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Archive for the ‘Background Screens’ Category

From Concept to Completion (Original Pencils by Hazel Mitchell)

So here we have the final pencil art for a new location we’ve just added to episode one. The top image is the original location sketch, which Hazel whipped up based on a description and some of my chicken scratches. (Discussed here earlier this month.)

Below that is the finished version, which reflects my suggestions for additional tweaks. The windmill and the vulture will be animated in the final in-game version of this screen.

There are four or five little “easter eggs” in here for adventure game aficionados, but I’m keeping the image size intentionally small right now so we don’t spoil the surprise. (Although the industrious among you can probably figure them out anyway…)

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Colors by Jacek Grzeskowiak over original pencil art by John Green

As promised, here’s the final color work for the pencil-and-paper background screen I posted last month. (See the original pencil art here.)

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Sketch by Hazel Mitchell based on a concept by Josh Roberts

One thing that’s bothered me from the moment I decided to split Rise of the Hidden Sun into four parts is that the first episode is quite a bit shorter than the subsequent ones. It’s more of a set up to the main action than anything else, in much the same way that the opening sequence of an Indiana Jones movie is different than the primary quest.

So even though we’re focusing most of our efforts these days on completing all of the episode one animation sequences, I’m also tinkering with the early background screens to introduce a few more locations. Basically, it’s a way to expand the universe of episode one without introducing any new puzzles or animation sequences. (Some objects are being moved around within the game to justify the existence of these new screens, however.)

This location sketch here is for a new area called “The Old Sierra Burying Ground.” This is not a final screen, but it’s close enough that I thought I’d share it. I’m really happy with how it’s turning out. I’ll post the final pencil art version when it’s completed, along with some notes about what we changed, and why.

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Early sketch of Old Sierra Town by Dan Lee

Although it’s not accessible until the start of our second episode, the town of Old Sierra is actually one of the central locations in Rise of the Hidden Sun. Here’s a brief description of it, lifted from the game bible:

Old Sierra has seen better days. Most of the buildings—saloon, coral, jail, hotel, brothel, train depot, mortuary, etc—are either completely run down or getting there fast, and everyone who could afford to leave has already done so. 

When Jake strolls into town, dusty and dirty from his adventures in episode one, everything about Old Sierra needs to suggest “ghost town.” At the same time, it also needs to look like a place that used to be a thriving boom town. So, providing a sense of scale is key. This place may be virtually empty, but it’s far from small.

That’s the discussion I had with Dan Lee, artist extraordinaire, who took the concept and ran with it in the early sketch above. Then we moved on to the equally important step of establishing a color palette to evoke the desired mood:

It just feels dusty, right?

This one scene sets the tone for all future work on the town area. It also provides the player with that important sense of scale I mentioned earlier. You immediately see several potential areas of interest—a hotel, the sheriff’s office, and a storefront with a wooden Indian on the porch—while at the same time being drawn first to the saloon.

Welcome to Spielburg

Oh, and there was one other thing we wanted this location to evoke in the minds of veteran adventure game players: a subtle, perhaps even subconscious, sense of nostalgia for one of the greats of the genre: Sierra On-line’s Quest for Glory I – So You Want to Be a Hero? by the  husband and wife team of Lori and Corey Cole.

Hey, the town’s not called “Old Sierra” for nothing.

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Here’s a look at an original pencil-and-paper background from our first episode. I’ll post the colored version when it’s finished, hopefully next week.

Artwork by John Green based on a concept by Josh Roberts

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A location from episode two

Initial layout sketch of an important area from our second episode. Concept by Josh Roberts, sketch by Marc Fortin.

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As I’ve mentioned previously, we’re re-sizing and touching up some old screens to take advantage of Adventure Game Studio’s scrolling capabilities and fix some coloring discrepancies from scene to scene. We’re also using this as an oportunity to upgrade the game from the original 800×600 screen resolution to a more attractive 1024×768 resolution.

Here’s an example of a “before” (on the left) and “after” (on the right) from episode one:

Much, much better, right?

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