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Reflection on puzzle implementation, a literal game-changer for Loowa. Also, art style tests. Lots and lots of tests.

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Hey, everyone!

On the last few articles, we've been revealing the reasoning behind the decisions we're making and the path we're taking when it comes to one of the most important aspects of a game — its artistic concept and design.

After weeks of game design and art and programming tests, we finally know where we're headed and everything we do, every step we take, has that final destination in mind. We're close to the finish line when it comes to our environment concept art (we'll show you a fully-fledged mockup soon), and we've already started studying and developing our main character, Loowa, although it's early stages yet on this front.

When it comes to the environment concept art, we've reflected on the importance of art style tests for the development of Loowa's concept, and today we'll show you how our puzzles greatly affected our art style. We've mentioned that our second mockup helped us answer a few important questions about the game's design, both in terms of the theme, concept, and narrative of the game, as well as its artistic side.

Mockup v2
Loowa's second environment mockup


While trying to answer all these questions, we also struggled with puzzle implementation. What worked very well on paper (on a level design basis, that is) didn't seem to fit right in the concept art department. So we had to change a few ideas and adapt others.

From puzzles where Loowa had to push stones or tree branches to fill up wholes, we arrived at a new puzzle concept where Loowa's path is incomplete at times and players have to select the right piece (from many scattered in trees) to complete it. Some puzzles are merely lines which are broken and need to be completed, but others are line sketches telling parts of Lucas' story. These puzzle sketches unveil the game's narrative piece by piece, as if it were itself a puzzle slowly being completed.

Although the image is just a placeholder for now, Joana tried to represent the idea behind these "line puzzles". Upon Loowa's arrival, the puzzle piece options are hidden in the environment:

puzzle sketch puzzle1
First sketch and environment implementation


Loowa's presence triggers the change — the puzzle pieces turn white and players can select the correct one:

puzzle2 puzzle3
Puzzle in-game before and after its resolution


After the puzzle is completed, its filled with the colour(s) of the background, since the path is completed and Loowa is now able to pass.

puzzle complete
Puzzle step by step and final screen with background-colour


Naturally, changing the puzzles' concept had a great impact on the game's artistic style. We had to simplify Loowa's environment, removing unnecessary things from the background, so that we could add the necessary details (lines in the trees, for example) where they mattered most. Many more tests were made, namely colour tests:

color tests 0
First colour tests for this new environment concept art


And, you guessed it, more colour tests, this time closer to what we're hoping to achieve in terms of colour application:

color tests 1
Closer to the finish line


Testing has been essential for us in this part of the process. Only by seeing what works and what doesn't, what fits the story and what makes it confusing, can we find the right path for Loowa's art style. This has been a very long process, longer than any of us expected, to be honest, but we believe the end result will be worthwhile and Loowa will be a stronger and more wholesome game because of it. We're hoping that by taking the longer road now, we'll reap better fruits in the future.

What do you think? Any comments or suggestions? We're still learning, and since this process is all about trial and error, any input is welcome.

More to come soon, stay tuned!
#gamedevelopment #indiedevelopment #indiegame #indie #gameart

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