Art Developer Diary: Map Iteration.
Hey everyone, Joe Grabowski again. Matt is still at GDC China. ( Perhaps he got “Shanghaied”? Bad Joke.) This time, I thought I’d go into more detail about our approach on iteration and how that affects Neverending Nightmares.
In the early talks I had with Matt following Retro/Grade and starting production on Neverending Nightmares, Matt made an interesting point. I remember the direct quote being “Fail fast!” That means try something, see how it works, cut it if it doesn’t, and continue moving forward. It seems like a simple idea, but it’s something we check ourselves on constantly. The amount of time you put into one asset can quickly get out of hand, and then you realize you had it right 5 iterations ago. That’s time that could have been used on the next asset you need or wanted.
The demo mansion started out as 2-D drawings as the tools were being built out. We ended up going through 6 iterations of the map before we started piecing it together in game. The early in game concepts were relatively empty rooms with even overall lighting. It was a good way for us to test and see how these rooms related to one another and if a player could manage to make a mental map for themselves. Once we were happy with that, I started getting finished room assets from Adam Grabowski, our environment artist, and could begin to set dress and light the rooms.
I should note that the map continued to get changes and alterations as we built out the rooms in game. Things that we thought would be awesome on paper really didn’t work in game. An example of this is the really long hallway. It was originally planned to be a looping hallway until the player went the other direction similar to this puzzle in the indie game Anti-Chamber seen here. But once we got it working in game it didn’t quite work, so we opted for a separate hallway the player goes to once they have the axe. With that hallway we can then turn off lights as they walk past them as well as mess with how they think the mansion is laid out.
That’s a simple run down of how we are approaching iteration on Neverending Nightmares. Let us know if you guys would like to see more art focused developer diaries, and as always, thank you for your support!
- Joe Grabowski