We consider every asset in Gears of Eden Alpha 1 to be a placeholder. They’re not bad (I’ve had a lot of fun playing Rover Photographer for these updates), but they’re not quite representative of the vision we have for Gears of Eden. Recently, in pursuit of solidifying this vision, we spent a few weeks working with different artists to get some varying perspectives and determine a group that we can work with, alongside our internal artists, to help guide us into the future. To be clear, our current goal here is to develop the concept art specifically for the demo release, but ideally, we wanted to find people who could carry us beyond that as well. Before I continue, I should say this: Hiring outside artists costs a good chunk of money, and in order to do more, we’re going to need your support! We are going to do more detailed posts on all the concept art we’ve received this round on our Patreon page, so keep an eye out there, and consider joining us as a supporter.
When working with artists, it’s important to frame the conversation with references that help convey the tone and feel you’re looking for. What are we specifically looking for? Well, this may seem like a funny source of inspiration, but Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels come up frequently when we’re talking about this project (alongside a little bit of Wall•E and Planet Unknown). We love the aesthetic those shows have going for them; they don’t bombard you with fine details, but through strong design, visually pleasing color schemes, and highly expressive characters, they’ve managed to create something truly beautiful. In a perfect situation–one we plan on working towards–we would love to blend that with the sheer physicality and humor/storytelling of the Portal franchise.
That said, we’re also looking for art we can actually work with. This round’s concept art was centered around the player character, since it encapsulates so much about the game’s design aesthetic. There was some work we got that we really loved, but may have felt like it would be too difficult to animate in a way that would feel natural and relate-able for the player. There were also instances where the designs just didn’t feel modular enough to work with a character who we want to be changing and evolving all the time, based on the player’s progression and needs (and cosmetic preferences). When working on game design, you can’t just go with what looks good. You have to consider the whole production pipeline. If a design is too complex or nuanced, that might mean more time in modeling and texturing, and it might mean that making cosmetic upgrades and modular options for that design require too much re-work and slow the production down. You have to look at form and function together, and make decisions that affect the entire development process.
For this round, we had the pleasure of working with some wonderful artist. We are now internally evaluating these concepts, and actually building some out to test in the game. We’d love to hear your reactions and thoughts! We’ll be sharing more on Twitter and Facebook, so be sure to follow us and speak up. And, as I mentioned, if you want to see more concept art, help us out by supporting us on Patreon!
Want more Gears on the go? Be sure to check out our podcast, Reaching Eden, on iTunes, GooglePlay, or wherever you find your podcast.