Hi, I'm Blake. my big project is a tower defence game called 'Forgive Me My Henchmen'. you play as a typical head 'bad guy', deploying henchmen and sabotaging a building to delay an unstoppable one-man army.
Here are two of the six images I got commissioned for the trailer. If they were any cooler, I would use them as air conditioning. Thanks to jinsworld!
I am working on creating my trailer, so recently had to commission an artist to draw some images that the trailer will need. I created an ad, got a decent number of responses, then had to decide who I would use.
I wanted to make a quick blog entry explaining why one of the most important factors I based my decision on was the artist’s ‘trustworthiness’, and how the artist managed to come across as trustworthy. I can’t speak on behalf of all who commission artists, but hopefully, writing this will especially help those artists who have a ton of skill and act professionally, but aren’t necessarily standing out in the market in the way they deserve to.
From the offset, the artist made an effort to establish his trustworthiness. When he first wrote to me, he even described himself as a ‘reliable and versatile’ and provided the link to his website. On his website was not only his portfolio, but also a ton of positive reviews that he had received from previous clients. I can’t stress enough how important these testimonials were to me.
For me, one of the biggest fears that I have when doing business via the internet is that I’ll be ripped off. Either I’ll pay the artist and they end up being like Patrick Swayze and GHOST or that they will be difficult to work with. For those reasons, building trust is so important when doing business online. When a ton of clients write on someone’s site saying how awesome that they are to work with and how they can be relied upon to come through, the risk I’ll be ripped off or be dealing with an unprofessional feels waaaaaaay smaller. Simply put, in my opinion, collecting and displaying positive testimonials from previous and satisfied clients builds trust.
Another thing that builds trust is when an artist (eventually) uses their actual name. I know it is not safe to overshare one’s personal information on the internet, but when you have been calling someone ‘Generic Designs’ or something similar for days/weeks, you don’t know what country they live in, you don’t know if they have a face, you don’t even know if they actually exist - when that happens you wonder why they are being so secretive, and consequently, what they are trying to hide.
I am not saying this is logical (it would be incredibly easy for someone to create a scam profile), BUT I am saying that this is what goes through my (and likely many others) heads. I don’t need to know someone’s life story about them to be able to trust them, but I do need to know that I’m dealing with a person and not a nameless, faceless, locationless entity. The more ‘human’ someone comes across as, the more one trusts them. That is why even companies make an effort to have a personality as opposed to being seen as cold, emotionless, impersonal institutions.
When I was faced with choosing an artist, it was the one who provided EVIDENCE that I could actually rely on them to do a great job - in the above ways - who got the nod of approval.
So all in all, find a way to signal to potential clients that they can trust you. I think testimonials and sharing (but not oversharing) some basic information can be a great way to do that. More importantly though, be trustworthy! If you are trustworthy, and end up signalling it effectively, then you definitely deserve all the great business that will come your way. (If, however, you are a scam artist who reads this to try and figure out how you can scam more effectively, then I hope you get a papercut you swine!)
As I'm uploading animations/sprites into the project, these are the kind of problems I end up dealing with! Hahaha.
What a month it has been!
I had originally hoped that October would be the month that I could create and release an official trailer for Forgive Me My Henchmen (FMMH). Well...that didn’t happen. Despite that, all in all, this month has been a successful one.
The withdrawal of my character artist (for the foreseeable future) meant that for the first time, I got to try my own hand at pixel art (See Blog Entry for 7 October). Completing the remaining sprites has been what mostly kept me busy for this month and I am happy to say that now - as a result of a ton of work - about 99% of the art/animation needed for this project has been completed. VICTORY!!!
This is a major landmark, so I am really happy it has been hit. To celebrate, I was going to spray champagne everywhere like they do in Formula 1, but then I remembered that champagne is expensive, and I am broke, so I decided to just have a glass of water instead. Party like a rockstar.
I also feel that I stepped up my PR game this month. I think my new approach to blogging (see Blog Entry for 27 September) has helped me to have a lot more fun with it, and now media / PR is something I no longer fear. That being said, I’ve realized that marketing is going to be the biggest challenge that I will face. I currently have about 35 twitter followers, and don’t exactly know how to get heard in a very noisy world. I will need to think about this challenge more and learn how to improve at this essential aspect of game dev. Hopefully, creating a good game trailer will help.
Speaking of which, creating a great trailer will be the mission and focus for the month ahead. I would also like to create a gameplay trailer because trailers - albeit awesome - don’t always give a great idea of how a game will actually play. I want people to know what they can expect from FMMH.
This week, I encountered a unique challenge.
I have been working on the 'get up' animations for all my different henchmen. The get up animation is about 5 frames, transitioning from the henchman being on his back to standing upright. For example:
The challenge is that a lot of the henchmen look undeniably sexy during one of the transition frames:
All attempts to correct this have just led to the henchmen looking even sexier.
I feel that fixing the sexy problem is beyond my capability, so have decided to just let the henchmen shine - afterall, henchmen deserve to feel sexy too.
To make a long story short, my character artist has had to take a break. While working, he produced some of the coolest looking concept art I can imagine, as well as completed three (out of 9) of the sprite sheets. I’m very grateful for that.
And the show must go on...
The dilemma I faced at the beginning of the week was that there are still 6 characters to do, but I don’t have a backup character artist who could replicate the current style. In addition, I didn’t want to go through the great effort required in finding another artist all over again.
So what I decided to do was to give it a shot myself.
I bought asesprite and then learned how to use it by watching a few youtube tutorials. Then came the tricky part - looking at the concept art that the character artist produced, and then somehow manipulating it into different positions/poses etc. What I found is that using the spritesheets as a guide, and doing lots of cutting/pasting/alterations of the concept art, I was able to start creating sprites that (at least in my opinion) are looking great. Check out the results below:
The top row was completed by the character artist, the bottom row was completed by me. Not too shabby eh?
This whole process has taught me two things. First of all, pixel art is hard! It’s really hard! Sometimes it feels like the repositioning of one pixel can instantly transform a fun piece of art into a hideous abomination! My respect for pixel artists has gone through the roof - you guys are gods among men.
The second thing I’ve learned is that you’ll surprise yourself by what you can do if you just try.
Anyway, I’m glad this is working out. ‘Forgive Me My Henchmen’ is once again moving forward, and I look forward to unveiling some character art this week!
I knew I would have to deal with this sooner or later...
I asked my artists for smaller sprites than the placeholder ones I was using - it will save a lot of space on texture pages and such. Plus, smaller sprites will be less time consuming to design from their end (I believe). But the cost of that is that I have been spending the last few days reworking all my code/objects to accomodate for the new scale I have to work with. To be honest, the whole process has been a lot easier than I thought it would be, albeit really time consuming. Nevertheless, it had to be done, and the game will be better for it, so I have no problem doing it.
I thought I would share this vid of when I had rescaled the hero but nothing else. It made me laugh cause it looks like the henchmen are getting attacked by Oddjob:
In other news, game testing has been going really well. I finished round 3 of game testing on Monday. The feedback I have received has really helped this game get better. Spirits are high and I am working really hard on this project, night and day.
I think it is really shaping up to be something great.
Between 16 Jan and 16 Feb, I received over 30 applications to be the artist(s) for my upcoming 2D tower defence game 'Forgive Me My Henchmen'.
I hoped that a lot of different artists would apply, but to have it actually happen was really humbling. I first of all wanted to give my thanks to everyone who took the time to lodge their application and I wish I could have selected more of you! Some of the artwork I received was absolutely mindblowing, so I wanted to showcase some of the best work I received (in my subjective opinion). Sorry to those who submitted work which isn't featured in this blog - I am in the enviable position of having so many artists apply, that to feature everyone would grind game development to a halt, so I've had to be more ruthless and exclusive than I'd like. So, in random order, here are some of my favorite applications:
Reiforce's application was one of the first I received, and also the first one to make me go 'woah'. The animations are silky smooth - I can't help but think of 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' whenever I see them.
Check out more of Reiforce's work here.
So much pixelated goodness! Both his original work and also tributes (like God of War, Scorpion and Sub-Zero, etc.) blew my mind.
Check out more of Phil's work here.
When I saw ar7k's work, I realized that things had just been taken to the next level. I felt his characters perfectly balanced coolness, darkness, and humour. I can picture the hero crushing a henchman between his biceps in the name of freedom. His characters have a ton of personality, which I think is essential for this project.
You can check out more of ar7k's work here.
You can also follow him on twitter @actiondanger
David has had some really cool experience and it shows - seeing the full picture that David created was mindblowing - the different levels of the building, the helicopter. I can picture playing this game!
When I first saw Jonatan's portfolio, I didn't even know if he could do pixel art. Then he sent me some work that blew my mind. First of all, the background oozes character, and captured the kind of city that I felt this kind of game/story could take place in. The characters he created also each felt totally unique. Jonatan was creating art which I knew would be epic to experience and watch.
You can check out more of Jonatan's work here.
Nathan was the only guy to send me what could be the menu screen for 'Forgive Me My Henchmen'. That picture told a story, and I don't know how he made my game look so cool. Plus, his background work was stellar, and I like how he organized the GUI, and also creating an 'in use' button for each door is really smart. I wish I could borrow this guy's brain.
THE FINAL DECISION
In the end, I had so many quality applications that it was about finding the artists who brought a style which closely fit with what I had envisioned. Even though the game would have looked awesome no matter which one of these artists worked on it, I felt that Jonatan and Phil's style really captured the feel of what I'm looking for, so they will be the two artists for this project. They are going to really help bring the game alive and I'm stoked to be working with them.
Thanks again to everyone who took the time to apply - it's been great corresponding and talking with you, and I wish you the best. Cheers guys!