Branding: The Icing on the Cake

Howdy Folks!

We here at Two Hat Games have touched on the idea of creating a coherent style amongst all our artists. This was back in November when we were finalizing our “Art Bible”, however, by this point not much of our game had anywhere close to finished models, much less textures. The work that we’ve done to focus on a pipeline for every one of our assets, whether it be a one off prop or a repeatable room has now begun to finally pay off.

Without reiterating whats been said before, I want to move beyond art within the game and move to the art and design that we will be creating outside of Building 37. We have not covered much to do with the Graphic Design and branding that has gone into the production of our game up to this point.

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Graphic Design is a bit of a passion of mine. Though it is not my focus, I have taken numerous classes and amassed a small portfolio. The design, branding, and marketing of games is the icing on the cake that helps grab and audiences attention. Unfortunately, right after deciding what game we were going to be developing (and maybe even before), I reached straight for that icing before we had really even decided on a style. Luckily, fellow teammates and our producer were able to reel me in and convince that this dessert needed to be saved. I was still able to create a small identity for the game that helped inform decisions later on. The current identity is simple, yet reinforces the idea of redaction and mystery.

 

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It’s interesting to look back at some of these early, unreleased promotional images and even our first teaser. They may share a similar tone to what we have now, but our aesthetic has changed dramatically.

 

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Our website launched just after the announcement of Building 37, and despite sporting a striped down aesthetic and color scheme, significant thought was given to all parts of the interaction.

The website beginnings with a large feature image that moves into a description of the game. However, so much is communicated to the user in just this first section. The user now knows the name of the game, the setting (Seattle based on the Space Needle in the skyline), and the parallax movement downward mimics Ellis’ slow downward descent in the game. Other small pieces include Polaroid gallery with red string to mimic our twineboard as well as the extensive use of the redaction motif. We wanted to ensure that many of the ideas and mechanics that the player would discover while playing our game would be introduced in our website experience.

As we come closer our launch day, stress levels are high and moral is always barely fluctuating. Luckily, the last month of our scheduled timeline calls on our artist to change hats to bug testers. Due to this, most of the art will be completed before then. So, along with testing, I will hopefully be furthering some of these early branding ideas that we developed in to a full-fledged identity for marketing.

PS. I also did the very early and very rough identity for our studio, Two Hat Games. I don’t think that we have talked about the origin of 0ur name here before. We had reached a point early in our time together that we needed some moniker to rally under. We threw around names like “Uncle Bison” and even the now defunct “THQ”.

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At some point while deciding positions and duties, someone proclaimed “Looks like we’ll all be wearing two hats”. From then on, the name stuck.

 

So long,

Adam Toth

Lead Artist

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Repeatable Game Assets

When creating a game like Building 37 that is architectural in nature, the creation of repeatable assets and general prop models help lend a sense of realism and authenticity for the player.  They help make a game seem “lived-in” and can act as kind of a visual code to inform the player as to the environment they are in.  When you actually sit down and start to list all the objects that are associated with and found in a government facility, or any big business type facility for that matter, the list of stuff can get pretty long.

However, creating only a handful of general assets that you can just duplicate in Unity and change the placement of each throughout the game, saves time, effort, and is more efficient for development.

Therefore, we have been gradually creating objects within our environment that can be used repeatably throughout each level of our game.  Things like trash cans, doorways/frames, desk chairs, office telephone, general office desks, you get the point.  Once the object is modeled, we have also been creating various differences in the textures we apply to them. We apply these different textures to the same objects in order to add to the variation throughout the game.

We are now at the point in development of our game where everything aesthetically is starting to come life.  As we begin to increase are asset creation and implement them into the game, Building 37 is starting to look like an actual lived-in facility.

The images below are only a handful of the repeatable asset we have created for use in Building 37 as general prop models which can be used throughout the game.

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– Douglas Heinkel

Art by the Bible: an Update

Hey there!

In the last post I made talked about the absolute importance of having written standards for all things Art and Programming in documents regarded as Art/Programming Bibles, respectively. Now that the team has had some time to put these Bibles to use, I’m coming to you with an update of how they’ve (sometimes) saved us a lot of headaches.

Texture work has gone swimmingly ever since we agreed upon a color palette, shown below.

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With the color palette as a sturdy base, we are able to maintain similar room and object styles throughout the game, no matter what artist creates the texture. Shown below are 3 examples of textures created by 3 different artists.

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Now, if you look closely, you can see the color variance and each artist’s interpretation of the color palette. We all have different styles but the Art Bible directs us closer towards one resolved style. Thick outlines and lines to designate texture are big players in making our art look united. I struggled early on with using black lines to imply texture instead of creating the texture with color and detail, but with practice I’ve been able to replicate the style and nearly match the art of my teammates.

We recently ran into one major issue with programming; programmers, comment your code! There’s nothing worse than, on build day, your script breaking the game but you’re unavailable to come in and work so your teammates have to decipher your franken-code and try to solve the issue. Commenting increases readability for anyone who needs to take a quick glance at your code, and it can be a quick refresher of what your code means when you look back at it in 4 months. It’s a quick summary that can save you a lot of time in the long run.

Overall, our Bibles have been invaluable. I’ve personally gone back time and time again if I ever had a question on a naming convention/UV layouts. Without a dedicated color palette our art would look entirely different. The Art and Programming Bibles are the glue that holds our project together. Coherence is created in our game with both of these documents.

Thanks for listening, and I hoped you’re as excited to see the textures in-game as we are here at Two Hat Games!

Ronnie Smith

Part artist, part programmer

The Journal & Menus

Menus are a huge part of a game even though they may not be seen as significant as gameplay or mechanics. A game without menus well… would not be very functional! Menus allow the player to pause, restart, end, or make vital changes to the game, such as screen resolution or sound volume.

Last sprint Adam Toth, lead artist, designed the journal menu. This menu stores all the evidence that the player collects while playing the game. The player has access to important evidence that they may need to revisit later, either solely out of interest or to grasp a better understanding of the story. The journal also contains a dynamic map that reveals itself once areas are explored. Without a map a player could easily get lost in the game, not knowing where they are. However, since this is a noir game we wanted to add mystery to the locations that the player has not yet explored. Unexplored areas on the map are represented by question marks, as seen in the image below. The map was designed by Will Falk, design lead. The room that the player is currently in highlights.

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Once the level is fully explored it will reveal all the room names.

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The player can also click on the journal tabs to access other features within the journal. The tab to the right of the map is the objectives. This menu displays the current objective on the bottom left hand side and completed objectives on the right page. The image below is a prototype of the objectives page.

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The left most tab contains the evidence that I mentioned above. It currently looks like the image below and will soon be populated with evidence documents for the player to examine.

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Below is a rough prototype that Adam designed. When a document is clicked on, it will pop up and the player can read at it. After the player is done reading the document it can be minimized and will return to the evidence tab of the journal. The story tab, which is the rightmost, will function similar to the evidence tab.

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The pause menu is separate from the journal and can be accessed by pressing “esc” on the keyboard. The player can save the game or load a previous save. Game settings can be changed and currently include sound volume and mouse sensitivity. More options might be added in the future. The player can also go back to the main menu or exit the game through the pause menu.

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The last menu in Building 37 is the main menu! But, I will leave that as a surprise for when you experience the game.

 

Thanks for reading!

-Ally Schultz