Over the last few months, we had a few production hiccups that I wanted to share and thought might be illuminating for those of you interested in game production. Since we’re making most of the artwork by working with people external to the main team, there’s always a risk of delays or problems, and although we’ve had great luck thus far, this time around there were a few stumbling blocks.
City of the Shroud uses a “hand-painted” style, which means that making the textures (the 2D images that get stretched over the 3D models) for the game generally requires artists to manually paint them, usually in Photoshop (it’s fairly uncommon to find teams procedurally generating a hand-painted style, but we’re helping pioneer that too!). Generally, this hasn’t been an issue - the people we’ve had the good fortune of working with have handled the style deftly.
If you zoom in our assets, you can see how cleanly the textures are painted. This can be more time-consuming and stylistically demanding than procedural generation/scanned textures, but it has a distinct feel and looks great.
Early in the spring, though, we ended up needing to work with a team of artists we hadn’t worked with before for some of our assets due to scheduling conflicts. Everything started out smoothly, but the style of the game quickly became difficult for them to achieve at scale (it’s one thing to paint a single asset; it’s another to paint dozens), and this slowed production down considerably. In AAA, this is when a company would throw money and bodies at an issue to resolve it (I’ve been on the front lines of that process a few times), but we have neither spare cash or people to do this, and besides, we wanted to be patient and work through everything until we could all achieve something we were happy with.
Thankfully, we were able to do just that - we have all of the assets we wanted, and they look really nice. It was also a good learning experience for the other team as well, since it was a new artistic style for them to take on. Here are a couple example screenshots of their work I took today in the engine:
Here is an example of what we were able to achieve with patience and perseverance.
And another example.
While it was slower than we planned (and we’re adjusting for that), we’re happy with the results and are continuing to plug away diligently at our to-dos. We’ve got a few things up our sleeve for you, and I’m excited to get them out and into your hands to try. Stay tuned!