This concept art series was developed for a proposed mobile game project. The game was intended to be another “infinity runner” genre iteration.
However, the game was going to include a heavy and original difference. Instead one character or a few characters with similar gameplay, it was going to be a game playable with a large bunch of characters. The key: the more you advance in the game, the more “laboratory essences” your are going to unblock. These essences could be mixed among them with a different result in every combination, resulting in a different playable character for each of them.
A game like this was a game design and a visual challengue. Every character has to get its own personality, gameplay, features and still belong to the same game and obey the same design rules. The final game project contempled eight essences and twenty eight characters, all suceptible to evolve or being modified by the player.
Due to the nature of the game, it was clear from the very beginning that it had to be a quite humoristic, surrealistic and pleasant game, which lead to a clear, vivid and simple vectorized visual style, related to comic strip cartoons. Character animations were going to be powered by real time physics with little additions of traditional animation: this approach also pushed to a clean vector style.
Before achieving the “essences” concept, what these essences were going to be and how they were going to combine among them we had to propose, design, redesing and discard literally docens of characters. To manage such amount of visual information I had to use panels like this one to introduce in a visual way every change decided. It took months.
Finally, the selected essences in the game. They are quite surrealistic as promised. They were not going to be available from the beginning in the game, needing to be unblocked as the player makes progress. Final version of this essences were designed by Katiana Alomar using my sketches and direction guidelines.
Every essence combination creates a new creature character in the game lab. Here are some examples and the science formula associated, the character roster approved for development and some discarded characters that almost made the final selection.
Some of the characters were also illustrated as high resolution images for marketing and project cover purposes. Those were used to create a project cover by my workmate Sergi Lorenzo.
A quite humoristic and vivid game like this, placed in some kind of mad maze laboratory the creatures are trying to escape from, needs backgrounds that add some crazy features and atmosphere. Following the desing guideline for the characters, a simple and plain visual approach was decided. Outline was discarded and a paler, colder, darker and desaturate palette used in order to achieve a proper separation among characters and backgrounds.
Two first sceneries were proposed and a third one that would serve as a ‘transition’ scenery that allows the mobile CPU to unload and load graphic sets. When the memory resources are quite limited and the nature of the sceneries so prone to repetitiveness you have to use some visual trick and tips; introduce small hue and saturation changes among similar pieces, small changes in patterns and two or three variations of every tile class to introduce some randomness. Creation of a decorative prop sets also helps.
First, the High-Tech Lab theme, then a transition theme quite simpler than the others and sans scroll parallax, and finally the Old Lab theme. More lab themes were sketched just in case of needing: military lab, underground lab, sewer lab, circus lab, etc.
Finally, we populated the sceneries with our character, fx and some basic game objects. Looks nice! So much better and nicer as fake device screenshots.