From Art to Z, Art Direction for Mobile Game "Artificiel"
Softwares: Photoshop, Unity, Blender3D, Mixamo
Work Type: Side Team Project
Tasks: Art Direction, Game Art 3D, UIUX, Game Art 2D, Lighting, Level Art, Implementation, Concept Art, RTVFX
Artificiel was the first full game project I worked to be published as side project. As part of a small team (2 devs and me as artist), I was tasked to everything art-related. Whether it was Art Direction, VFX, Animation, Marketing banners up to in-game implementation and optimization within Unity and 3D modeling and basic rigging.
It took roughly 2 years from concept to store release.
Artificiel can be seen as a rookie project. Yup, we did not have enough experience when beginning the game, I was just getting my foot in the game industry's doors. But the project was interesting to work on and got me excited early on as a way to hone my gamedev skills.
On that part, it didn't fail. We probably did a lot if not all, mistakes that were meant to be done in developping a mobile game. Let's list a couple of them :
- Went straight down to Concept Art and visuals before even slightly thinking of UX Design.
This was difficult as we had to redo many assets and the whole app organization at some point. Mapping down the app is something highly important that I tend to do very early on since then. The better the UX, the less wasted time later on by everyone involved in production. You can find below an early UX map when I was figuring this out.
Working right away on Concepts is a great way to build the hype within the team and pull everyone in the same boat, looking at the same goal. But these very early sketches can't be seriously used in a preproduction/production setting without being heavily reworked upon.
- Optimization takes a lot of time
I was focused on making beautiful assets at first and it didn't occured to me that it would put any phones to their knees when adding 10,000,000 UHD icons to the game. I learnt to be more thorough in UI icon sizing and implementation in Unity. Using responsible, stretching and layered designs greatly helped at reducing the load and improving the fps.
- Readability and Accessibiliy weren't our priority
What a mistake! It works the same as drawing In game! Every element should be read from afar, be visible at first glance and every gameplay hints should be understandable once learnt. It forced a new redesign of the game visuals as early tiles were bland and uncomprehensible. Using symbols aids tremendously as well as a large portion of the population is color blind to an extent, accessibility should be a priority when making games. This was probably one of the biggest challenges as we tried to fix the mistake instead of having though of the issue very early on.
- Marketing is not magic
We could't turn that one around. Marketing should've been done way more earlier, by being transparent about the game development instead of opaque. Our big mistake was to not share our progress publicly, to not create partnerships and to keep the game as secret as possible. Learning about our audience, listening to them and trying to fix as much of the game based on their feedbacks.
It's easy to critique once the game is done and published, and maybe it wouldn't change a thing, but I believe that part was the most underestimated of all the mistakes we did.
For sure there were a lot more I learnt in the process. Basic Rigging and 3D modelling were new to me as well as SFX and theme compositions. Though the latest ones were choosen from a stock music website as no one wants me as a musician (Trust me you don't).
All in all, it was a wonderful learning experience that opened my eyes on the difficulties of game making, the various jobs involved and most importantly, the critical role of communication and openness between devs and departments. Good communication smoothen by a mile production, and understanding ow programmers work, or how marketers work, not only help them getting better, fitter art for their own purposes, but also help me at getting better at my job as a gamedev/Concept artist and ultimately, delivers better apps and games.