While developing a game, you wind up spending long periods of time staring at the same art. Working on the Episode 1 demo, I’m now staring at my own retouched version of the old maps. I’ve been trying to keep this work purely cosmetic, but certain illusion-breaking, nonsensical things that bothered me have gotten some attention.
In the thieves’ warehouse map, for example, the elevator doesn’t inexplicably climb a rectangular shaft anymore:
In the Tiervan slum map, the way the ground stops while the cement foundation continues always looked awkward to me, so I decided to expand the map to fill in those tiles.
What bothered me here was an inherent, Escheresque pitfall of isometric artwork where there are simply too many diamonds everywhere. This update is an example of diamond reduction we’ve been working at via an art direction goal we like to call “de-Qbertification.”
Another part of the slum that made no sense to me was the block Ivan has to conspicuously hop over during his entrance. Why is that there? Well, there’s a pipe there now for no other reason than to keep that part of the terrain intact.
Also, it rained. I always imagined it was raining during the game opening due to the now defunct loading screen’s interactive ripple pond time waster, and thought it would be a nice layer of detail to add. I do have remaking that effect in the “unnecessary” section of my to-do list for later implementation.
The art updating process will accelerate as more of the often reused artwork is polished up and we move on from maps that basically needed to be remade entirely to the generally more well constructed ones of later episodes.
The Purposeful nonsense in World’s End will remain intact, of course.
I’ll restrain myself from making too many alterations to the old maps, but for the beginning of the game it’s worth making a good first impression.
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