Hi there! I appreciate the review, and the reminder that I need to go back and edit the links! I still hope to some day advance this style of game, whether that be with Virtue or with other projects. I'll post a few of my links over on your youtube comments!
Recent community posts
Ah, that's fascinating! I had actually been working with a friend on a game made out of miniatures. We took a different route, though. We weren't into how round the 360 view felt so instead of stitching images together we decided to take a click-and-point approach. It's cool how you've leaned into that radial warping though -- it feels very trippy.
I... liked this? I stumbled upon a screaming mass of polygons and it made me feel upset. I fell into an undulating shape and had to put other shapes onto alters. I don't know why.
It was cool seeing how, despite it having no congruency, I still found myself wanting to explore it.
Ah, that's a good point! The tile map was one of the first things I made, so its simplicity is kind of a remnant of the learning process. I'll for sure take that into account as I continue to improve it! Thanks!
I liked how ya'll used the filter in your photo editor to add continuity between scenes -- Also, I'm a sucker for sound fx, so I appreciated the work you put into your audio environment.
I got stumped and couldn't play to the end, but I'm also not very familiar with text-puzzles.
Greetings! I come from a 'Fine Art' background, and I've been developing a game in Godot Engine which utilizes stop motion animation.
I've been able to glean a lot of helpful information from the game dev community as a whole, but I've also been struggling to find a more concentrated community of weirdo-art-types making weirdo-art-games. Does such a place exist?
I’m XEA, an interdisciplinary (or generalist) artist working out of the midwestern, USA.
I’m writing this account in retrospect, having recently published my first game demo, VIRTUE, here on Itch.io. VIRTUE is not complete, but it's hard for me to quantify how far along it is. Currently it contains an introduction, tutorial, a demonstration of its mechanics, a boss battle, and an open-ended closing cutscene. I hope to expand upon it, but to what degree depends on how it is received.
Before publishing VIRTUE I hadn’t had much contact with the world of game design, so I didn’t know about ‘Devlogs’ and their role in connecting creators with the community. Had I known, I would have more carefully documented the creation of VIRTUE — instead, I’m going to be laying out what it meant for me, a generalist artist, to find my way into the world of game design and begin developing VIRTUE’s aesthetic.
((You can check out VIRTUE here — I intend to expand upon it in the future, but I also designed the demo to be a complete experience:))
A Long, Winding Path
Now, for those of you who may not be familiar with the term “generalist”, I find it best understood as the opposite of the term “specialist”. Someone who works exclusively in one area of expertise is a ‘specialist’, whereas someone who has experience with a wide range of skills is a ‘generalist’. More colloquially known as a ‘Jack of All Trades’, generalists have become more of a rarity in our world today, as specialization is often more financially rewarding.
I’ve only been aware of the term ‘generalist’ for 5 years or so. Up until then, I just thought I was just the weirdo who took every art class at my local community college. Drawing, painting, sculpting, 2d, 3d, graphic design, music theory, silkscreen printing… I could never choose — I didn’t want to choose.
(my early screen-printing illustrations)
And so I began accruing skills, but I never quite saw anything to fruition because before any current endeavor was completed I would be distracted by a shiny new project. Eventually I had to buckle down and make some money as a screen-printer while still trying to find the time to be in bands and create art in what ever way I could. It was during this time I began to experiment with practical FX and prop design. This involved a lot of different processes — mold making, painting, airbrushing, 3d design…
(my development toward 3d textures)
Unexpectedly… I stuck with it. I realized I could subvert my tendency to be distracted by working on projects which required multiple skills. It was a game changer.
My first cohesive project after this was a series of three “Angels” — conceptually, I wanted to illustrate what I believe to be the most destructive forces in our society: Dogma, Greed, and Supremacy. After making their general shapes out of recycled materials, I created their features (veins, pustules, spines) by sculpting them out of clay, casting them in plaster, and replicating them with liquid latex. I didn’t know how I wanted them to be posed, so decided it would be easier to make them posable. I followed the advice of some stop-motion animators and gave them bendable wire armatures.
('Angels': Dogma, Greed, Supremacy)
Of course, I couldn’t resist the allure of stop-motion animation. It seemed like a natural way to display my 3d artwork in a digital medium, and it would give me an outlet to incorporate music and sound-design. However, I was afraid my ‘Angels’ wouldn’t work for stop-motion because they’re just floating blobs with arms — or maybe I was enraptured by the idea of a new medium? In any case, I dropped everything and made an Opossum puppet with a hand fabricated ball-and-join armature. I had been working on a theatrical, instrumental folk project at the time, so I intend to use this puppet to promote its release. I built a miniature forest on my bed and spent HOURS shooting what amounted to a 10 second clip.
It was grueling. As someone who has trouble sticking to one task for any amount of time, I’m absolutely NOT destined for feature length stop-motion animation.
Still, having spent so much energy on stop-motion already, I resolved to find a way to make it work. I began to shooting my ‘Angels’ on a green-screen, hoping to save some time by animating their movement digitally. This meant learning motion graphics software; fortunately my experience with graphics design software helped me pick it up fairly quickly. In this format I could easily loop my animations, so I didn't need to shoot as many frames. Ultimately I settled on using the ‘Angels’ in a music video for a song I had recently released. After making more assets — smaller abstract sculptures I call ‘Virtues’, and clouds made from cotton stuffing — I finished my music video.
At this point I had a variety of unique assets at my disposal, and the music video had forced me to solidify the ideas into something of a thesis:
"Metaphysical, Spiritual, Conceptual Constructs:
Intangible, yet definable;
Invisible, yet observable;
Our collective Soul/Psyche is a substrate
On which intangible organisms grow."
The final piece of the puzzle came in the form of my friend Devin Larson of BTL Games, who is passionate about experimental game design. They had been working on a point-and-click game with non-traditional assets, Corn Soup, and after seeing the work I was doing with stop-motion (and having played Hylics), they reached out to collaborate on a point-and-click adventure game. As we worked on this project and realized the possibilities, it quickly evolved into a massive undertaking. We continue to develop this game, but at a slower pace than originally thought. (You can check out our progress on “Inn Ad Interim” on Instagram by clicking here)
While working on “Inn Ad Interim” I realized my lack of understanding regarding coding limited my ability to communicate my ideas. I decided I needed to learn how to code, and the best way to do so would be to make my own game. After downloading Godot, a free, open-source engine, I began delving into tutorials on Youtube. Rather than using pre-made assets or placeholders I decided to use the assets I had made for my music video.
Thus, the stage was set for VIRTUE.
It’s my hope the account of my journey may be useful/ encouraging for those generalists who may have yet to find their groove. On a more personal note, I also hope this may be useful for artists like myself who deal with ADHD. I’ve spoken to many such artists, and it appears to me they often wrestle with the urge to learn new mediums and skills. I believe if carefully maintained this tendency can be extraordinarily valuable and enriching.
In the future I will likely pickup where I left off, outlining the process of making VIRTUE and the decisions I had to make along the way. In the meantime, I would love to hear back from other generalists. What challenges have you faced while building a game on your own, or whilst taking on multiple rolls? How have you met these challenges?
Thanks for reading!