Posts Tagged ‘placeholder graphics’

A New Leaf

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

A healthy dose of perspective cures most ailments. Sometimes when I’m frustrated that Curses & Castles is not progressing very quickly it helps me to consider that it’s only a game, and that in the big scheme of the universe it amounts to very little.  Ah, my problems are minimized!  Breathe deep, now let it all go.  Peace at last.

But, alas, the same trick can have the opposite effect.  Consider that in the big scheme of the game, which at times amounts to my universe, the amount of progress that I can make in a single work-session amounts to very little.  My frustration is maximized!  Perspective be damned!

So I decided to do some reading up on how other developers handle their work flow, looking for ideas to increase efficiencies and productivity.  A favourite dev blog of mine is Dave Gilbert’s New York Gamedev Blog, mostly because through reading it I can fantasize that I am Dave Gilbert, but also because of his wonderful insights into game making and the indie adventure game business. I was reading or probably rereading some of his archival material when I stumbled across this:

Hmmmm…. It appears that successful and productive indie developers hash out their ideas in rough before investing any serious amount of time on graphics.

Further reading on Joshua Nuernberger’s Gemini Rue Postmordem indicated that he too had used placeholder art to quickly implement his ideas. Joshua even claimed to have done backgrounds in less than 30 minutes this way: if I’d been drawing instead of wasting time reading these fascinating development pieces I’d have had another two backgrounds in the bag!

I always figured I’d go back over my existing art and tweak it here or there, redoing the worst of it as necessary.  But that meant investing a lot of time in artistic assets that may not even be usable in the end.  So I set out consciously this week to only draw the barest minimum placeholder art for as many backgrounds as I could draw.  It was hard -by nature I’m a detail oriented kind of guy.  Frequently I had to tell myself, very sternly, to just let it go!

Here is the result:

Well, it’s not exactly an object lesson in programmer art. Sure it looks bad, but I did spend almost half an hour on the sap pool. My meticulous side insisted on getting the gist of it right (of course it still needs more shading and details here and there), since I needed the sap pool for animation purposes.

Actually, the end results are not quite so tangible as this crummy bit of programmer art.  The real result is that I advanced the project by six backgrounds this week, which makes me feel hugely productive!  Yes, I know in the back of my mind that this week’s “boom” comes at the expense of a lot more work down the road (I’ll stop before I flesh out a complete analogy with the US housing boom/debt crisis), but the feeling of accomplishment has generated its own momentum that has really enhanced my enthusiasm for the project once more.  Perspective is everything, I guess.