Monday, February 20, 2012

New Beginnings Pt Deux, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Conceptual Stage

Cripes, here we are.

So Call Connect has been chugging along at less than incredible speed (although we did get featured on the front page of Eurogamer as App of The Day, yowza!) and for the moment, creatively if not sales-wise, lies dormant, like a sort of handheld Marie Celeste.  Adrift, at least until we decide to update it again with, um, something.  Level pack?  If you'd played it, you'd understand what a silly thing that is to say.  New weapon upgrades maybe...

Regardless of Call Connect's failings or great successes, the time has come to move on to pastures new and make a second game.

We're not concerned about suffering a cliché sophomore slump as for that to happen we'd need a stellar opening effort.  While we're very proud of Call Connect and what we achieved over the course of producing and refining it, it hasn't set the world alight, or even a part of it (maybe Uzbekistan).  What it did do was allow us, to prove to ourselves, that we could provide ourselves with the proof that we, ourselves, proved, eventually.  Ahem.  Point is, we realized that we could churn a decent game that was polished, a bit charming and worthy of some small critical acclaim. We also proved that were just as adept at failing to market this charming, polished critical success adequately.

We're reasonably assured of our ability to replicate the latter, and though the former is elusive we feel as though (this Royal We business is starting to wear thin.  I'm going to revert to me, Greg, now) I've learned enough to stack the odds in our favour this time.  Part of that process is what you are reading now; get out there, say something, apologize for apparently being deliberately offensive despite the quote being decontextualized, retreat from the tabloid glare, regather your strength and build a following.

Some aimless and not so aimless rambling there.  That's me all over; verbose, prone to wandering and terribly unfocused unless Stewart Lee or vanilla soy milk is involved.  I'm the artist though, I can do that.  Shaun is the voice of common sense, reason, logic and programming.  I'll be posting pretty pictures of things and occasionally being serious.

Like now.

The conceptual stage of any artistic endeavour is personally painful for several reasons; one, endless rejections and revisions of your various concepts is going to be the norm for the foreseeable future and two, at least in my case, I'm very rusty and apt to be frustrated.  So ensues a few weeks of finding the time over nights and weekends to sharpen my skills, just to get them to that stage where I can reliably produce acceptable designs.  Lots of self chastizing during this bit.  Technical difficulties abound.  Not being a full time artist I can go weeks or months without putting pencil to paper or pen to touch screen, so regaining one's touch is a frustrating experience.  That came across as a bit whingey, yes.  Still, beyond this stage I'm in THE ZONE (meaning my bedroom).

Once this figurative hurdle is cleared (and I'm not sure I've cleared it just yet), I can set about creating themes, mockups, designs and a general aesthetic 'feel' for our next title.  This is the Good Stuff.  At this point I'm thinking cute (but not too cute) mecha, as the chunky, colourful yet tactile feel of deformed mecha would serve me well on multiple fronts.  As ever my tendency toward dark and grungy barges its way to the front of the queue, stepping on toes and elbowing heads, so I'll let that out of my system gradually until clean, clear designs are the norm.  Dark and grungy is a wonderful means of loosening the art muscle though.  Just the tonic for writing a thesis.

So, there I am, is.  Here is the very first half-reasonable snippet of concept art that may or may not give an indication as to what we intend to produce.  Dark and grungy, yes.  Greg of WTTC: out.

The first of many.  It's like a mecha-avocado, bent on vengeance.

Note: listening to Nahvalr and going to see Richard D. James in person in a few weeks.  Bazinga!