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Pixel artist ad post-mortem, with resulting concepts for comparison.

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The response to last week's advertisement for a pixel artist was overwhelming. I did expect a fair number of random artists from art forums just forwarding their portfolio, and certainly got that, but there were also a good number of applicants genuinely interested in the project itself.

In total the ad had nearly 1,000 unique views, attracting 34 applicants. Of those, 17 provided concepts for a Cogmind tileset, which I'm sharing with you today (anonymously!). Of those who didn't provide concepts, 5 are qualified candidates to consider for hiring if we don't find any initial concepts that are already on their way to being a good fit for the game.

But first, let's look at the concepts. Naturally these grayscale samples will feel somewhat different once colored in game, but the results will still be monochrome, painted with a fully-saturated color of varying brightness to reflect the tile's shading (if any).

The list--order is random, click to open the image and make sure to zoom it to 100% size for details:

cogmind_tileset_concepts1
Cogmind tileset concept submissions. (Click to open full size for details.)

I'm not making my own criteria or critiques public yet, hoping to instead hear what you all have to say. Some of you (those not using ASCII) will be the ones to actually use these, so I want your input. Have opinions? Favorites? Suggestions or preferences regarding style? Which of the above samples would you like to see expanded to become the game's tileset and, more importantly, why? Leave a comment here or at any of the many other locations this post is mirrored.

Next Steps

If enough of you concur that some of these concepts are something you'd like to see in the game, the selection process will continue as I contact those artists to work out the details, as well as compare candidates based on other criteria, like experience and, um... cost ;)

Bonus Art

While we were only interested in concepts for tilesets, some applicants provided samples of other kinds of art, some of it pretty cool... This wasn't required, but let's not let those efforts go to waste :D.

These are all different takes on my ASCII art for Cogmind:

linus_chan_pixels
Chainsword and Quantum Rifle partially pixelized by Linus Chan.

gustavo_santos_illustration
Anti-matter Cannon illustrated by Gustavo Santos.

shroomarts_pixels
Mini-pixelized weapons and components by Gurkan Te (ShroomArts).

Comments
destroctor51
destroctor51

I liked K and L most.

The first because it has a balance regarding simplicity and details that I personally enjoy, not being too much to focus nor being too basic.

The second because of its creativity on the robot designs. Plus they look badass =p

Oh, and the Mini-pixelized weapons and the Chainsaw/Quantum Rifle remake look great!!

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Kyzrati Author
Kyzrati

Interesting take on K, thanks for providing your reasoning. I can see that. I personally would prefer something a little sharper, but you're not the only one to like K.

L is definitely one of the front-runners in terms of votes. I'm not sure that design will work quite as well once you consider having a lot of them in view at once--it becomes a little more difficult to distinguish objects. I also think it needs a second gray color to meld all the parts together. We'll see what it looks like in the next round.

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Orac|
Orac|

B looks very pretty, but also very timeconsuming. L looks really good and a little more attainable.

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Kyzrati Author
Kyzrati

B is a little deceptive because most of the tiles won't be that large. for reference, a majority will only appear as large as those in the top row of the left side, and there aren't quite enough samples at that size to effectively compare it against the others.

Regardless of style none of the tilesets should be too time-consuming, since there is no color involved and even the largest sized ones are fairly small.

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Orac|
Orac|

Looking again, I really like L. It has more menace to it.

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CMDKeen
CMDKeen

All the tiles feel either too retro (as in late 80's) or too cluttered for my tastes. I really, really like Linus Chan's work on the guns, though. It's a nice improvement on the original ASCII but still remains very clear and easy to read.

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Kyzrati Author
Kyzrati

Clutter might be hard to avoid in general because the tile sizes are very small. This is why many people choose ASCII for games like this ;). (ASCII will always be an option of course, and played by many, actually.) The problem is compounded by the fact that they're monochrome. For that reason the best option might be one that focuses on clearly identifiable shapes.

I liked the chainsword in particular. We'll be sticking with ASCII art for the items, though.

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CMDKeen
CMDKeen

ASCII is great for clarity, but I find letters too familiar to properly convey any ingame meaning. Capital D just fails to tell me there's a dragon I should be afraid of, because I'm too used to seeing it every day. Identifiable shapes are indeed very important, but so is keeping it simple I think and almost all styles presented feel unnecesarily detailed to me. I would love to see something with the clarity of ASCII yet unique and easy to associate with the symbol's meaning, but I may be wanting too much here, haha.

Ah, it would be nice, but it seems there's already enough on your plate. I wonder what the chainsword style would look like if used for the tiles, though... if that's possible at all.

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Kyzrati Author
Kyzrati

"I would love to see something with the clarity of ASCII yet unique and easy to associate with the symbol's meaning, but I may be wanting too much here, haha."

You're possibly the second person to hit the nail on the head. Someone else who's been following the project from the beginning said that *none* of the tiles are very "Cogmindy," and I'm starting to agree. These are further from what I originally imagined, which were not true pixel art sprites but instead something more akin to "recognizable symbolic icons," exactly what you're implying. Perhaps we could say that the whole point of the tileset is to make the game more accessible to those who don't "get" something symbolic and are used to "normal pixel art," but if it doesn't fit the game as a whole, I think that might be the wrong direction to take. I'm considering contacting a few of the more experienced artists and seeing if they can manage something like that instead. Kinda difficult now that so many have applied to do something at least somewhat close to traditional game tiles :/

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Uogienė
Uogienė

Would like to see more from B.

Level will always be only sprite or only ascii? I think they should go together, especially when Cogming will be corrupted and see hallucinations : )

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Kyzrati Author
Kyzrati

Only the map objects will have an option to use tiles. On top of that there will still be ASCII in various forums, including corruption, yes :D. Also things like EMP effects and taking core damage will also put ASCII on the map. So, pretty much exactly what you've imagined here ;).

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Lyot
Lyot

I like the characters from L, the ones from P are really smooth out imo, and B has potential, just need more from it to make a proper basis. If they want, we can have them make custom tile packs for the game as add-ons that we can install to the game at our discretion. But that's just my take on this.

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Kyzrati Author
Kyzrati

Thanks for the input. I'm not quite sure what you mean by your comment on P--is that a good thing? Or are you saying the tiles are too smooth/faded/shaded.

I'm sure there will eventually be multiple tilesets to choose from, since it's very easy to add them and doesn't take a huge amount of work. The important thing is we still need a "default" tileset.

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