Hey there, folks!
After last week blog about our journey into the making of tutorials, we wanted to share with you more about our creative process when dealing with a new boss.
As we are re-designing the tutorial we decided to add a mini-boss to give the player a taste of our combat system that is however catered to new, inexperienced players.
I introduce to you the Watchdog:
He fell numerous times, pierced by the Crusaders Spears. But every time, he arose again, stronger. Once all the Crusaders had been slain or fled, The Watchdog was left to roam the Battlefield, forgotten by both the enemies and his Master.
Now if you are still reading you might be thinking ” who is this lanky little dude?”
Doesn’t look like the “Watchdog” does it… ?Well, neither according to us.
We always start out planning from a document where usually we list three important sections about the boss(in this case miniboss):
- The Idea and background story and where we want the boss or encounter to transmit to the player. In this case, I can only post the quotes text already present at the top of this article but you’ll find more in game.
- Some reference pictures which I (@jakkizz) rely always heavily on as a starting point or direction for the sprites.
- All the description with paint pictures of the attacks which look something like this:
Which is usually followed by a more technical description of attacks which could include the amount of damage, the type of attack, and how the implementation is gonna be if the attack it’s very complex.
From the Idea, to whatever I feel like drawing, to final concept.
(Disclaimer: @jakkizz Talking and I’m NOT an artist but a programmer, this is the result of my foolish idea that I could actually learn how to make sprites in less than 3 months)
First thing I usually do is starting with a color palette which I build up, usually depending on the environment and or the “mood” of the boss. I always try to pick a different color for important objects like the weapons or the limbs of the Boss: I noticed that this helps read much better the movements before the attacks and kinda guides your eyes through the animations.
After picking the colors and doing my first pose I instantly send it to John (@Fire_WasTaken) and here starts our back and forth.
Again starting point:
The first thing we noticed missing was the fact that supposedly this guy went through battles for a long time and he has been hit, hit hard and numerous times. So we made him hunched over a little more and I added some spears on his back:
We started to see the “watch” part in the sprite but the “dog” part was completely missing, so we started experimenting a little bit with the helm, which we thought could give character to the miniboss:
And as you can see out the first try was completely off as we tried to push the character in another direction. We were still missing the dog bit so we decided to straight up use a wolf/dog head as a helm.
I was already more happy at this point but I was still unsure about the sad “don’t leave me out at night please” dog look that the new helmet was giving. So we went back to looking at references and we found a very good one:
This is what we wanted, hungry and angry, like a real beast should look at it’s pray. So I put myself at work and I tried to make it more threatening.
First I tried with some sabertooth, that ended up looking more out of Ice Age 3 than a proper horror movie, so I decided to stick to the reference and keep them upwards, sticking out of the mouth.
The eyes and the grim smile were giving to us the right feel, still, something was off about the stance. I thought that he was still not threatening enough, it looked more like a limping patient than a beast. Weirdly enough I remembered Ikkaku from Bleach, and a stance that has always been on my mind ( I would love to do a similar boss with huge weapons, quote me on it Kotaku) :
Which led me to spread the legs a little.
Perhaps a coincidence but the same night while I was working I saw a tweet from Kojima about the new Godzilla trailer.
After watching it I got what “beefiness” in our boss was missing and so I added more flesh on the back and a little tail at the end which would also make an excuse for the weird feet stance.
And this is our final result (unpolished)!
I am sure that even this form could have been made better with more iterations but with each boss, we usually give us a time frame in which we need to start working on the animations after having the concept completed (so to also keep up with the programming side, we like to have few essential key-frames to start implementing the whole animator and AI so to have a playable version as soon as possible).
This is it for today, folks!
Till next time!