January Update: IGA's Got A Brand New Background
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:
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!)
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!