Here is the second article in a series of 5 devoted to the creation of DEN.
Witten by Nicolas Liauthaud from La mécanique du plastique right after the end of the Ludum Dare #38 Game Jam.
This article is dedicated to the creation of the environment and the setting of the mood.
DEN postmortem #2: Environment and mood
Even before starting on creating Den, from the first day of brainstorming, we choose to step away from our 3D habits and go for pixel art. By lack of a game workflow routine, after a quick moodboard we jumped straight ahead into drawing a complete single illustration of the whole game, without much thinking about props and reusable assets for building the Level Design.
When came the time of integrating in Unity, we realized that this method would be pretty risky. Mainly because it meant that the level design wasn’t flexible and wouldn’t be tested before long. So we stepped back and switched to a LD made in Unity by using spritesheets of rocks with different scales and shapes, used as material to create the paths for the tunnels. It allowed us to allocate tasks more easily to multiple people on the team (that’s obvious, but someone could change all the rocks in once by working on the spritesheets while others would work on integrating).
So something went wrong here , as we were a bit lost on how to manage the balance between fully controlled illustrations and flexible integration, and we lost some time in the process of figuring it out (we still didn’t had a practicable LD on the beginning of the last day). It led us in the end to a lack of time to take a second look to the LD, that would have revealed an issue with the clarity of the last puzzle.
But despite this difficulty we were all along able to produce graphic assets without so much trouble and in the end creating the visual atmosphere went pretty right.