Back when I started it was all programmer art but already during the prototyping phase that changed drastically. Zack Bell once wrote in one of his articles that it’s important to make the prototype of your game already look good and I couldn’t agree more. If you are working alone on your project you are just getting sick of it seeing it every day if it doesn’t look appealing to you. These changes just came very naturally along the way but after that I had to take a break from programming and just start rethinking how it should end up looking.
One of the first things that came to mind was something along the lines of: “hey, you like fez color palette so why not try something in that direction?” And I have to admit I just started looking at some other indie game projects that appealed visually to me and tried to throw a mock up together as fast as I could. I loved the color of the sky of the first one and the vibe it’s giving off. Everything is fun to look at and feels just inviting. It would fit perfectly for an action adventure with slow and methodical gameplay but unfortunately my game is none. For me it’s far more important to clearly show the player what’s happening at any given moment on screen and for that there are just too much colors and so I either a) had to change the player design or b) had to change the visual level design and I really wanted to keep my little color slinging rainbow unicorn meatboy.
Next up was a industrial theme as it offered way better contrast between the player and his environment but somehow it just did’t mesh well. I liked the idea but something kept me from being content with it without me being able to put the finger on it. You could see at first glance where the player is. The parallax looked beautiful. But it just did’t gel with me. I even tried to rework how the color behaved so it would slowly drip down any platform but it still did’t help.
After that I had a rather long struggle to come up with any new ideas that would fulfill all my requirements but as so many times inspiration struck when you least expect it. I saw a poster in the city advertising for an 80’s electronic dance party somewhere and I immediately knew that this was the way to go. Even though it’s been tough for me to kill my babies by cutting the birds and the lasers that were essential before I think it was the right choice. You immediately know what music is playing in the background just by looking at the neon colors. Hear the heart pumping beat. You know at an instant that it’s an hardcore fast paced platformer because of the connection it evokes to all those old classics that never have been. It just fits. And here’s the very first video I made of that idea.