What's with the visual obsession?
Some people have mentioned that I seem to be focusing on the game aesthetics a lot recently. The reason is that I'm pushing to release a trailer, and I can't do that unless the graphics are fundamentally settled.
What's the big deal? About a month ago, after I announced the game, I started talking about it to the gaming press. The response was very muted. Michael Rose from www.indiegames.com was awesome and interviewed me, but other than that nobody seemed to care.
My suspicion was that it was due to the game's shabby, cobbled-together look. At the time, I didn't invest any effort into graphical improvements. I decided that I had to get the game noticed early on, or it would disappear into the void of the 'net. That's why I'm doing so much visual stuff lately. Once the trailer is out of the way, I'll switch back to improving the gameplay.
I've been working on alien and building death graphics for the last couple of days. That means large clouds of alien blood. I'm actually a bit divided on putting this much blood in the game, but I'll talk about that later. For now, here are some exploding hives.
One thing that felt off about the game is that hives dying didn't feel satisfying. This was a major turning point in a round and it was flat. I made them explode in a big way now, with red streamers and everything.
The other thing that was bugging me was the hive damage response when they were still alive. They would show no sign that they were hurt. I added squirting jets to show the damage.
As I've been working on all of these death effects, I've started to wonder if it all might be a bit too violent. There are certainly reasons for concern. Firstly, I've noticed that I'm trying to compensate for my lack of art skill with large amounts of red decals. That seems a bit questionable from the art direction perspective. Also, the grungy look of the background and effects is starting to conflict with the simplified look of the marines, aliens and buildings. I'll need to find a unified art style somehow.
The other concern is quasi-ethical. I doubt that anyone will go on a killing spree after playing my game, but I find spectacular violence for its own sake somewhat distasteful. Not to mention that all the exploding blood is starting to be distracting for the player.
The other side of the argument is that this is a game where you mow down large crowds of mindless drones. That's not too erudite however you consider it, so the graphics are appropriate for the subject matter. Perhaps I should just roll with it and make it as ridiculous and over the top as I can.
In the end I might do several things to deal with the issue. Firstly, this is probably the high point of blood in the game. I'm done with death animations, so it's not getting any more graphic. I might tone down the art for the effects, making the blood more cartoony or changing the colour to be more muted and non-red. The other option is to provide an "extra blood" switch in the game for people who want the spectacle and make it toned-down for everyone else.
What do you think? Does the game look too gory now?
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