The month of April seems to have come and gone so quickly, and it doesn’t feel like I’ve gotten a terrible amount of work done. That’s not the truth however, as I’ve done a LOT of coding for the menu system, and finishing off all the game’s full functionality – especially oft-postponed party systems and tactics. I didn’t realize how important menu transitions would be for a rough prototype video footage, but it was the #1 complaint from people who watched it and I decided I’d take care of all that before I went any further. It took more time than I thought to code everything, since practically every menu is customized – there is very little in common to make a useful object class shared between each, except this one aspect. But to be fair, the game just feels… right, when things fade/slide in rather than pop up immediately. I made sure to keep all the transitions quick so the effect is subtle, but it’s the subtle things that add up to the full exprience. The quill cursor also now smoothly moves to each new menu option (quickly of course) which is a useful interface feature – if things just pop up at the new menu item, it may be hard to see what changed. With the quill moving, the user’s eyes are drawn to the new selection.
Above is potential production artwork for the main character Arashi Kageyama in Shadowdawn Genesis. It’s not the ONLY production art for her, but it’s the latest one for promotional uses. The other two are her dialog portrait and her status screen art (which is a more vibrant action pose), and I’ll share those later down the road. Also I promise to have the other main characters shown soon… the game hasn’t been announced yet so I have honestly been keeping their identities and designs close to the vest. It’s nearing time for a full reveal of the game to the press though, so I can’t put that off forever.
For posterity’s sake, I wanted to say that when I first wanted to make Shadowdawn, I was definitely not an artist – in fact I didn’t start drawing until after high school unlike most artists, simply because it just never occurred to me to try it. There’s still about 1 and a half years of drawing that I simply refuse to put online, but even the ones I’m about to share aren’t exactly the high point of my career. Still, I wanted to show the evolution of the character design for Arashi, and the evolution of my art style to show where I came from. Keep in mind that until this project started, Arashi was designed a bit older and more dedicated to her fighting (the story to Shadowdawn is set 4 years after Shadowdawn: Genesis)
It’s interesting to note that the top row (and the larger portraits to the left) are all artwork I’ve drawn since the start of this project in November 2009, so even in that short time I’ve really been happy with how far I’ve come. Before that, I think it was a real effort to force myself to draw, I was so discouraged from a lot that was going wrong in my life. But like I was saying to a fellow developer on twitter, there’s something to drawing with a purpose, I think it’s helped me far more than just drawing for the heck of it. The middle row is artwork I drew in 2005/2006 when I had practically given up making a game – my shift had turned to making it a manga. But I quickly realized I had a hard time with sequential art and eventually even that fell to the side. The bottom row is from 1999-2001, the years I was working with my friend Jessica to make the original Shadowdawn. Don’t judge me too hard, I was still learning to draw back then… well I’m still learning now 🙂 Hope you enjoy this archival piece, and look forward to more of the cast in the next update!