that will be true.  I think it will be a way to bring yet a new set of players in, and the interests of those players will likely strongly overlap between that project and AVWW.  So hopefully there then exists some opportunities for cross-selling AND for getting the press to talk about us in light of the fact that not only do we have a new expansion for AI War, not only do we have an all-new game that is exciting, but the art and gameplay is hugely revamped for AVWW.

Does it have coop?

I'm going to pledge 50 dollars to your art kickstarter when it comes up ^^
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 19, 2012, 05:44:13 PM
Cheers, folks, thanks for all the support.

In the end, what we're banking on is that this third project will be more exciting than an expansion to AVWW to the press, really.  And I think that will be true.  I think it will be a way to bring yet a new set of players in, and the interests of those players will likely strongly overlap between that project and AVWW.  So hopefully there then exists some opportunities for cross-selling AND for getting the press to talk about us in light of the fact that not only do we have a new expansion for AI War, not only do we have an all-new game that is exciting, but the art and gameplay is hugely revamped for AVWW.

Does it have coop?

Yes, but local only.  So two people at one keyboard or each using a different gamepad.  Porting this one to have Internet multiplayer would be... painful.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Aklyon July 19, 2012, 06:34:58 PM
A bit behind, but I'd say G's is better still, honestly. None of the recent ones really click for me, though steam01 fits the shattered time bit in a way.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 19, 2012, 07:14:30 PM
And here we get to the one and only thing I dont like about indie gaming, which is that you never know what kind of crazy events are going to happen with any given game's schedule of development, both during and after release.

As it is, seems my current favorite 3 indie titles, this game, Minecraft, and Dwarf Fortress, are going to..... er..... "stagnate" for awhile..... sort of.   The stuff for 1.3 put on the back burner for this one, while Dwarf Fortress..... er..... well, ok, that game has really nasty waits between updates by default, and Minecraft appears to be made entirely of bugs right now, and then it got an injection of more bugs, to try to cure the previous bugs, so it then erupted with super bugs, and is likely to be some time before they can get back to just content updates.    Though, considering how bad some of that one's bugs are right now, that's probably a good thing.   I had a game world corrupt in that, because cows caused time to stop and distorted reality.   I wish I was making that up.   Granted, that's hilarious, but still.


Though, what impresses me with THIS game though, is that you guys say that..... and immediately release a small update with a couple more spells ANYWAY, with a plan to continue that trend while the art thing resolves.  Hell, the amount of stuff JUST from these small updates, after just a couple of months, could almost be an expansion by itself (focusing on a larger spell selection), if I'm guessing correctly at the potential amount here.    I really dont know how you guys keep these things up, always going so fast, but you do, and it's darned neat.  Not to mention that THIS game isnt buggy as hell, unlike Minecraft, with it's Cowpocalypse and all.   EVEN MORE SPELLS is something I've wanted to see added to the game for awhile, so you'll get no complaints from me on this one.   Maybe while you're at it you could do something about differentiating the 4 shield spells a bit, hint hint, nudge nudge.   Just a thought  :D


And on the note of Torchlight 2...... I thought that was due out like, er...... now?  Summer, and such?   Did it get delayed AGAIN?  Good grief.  Exasperated sighgroan!  That sums up my thoughts on THAT pretty well.



So, sounds like the kickstarter gets going in mid August, I think you said?  THAT is gonna be interesting.  Hopefully some of the press guys will, you know, PAY ATTENTION when that occurs.   I swear, they decide on things to look at and write about entirely by throwing darts at a list of possibilities.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: tigersfan July 19, 2012, 08:26:13 PM
TL2 is still due to be out sometime this summer or early fall. They are going to wait till it's done to release it.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: KingIsaacLinksr July 19, 2012, 08:28:25 PM
TL2 is still due to be out sometime this summer or early fall. They are going to wait till it's done to release it.

Sounds an awful lot like another company that said the same thing and then we have...diablo 3....
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: tigersfan July 19, 2012, 09:09:01 PM
TL2 is still due to be out sometime this summer or early fall. They are going to wait till it's done to release it.

Sounds an awful lot like another company that said the same thing and then we have...diablo 3....

Not to get too off topic, but as long as TL2 is less buggy than D3 was on release, then all's well that ends well I say.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Ulrox July 20, 2012, 02:41:35 AM
  EVEN MORE SPELLS is something I've wanted to see added to the game for awhile, so you'll get no complaints from me on this one.   Maybe while you're at it you could do something about differentiating the 4 shield spells a bit, hint hint, nudge nudge.   Just a thought  :D

1, good game engine. 2, 2d game, 3d games with ridiculously good graphics take forever to make stuff for compared to 2d games. Its actually my main argument for making 2d games instead of 3d games because there was such a huge drop of quality games back when the switch from 2d to 3d occurred in gaming.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 20, 2012, 03:39:37 AM
  EVEN MORE SPELLS is something I've wanted to see added to the game for awhile, so you'll get no complaints from me on this one.   Maybe while you're at it you could do something about differentiating the 4 shield spells a bit, hint hint, nudge nudge.   Just a thought  :D

1, good game engine. 2, 2d game, 3d games with ridiculously good graphics take forever to make stuff for compared to 2d games. Its actually my main argument for making 2d games instead of 3d games because there was such a huge drop of quality games back when the switch from 2d to 3d occurred in gaming.

Aye, I completely agree with this.

I can think of a huge number of really good games for all of the older systems, even dating back to the really ancient ones like the 2600 or so.

Starting right around the time the N64 came out (as I had one of these long before I had Playstation stuff),  the rate of good game releases started slowing.  At least, what I judge to be good releases, anyway.

Fast forward to now, and.....  well, I barely USE the bloody consoles, and when I DO, it's almost always a 2D game of some sort.   I'm actually quite terrible with analog sticks for the simple reason that 99% of the games I have dont use them whatsoever.   Worse with a mouse, though.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Ulrox July 20, 2012, 04:00:01 AM
The saddest thing I think is that a game with really good music / atmosphere always triumpfs good graphics. AI war is a very VERY good example of this. The music is so atmospherical and awesome. I really wish we as a race (humans) would care more for music and artistical integrity rather than things looking good :S
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi July 20, 2012, 05:43:29 AM
The saddest thing I think is that a game with really good music / atmosphere always triumpfs good graphics. AI war is a very VERY good example of this. The music is so atmospherical and awesome. I really wish we as a race (humans) would care more for music and artistical integrity rather than things looking good :S

Yes, because aural stimulation is so totally superior to visual aesthetics and anything visually stimulating is automatically shallow and worthless and can't be considered "art". Claiming anything otherwise would get my hipster license revoked.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Ulrox July 20, 2012, 06:04:44 AM
Yes, because aural stimulation is so totally superior to visual aesthetics and anything visually stimulating is automatically shallow and worthless and can't be considered "art". Claiming anything otherwise would get my hipster license revoked.

I'm actually being dead serious. All the classics that I enjoyed most of gaming are all 2d games with great music in them, some examples of this. Castlevania, fallout, starcraft, turrican, chrono trigger. I'm not saying that visual aestetics are bad, but you can have awesome pixel art for instance and still create some monumental games. Did you know that a cutscene today can cost up to 6 million dollars for 1 minute? For that kind of money you could have 24 valleys without wind ;)

Edit: ohh and it's not hipster, its very oldschool gamer. I've never been much of a hipster.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi July 20, 2012, 06:12:24 AM
Yes, because aural stimulation is so totally superior to visual aesthetics and anything visually stimulating is automatically shallow and worthless and can't be considered "art". Claiming anything otherwise would get my hipster license revoked.

I'm actually being dead serious. All the classics that I enjoyed most of gaming are all 2d games with great music in them, some examples of this. Castlevania, fallout, starcraft, turrican, chrono trigger. I'm not saying that visual aestetics are bad, but you can have awesome pixel art for instance and still create some monumental games. Did you know that a cutscene today can cost up to 6 million dollars for 1 minute? For that kind of money you could have 24 valleys without wind ;)

Edit: ohh and it's not hipster, its very oldschool gamer. I've never been much of a hipster.

Just because you prefer auditory stimulation doesn't give you an excuse to shit over the effort of artists which invest their time, lives and effort into producing resources for a game. Do you realise or even appreciate the amount of effort that went into the art direction of every bloody single one of the games you listed?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 20, 2012, 06:16:57 AM
Yes, because aural stimulation is so totally superior to visual aesthetics and anything visually stimulating is automatically shallow and worthless and can't be considered "art". Claiming anything otherwise would get my hipster license revoked.

I'm actually being dead serious. All the classics that I enjoyed most of gaming are all 2d games with great music in them, some examples of this. Castlevania, fallout, starcraft, turrican, chrono trigger. I'm not saying that visual aestetics are bad, but you can have awesome pixel art for instance and still create some monumental games. Did you know that a cutscene today can cost up to 6 million dollars for 1 minute? For that kind of money you could have 24 valleys without wind ;)

And half the time the story being told in the cutscenes is inane or just downright stupid.   Even good ones though...... arrrrgh.  The bloody cutscenes with their bloody voice acting and all that often just DRAAAAAAAAG for like forever, or what feels like forever.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:   I miss the days of simple text boxes.  Games like FF4, or Chrono Trigger, or even some later stuff like Neverwinter Nights..... these didn't need big, hyper-expensive cutscenes to engage the player and tell a story.   And this had the advantage of me being able to read them AT MY OWN PACE.  I loathe cutscenes for the simple fact of how long they take, when telling it in text is so much easier.   Not to mention the older games were good at telling a story and such WHILE at the same time maintaining good gameplay as the center focus.  Maybe it's just me, but many of them these days go so far with the cinematics that they seem to be trying to be a bloody movie, and the gameplay is shoved way, way behind that.

Bah.    Yeah, that about sums it up, really, just "bah".


Yes, because aural stimulation is so totally superior to visual aesthetics and anything visually stimulating is automatically shallow and worthless and can't be considered "art". Claiming anything otherwise would get my hipster license revoked.

I'm actually being dead serious. All the classics that I enjoyed most of gaming are all 2d games with great music in them, some examples of this. Castlevania, fallout, starcraft, turrican, chrono trigger. I'm not saying that visual aestetics are bad, but you can have awesome pixel art for instance and still create some monumental games. Did you know that a cutscene today can cost up to 6 million dollars for 1 minute? For that kind of money you could have 24 valleys without wind ;)

Edit: ohh and it's not hipster, its very oldschool gamer. I've never been much of a hipster.

Just because you prefer auditory stimulation doesn't give you an excuse to shit over the effort of artists which invest their time, lives and effort into producing resources for a game. Do you realise or even appreciate the amount of effort that went into the art direction of every bloody single one of the games you listed?

Er, I think he's just comparing the older games to the unnecessary cinematics, as well as the emphasis of flashy graphics over gameplay, of current ones.  that's the impression I got, anyway.  As in, "games dont need to be 3D with super hyper bloom and anti-aliased bump mappery in order to be good", that sort of idea.  He never said at any point that those games he listed had bad art, or didn't need their art, or something like that.   In fact, I see "awesome pixel art" up there referencing this fact.....   

And I say the same, really.  I loved the look of those older games.  Castlevania in particular, of that list.  There's something special about the visuals on that one.... well, special to me, anyway.   The ORIGINAL, that is.   Though alot of the later ones still have it, the first is, to me, the best.


EDIT:  Also, I'll say this once:  This really isnt the place for arguing and swearing.  It really isnt.  This forum mostly AVOIDS that kind of crap, lets keep it that way.....   Different opinions and such, that's all, eh?  No reason to shout & swear or whatever.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Ulrox July 20, 2012, 06:24:51 AM
You understood it the way it was intended to be understood misery. Also we should probably make a seperate thread about this topic since we can probably banter about the old days (I can atleast) for many posts to come rofl ;D
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi July 20, 2012, 06:38:22 AM
@Misery

Firstly, I'm quoting him verbatim. It's up to him to explain his own intent rather than have you white knight for him.

Secondly, I wasn't swearing AT him, I was doing so for emphasis. If you can't handle the word "Bloody", then don't use it. Criticising someone else's choice of words is equally petty and judgmental.

Thirdly, you have a really annoying and aggravating habit of adding your own 2 cents into every single discussion which doesn't concern yourself. Could you please refrain from soliciting your own opinion if it isn't asked for?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Ulrox July 20, 2012, 06:39:58 AM
@ Nanashi, you've made 2 flamebaits in this discussion insofar, do you really want to continue? ;D
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 20, 2012, 07:12:42 AM
@Misery

Firstly, I'm quoting him verbatim. It's up to him to explain his own intent rather than have you white knight for him.

Secondly, I wasn't swearing AT him, I was doing so for emphasis. If you can't handle the word "Bloody", then don't use it. Criticising someone else's choice of words is equally petty and judgmental.

Thirdly, you have a really annoying and aggravating habit of adding your own 2 cents into every single discussion which doesn't concern yourself. Could you please refrain from soliciting your own opinion if it isn't asked for?

I'll do no such thing. I dont expect people to agree with me on everything.  But I'll speak out as I see fit; to do otherwise would be to go against my nature.   

.....and it seems I was right about what he meant, as he JUST SAID SO.  So the anger was over nothing, really.....   Maybe he coulda phrased it better, allright?  I know *I* phrase things in rather idiotic ways rather often that can give people the wrong impression about what I'm trying to say.  Regardless, there's no call to yell at him, or at me, or get angry, or any of that sort of thing. 

Beyond that..... I'm not arguing with you.   You can do as you please, of course, just as I tend to.   But that's it.   If you want to respond to me, or to anything here with further anger, swearing, whatever, I'll merely ignore it.    The REASON I said what I did is because there's SERIOUSLY no reason to act like that on this forum, and you probably know it.  Or at least, I hope you do.  I've seen you post here at times, you dont seem like a bad sort.

This community has been pretty darn great so far..... it really has..... and despite my usual (very) short fuse, I utterly refuse to get drawn into an arguement.   So, having said this, I'll stop on this subject now.


You understood it the way it was intended to be understood misery. Also we should probably make a seperate thread about this topic since we can probably banter about the old days (I can atleast) for many posts to come rofl ;D

Hah, that's a good point, we're only really adding to the incredible derailment on this topic here.     Supposed to be about the game art, not about.... well..... basically everything else..... haha.   I apologize to all for adding to that, me and my tendancy to rant and ramble in random directions for no apparant reason.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: zebramatt July 20, 2012, 07:20:59 AM
Wow, that was weird.

"I think people should appreciate sound direction as much as they do visual aesthetic qualities."
"I think you should *@%! your @$%~ing $£*&, you &$%@ing £^&*%$er!"
"Hey guys, let's simmer down a little here, eh?"
"And you can %^@$$ right off, you $%&£y piece of @&$%!!"

 :o :o
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 20, 2012, 07:27:14 AM
Wow, that was weird.

"I think people should appreciate sound direction as much as they do visual aesthetic qualities."
"I think you should *@%! your @$%~ing $£*&, you &$%@ing £^&*%$er!"
"Hey guys, let's simmer down a little here, eh?"
"And you can %^@$$ right off, you $%&£y piece of @&$%!!"

 :o :o

Neh.   It's the Net, it's a forum, it happens sometimes.   

Frankly, much too often it's MY fault.  I'll ramble and rant about something or other, get carried away, and manage to insult something without really meaning to (or just manage to say something really stupid), and then everyone's all "HULK SMASH!!!! HULK NEVER STOP SMASHING!!!!!" for the next hour, as I try to creep away quietly, pretending nothing happened, wondering where it all went wrong...

.....or something like that.

And now I've blanked out and forgotten what else I was going to say.  Joy!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Ulrox July 20, 2012, 07:46:59 AM
@Art, Studio H has a very flashbacky vibe, which is awesome, otherwise I feel like what is most important is looking at things from a financial perspective, but I get the feeling that 4000 founder extraordinare already have a good feeling for that.

@Misery, Since you cannot relate to another person through their appearance and the tone of their voice, what happens often is that people use their subconciousness instead, a place where all our greatest fears and expectations lie, and that changes a persons perspective so much that they dont grasp the true meaning behind the forum post/reddit post/ facebook post / tweet ;)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: tigersfan July 20, 2012, 11:53:06 AM
Just a quick friendly reminder to keep it friendly guys... Thanks! :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: KingIsaacLinksr July 20, 2012, 11:58:41 AM
Oiu, keep it on topic, I'm not going to read the AAA VS Indie or Visual VS audio stimulation debate in the AVWW art discussion, you could take it to the off-topic section.

Back on topic, I find the art showed off interesting thus far, but not sure which I like yet...
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe July 20, 2012, 12:00:13 PM
Neh.   It's the Net, it's a forum, it happens sometimes.
This forum isn't like the rest of the net, and we intend to keep it that way ;)  I haven't read everything you've written here, but I didn't see anything objectionable by our standards here.  Aside from a case of ellipsitis contracted from excessive exposure to JRPG dialogue, perhaps ;)

Other posts in this thread have crossed some lines, though.

To anyone in this discussion feeling even tempted to utilize a personal attack or profanity, read: this (http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,9130.0.html) for a reminder of our approach, thanks :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: LayZboy July 20, 2012, 12:20:43 PM
Yes, but local only.  So two people at one keyboard or each using a different gamepad.  Porting this one to have Internet multiplayer would be... painful.

Couch Co-op only? Could be okay I guess but I prolly won't play it without On-line Co-op.
Also lol at the idea of 2 people using 1 keyboard. Just lol.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe July 20, 2012, 12:23:09 PM
Yea, online co-op doesn't fit every game.  And certainly doesn't fit every schedule :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: tigersfan July 20, 2012, 12:26:31 PM
Yes, but local only.  So two people at one keyboard or each using a different gamepad.  Porting this one to have Internet multiplayer would be... painful.

Couch Co-op only? Could be okay I guess but I prolly won't play it without On-line Co-op.
Also lol at the idea of 2 people using 1 keyboard. Just lol.

You wouldn't have to both use a keyboard, one or both of you could use controllers. That said, with this particular game internet co-op would be challenging. It's likely that with everything we do, if there is enough player support and interest, it could possibly get added later, but as we learned with AVWW, the later you try to add in co-op, the harder it is, so don't expect it early.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 20, 2012, 04:31:56 PM
In terms of two people playing on one keyboard, that's how my wife and I have played many games.  It's actually something that was really common in the 80's and 90's, so it doesn't seem strange to me at all.  Demon Stalkers, Gauntlet, Lode Runner, etc, all used this mechanic.  That said, just having two controllers makes that moot anyhow.

With regard to online co-op, that would add months to the release schedule and significantly add to the cost of doing the project.  The project basically isn't feasible in any reasonable timeframe with online co-op, so for anyone who doesn't like local co-op they can think of it as a single player game.  But if demand were high for online co-op, and the game was popular, it could be something we could add later as free DLC or a paid expansion (depending on just how well the game was doing without it).

My experience has been that only about 30% at most of players seem to play even AI War multiplayer, so while that's a healthy good number and particularly representative of people online in forums, it's not the majority of the people who buy games.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 20, 2012, 04:34:54 PM
More on topic, here is the painterly mockup from studio K (who you might remember was originally doing the pixelart work).  Their work here is a bit delayed because I originally had them chasing pixelart work rather than painterly, of course, and then their artists were sick.  I don't have ideas on total cost with this particular style with them yet, so I don't know how they compete with that.

But my take on the quality of the mockup itself is... holy cow that's awesome.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: mrhanman July 20, 2012, 04:56:41 PM
More on topic, here is the painterly mockup from studio K (who you might remember was originally doing the pixelart work).  Their work here is a bit delayed because I originally had them chasing pixelart work rather than painterly, of course, and then their artists were sick.  I don't have ideas on total cost with this particular style with them yet, so I don't know how they compete with that.

But my take on the quality of the mockup itself is... holy cow that's awesome.

(http://static.tumblr.com/icqczo1/udVm2nf2w/tumblr_lcivrhzj9e1qdubemo1_500.gif)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: BobTheJanitor July 20, 2012, 05:00:01 PM
Wow, I want to play that game.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe July 20, 2012, 05:00:24 PM
 :o

I'm not sure, but I think "Large Cybernetic Wasp + Combat Shotgun" > "Shark + Laser Beam".

Could be wrong.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: madcow July 20, 2012, 05:12:25 PM
Man, picking one art style is going to be tough!

One thing I can say about the last submission is that the background blends in really well with the actual level terrain. Might cause some issues of background looking like terrain. But it looks pretty damn good.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: LayZboy July 20, 2012, 05:23:44 PM
A Valley Without Winds
Without Winds
Winds
S

Anyway I thought the Abandoned towns were more modern era style rather than the futuristic Blade-runner style that one is there. It does look pretty good though.

Also about co-op: I don't even know what kinda game it is which would be the major factor in me playing it anyway lol.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Coppermantis July 20, 2012, 06:06:06 PM
That is absolutely GORGEOUS but LayZboy has a point, I thought that the adbandoned towns were contemporary rather than futuristic.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 20, 2012, 07:07:38 PM
Aside from a case of ellipsitis contracted from excessive exposure to JRPG dialogue, perhaps ;)

*snort*

Hah, that actually may well be where I got that particular habit.   Those really do get used alot in those games, dont they, I guess they add..... drama   :D


More on topic, here is the painterly mockup from studio K (who you might remember was originally doing the pixelart work).  Their work here is a bit delayed because I originally had them chasing pixelart work rather than painterly, of course, and then their artists were sick.  I don't have ideas on total cost with this particular style with them yet, so I don't know how they compete with that.

But my take on the quality of the mockup itself is... holy cow that's awesome.


Whoa.

Ok, no complaints on THIS one.   Sure the background is off, as Coppermantis mentioned, but yes, this is, well, rather awesome.    Even without being particularly colorful, THIS one has personality to it.

And ZOMG what the heck is that thing there?   Surely that's not our usual Clockwork Wasp?  Those little wimpy things?  This one's got giant teeth and horrible claw things and like a laser-thunder-shotgun-beam on it's back, and....  just wow, that one is something else.

Clearly if you go with these guys, you need to make another version of wasp that has laser-thunder-shotgun-beams and stuff to match that thing, because that thing is pretty great looking.

And Darren there looks right too, I think they got the armor/suit down pretty well!


Really though, just... wow.  I am impressed.  I doubt you'd get many complaints going with a style like this!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: yllamana July 20, 2012, 07:14:04 PM
I think I still prefer G. Also, after all the drama with the art of this game I want to cry whenever I read the word "painterly."  :(
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 20, 2012, 07:19:51 PM
What's wrong with the word painterly?

Anyhow, that enemy is actually not supposed to be the clockwork wasp, that's supposed to be the urban sniper balloon.  And yes, it's supposed to be more contemporary rather than futuristic.  So communication on this is not the best yet, which is kind of a factor honestly, but definitely the quality can't be argued with.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Hearteater July 20, 2012, 07:27:02 PM
My biggest issue would be how it looks animated, and how hard/expensive that is to do.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: BobTheJanitor July 20, 2012, 07:57:48 PM
My biggest issue would be how it looks animated, and how hard/expensive that is to do.

Is it? I thought the whole reason the game went with that style in the first place was because it wasn't hard or expensive. Now I'm confused.

And whenever I hear painterly, I still only think of the minecraft texture pack of the same name. Which isn't really all that painterly, come to think of it.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Martyn van Buren July 20, 2012, 08:35:50 PM
That is pretty sick; I feel pretty sure that if I was browsing a Steam sale the studio K image is the only one I'd feel compelled to buy without a recommendation.  G is still cool, though, and looking at it more I do really like image 4 from H.  Anyway I have one reservation about K's style; is it going to be easy to chop it up into pieces to create a lot of different abandoned towns while still looking this good?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: MouldyK July 20, 2012, 10:17:55 PM
What's wrong with the word painterly?

Anyhow, that enemy is actually not supposed to be the clockwork wasp, that's supposed to be the urban sniper balloon.  And yes, it's supposed to be more contemporary rather than futuristic.  So communication on this is not the best yet, which is kind of a factor honestly, but definitely the quality can't be argued with.

I would not mind a new environment looking like that though. :P

I mean, if this is what they can come up with when there is low communication, IMAGINE what can be if you gave them more guidance. O_O

For a picture which is so wrong, it does things so right lol.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe July 20, 2012, 10:56:10 PM
I mean, if this is what they can come up with when there is low communication, IMAGINE what can be if you gave them more guidance. O_O
The problem is whether or not that's possible ;)  I've personally worked with people where the communication barrier (only partly language-based) was nigh-impenetrable.  It's a very frustrating experience, for both sides.  Hopefully that's not what's going on here :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 20, 2012, 11:49:34 PM
I mean, if this is what they can come up with when there is low communication, IMAGINE what can be if you gave them more guidance. O_O
The problem is whether or not that's possible ;)  I've personally worked with people where the communication barrier (only partly language-based) was nigh-impenetrable.  It's a very frustrating experience, for both sides.  Hopefully that's not what's going on here :)

Aye, that sort of thing could be a problem.

Still, they do seem to have gotten some things right.

The character looks pretty much perfect, at least to me.   He's got the suit to protect against the cold, and it looks properly futuristic.  The wasp thing, even if it's not the sniper balloon, still would fit in the game.  Though it might fit best in the Skelebot Junkyard areas (it has a cold/sharp/efficient look to it), now that I think about it.   But it'd fit, one way or another.

And the background seems ALMOST right.   It's mostly those glass bits on the building that seem to make it look futuristic?   Other than that it looks more like a typical city skyline.   Looks properly abandoned and spooky.


Regardless of those problems though, I agree with van Buren, in that while I generally never buy a game for the graphics, that sort of thing, if used as a screenshot, would very definitely catch my attention nonetheless, and have me at least having a more careful look at the game, if not outright buying it.   It'd get me to try the demo, that's for sure.

Hopefully, it could have that effect on potential buyers in the future.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: nanostrike July 21, 2012, 01:06:50 AM
I still prefer G, because I'm not keen on the odd body-proportions of the human model.  And for some reason, G just clicks together for me.

But this latest from K is miles above what I've seen from H so far.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: zebramatt July 21, 2012, 06:20:35 AM
I agree with everything said here.

Communication = important.
K's art nonetheless = WOW.

Heh, "winds".
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: goodgimp July 21, 2012, 09:59:13 AM
As far as looks and aesthetics go, the latest is my favorite. I saw the screenshot and the wasp and I immediately wanted to play that game. I think Darren looks really good, the background is very atmospheric and definitely has me feeling like I'm playing after an apocalypse, and the wasp is just ten kinds of awesome.

I don't know what the costs are, or how the communication is, or all the other factors that go into it, but as far as looks go that one was the most striking and really grabbed me. That wasp needs to get into the game one way or the other, it looks awesome.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Aklyon July 21, 2012, 07:04:37 PM
That one is all of the awesome. I'd say more but the other guys have mentioned most of it already.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi July 22, 2012, 03:14:11 AM
@Misery:
The argument was a deeply personal debate between contrasting matters of opinion and aesthetics.

I get very sensitive around dismissing the importance of artists and artwork because I'm quite personally familiar with the amount of effort it takes (even if I do not personally do art for a living) to do good art, and it was not perhaps the best argument to intervene in as I interpreted the intrusion as a hostile act.

You, Misery, were taking sides in a personal debate. If you do so, you should usually expect some resentment at your intervention. I do not dislike you. (edit: I just realised I omitted a personal apology for possibly hurting your emotions, but the best I can do is an expression of regret that it happened. I can apologise for my personal deficiencies though - a much wiser person than I would probably not have done that.)

When I see statements such as "I wish most people didn't care about looks so much", I tend to interpret it as an attack on the majority of people having shallow tastes, which links directly into my "sophomorism alarm" conditioned response (Why should everyone think the same way that you do?).

Everyone is entitled to an opinion about what they think is important in a videogame, but I draw the line at denigrating other peoples' tastes as a form of insidious elitism. People are persons, not statistics.

As a result, I voluntarily removed myself from the discussion for the next day to stabilise my emotions as I took the criticism about swearing rather personally - I don't swear at people to make them feel bad (Saying "bloody games" with reference to games which are anything but bad is not a personal attack.), but I was starting to use a personally unacceptable amount of overbearing sarcasm (which is the lowest form of wit and quite hypocritical when used against sophomorism).

It was getting very unconstructive, so I'm not going to speak any more about this matter as I refuse to bring myself down to the level of petty bickering I think Ulrox is ultimately trying to goad me into - Exactly how do you think I'd react to your reply about my making "flamebaits"? Do you actually think about consequences or are you just trying to be malicious? I think the answer is pretty obvious.

--------------

Getting back to the topic - there's been a bit of news about chucklefish doing a very similar Terraria/AVWWish experiment recently which lends some food for thought:
http://playstarbound.com/about/

It's a little different from AVWW, but I was actually thinking that the vision of social interactivity they have for the game is rather interesting:
"each and every planet has unique coordinates in the Universe that you can share online, so other players can check out exactly what you found!"

Of course, it remains to be seen if it'll actually deliver on the premise (I withold judgment), but that's definitely something that would drive me to talk about the game with friends. Exploration really isn't much fun without the ability to share discoveries.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Coppermantis July 22, 2012, 03:44:17 AM
It's a forum, people are going to contribute to discussions whether you like it or not. I do personally stand on the side of Music>Graphics but I don't feel like anyone here has insulted the profession of Artist. I read the original post and all it said to me was that a game with good music and atmosphere can make up for poor graphics but some people only judge a game by graphics. Even an artist should know that a game should not only be judged by looks alone, and if a good game is dismissed because it looks sub-par that is indeed sad. Atmosphere is also an important part of Ulrox's comment, as graphics =/= atmosphere. VVVVV, Super Meat Boy, Minecraft and Cave Story for example have pretty low GRAPHICS quality but they certainly look good and have a nice artstyle.

I understand your point but I do think that you're overreacting. No where did Ulrox say that he doesn't like people who prefer graphics to music, to me it just seems like he was making the point of a game that is dismissed for looks alone is unfortunate.

Please note that if Ulrox actually did mean what you've inferred, then I stand corrected. I'll let him have the final word on what he intended.

Sorry if this is convoluted and hard to read, It's late and I'm tired.  :) No more need for hostilities, let's just have a civilized discussion about Valley's art shall we?




ANYWAYS.

That Starbound game looks neat and I do also like that coordinate system. It seems like a cross between a MMO like World of Warcraft and a procedurally-generated game like Valley or Minecraft in that you're not all necessarily playing in the same simultaneous world but planets are synced so you can visit what others have seen. Wouldn't work for Valley without heavy modification but a neat concept. The Art Style looks reminiscent of the original G work.

Speaking of which, why are they being called G, H and K? Is it just for organization's sake or are their names being withheld on purpose? Or, and this is unlikely, are they actually called G, H and K?


: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 22, 2012, 03:50:18 AM
@Misery:
The argument was a deeply personal debate between contrasting matters of opinion and aesthetics.

I get very sensitive around dismissing the importance of artists and artwork because I'm quite personally familiar with the amount of effort it takes (even if I do not personally do art for a living) to do good art, and it was not perhaps the best argument to intervene in as I interpreted the intrusion as a hostile act.

You, Misery, were taking sides in a personal debate. If you do so, you should usually expect some resentment at your intervention. I do not dislike you. (edit: I just realised I omitted a personal apology for possibly hurting your emotions, but the best I can do is an expression of regret that it happened. I can apologise for my personal deficiencies though - a much wiser person than I would probably not have done that.)

When I see statements such as "I wish most people didn't care about looks so much", I tend to interpret it as an attack on the majority of people having shallow tastes, which links directly into my "sophomorism alarm" conditioned response (Why should everyone think the same way that you do?).

Everyone is entitled to an opinion about what they think is important in a videogame, but I draw the line at denigrating other peoples' tastes as a form of insidious elitism. People are persons, not statistics.

As a result, I voluntarily removed myself from the discussion for the next day to stabilise my emotions as I took the criticism about swearing rather personally - I don't swear at people to make them feel bad (Saying "bloody games" with reference to games which are anything but bad is not a personal attack.), but I was starting to use a personally unacceptable amount of overbearing sarcasm (which is the lowest form of wit and quite hypocritical when used against sophomorism).

It was getting very unconstructive, so I'm not going to speak any more about this matter as I refuse to bring myself down to the level of petty bickering I think Ulrox is ultimately trying to goad me into - Exactly how do you think I'd react to your reply about my making "flamebaits"? Do you actually think about consequences or are you just trying to be malicious? I think the answer is pretty obvious.


Lol, seriously, it's allright, dont worry about it.  Tempers flare on forums sometimes.  I tend to jump in mostly because I'm really rather irritable (and usually really bored, it's not a good combination, heh).

As for what I meant by "swearing",  it wasnt the word "bloody" that set it off, use that word often enough myself, hah.  Frankly, I dont remember WHAT it was.  It might not have been anything.  I'm reeeeeeaaalllly absent-minded, I'm capable of doing things like making a sandwich but forgetting the bread, so dont take things I say like that TOO seriously.    Mostly, I just wanted to calm things down before any screaming started, that's all.

But yeah, it's all fine now, no harm done!   :)



I agree about the artist bit though, I know someone who does art, have seen how much work it takes, so I do respect artists for their skill in that.   Cant draw worth a crap myself, really, never could.  Unless you want a pic that looks like something a cat coughed up, I can probably manage that at least!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi July 22, 2012, 04:05:06 AM
AFAIK they're taking a different approach to the game - I think of AVWW as more of a survival-oriented mission-based game while Starbound seems to have a "screw it, let's procedurally generate everything" approach, which includes even procedurally generated monsters (http://community.playstarbound.com/index.php?threads/starbound-monster-generator.8037/) so it's more like a 2D Spore (hence you can tell people where you found strange looking monster X) and might pragmatically end up as a design/game balance nightmare.

It also doesn't seem very Diablo-inspired, unlike AVWW's enchants system. More like fooling around in Spore+Terraria.

Their approach really does show the advantages of pixel art though - it's incredibly modular and easy to generate (even someone who "can't draw" could do it) - which is something you might like to take into consideration when choosing an art style.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Wanderer July 22, 2012, 04:26:59 AM
That's a very pretty set piece, I agree.  Take a standing model of Darren in an Abandoned town and while it wouldn't be as spooky it would, to my eyes, be equivalent, though I do like their take on the wasp, that's pretty neat lookin'.  From the reactions I guess it's better artwork though.  Then again, I've never seen the need for this entire thing anyway, so bear with me if my reactions seem strange.

EDIT: Before I get called on the carpet for that... Yes, I can tell the background is de-focused and has more detail as well, and that the cell shading and the like on the characters is more detailed.  It is *pretty*, I won't argue that.  Is it *better*?  There's so much going on there that during any type of movement it'd just be a huge purple blur to me... roughly equivalent to the big white/blue blur behind most of the environments now.[/EDIT]

My understanding, however, of a large amount of artwork complaint was the animation stiffness and integration as much as it was background and art components.  My apologies if it's lost in the pages upon pages in this thread, so someone please link me if it's there, but have any of the studios been able to provide an animated version other than the very choppy one of Darren a while back?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Coppermantis July 22, 2012, 04:36:09 AM
AFAIK they're taking a different approach to the game - I think of AVWW as more of a survival-oriented mission-based game while Starbound seems to have a "screw it, let's procedurally generate everything" approach, which includes even procedurally generated monsters (http://community.playstarbound.com/index.php?threads/starbound-monster-generator.8037/) so it's more like a 2D Spore (hence you can tell people where you found strange looking monster X) and might pragmatically end up as a design/game balance nightmare.

It also doesn't seem very Diablo-inspired, unlike AVWW's enchants system. More like fooling around in Spore+Terraria.

Their approach really does show the advantages of pixel art though - it's incredibly modular and easy to generate (even someone who "can't draw" could do it) - which is something you might like to take into consideration when choosing an art style.

That sounds like it would be an absolute nightmare to make. Granted, I don't know much about programming but 100% procedurally generating a massive yet persistent world sounds painful.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 22, 2012, 04:37:26 AM
That's a very pretty set piece, I agree.  Take a standing model of Darren in an Abandoned town and while it wouldn't be as spooky it would, to my eyes, be equivalent, though I do like their take on the wasp, that's pretty neat lookin'.  From the reactions I guess it's better artwork though.  Then again, I've never seen the need for this entire thing anyway, so bear with me if my reactions seem strange.

EDIT: Before I get called on the carpet for that... Yes, I can tell the background is de-focused and has more detail as well, and that the cell shading and the like on the characters is more detailed.  It is *pretty*, I won't argue that.  Is it *better*?  There's so much going on there that during any type of movement it'd just be a huge purple blur to me... roughly equivalent to the big white/blue blur behind most of the environments now.[/EDIT]

My understanding, however, of a large amount of artwork complaint was the animation stiffness and integration as much as it was background and art components.  My apologies if it's lost in the pages upon pages in this thread, so someone please link me if it's there, but have any of the studios been able to provide an animated version other than the very choppy one of Darren a while back?


I'd wondered about that as well.

Though, there were still plenty that were complaining about the art in general..... from still screenshots, and the like.

But yeah, be nice to see an animation example.




......and that Starbound game, argh.   Another game I'd love to try, but is not actually playable yet....  Always with the waiting, and I have like, negative patience.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Ulrox July 22, 2012, 06:38:07 AM
The saddest thing I think is that a game with really good music / atmosphere always triumpfs good graphics. AI war is a very VERY good example of this. The music is so atmospherical and awesome. I really wish we as a race (humans) would care more for music and artistical integrity rather than things looking good :S

Note that I wrote artistical integrity. That also means that I want the art/graphics to be good, but different from modern warfare or battlefield etc etc. Trine 2 looks absolutely gorgeous but I doubt that they spent billions trying to make the same realistic graphics that 90% of games nowadays try to make. All of the castlevania games uses 2d art that I find to be much more gorgeous than most AAA games, and the music in those games are much more awesome than most AAA games, and the sad thing is that the amount of money it takes to create art like castlevania's isn't that much compared to AAA games.

(http://www.emuparadise.me/GameBase%20Amiga/Screenshots/M/Mega_lo_Mania_2.png)

These are good graphics for me, how much do you think that cost compared to this:

(http://s.cdon.com/media-dynamic/images/product/digitalgame/pc/image3/call_of_duty_modern_warfare_2-16261447-xtra.jpg) ?


These kinds of discussions are ALWAYS subjective. Which means that there is always going to be some people who disagree with me, or agree with me, and we'll never come to an agreement. On top of that, I'm heavily medicated and as such I dont really care to be malicious or evil or whatever. I just want us all to get along and be pals and stuff ;D hehehe.

Edit: I just realized that the best example I could make was world of goo (http://www.playandroid.com/blog/wp-content/gallery/goodroid/worldofgoo4.jpg)

This game was made by 2 people... They made the music and art, and its one of the most gorgeous games ever made/the music rocks my socks :D
How many people was used to make Gears of war again? ;)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi July 22, 2012, 07:20:25 AM
I don't see what that has to do with anything. How many people do you think it takes to make a game soundtrack?

Touhou music is ridiculously popular, did you know it was all composed by one person? Konami has the entire Bemani series which is nothing BUT music - do you know how many artists they employ? (two). Know how many music artistes they employ?

Vanguard princess is an extremely beautiful sprite 2D fighting game and the art was completely done by ONE person, yet I don't think that anyone would say it had unappealing art. Visual quality has nothing to do with the amount of money you pour into a project nor the number of people you employ, all the games you posted above have cohesive art regardless of budget - and even that Starbound game (which is all simplistic pixel art) has a forum OOZING with people raving about the art, which is something I don't really see in AVWW.

Fact is, we don't have many threads here going on and on about how awesome the art is. The gaming world does find a slight bias towards the importance of graphics because they really are very important - none of those games above have the art style of ZZT.

Do you know how much they're paying Jeremy Soule to create yet another generic uninspired audio soundtrack without a coherent melody for every single one of the "AAA" games he scores?

Resources getting "wasted" on making graphics appealing aren't any less productive than moreso than resources getting wasted on any other factor. There's plenty of western games I've played with completely forgettable soundtracks that yet plastered "AWARD WINNING COMPOSER" on the cover (usually Soule, but not always).

The reason people prioritize graphic development over audio development is because it's a lot more difficult to force potential customers to listen to a game than it is to have them see it. That alone is why people pour so much money into graphic technology, although it obviously doesn't always pay off. It doesn't mean "graphics are less important than sound". Quite the opposite, in fact. My issue is only with your statement that seems to devalue the importance of graphics compared to sound. Realistically speaking, I beg to differ very much so (very many people play games with the sound off).
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Ulrox July 22, 2012, 07:24:26 AM
Well, I figured I'd explain my original post since people were asking for it. I dont want to derail the thread more. If you make a different thread I'll talk to you, otherwise I'll try to be on topic. Sorry.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Nanashi July 22, 2012, 07:33:38 AM
Well, I figured I'd explain my original post since people were asking for it. I dont want to derail the thread more. If you make a different thread I'll talk to you, otherwise I'll try to be on topic. Sorry.

No, don't apologise, it's definitely partially my fault for fixating so much on one statement that was purely an opinion - and you were probably just trying to say that people waste too much money on developing 'better' modern graphics (this is usually actually just a 3D game issue), so the context was completely different.

If you were just saying that many modern games place too much emphasis on being visually stunning and completely forget the need to have an interesting or engaging soundtrack, I could not agree harder with that sentiment. I can't throw a brick in Steam without hitting a high-production modern game with music I find rather dull and insipid (no melody).
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Ulrox July 22, 2012, 07:41:43 AM
If you were just saying that many modern games place too much emphasis on being visually stunning and completely forget the need to have an interesting or engaging soundtrack, I could not agree harder with that sentiment. I can't throw a brick in Steam without hitting a high-production modern game with music I find rather dull and insipid (no melody).

Yep, its quite sad. :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: tigersfan July 23, 2012, 06:55:55 AM
Speaking of which, why are they being called G, H and K? Is it just for organization's sake or are their names being withheld on purpose? Or, and this is unlikely, are they actually called G, H and K?

The names are being intentionally withheld. All three, as you might imagine, have an internet presence, and we don't want opinions formed about the stuff based on the other stuff that's out there. Only on what they do for this project.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 July 23, 2012, 09:16:18 AM
Two revisions from studio H: one of #6 and one of #1, based on feedback from the forums here.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mick July 23, 2012, 09:37:11 AM
Those samples make very nice paintings, but I'm inclined to think that such a style would not look very good in motion. The background is very nice to look at, but is very busy, and the character doesn't seem to stand out enough. Of course, this is just concept art.

I think for the most part that all the "painterly" samples from the studios match the right style, but the better test will be how they all look animated with the background panning quickly, while monsters and spell effects fly around everywhere.

It's far to easy for a graphic style of be wonderful in screenshots, and then become a complete disaster once everything starts moving around.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: zebramatt July 23, 2012, 09:54:05 AM
If the game ended up looking like destroyed_city_sketch9.png, well, that would just be super!
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r July 23, 2012, 10:10:10 AM
If the flowing hair would actually flow and the trees actually sway in the wind and dust blow by... then yes ;p
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Stx11 July 23, 2012, 12:53:11 PM
I think the best thing I'm seeing here is all the artists are *definitely* stepping up their game - which makes me think any of them will be able to deliver some nice high-quality art assets to accompany the high-quality game that AVWW is  ;D
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Martyn van Buren July 23, 2012, 01:19:35 PM
Yeah, I think now I'd be happy with any of the three options.  I'm right to assume that the new stuff is still a draft and if we go with them the final product will look more like an ordinary video game and less like a watercolor?  I'd support watercolor but I imagine that would be pretty difficult to pull off.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Brise Bonbons July 23, 2012, 01:43:22 PM
Been away a while traveling, but good to see new images (and lots of discussion) in this thread.

To make a brief - if belated - statement of support in light of the Steam sale situation: Arcen's work is far too amazing and you all are just too smart and hard-working for this to be anything more than a minor bump in the road. As a consumer, I feel like I've gotten far more support and responsiveness for AVWW than I ever would have expected (and certainly more than I've experienced with any other game), so if the company needs to focus on other things for a while, do so without any hesitation. My group of friends will probably be happy to see updates slow down, if anything; we all found it difficult to keep with with the rapid changes to the game. :)

It probably helps that I'm very impatient for an AI War expansion!

*

As for the art, I hate to say it but I feel like wheels are spinning until we see some characters in motion. I think the stuff we've seen is all high quality work, and give or take an issue here or there with tone or details, any of the studios could do work that would fit AVWW pretty well. In short, they are close enough together that the quality of animation - and how the art looks in motion - seems like it will trump anything we see in these concept pieces. I know that's not a very informative stance to take, but I just don't feel like I can say anything else about these samples other than "well I like X more than Y and Z, so  blah."

I still think H feels like the best fit for AVWW, even though the work from the other studios has more pop and flash. I think H captures the eclectic but naturalistic feeling of the game, whereas the other studios evoke a sort of comic book/cartoon world of 2D archetypes. That said, if I can speak frankly as someone who studied art at university, many of the samples from H do not impress me with their drawing/painting fundamentals. Now let me walk that back and make clear that I'm not saying they're bad artists - they are clearly talented, hard workers; I understand that a lot of game art programs these days focus on other areas, such as 3D work and the tech side of things, leaving people with limited time to practice drawing. But it makes me nervous about the quality of the finished work, and reinforces the feeling that I need to see some finished work in motion to offer a proper opinion.

It's just a really tough call to make. While I prefer H personally, I find myself second guessing that choice and trying to predict what "the market" will like based on some cliches and stereotypes about "the common PC platform gamer". Maybe a punchy, vibrant style like K/G's would sell better, even if it didn't fit the game perfectly? Maybe maybe maybe.

To anyone at Arcen: Are we likely to see any animated samples before a studio is chosen, or is that part of the process going to wait until one style has been settled on?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: tigersfan July 23, 2012, 03:01:07 PM
To anyone at Arcen: Are we likely to see any animated samples before a studio is chosen, or is that part of the process going to wait until one style has been settled on?

That depends on how close a call it is with the studios. However, Chris has seen animations from all three studios on unrelated works and they are all quite competent animators. The goal of this process at the moment is really more related to overall style versus integration complexity and technical constraints, plus costs and ability to hit our target timeline (e.g., available manpower).
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r July 23, 2012, 03:59:36 PM
To be fair, there is only 1 animation I care about, that is the running animation of a character we see it 70% of the game /19% jumping/10% attack and it should look appropriately. That's also where you can see how well they can really animate stuff.

That, and transition animations ,p
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 23, 2012, 05:55:11 PM
K's latest = OMGWTFPWNBBQAWESOME! (Still kinda partial to G's latest, but dayum, K is now definitely in the game. That was MAD awesome!
H's latest = No. Just...no I can't stand the blurriness of it. A game shouldn't look like an impressionists painting. I want to see what the balls is going on. Clear it up :/ Call me superfiscial, but I just hate the style.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Brise Bonbons July 23, 2012, 06:00:50 PM
The more I see H's stuff the more I like them. They have such a broad range of stylistic options at their disposal between their different artists, and I think they are all simple and clean enough to be easily understood in chaotic battles - all while finding a good balance between exaggerated fantasy and organic naturalism.

While G and K both produce some really slick work, I just don't feel they mesh as well with AVWW. I.e. the latest from K is very cool, especially the wasp, but I'm afraid the style isn't clear enough to function given how hectic combat can be. Maybe for the point and click adventure sequel? :P

While I think G's style could definitely work for AVWW, it feels less quirky and organic to me; more polished and plastic, especially the character and monster art. That is a good match for some games, but personally I think AVWW feels sort of meaty and funky and odd (in the best way), and I think H is the best match for that.

This is all just me rambling to try to offer useful feedback, I certainly don't intend to insult or demean the work of any of these studios. They all seem like talented, profession people who do good work.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Martyn van Buren July 23, 2012, 06:50:57 PM
Sorry to repeat my question, but am I right to think K is still more in the stage of concept art than mocking up what the game will actually look like if they do it?  That is to say, if I understand right they're not proposing to make the game look "like an impressionist painting," just drawing impressions of various styles so we can settle on one to mock up.  Although that said I would absolutely vote for a watercolor game.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: BobTheJanitor July 23, 2012, 07:49:43 PM
Sorry to repeat my question, but am I right to think K is still more in the stage of concept art than mocking up what the game will actually look like if they do it?  That is to say, if I understand right they're not proposing to make the game look "like an impressionist painting," just drawing impressions of various styles so we can settle on one to mock up.  Although that said I would absolutely vote for a watercolor game.

Like this game? http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/01/21/love-grows-stronger-deeper-cheaper/

Looks neat, eh?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Martyn van Buren July 23, 2012, 08:17:52 PM
That is indeed pretty.  Is it any good?  Academic question, I guess; I have a Mac and it seems to be only PC.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe July 23, 2012, 08:33:55 PM
Sorry to repeat my question, but am I right to think K is still more in the stage of concept art than mocking up what the game will actually look like if they do it?  That is to say, if I understand right they're not proposing to make the game look "like an impressionist painting," just drawing impressions of various styles so we can settle on one to mock up.  Although that said I would absolutely vote for a watercolor game.

Like this game? http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/01/21/love-grows-stronger-deeper-cheaper/

Looks neat, eh?
Would I be shot for saying that I find that game very interesting but it looks like I wouldn't be able to get past the art style? ;)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 23, 2012, 08:38:02 PM
It actually looks rather cool, but I have real trouble with blurriness.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: yllamana July 23, 2012, 10:05:51 PM
I couldn't help but notice that article was from the start of 2011, and the comments actually managed to get pretty specific about the issue (there's this weird visual effect when it's in motion, looks kinda like the game world is having a sandstorm).

I downloaded it to check it out, wondering if they'd (or he'd, I think it's just one guy?) made any changes to the art style in response to that feedback. Unfortunately, the sandstorm is still there (and it doesn't look like an artefact of the rendering or anything, it looks like it's entirely deliberate). It's also kinda hard to tell how the world is put together - I'm sure that's partly me being a newbie though!

In the end I stumbled around for a while, said something in the chat, couldn't figure out how to do anything interesting and left. I think someone shot at me at one point.

The reason "painterly" makes me want to cry is having seen it used to describe this game's graphics so much. I've never really encountered it much as a word outside this context, and still remember the discussions from beta. I feel like the right decision when "painterly" is brought up now is to run the other way and don't look back, and so thoroughly endorse G (though now after the complaints about head size Darrel seems to have a puny head instead of a slightly larger one) and to a lesser extent K.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: keith.lamothe July 23, 2012, 10:07:19 PM
The first time I encountered art described as "painterly" it was Braid.  That was some fairly successful art.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: yllamana July 23, 2012, 10:29:37 PM
The first time I encountered art described as "painterly" it was Braid.  That was some fairly successful art.
Pick G. Run from the others, and don't look back.

Related to Braid, I fired it up to refresh my memory on its style. One thing I'll say, though, is that it has a very, very large distinction between the foreground and the background. The background does look very indistinct, blurred and, (I cringe) painterly. It also has in some cases a number of different parallax layers. The foreground, though, is incredibly sharp and the animations are extremely smooth.

But what I'll say is that Braid has quite a different style to AVWW. Braid is really indie. It's a super artsy game - fun to play, short, with a story and art style (and hidden meaning) that support all that. It is indie. The painterly, indie art style, designed to support the mood and story more than the gameplay, is appropriate.

But AVWW isn't like that. It's a game designed to be played for dozens of hours, if not dozens of dozens - a span of time where having crisp, beautiful gameplay will remain important long after the player has fully absorbed the setting. It's a game where looking entirely unique and indie has to take a back seat to being consistently playable. I don't think there's any doubt (except from Misery, who seems to be contractually obligated to disagree with my view on anything ;) ) that G would look spectacular, and I think it will support and enhance the gameplay much more than any painterly option can.

As an addendum, if you want to go the Braid route, please make the foreground crisp and pixel-perfect art (like Braid) and make the backgrounds less distinct. Part of the problem right now is those two are mixed pretty freely (and also perhaps that many objects could do with being part of the background, like most of the random plants underground).
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Misery July 24, 2012, 01:14:50 AM
(except from Misery, who seems to be contractually obligated to disagree with my view on anything ;) )

I want to disagree with this, but the resulting logic, or lack thereof, would crash my brain.   Like a computer trying to divide by zero.

....and I think the same thing happens if I agree with it, because it'd mean that I disagree with it, which would mean....

aaaaaaaagh *pops*
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: yllamana July 24, 2012, 03:46:46 AM
(except from Misery, who seems to be contractually obligated to disagree with my view on anything ;) )

I want to disagree with this, but the resulting logic, or lack thereof, would crash my brain.   Like a computer trying to divide by zero.

....and I think the same thing happens if I agree with it, because it'd mean that I disagree with it, which would mean....

aaaaaaaagh *pops*
:) We did agree on something, that one time! I don't remember what it was, but I remember thinking, "ha ha, I'm agreeing with Misery!" ;)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Ixiohm July 24, 2012, 05:18:59 AM
As an addendum, if you want to go the Braid route, please make the foreground crisp and pixel-perfect art (like Braid) and make the backgrounds less distinct. Part of the problem right now is those two are mixed pretty freely (and also perhaps that many objects could do with being part of the background, like most of the random plants underground).

I totally agree, I think this could have a positive impact on game play as well, it would clearly separate background objects from foreground object, making it clear that the player can interact with mossy barrels, vases and such but mot with mushrooms and similar.

For above reason I really like the separation of fore ground and back ground in K's latest, and to top that of the whole seen is awesome  :)
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Mánagarmr July 24, 2012, 06:37:11 AM
Pick G. Run from the others, and don't look back.
I almost agree with this. K's latest paint-style is definitely getting somewhere by now so they're actually contending (though their pixelart was damn sexy). H is just blindly milling around in a field right now (as far as my opinion goes).
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: goodgimp July 24, 2012, 10:12:07 AM
G is great in the sense that it's nice and clean. I like how I can immediately glance and see what's going on, there's a clear differentiation between foreground and background, etc. One of the issues with the current look in AVWW is that I start to get fatigued after a while and I believe it's due to difficulty for my eyes/brain to easily differentiate between foreground and background actors, including my player character. With how fast paced the game is, being able to clearly, easily, and immediately identify your own character at all times is hugely important. I think G would be great for that.

In terms of style, I'm with K all the way. I can also clearly distinguish where the character is vs background etc and I feel like stylistically that's just so damn cool. If the goal is to pull in a wider audience, I think throwing up some screenshots like the latest from K on the kickstarter page is going to really grab some eyeballs (just look at a lot of the immediate reaction here in this thread). I'm curious what the costs are between K and G, though.

With H I'm not really feeling it. I'm not a fan of the blurry style they've got going on in the latest and for some of their cleaner earlier looks, I'm just not a fan of the look. Still interested to see in what else they would produce, but as of now I'm totally sold and both G and K (with K being a preference from a stylistic point of view, if costs are the same).
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: madcow July 24, 2012, 10:12:23 AM
Personally, I think any of the art styles would be good. Though I will echo the concern about making the actual terrain/foreground stand out from the background. A few of the pieces it does look like they could get confusing, but overall I like the art styles from all the studios, and any other preference is relatively minor.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: tigersfan July 26, 2012, 01:04:46 PM
Even though Chris is out of the office this week, his job never truly stops, he's been communicating with all three studios this week. Here's the latest from H. He had this to say about them:

The latest.  These are going to be taken to an animation test at the pencil sketch level -- to show the animation style and quality without going to the full expense of detail right off the bat -- once an actual character design is settled on.

: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Aklyon July 26, 2012, 04:54:37 PM
The last one looks somewhat like Samus's Power suit, I like it.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r July 27, 2012, 01:06:44 PM
I want green haired vixens ! /I mean definition 2 of the urban dictionary, by the way... so whatever happens I will be happy, as long as 1 character has long green hair ;p
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Brise Bonbons July 27, 2012, 02:58:56 PM
Of those two styles, I think the second is definitely a better match for AVWW. Given the scale of the game and its general style, I don't think the level of exaggeration in the first image is necessary, or appropriate.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: yllamana July 28, 2012, 12:38:03 AM
Of those two styles, I think the second is definitely a better match for AVWW. Given the scale of the game and its general style, I don't think the level of exaggeration in the first image is necessary, or appropriate.
Do you mean the other way around? The second one looks super exaggerated to me (and looks totally off as a result).

Edit to fix bracket and to add: I'm not sure if I've ever posted this, but one of the things I think is really cool about AVWW is how I can play an awesome female character, and I do that exclusively. I'd be pretty disappointed if they got turned into fanservicey things like the second picture there.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Brise Bonbons July 31, 2012, 12:22:24 PM
Do you mean the other way around? The second one looks super exaggerated to me (and looks totally off as a result).

Edit to fix bracket and to add: I'm not sure if I've ever posted this, but one of the things I think is really cool about AVWW is how I can play an awesome female character, and I do that exclusively. I'd be pretty disappointed if they got turned into fanservicey things like the second picture there.

In the first image, her head makes up like 1/5 her total height, making her proportions very childlike, which is what I was referring to. You are correct in that the second image is also quite exaggerated; I wasn't being specific enough.

AVWW's current character art features people with natural adult proportions, which I totally agree is a wonderful thing. I much prefer it to crazy fanservice women with giant bosoms. I just don't know if the proportions of the first image really match AVWW, since they are so youthful.

And to be extra clear, looking at something like Braid, obviously you can have these cute/youthful proportions and still have a serious, mature tone; I'm not saying they're bad or immature or less serious inherently. Just pointing out that AVWW's current character art focuses on naturally proportioned adults.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: eRe4s3r August 01, 2012, 07:21:33 PM
New Image by H is very nice ;) Green hair ftw.. now that is a, instant like from me.. apart from the head-shape, but there is not many pixels to work with so not much to do about that
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: Coppermantis August 01, 2012, 07:47:50 PM
Regarding the new images from H (http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,11063.0/topicseen.html) that were just posted:


Looking fairly nice, although the character is pretty odd. Her face seems to be a skeleton or something. Also, the buildings in the background seem to be more along the lines of Ancient Rome, but that might just be me. I prefer the style more along the lines of the previous landscapes by H or K.
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 August 01, 2012, 08:52:47 PM
An update: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,11273.0.html
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: goodgimp August 01, 2012, 11:51:23 PM
Congrats guys, especially on being able to redo it without the Kickstarter. Can't wait to see the new art rolling out.

Speaking of which, what kind of timeframe is this (obviously, I'm not asking for an ETA or anything). I don't know anything about art production... is this like a year, 6 months, 3 months?
: Re: [FILLED] Looking for artist(s) to develop new style for A Valley Without Wind.
: x4000 August 01, 2012, 11:55:57 PM
November! Or thereabouts. :)