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Game Design From Outer Space

How we started the prototype for our Bosch Art Game entry. Zwan is about to fly!

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 09.28.43

The Zwan Starts Flying


Zwan: The Story So Far

As you may or may not know, last year we entered a contest, promoted by the Bosch 500 Foundation in order to create a game about the art of Jheronimus Bosch, a Dutch painter famous for his wicked, often crazy works. We wrote an introductory post about him here.

So, we are working on it! If you follow us on Twitter or Facebook, you should have stumbled upon some work-in-progress art, but this is the very first post where we’re going to tell you something about the actual development of the prototype. Which by the way is called Zwan.

Blank Slate

First of all, we took the concept proposal we submitted, and started figuring out what we are going to implement in this small prototype. Then we immediately decided that the very first thing we should have done was to create the swan movement.

We had already decided what the art style would have been: we were going to recreate the bizarre world of Bosch through a low-poly style. It’s slowly becoming our favorite style and it seems to be perfect to depict surreal landscapes. So Alessandra made a temporary terrain and we put together a very basic demo with our swan traversing it flying.

Then we started working on assets. We wanted to use a lot of the recurring objects you can see in Bosch’s paintings, so we basically modeled a good deal of books, musical instruments, bizarre fountains and so on. But we needed creatures (and a better swan).

The New Swan

The new swan, in all its glory.

With a Little Help

So we asked Nicola Pireddu for some help. Nicola is a super awesome 3D artist and animator. He joined our project with great enthusiasm, and he started recreating the swan and some of the creatures we want to populate the world with. The result is pretty good, now our swan lovely roams the skies of our little world looking here and there.

The other creatures are currently waiting their intelligence scripts, but are well on their way. When we are finished with this we will have schools of flying fishes, flute-playing demons, disc-throwing creatures and the all-time favourite Bosch’s creatures superstar: the tiny thing with the beak protruding off a medieval helmet.

The Beak

The little beak guy, ready to raise hell.

Order, Please.

Meanwhile we decided that our Unity project was already too cluttered and we have to do something to rationalise it before it was too late. So Marina took the lead on this, and, right before starting to populate the world with trees, dice, blades and general weirdness, she rebuilt all the project’s folder structure and compiled some guidelines about how to name objects, how to export them to Unity and, in general about the pipeline. I must say this particular part of the project was extremely useful and we are learning a lot out of it.

Our project hierarchy

Because an ordered project is vital.

Where we are now

After hitting some rough patches, learning a bit of Mecanim and having a lot of fun scripting (I found that scripting together with Lorenzo greatly helps me focusing and thinking straight, I’m definitely not the lonely kind of programmer) we are starting to see the game out of the mass of polygons we built. First basic interactions are in place, and some more are coming. We have a control system, and the swan keeps its height constant through a PID controller script, which is a new thing I learned and I kinda love it. The road is still quite long, but seeing things growing is of great help to keeping morale up and enjoying populating this little world.