After our announcement of „History in Letters – The Eternal Alchemist“ and a bit of background in regards to the story and the main character, we now want to talk about how a level is designed and made.
Prior starting the game we asked ourselves how we want to approach a few tasks, one of it being the making of backgrounds for the game.
Since we are a pretty small studio we often have to approach things differently, in this case we wanted to find a way how to quickly generate backgrounds and at the same time use the talents of our colleagues the best way possible. That’s why we decided to go for a “mixed medium” route, to get the best from 2D and 3D and at the same time combine our available work forces and shorten our work time.
It all starts with this.
Or, well, actually it starts with the story. After we had drafted a rough storyline for the game we picked out the places that would be important for our main character to visit.
Backgrounds are also designed and made with the concept of an adventure in mind, i.e. we need places where items can be placed and spots that seem “clickable” to the player.
Our 2D artist will then scribble a first sketch of the room, including a rough placement of the light sources, till it resembles the picture we have in mind for the location.
Afterwards we use this sketch to make a 3D rendering of the room in 3Ds Max.
The sketch is used as a base for this.
Then we overpaint the rendered room; we add textures, light sources and “flaws” to let the location look more realistic and hand made.
The clickable objects and items are added later on top of this background.
Going that route made it possible for us to quickly generate rooms with a mix of 2D/3D graphics using completely self-made materials. This not only reduced the workload for some of our colleagues in regards to the backgrounds but also made it possible for them to work on other things instead.