Choosing an artstyle

Hey everyone,

First of all, I’d like to mention that I’m really uncertain if this thread is in the right place. It probably is, right?

Secondly, I’m having some trouble in choosing what art style I want for my game. The game should be a little darkish (not horror darkish) plus, I want people to be able to play the game with a beast gaming pc. (I don’t even have one so making a photorealistic game just isn’t an option). Also it takes a lot of time to make all the assets and if you don’t have time for that, you have to spend SOO much money on other people’s assets.

I was thinking of something like the Walking Dead artstyle? Because I want to give the game something memorable. But can I even do that without getting people to be mad at me for using that art style? Isn’t using that art style illegal or something like that?

Please, I know I’m asking a lot of questions so to just give you a brief summary: Can I use another game’s (for instance the Walking Dead’s) artstyle or is that in some way illegal?

Thanks in advance,
Novalar

Walking Dead (I imagine you mean the Tell Tale game) uses a very stylized hand drawn, comic book art direction. There’s nothing illegal about using that art style, it’s just an art style. It would be like saying “it’s illegal to create your own blue shirt because Nike also makes blue shirts”, so yeah you’re ok using that style.

Moving on, a lot of people are mistaken thinking that going stylized is easier than realistic simply because realistic looks, well, more realistic. This is a rookie mistake. In many cases, going stylized is even more difficult and has its own set of challenges. For example, say your creating a main character for your game (let’s say a generic dude with a beard wearing typical post apocalyptic clothes, back pack, shotgun, etc.). If you do some image searches on Google, you will find a ton of photos of just that. However, if you’re going stylized, you won’t find your character online- because it’s stylized which means it is something specifically made for a distinct art style. This means you (if you’re a good character concept artist) or someone you hire will have to create dozens of character concepts just for the main character. What happens if you have a bunch of other characters? A.I. enemies? monsters? Now that’s just characters. What about environments, hero meshes, props, vehicles, stylized UX/UI, etc etc, you see where I’m going with this? It’s a lot more work and more labor intensive to make a stylized game.

Do more research first before deciding to go stylized- just because it looks “cartoony” doesnt mean it’s not serious amounts of work.

Making a game is one of the hardest things you can undertake and it’s not cheap, that’s just the reality.

Keep in mind I’m not trying to sound mean or discourage you in any way, just want to give you a heads up before you commit all your time and energy into this project. I wouldn’t worry so much about the art direction anyways, yeah it’s important but if I were you this is what I would do:

  1. quickly decide on art direction, just download some images from a quick google search on different art styles. Check out games you like and especially movies (film is a great source for art inspiration), collect a ton of reference images that give you a feeling of atmosphere and can convey the feeling of the world you want to create with just an image. Look for stuff that has interesting lighting, composition, and mood.
  2. once you look through all your reference, decide on a cool art style for your game/project, it could even be a mix of different images- choose the ones you like and then decide on that being your art direction for the time being (from the time you do a Google image search to the time you have the images in front of you and decide on something should be no more than a week or even a few days)
  3. put a pin in that art direction, you’ll come back to it later. Now it’s time for the most important thing; prototype your game. work on your game mechanics and systems (I’m hoping you created a game design document at some point before all this) and get to work developing your game
  4. once and ONLY once you have something good prototyped that works and is fun, then begin creating art. By then a lot of time has passed, prob months, time in which ideas have turned in your head and new ideas have flourished. Revisit your original art vision and it will prob be different, you may have a clearer picture of what it should look like. At this point finalize your art direction/style and get to work. If you have no choice but to hire people (because you can’t create the art yourself) you have a great prototype, show it off to investors, VC’s, angel investors, make a kickstarter campaign, apply for a Epic grant, etc. Use what money you raise to hire artists to finish off the art for your game.

If this is the first time you have ever done something like this, I strongly recommend you DONT do everything I mentioned above. Stop now. Instead, create somekind of small demo scene, something small and manageable. Basically something small enough in scope to where a single person working from home in their free time can accomplish, especially someone new to game development. This will allow you to hone your skills, make it more likely that you will actually finish something and see it all the way through, and teach you what it may take to make a game (which is again one of the most difficult things you can undertake as a software developer).

Hope that all makes sense, feel free to ask more questions! Good luck with your game!

Dear Jak,

Thanks for taking the time to anwser my question! I really appreciate that! And yes this is indeed the first time I’m doing anything in game making (not counting Game Maker :stuck_out_tongue: ). Furthermore, I’m 15 years old so spending a lot of money on a good computer that can actually run high end games or spending a lot of money on assets just isn’t really an option, and because I really like things like drawing and making 3d models I thought I could try to do most of the assets myself (which is, of course, pretty naive. I know).

Also, I would really like to create some kind of demo scene where I can kind of feel what the game is going to be like (of course I’ve already written a lot of ideas about it, but I haven’t really programmed anything), but I kind of ran into this problem:

  1. I had an idea, it was (for me) the best idea in the world etc etc etc. It was cool and everything, great!
  2. I started brainstorming, writing down ideas, drawing characters and got an idea of what the game would become like.
  3. Then the problem came up: I started trying to make some characters in Blender but then I didn’t really know what I want(ed): Do I want to make a really high poly model (which is doable) or do I want to make a low-poly one? And if I make a low poly one, I shouldn’t make a too realistic design because that just doesn’t look right. And so on and on. I just don’t really know what to do with it…

Thanks in advance if you’d like to help me out here!
Novalar

You have to ask yourself what it is you want to do:
a) want to create a fully playable game people can download and play?
b) want to create a small chunk of game, like a demo or proof of concept; for learning purposes and to get a good idea of what you can pull off and how long it takes to finish something like that

Based on what you have said so far, I would recommend option B. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, because what will happen is that you will loose momentum as you realize how difficult this undertaking actually is as the weeks go on, you will loose motivation and never finish anything- that’s a habit you don’t want to get into. Does that make sense?
The idea is to set yourself up for success and not failure, which is what I think most people do.

Don’t stop from keeping your super ambitious great game idea written down somewhere, you can always come back to it later. You’re young as hell, which means you have lots of time to improve and learn more dev skills, which you will eventually use to create your masterpiece. For now, take a tiny piece of your game and make a prototype of that, only focus on that. Polish it and improve it until you have something really cool. By then you will have a better idea of how much time and work is required to create a game, which will help you scope and budget your future projects much better. Again, setting yourself up for success.

Finally, I have to repeat this because it’s so important, don’t work on any characters or final art yet. That comes last. First work on getting your game mechanics and systems working. Blueprint is great for this because it allows for incredibly rapid prototyping. Use placeholder art for now, for example use the default character that comes with UE4 as a placeholder for your main character. If you need NPC’s or other players, simply change the color of the material instance by making red characters with a single click. You can even get free assets from the marketplace, like the Mixamo character pack which brings a ton of free characters with their own animations. Look on the marketplace, there’s more than enough free stuff for you to use. Need a gun? Grab the assault rifle from the Shootergame Example which is also free from Epic! When prototyping you shouldn’t find yourself creating any assets except for an extremely rare case when you can’t find any placeholder assets (i…e your game absolutely requires a giant spider mermaid, there’s nothing on the market place for that :smiley: ) Need particle effects? use the ones that come with the free starter pack, there some smoke, explosion, and sparks stuff in there.

Hopefully this all makes sense; work smart not hard. Good luck with your game idea!

Dear Jak,

Thanks for helping me! This is really what I needed!
I’ll now start making some kind of a demo, and if I’ve finished it, I’ll let you know!

Could you please please please please help me with further problems on this forum thread? Because I’m likely to run into a few more :stuck_out_tongue:

Again thanks for you help!

Regards,
Novalar