All posts tagged with "icons"

My Favourite Icons

So we’re coming up on the launch of Clockwork Empires in, uh, exactly one week from now. Everyone in the office is furiously testing/polishing/balancing/implementing the last few features/flipping out. You can imagine that no one (except me) was volunteering to write a blog post, so I threatened to write one where I just showed my favourite icons from Clockwork Empires and rambled about why I liked them.

So many icons! (These are not, however, my favourites.)

So many icons! (These are not, however, my favourites.)

There was enthusiastic support for this notion. So much for that threat. Still: an Artist never bluffs, so this week we’re going to talk about My Favourite Icons.

Oh yeah, heads up: the first one is cannibalism, so brace yourself for Thematic Imagery.

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I’ll just leave this here.

What’s coming to Dredmor in the near future? I’ll leave the answer to that question to frivolous hearsay and idle speculation. (Please, if you so desire, commence!)

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A Different Kind Of Magic

I think we’ve got a Gaslamp Admission to make: Sometimes we make decisions not because they are right from business perspective but because they would make things more funny.

At one point not too long ago I had just wrapped up outlining and drawing icons for every spell in the game — six schools of magic (the traditional Air, Earth, Fire, Water, Black, White) with eight spells each, so 64 48* total — when I spoke with Nicholas about a thought I had.

D: Right, so our spell school categories are basically [very] boring. I am not seriously suggesting we do anything about this, but they could be … much more interesting.
N: What did you have in mind?

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Dredmor Skill Icons

I’ve just finished the latest round of revisions to the entire pile of spell icons. This is just one task which is part of the massive spell overhaul we’re doing for Dredmor’s beta 0.92 (when I’m not getting distracted drawing the disembodied heads of founding members of Gaslamp Games).

Man, there are a lot of these buggers, but they do get easier (and better) every time I redraw them. Telling you anything about them would ruin the fun*, so I’ve just thrown together a collection of some of my favorite spell and skill icons for your enjoyment:

Still have to draw animated effects for most of these. Urrgh.

* whereas “the fun” refers to how much fun I have as people try to guess what the hell some of these skills do.

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What is a Warrior to do?

Combat RPGs don’t traditionally offer much active choice to a warrior character: Do you attack? Do you not attack?

Maybe you get to quaff (but never “drink”) a potion every so often. A player’s agency comes more from the set-up to combat through having a much more equipment-driven character than, say, a wizard. It is compelling to collect and use equipment, but  a warrior really ought to have something to do in combat aside from clicking “attack”.

But this is a known problem, and it has been dealt before, and cleverly.

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Posted in Dungeons of Dredmor, Game Design | Tagged , , ,

Old Magic, New Magic – And the crunch.

Begin ye, my week of Dredmor crunching!

I shall drink the black liqueor of Yog-sothoth; yea, that odious brew which gives unlife to that-which-lived-not shall give me life that I may make all the art for which Dredmor thirsts in this week.

(We’re off to a good start, aren’t we? Imagine how crazy I’ll feel by the end of it.)

Anyway, I’ve been drawing some icons for our recently revised and renewed spell list. The art direction has changed: All spells will be drawn, like skills, at a larger size because bigger pictures are more fun to look at (though they still size down to 32×32 for use in the old spell slots). Some spells are new, some spells are old. Some are all new graphics, some are old graphics redrawn. See here:

My, I’ve got an awful lot of work to do. Sixty spells, thirty-one rogue skills,  twenty-five warrior skills. And that’s not including the menu art, new and revised UI elements (hey, we have an experience bar now!), new and revised tilesets (including animated liquids), and uh, some more items, a few status icons, spell effects, random things …  stuff … and things …

I’ve even got a great idea for a comic for the beta release written down somewhere; hope I can find time to draw it out.

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Nitpicking Lockpicking

As part of the Dredmor beta crunchening process we’ve been making executive decisions about various pieces of game content. Among these are the various abilities granted by the seven starting skills a player selects when beginning a game of Dredmor. These skills are roughly classified by the three traditional RPG archetypes: Warrior, Rogue, and Wizard.

Let us then enter the shadowy world of the Rogue.

The Rogue is a strange one in Dredmor and possibly my favorite for being a bit of an underdog. It’s ended up as the class that’s received all the skills that were not explicitly spell-casting (Wizard) or direct-combat related (Warrior) and therefore range from the obvious (“Stealth”) to utility (“Alchemy”) to the rather random (“Archaeology”). A player who chooses pure Rogue skills will be in for a session of Dredmor that shall often revolve around manipulating the more periphery systems at work in the game.

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Iconoclasm & Nomenclature

I’ve been drawing icons for skill abilities in Dungeons of Dredmor. When creating your character at the start of the game, you choose seven skills for yourself. As you advance these skills through use, you gain new special abilities. Today I’ve drawn up some abilities for the axe skill and will discuss icon images and giving the skills their names.

To quickly take up a tangent on the design decision to have these skill abilities: In RPGs mages have traditionally had the most diverse abilities which translates to having more  enjoyable game-choices to make. Do you cast fireball? Teleport? Ice shield? Do you “paralyze nerves, shatter bones, set fires, suffocate an enemy or burst his organs”? Meanwhile, a warrior can choose to either attack or not attack. And why would you ever not attack? Yes, the warrior is ideally more of an item-driven class, but why deny certain character archetypes whole swaths of gameplay, be it special abilities/spells or item management? Compare Diablo 1 with Diablo 2 and you see the solution Blizzard took: Give every class spell-like abilities. (And give every class useful item progression.) New editions of D&D, even, have taken up the spell-like ability for non-magic classes. The lesson is clear: It is important to give the player important decisions to make in the course of playing the game.

And now for the icons:

These are the sub-abilities of the axe skill. Each gives a unique combat effect or shaped area-attack. As originally planned, these icons are displayed at 32×32 pixels in-game, the smaller size in the above sheet, but it does the painted icons some harm to shrink them so much. It might be more appropriate to draw these as native pixel-art at the target resolution (as I did with the spell icons), but I feel it loses some character — and takes a lot longer. Time is money, friend.

As for naming, everything in Dredmor is rightly a bit silly. If a name can contain a pun or a joke, I’m all for it. If it sounds awesomely overblown, it’s good. If it just sounds like it belongs in a cheesy fantasy game, it’ll do. At some point a name feels right, it’s like writing a gag in a comic strip or coming up with a good zinger. This is not to say that everything in Dredmor is really all that good, I’m just trying to do my best with what I can deliver in a reasonable timeline. To borrow a line from Hemmingway, “I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit.” … And that goes for the art, too.

Let me take you on a tour of my thoughts about each ability icon.

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