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Fangs Out – Concept Art!

This is the first in a series of blog posts that will follow the development of Guerilla Tea’s second original title ‘Fangs Out!’. In the coming weeks you will see blogs about Game Design, Programming and Production however today we begin with Art; specfically the concept art stage of this project. The idea for Fangs Out! was born out of the notion of what happens in a childs imagination when playing with their toy planes and helicopters. As a result the team decided very early on that we wanted the game to be larger than life, over the top, humourous and stylized in a cartoon manner in order to try and imitate what it might be like in a childs mind. As you can imagine the most important art task in a helicopter game is of course the visual design of the helicopters themselves, and so once a style had been discussed the first major art task was to deal with these. Once our Designer (Charlie) had decided on the helicopters that would be available in the prototype; a generic model helicopter, the AH6 Little Bird, an Apache and something similar to the Scorpion, as a premium product, the task of visualising them began. The first step was to get an understanding of how the helicopters looked in real life. This was done with some very simple line drawings in Illustrator using all the correct proportions. As we were trying to achieve a stylized cartoon art style I decided to make the helicopters much chunkier than they were in real life and to play with their proportions a bit; for example shortening the tail and over-sizing the body in order to pull them out of reality and emphasize each helicopters individual qualities. We also decided that as we wanted to really push the ‘larger than life’ aspect of them we would make the weapons greatly oversized, almost as much as it would seem that the helicopters would barely be able to fly with them attached. Once the Illustrator sketches had been completed it was important to ensure that, due to the amount of visual noise that would be contained within each map, that each helicopter model was easily recognisable from one another. This was vital as we wanted to ensure that no matter which helicopter a player chose they would always be able to defeat other players as long as they used tactics which emphasised their chosen helicopters strengths, for example is it fast and agile with low armour such as the FO-RC mk1 or slower and less manoeuvrable but with great armour like the RC Naked Flame. Thus the design of each helicopter had to be immediately distinguishable from each other, even in low lighting or visually dense scenes in order to allow the player to make very quick tactical decisions on how to tackle their opponents. To test this we used a very simple shadow study in which all detail was removed from the helicopter so that only the only information available to tell apart each model was the silhouette. This guaranteed that even in the poorest of lighting conditions the player could identify what model an enemy player was using. We were very keen to provide a high level of customisation to Fangs Out! not only in terms of how each individual player could load out their helicopter in terms of rotors, engine, weapons and a few other things we’re keeping a secret for now! We also wanted to include some aesthetic customisation in terms of pattern and colour choices. The next task then in terms of concept art was to choose the four patterns that would be available for the prototype and apply these to the drawings to see how they worked and also give the helicopters a bit of character and finalise how we would achieve a cartoony style with shaders, which in the end was decided to be a Toon Shader optimised for iOS and mobile. Once the vehicle design had been completed the last part of this relatively short concept process was to map out the environment in which the battles would take place. As we had decided to only create one environment for the prototype we wanted to really try and reinforce the idea that these were model helicopters and not actual military helicopters flying around fighting; the end result was a living room. The main aspects to work out in the mapping of the environment was the; scale, layout and general placement of obstacles in order to make as interesting an area as possible, as well as being believable as liveable space. Initially we thought it would be nice to treat the environment with a Toon Shader in the same way we had the vehicles, however due to the technical limitations of mobile devices we decided that this would not be feasible. Instead we decided to give it a semi-realistic feel while restraining ourselves from getting carried away with too much detail in the textures so that the main focused remained on the helicopters themselves and environmental gameplay features. In the end we feel that this also benefitted the idea that helicopters and combat were taking place within a child’s imagination and thus were stylized and the environment was simply where the events happened to be taking place and so remained somewhat realistic, proving that technical limitations need not always take away from you’re games final outcome. Well, that’s our first development blog post, I hope you all found it interesting. The next post will be from our Designer so keep an eye out for that. Matt Zanetti The Artist

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