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IGAVANIA (n): A gothic, exploration-focused action platformer, designed by one of the godfathers of the genre!
IGAVANIA (n): A gothic, exploration-focused action platformer, designed by one of the godfathers of the genre!
IGAVANIA (n): A gothic, exploration-focused action platformer, designed by one of the godfathers of the genre!
64,867 backers pledged $5,545,991 to help bring this project to life.

January Update: IGA's Got A Brand New Background

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Happy New Year! (I'd have wished you Happy New Year earlier, but I like to keep the teaser updates strictly business.) 2016 is a big year in the Bloodstained development cycle, and I'm looking forward to keeping you updated as each piece falls into place.

The first piece of the year, of course, is the shader we teased earlier this month. All the feedback you gave changed IGA's plans for the shaders—originally he was planning to show four, but your comments helped him narrow it down to two shaders: A refined version of Shader 1, and Shader 3, which you saw applied to Miriam in the teaser.

But they've come up with four variations anyway—a veritable shader Punnett square. What follows are Background 1/Character 1; Background 1/Character 3; Background 3/Character 1; and Background 3/Character 3.

Speaking of backgrounds—they also put together a new background for you. I think you'll like it.

Background 1 / Character 1

 Background 1 / Character 3

 Background 3 / Character 1

 Background 3 / Character 3

Here's IGA's comments:

Greetings!

Last time, we turned to the backers for input on which shaders to use in the game. Based on that, we've gone back and put tons of time into making improvements. In particular, the background we revealed in the previous update was just arranged for our own experimentation; for this update we've put much more detail into it. This may make it easier for you to see which direction we're aiming for.

Of course, as we add more detail to the background the characters become more prone to blending into the background. Some of you have noticed the characters' proportions changing in the art and early screenshots—we're making adjustments as we build the game to maximize the contrast between character and background. We've made more changes for this update, and adjustments will likely continue as we get farther into development.

One you may notice is that Miriam has two long ribbons attached to her shoulders now. When we tested her original graphic, it was hard to pick her out against the background, because there wasn't much on her costume that moved or swayed. (The design of her left shoulder has changed, too, as some of you pointed out; this is the reason why.)

For this third shader, we've increased the contrast of the background and edited the lighting to polish the overall effect. The first shader also looks different against a more detailed background, so I think there's a different effect to that one, too. Which one do you guys like? To be honest, opinions are divided within our team!

We spent an enormous amount of time and effort on this third character shader to create an illustration effect. We tried to get closer to the requests of backers who hoped she would look more like the original design illustrations, and when I first saw this shader, I have to admit I was so impressed I actually gasped.

So we've compiled a few options of these background and character shaders put together and would like to see what you think. And, as I've pointed out in the latest Ask IGA, this will be our final request for art-direction feedback. I'd like to ask for any final thoughts you have now, so we can move forward and start putting things in motion. - IGA

Once I saw these I understood why they hadn't gotten us the new shaders on schedule: They decided to make new screenshots from scratch, instead. 

Too-high-res-for-Kickstarter versions of each image are available—just click on the one you want to see. And if you'd like to let the team know which of these configurations is your favorite, click through to our new survey

This is a packed update, and anyway I don't want to skew the results by telling you which of these screenshots is my favorite—so we'll move on. Next up: Ask IGA!

Is that enough Bloodstained content for you? Too bad, because I've got way more

XombieMike, your host at the Bloodstained forums, got through two episodes of the Community Broadcast while IGA and Inti had their heads down. His guest for the December 13 edition of the podcast was cecil-kain of Operation Akumajo, a huge Facebook community about all things Castlevania. 

For January 14's podcast, he talked to Mana Ikeda, IGA's new community manager, translator, and all-around factotum. Oh, hey—I guess that's another thing I have to tell you guys. Pardon me for a moment while I bug Tony about creating a new banner. 

Hello, nice to meet all of you! My name is Mana Ikeda and I will be engaging with everyone as a community manager. It's an incredible honor to communicate with fans and work with such an immensely talented group of people. I'm a newcomer, but I will do my best to contribute to the community.

Mana will be helping us put together these updates, but she's also prowling the forums and passing your feedback along to the development team. Listen to the podcast to hear more about how she ended up at ArtPlay, her career as an illustrator, meeting IGA, playing Castlevania, and moving to Japan. If you hang out in the community, I'm sure you'll see her around—make her feel welcome!

As long as you guys keep making amazing fanart, Steve will keep digging it up. He's very thorough. (If you want to make it really easy for us to find it, tag your art #bloodstained or #igavania on Tumblr!)

by Potsu
by Potsu
By 蔡 雪
By 蔡 雪
By Erick Rabang
By Erick Rabang

Last up on the docket for this month's update: Some cosplay. Some really good cosplay.

 Bloodstained, by members of the P! cosplay group.

The cosplayers you see are from P! cosband. Here's their bio:  

P! is an award-winning cosband famous in the gaming cosplay world. They focus their work mostly on cosplay skits but group members' achievements stretch as far as running their own cosplay convention and leaders winning the 2014 World Cosplay Contest in Nagoya, Japan. Members of the group decided to make a Bloodstained cosplay project the moment they heard about IGA’s new game.

When we showed them to IGA, here's what he had to say:

I was shocked at how good these look, considering the game isn't even out yet. The cosplay itself is incredible, but the lighting in the pictures make them look like breathtaking illustrations. It's so far ahead of where we're at in development that I can't imagine where you could go from here, but I know there's nothing to worry about—some of the characters in the game haven't been announced yet, so I hope you look forward to them. I truly appreciate all the support from everyone!

Qaantar, Matthew J. Boone, and 266 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Patrick Ca on May 29

      Its now Late may and in a few days June, no new updates???

    2. Missing avatar

      Jack on March 4, 2016

      Not sure about the background, however I am 100% sure about character 3! 3 is the best.

      Also love her figure, breasts, butt etc, don't change a thing!

    3. Missing avatar

      Alejandro Rendon on February 29, 2016

      C'moooooon February update! Come to papa!

    4. noiro on February 17, 2016

      3/3 definitely! That is exactly how I pictured Miriam! Looks really fantastic. Keep up the good work!

    5. Missing avatar

      Joshua McMillin on February 12, 2016

      At this point in time, I chose Character 1, Background 1 for these reasons...

      A lot of people who's comments I've read seem to prefer Background 3, and I totally agree with what a lot of them said. I would actually prefer Background 3 myself...the contrast seems greater, but the lighting really needs to be toned down some. It looks too unnatural, as if some spotlight or artificial (electronic) light were shining on the scene; it just doesn't look quite right. It kind of spoils the environment and atmosphere to the point where I just can't choose it.

      Background 1, while it doesn't have quite the same contrast as Background 3, has the lighting a little closer to what I want. Maybe a little too dark at times, but I like the tone and atmosphere of it better.

      If the lighting of Background 3 were toned down to a more natural level to where it looks more like candlelight (or moonlight) instead of modern lighting and if the intensity were toned down more, I would change my opinion and choose Character 1, Background 3 instead of Background 1. Right now, though, my choice stands at Character 1, Background 1.

      Oh, and for me, Character 1 wins hands down no matter what. I actually love the look of Character 3 a lot, but I like Character 1's look even more. The softness of her figure and skin and the more natural look fits in with the environment and the 2.5D graphics. Character 3 is a little too harsh and angular and, as someone else noted, the lighting regardless of background just doesn't look right on Character 3. So, Character 1 without a doubt.

      Having said all this, I will actually and truthfully love any option that is chose...Character 1 or 3 and Background 1 or 3. I'll be happy with any of them. :) I just prefer, as I've said too many times already, Character 1 with Background 1.

    6. Lilith Erickson on February 11, 2016

      @Louis Breitzman

      They mentioned that pixel artists are a lot less common, and that they weren't able to find enough people to actually get the game done in a reasonable amount of time doing strictly 2D in one of the earlier interviews.

    7. Missing avatar

      Brendan Alinea on February 10, 2016

      The edges of the player model under Character shader 3 look a little harsher when zoomed out to a normal perspective, but is much more immediately visible. Might be better if the lighting were a little less intense, or the outline were stronger at a distance. Shader 1 blends better with either background but is less impressive overall.

      Background 3, no question.

    8. James Lopez on February 10, 2016

      Character 3 looks bad zoomed all the way out. All of the definition and detail is gone because I can't see the lines at that level. They all look good closer up though.

    9. Missing avatar

      Alejandro Rendon on February 10, 2016

      @Louis From day 1 of this KS campaign they've been up front saying it was going to be 2.5D and they stated their reasons. One of them being, you guessed it, because it was cheaper to do polygons than all in HD sprites. So you can't say you're surprised by this decision.

      What I'm surprised about is, though, just how good looking this game is turning out to be!

    10. Missing avatar

      Louis Breitzman on February 10, 2016

      Did they have to go 3d on an action platformer though?

      Unless 3d drawn sprites are cheaper to create I'd have preferred a pixel drawn look like his previous games. For nostalgia any to make it cheaper for his team, especially considering he's got inticreates on the job after completely acing Azure Striker despite how long that took to hit at least S ranking in every level. Either way I'll always be happy with whatever is delivered so long as it meets the goals set. I can't waaaaait for this. Just can't. Still salty about katana winning the best weapon vote though.

    11. Justin Chovanec on February 10, 2016

      Background 3, character 1. Character 3 is too cell shady...

    12. Brendan Wong on February 7, 2016

      Background 3, definitely.

      Character 1 responds to the environmental lighting better, but Character 3 looks more unique. If Character 3 paid more attention to the ambient lighting and changed accordingly, it'd be the obvious choice. Right now, you can barely tell that the environmental lighting has any effect on the character model.

      Please do something about that.

    13. Missing avatar

      Kerron Jack on February 6, 2016

      Character 3, Background 3

    14. Cole on February 5, 2016

      I'm going to go with Background 1, Character 3.

      While char 1 has a very beautiful, soft look, I think the sharper and more defined char 3 is far more interesting. The backgrounds are great with either shader, though i think shader 1 will draw out the shadows in the background more.

    15. Missing avatar

      Robert Fincher on February 5, 2016

      Character 3 is fantastic! I love the artwork up close, the way the character looks like a painting.
      However, background 1 looks alot better to me in terms of shading, the way it has a darker feel, and it follows the lighting of the room (like the light is casting shadows) and I don't think background 3 has that feel as much. It feels like a much brighter background which isn't How I imagine a room with blood on the walls and a Gothic style to look; and character 1 looks much better in contrast with background 1 from the distance view.
      I think the best option would be to use background 1/ character 1 for the gameplay itself, and to zoom in on dialogue and cutscenes and use character 3 when you have a closer view of the character.
      I don't know how that transition would look and if it wasn't possible I would still vote for b1/c1 since the contrast with the background feels like a nicer game.

    16. Cyber Shantak on February 4, 2016

      Shader 3 for for character and background seem best to me. Also, regarding weapons, what kind of ranged options are we going to have? Stuff like crossbows, fireball spells, or maybe an early gun?

    17. Missing avatar

      André Barbosa Montelo on February 3, 2016

      I prefer Background 3 / Character 1.

    18. Missing avatar

      Battleduk on February 3, 2016

      Character 3 is EXACTLY how Miriam should look. Phenomenal work, team! I don't have as keen an eye as to tell the difference between the backgrounds, but whichever one compliments Character 3 better is the best choice. There is so much color and life and style in Character 3. It makes me that much more excited for Bloodstained! Keep up the fantastic work!

    19. Eltanin on February 1, 2016

      I was ready to pick shader 3, but character 1 looks very very good. I had a hard time deciding. I finally went for 3/3.

      Something I like a lot about character 1, is how crisp and clean Miriam looks. Maybe the black outlines in character 3 could be smoothed and blended out a little bit more, to help to preserve some of the clean look of character 1.

      On the background, besides the color palette, it looks like the same shader to me. When using character 3, it almost looks like two different shaders are being used at once.

      I think it would be nice to throw a bit of the painty look texture from character 3 to the background, just enough help bring the whole picture together, but without compromising character and background contrast.

      I really don't know how hard would it be to have the option for both. At this point, both shaders look amazing. I'm very happy with the care and love the whole team is giving to this project. Keep it up!

    20. Krastinov on February 1, 2016

      I like 3/3, looks good.

    21. Scarlet Panda on February 1, 2016

      Oh and bg3, character 1 I think.

    22. Scarlet Panda on February 1, 2016

      Love the ribbons. Maybe they could be used in some sort of combat option or special item? That would be fun I think.

    23. Missing avatar

      lccarles on January 31, 2016

      I really hope IGA will made character shaders as a choosable display option.
      If there is only one combination can be choose, Background 1/ Character 3 will be my most favor.
      BTW,maybe IGA can show us how does Miriam moves like with these shaders.
      I think it will help backers to make decision about the shader combination.

    24. Cameron Craig on January 31, 2016

      I don't have an opinion on the backgrounds but I'd say character 3 fore sure!

    25. Anthony Lopez on January 31, 2016

      Character 3 is my favorite. The character model looks gorgeous.

    26. Missing avatar

      Collin Long on January 30, 2016

      I personally like 3/3, but 1/1 also has it's charm. Would it be possible to include an option that allows the player to switch between the two styles?

    27. Missing avatar

      Returner7 on January 30, 2016

      Would it be too complicated to include all shaders so we could customize for ourselves? They all look pretty good to me! If I had to choose, I'll probably be happy with whatever the community chooses.

    28. Echidna on January 29, 2016

      The images give a better impression when viewed full size. An important thing to note is that the majority of the gameplay will be zoomed out, so unless the camera has a reason to zoom in at some point in the game, the finer character details may end up being overlooked. Character 1 looks really good when viewed up close, while character 3 is far more detailed when viewed in the distance.

      While I am a fan of the texture-detail in character 1, it would barely be noticeable in actual gameplay unless the camera were to zoom in on the character for some reason. Character 3 has that radiant blue glow bordering the character, which helps distinguish it against either background. I wonder how Character 1 would look if it had a radiant blue glow?

      Character 3 Background 3 looks good...too good in fact. The colors are a bit overwhelming to the point that I would prefer Background 1 instead. Perhaps a tone down in color would help.

      If character 1 were to be chosen, I would recommend it with background 3. The colors in background 3 make the character model stand out more. Otherwise, my vote goes to Character 3 Background 3 with just a slight adjustment on color intensity.

      Background 3 has some spot-on details compared to the soft-smooth textures of background 1.

    29. Casey D Miles on January 29, 2016

      3/3 looks best to me.

    30. Missing avatar

      gean31 on January 29, 2016

      3/3 for me.

      I'd say do what Halo: anniversary did for it's shader: Allowed you to switch between updated graphics and the original.

      Of course to do that, they would have to delay the game. So yeah lets stick with 3/3.

      Does the scarf mean we won't have the falling rose petal/iga stylized character aura?

    31. Anton Forsander on January 29, 2016

      I wish with that budget they would hire the INDIE company, yes INDIE, behind Ori And The Blind Forest.

      Which in my opinion got the most beautiful and creative graphics of any game 2015 (and in a long time) it's been highly praised in every area, music, story, gameplay, graphics, etc. proving that a 2.5D/3D Hybrid isn't needed today.

      Just look at this beauty and imagine it Bloodstained-ified!

      01: http://i.imgur.com/hUXOEr7.jpg
      02: http://i.imgur.com/iLD7H5s.jpg
      03: http://i.imgur.com/qMq3qdI.jpg
      04: http://i.imgur.com/IcdR3Yj.jpg

      Excuse the repost but I can't delete or edit.
      I wouldn't be surprised if the developers would be honored to do this even as they've been heavily inspired by past Metroidvanias.

      One can dream... Ah.. So sad.

    32. Anton Forsander on January 29, 2016

      I wish with that budget they would hire the INDIE company, yes INDIE, behind Ori And The Blind Forest.

      Which in my opinion got the most beautiful and creative graphics of any game 2015 (and in a long time) it's been highly praised in every area, music, story, gameplay, graphics, etc. proving that a 2.5D/3D Hybrid isn't needed today.

      Just look at this beauty and imagine it Bloodstained-ified!

      01: http://i.imgur.com/hUXOEr7.jpg
      02: http://i.imgur.com/iLD7H5s.jpg
      03: http://i.imgur.com/qMq3qdI.jpg
      04: http://i.imgur.com/IcdR3Yj.jpg

    33. Austin Connor Ross on January 29, 2016

      Background 3 is very nice, I like the way the glistening sheen looks on everything. Character 1 and 3 both look good in their own respects. But I feel that character 1 looks better in the way that it feels like you are looking at high definition assets. The only thing with character 1 I think looks like it could use a change, would be to take the black corset from 3 and put it on 1. The shading on 3 is what makes it feel lesser to 1, The harsh lining makes look it a bit more cartoonish, and the shading looks two toned versus how the smooth shading on Character 1.
      So my final verdict is Background 3 and Character 1, using the black corset from Character 3. Her blue dress and the frills look fine, so I would say combine the two shaders for just her clothes. Is it a corset? I don't know if that's the term for it, but you know what I mean though, right?

    34. M. Alan Thomas II on January 28, 2016

      Background 3 REALLY helps with the 3D elements, especially in the wide shot where it helps make the entire space look less flat and makes individual elements easier to spot (an important gameplay consideration).

      I really like Character 3 for the illustration-aesthetic reasons that went into it; it really manages what it's going for. While it does blend into Background 3 (in broad shots) more than Character 1 does, that's because 3/3 is a more consistent aesthetic than 1/3 is, and a consistent aesthetic is important. (In any case, the character will be easier to spot in motion than in stills.)

    35. Lilith Erickson on January 28, 2016

      3:3 looks so amazing. I can't believe you guys took all that advice and cranked out something this awesome. I would also settle for 1:3, but the toon shader on Miriam is almost a must. You guys clearly put a ton of time and effort into it and it definitely shows.

    36. HZ on January 28, 2016

      I think background 3 + character 3 looks best

      I. Character 3
      The advantage of character 3 is most evident in the faraway screen shot.

      One of the most problematic aspects of using 3D polygons to depict a 2D game like Bloodstained is how to make the action easy for the player to see. It's particularly important for Bloodstained, because the beautiful gothic background the game uses seems too crowded to leave us the luxury of ignoring utility when picking the shader.

      Take a look at the faraway screenshots for characters 1 and 3. Regardless of which background is used, character 3 pops out much better than character 1, partly because of the more sharply defined contrast using the oil-painting like shader of character 3 as opposed to the traditional shader of character 1.

      This is especially noticeable when we focus on the ribbons, which the developers added to make the character easy to follow: Character 1's ribbons are dark and easy to lose in the background, while character 3's ribbons are much lighter and easier to follow. Making the ribbons as light using character 1, assuming it's possible, clashes with the character design, because they would stand in contrast to the more softly blended remainder of the character.

      As a matter of personal preference, I like the oil painting like shader of character 3 better than that of character 1, especially because the character's head retains a cartoon look regardless of what the body looks like. The jarringly reflective leathery clothing (particularly the right chest plate) look especially bad next to the more subdued hair.

      II. Background 3
      The development team did a great job choosing to concentrate the lighting in the background. This gives background 3 a much better contrast between the background and the foreground.

      It's not a bit deal in the closeup, but the effect is great when we look at the faraway shots. The foreground has an obvious grey tint, while the background is suffused with a yellow tint from the light. This gives us an excellent visual cue for where the action takes place and which is the decorative background.

      III. The combination
      A set of character shaders that makes the character vibrant and pop out works really well with background lighting that gives a grey tint to the foreground--where the character is--and soft yellow light to the background.

      I would very much like to see this combination, but especially character 3 over character 1.

    37. Josh Scoggins on January 27, 2016

      Background 3 is 1/2 points better than Background 1

      Character 3 is at least 10 points better than Character 1

      Wow character 3 looks good.

    38. Missing avatar

      ArchSinccubus on January 27, 2016

      Background 1, character 1 seems the nicest to me. The colors look a lot clearer there and the lighting is just right,

    39. Missing avatar

      Brandon on January 26, 2016

      Both backgrounds are fine, though in my opinion 3 is better. BUT PLEASE USE CHARACTER 3, the Cartoon like shaders look so much better when it comes to a 2D game and I feel like that will give it more of a style on its own.

    40. Meiv on January 26, 2016

      Background 3, Character 3 looks the best!

    41. Missing avatar

      Goran Botic on January 26, 2016

      Background 3/character 3 looked so good to me. It creates a bold look, yet still keeps that nice, gothic feel.

    42. Missing avatar

      Adam Steen on January 26, 2016

      Really Digging Background 3, character 3, with Background 1 Character 1 as the runner up, trying to mix the styles together in either 3-1 or 1-3 is too jarring for my tastes personally :/

    43. Missing avatar

      Jean-Marie La on January 26, 2016

      Background 3 / Character 3

    44. Zack Baker on January 26, 2016

      CHARACTER 3 ALL THE WAY!!!!!

    45. Missing avatar

      Brett Brisson on January 26, 2016

      1/3 character 3 has so much grace and style

    46. philip rudnik on January 25, 2016

      I love character 3. So much style.

    47. Missing avatar

      Roy on January 25, 2016

      @Greta: I see your point, but in my opinion, all of those games you mentioned look amazing even years after they came out. There is a reason Wind Waker HD held up better than Twilight Princess HD in terms of presentation. I won't pretend to know what "belongs" in a Castlevania game, but Bloodstaind is actually a new IP, so it should not be held back by tradition. Whether the "cartoony" stylization is a better fit or not, it shouldn't be dismissed because 1. Castlevania games didn't have it and 2. These other gorgeous games had it.

    48. Missing avatar

      Greta on January 25, 2016

      Also, I do not enjoy the look of character 3. The 'cartoony' stylization has been used on other games that came out since 2000 is just ridiculous. A few of the many examples: A Wolf Among Us, Killer 7, Borderlands, Dragon Quest VIII, Fear Effect, Jet Set Radio, etc. In my opinion, the close-up shot of character 3's stylization resembles more like a dark-outlined HuniePop character rather than something that belongs in a Castlevania game. Now if the stylization was more like the P! Cosband's photos with the stained glass backgrounds, that would look far better.

    49. Missing avatar

      Roy on January 25, 2016

      3/3: I pulled up all the images, zoomed in on the same portion of the picture, and cycled through them to see which looked the best. In my opinion, character shader 3 is a clear winner by a large margin, while the background shader 3 also edged out a win. 3/3 FTW!

    50. Missing avatar

      Greta on January 25, 2016

      Background 3/ Character 1. I love the more polished and super detailed look to the third background and character one has the most realism that fits well to that background.