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Posts Tagged ‘XBox’

Our A World of Keflings is on sale for Christmas, as is some of the DLC!  I found out about this through a roundabout promotional email, so I missed the first of the sale, but it’ll be up until the end of the year, if reports are correct.

I worked extensively on the core game and all of the DLC.  It’s been fun seeing things come together.  One of these days, I really should do a writeup of the process.

Anywho, go forth and conquer the Kefling world!

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The Curse of the Zombiesaurus

The newest DLC for A World of Keflings is going live on Wednesday!  Or would that be going undead?

…zombification is bad for verb tenses.

Anyway, I worked quite a bit on this one as well, so it’s good to see it finished and in the wild.  That cool promotional poster was done by my talented coworker, Daniel Hughes, though I did some work on the logo.  So yay, I’m famous an’ stuffs… but he’s a way better artist.

Happy Halloween, everyone, complete with candy and Zomblings!

…is there any interest in showing off some concept art and behind the scenes production stuff?  I can ask my boss if he’s OK with that if you all want to see it, and maybe a peek behind the game development curtain.

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Not all at the same time, though.

NinjaBee’s game A World of Keflings (a game I worked on quite a bit) is on sale this week over at XBox.com, and just in time for our latest DLC to hit the shop.  OK, technically it’s a little early, but it’s on sale this week, and the Sugar, Spice and Not So Nice DLC releases tomorrow.

As teased in that trailer for the DLC, we’re also releasing a second DLC, Curse of the Zombiesaurus, giving us a nice double serving of October-flavored gaming goodies.  I worked a LOT on both of these DLC releases, and it’s been fun to see them come together.

Curse of the Zombiesaurus!

I’ll be writing about the art and design of these things when I can get something put together.  If nothing else, I want to put together an article in praise of noobs.  …yes, it’s relevant.  Mostly.

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This one’s just a public service announcement.

My employer, NinjaBee, now has a trailer up for our latest A World of Keflings DLC, Sugar, Spice and Not so Nice.  I worked a ton on this, and it’s really good to see it getting some attention.

Happy Friday!

When the game releases, I’ll try to post a bit more on it and maybe talk shop about what I actually do at work, if you all are interested.  A look behind the curtain, as it were.

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Some more information has been released from the NinjaBee secret vault.  Microsoft is allowing devs to create costumes for avatars, and we’ve taken the opportunity to make some fun stuff, themed around the pending A World of Keflings (sequel to A Kingdom For Keflings):

A World of Keflings Avatar Store Preview

(this graphic is copied from there, but it’s worth clicking through for some extra details)

A World of Keflings Costumes

…and some of the pieces of those costumes are found here.

It’s a curious thing, this new MS policy, allowing devs to have a bit more to offer in the avatar customization arena.  Not only is it a way to maybe monetize interest a little more, but it’s also advertising of a sort, not unlike branded t-shirts.  It’s also fun; I can’t wait to see someone meandering around in a NinjaBee costume.  I think it’s a good thing, and I’m very curious to see where things go.

Beyond this being an announcement for my company, though, I get to show off some concept art that I did for the male Arabian-flavored costume:

Arabian Male Concept

I spent a fair bit of time painting this costume over a generic avatar, offering this as a proof of concept for what we might offer for avatar costuming.  The final male Arabian costume doesn’t quite match up with my original concept, but it’s fun to see that it’s at least similar to what I dreamed up.  It’s especially fun that they kept the little trim decoration design.  I doodle that sort of thing all the time in my notebooks and sketchbooks, and it’s fun to see it get through the production pipeline.

Y’see, concepts don’t always come out in the final game as intended or originally conceived.  Larisa lamented this a while back, wherein I responded with a bit of a peek into the dev process in the comments section, here quoted for completion’s sake:

Might I chime in as a game artist with a background in film production? I’ve worked with some fine concept artists, but inevitably, given engine or time constraints, the final implementation of concept art will not match the concept perfectly.

Some companies do try to match it as tightly as possible, and others use concept art as mood pieces to set the emotional tone for a piece of the game. Still others are mere color studies, a great many others are merely experiments, and it’s even likely that the bulk of concept art is merely sketch work. It’s impractical to polish it all up to “museum” quality. I’d go so far as to say that we’re not likely to be seeing even 5% of the concept art created for the project, and what we do see is likely a cross section of varied types. Straight up production pipeline concept art almost never makes it out of the studio.

Even if it did, probably only 10% of that art is faithfully represented in the game down the most granular details. There are simply too many compromises to be made in the translation from fine art to game art, most especially in the change from 2D to 3D.

If the final game art can match the mood and spirit of the concept art, evoking the emotional response that the devs desire, even if some details are lost along the way, the production is successful.

Think of concept art as a sketch (as so many of them are for various reasons; trying to make the equivalent of the Mona Lisa in 3D would be ridiculous in game production schedules) that must be translated into something playable. Much as the translation from vision (or reality) to painting can lose fidelity, translation from concept to final can lose fidelity.

The best production pipelines don’t sweat that loss. They find the most important parts of the art and focus on those and let the unnecessary bits go. That’s where the artistry and skill comes in on the production floor, making the choices on where to spend time. That’s where the art director steps in and keeps both the concept artists from going too far and the production artists from endlessly chasing miniscule details. It’s a matter of scope… and a LOT of game devs don’t do that well, to be blunt. That’s an article in itself, though.

To be sure, it’s possible to take concept art and match it to a high degree of fidelity, as in a Pixar movie, but the practical realities of game production mean that a different approach is necessary. (This, both in the production cost and the lack of prerendering… Pixar’s 30 frames per second are typically rendered over the course of DAYS, while we have to render in real time.)

So, concept doesn’t always translate directly to the final product, for a number of reasons.  I also intend to dig into this a bit more with Yet Another Artisty Article over at the official NinjaBee blog… but I’m not done with that article yet, and it might need to fit into the promotion schedule.  I’ll mention it when it comes up.  There’s only so much detail I can get into for a variety of reasons, but I really want to show a bit more about how things go from concept art to final game asset.

Until that time, then…

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I finally purchased an XBox 360.  I’ve avoided doing so for almost four years now for a few reasons, primarily among them the expense and glut of M-rated games (and concurrent dearth of games I actually want to play).  I will not buy or play an M-rated game; it’s a personal choice that I don’t expect is terribly common (or even popular), but it’s a significant factor in my game purchases.  Beside that, I still have good games I want to play on my trusty PS2 that I haven’t made time for yet.  I really don’t need a new console and more games.

And yet, there was a good deal on Amazon (an Elite model with LEGO Batman and PURE, two games I’d want anyway, for $300 with a $50 gift certificate), the IRS returned some of our money, and I really want to be able to play A World For Keflings when it comes out (hopefully soonish!).  I’ve been working on XBox Arcade games for three years now, and I worked on Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 for the 360, but I’ve only ever played them at work when testing things.  It will be nice to be a “mere” gamer, seeing my games from the other side, playing them because it’s fun, not to break things.  My wife and little girl like Keflings, too, and it’s instructive to see how they play the game (I can’t get away from researching games, after all).

I will dearly miss the dev cheats and unfettered control camera, though…

I can also admit that I want to try out games like Batman: Arkham Asylum, Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon, Infinite Undiscovery and Final Fantasy XIII.  Thanks to XBox Live Arcade, I also finally got my hands on Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, a game that I’ve wanted for a decade, but didn’t ever manage to get for the PlayStation.  The machine was still expensive, and I still don’t have a lot of time… but I’m actually pretty happy, if decidedly spoiled, to have my own little XBox.

Quite expectedly, my gamertag is “Tish Tosh Tesh”, for anyone interested in stalking me in the world of Keflings.  I can even show you which parts of the games I built.  They are my babies in a way (I see them more than my own kids during crunch time), so I want to show them off a bit.  :)

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The company I work for, NinjaBee, has announced our newest game.  It is the best sandbox game that I’ve had the privilege of working on, and well worth looking at if you have a chance:

A World of Keflings

The official company blog announcement

IGN’s preview

And various bits of concept art from the NinjaBee blog.

It’s been a fun game to work with, and I’m really looking forward to seeing it in its final state.  Here’s hoping you all enjoy it too!

(Of course, the irony here is that I still don’t even have an XBox.  I guess I have to play it at work.  I’ll call it… testing.)

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