The art style of Dimension Drive – Meet Max Heyder

/* Comicbooks, cool lighting and color */

Hi folks,

Max reporting! What was that? You wanna hear about the game art? Well, luckily for you, you asked the right person. What are we waiting, for, let us go through the process behind the art style of Dimension Drive. When I first got in touch with David, before starting to work on Dimension Drive, him and Alejandro were looking for a game artist to pimp the good old prototype they had. (No offense guys, but it was…unique 😛 ) The task was clear: come up with a style, so I created some mockups about my vision for the visual feel of the game. They loved how colorful it looked and also the shapes and color schemes of the enemies looked like a good start.

In my next mockup I tried something different., more unique, and went for a pure comic book style.(It is still one of my favorite concepts I did for the game) When I showed this mockup, David was really happy: “WE NEED THESE EXPLOSIONS!” he stated. He did not like the monochrome look, so I decided to combine both and create a mix: comic styled textures and an overall colorful style for the game.

A lot of work went into concepting ship shapes and environments. Starting from basic hand drawn concepts to nail the top view shapes and then moving on to modelling and finally texturing. Not all of the concepts were spot on, so I had to re-iterate. In the first series of concepts I went for too terran ship designs and had to scrap some of them entirely.

After we agreed on the first batch, I started blocking out the basic shapes and prepared everything for texturing.

I tried to keep things simple as most details won’t be noticeable in the game due to their size. I decided to at least add some details for possible closeups and promo shots.

Lighting for the effects (bullets, explosions…) against the environment was used in the previous prototype of Dimension Drive (before I joined the project) and it was one things that Alejandro and David wanted to retain. So, I combined 2D and 3D elements with cel-shading to achieve that effect while keeping this new vibrant comicbook visual style. That is when I went a bit bonkers with 3D. While this iteration looks really nice(that coming from a perfectionist), the polycount is way too high and started causing lag. The workflow is also way too time consuming and complex, so it might not be the most clever workflow for a 1-person game art squadron.

In the next iterations you will see a return towards more stylized and hand-painted textures on meshes with less polygons while still focusing on depth, readability and the praised comic style. Moving forward I plan to continue improving the visual style of Dimension Drive keeping this full color comicbook with lightning philosophy(soo hard). It will be crucial to think about optimizing the game’s content to run smoothly on as many machines as possible. It will be a tough balance and some decisions have to be made, even though other solutions might look a bit better. Together, we will work our asses off to bring you the nicest looking Dimension Drive possible. Hope you liked this behind the scenes on how the visual style of Dimension Drive started from concept until what is now and what it may become. I would love to hear your thoughts, please leave me any suggestions or feedback you have in the comments 🙂

Meet Max Heyder

1. Tell us a bit about you :  

You may have read it before, but my name is Max Heyder and I am a Game Artist and Game Developer. 😀

2. What brought you to the Dimension Drive project?

A funny coincidence actually. I was looking for jobs at that time and thanks to my work on Trailblaze, I have been introduced to a Skype Indie Developer Group (Thanks so much for adding me there Lisa). Due to the sheer amount of messages there, I don’t usually keep track of it but when David posted that they were looking for a Game Artist, I just happened to see it, got in touch, showed my portfolio, made a mockup and the rest is history 🙂

3. What part of Dimension Drive are you most excited about?

Seeing(and playing) the final product that Dimension Drive will become. The beginning of a project is always exciting. Lots of creative work, many fundamental decisions, everything is new and fresh. And still in that part of production, it is hard to imagine how the final product will feel like. You hear music tracks, see the first cut-scenes, trailers, play the first levels and everything is super exciting on its own. But once you see everything put together, it actually becomes a real game. This is the part I am most excited about my work on Dimension Drive. As for the game: the boss fights! I cannot wait for the boss fights!

4. What do you do in Dimension Drive?

I am the Lead Game Artist and responsible for the ship designs, the backgrounds and the overall visual style of the game. So far I drew 2D concepts for ships, bosses and the environment, made some promo art, modeled and textured 3D ships and props, programmed shaders and some editor extensions to improve our workflow. I also assemble the visual part of each level in Unity, making sure it looks nice, runs smoothly and doesn’t distract too much from the main action while being beautiful to look at. This and play-testing…lots. Gotta make sure the levels look good at every position.

5. What’s your favorite game? What are you playing the most right now?

Tough Question: I do not have THE favorite game. I have a bunch of faves that all have their own identity and are hard to compare with one another. Some of my all time favorites are: CIV CTP+3, Black and White 2, Age of Empires 2, Banner Saga, Dofus, Minecraft, Settlers 3, Zelda Ocarina of Time & Majoras Mask and Dungeon Siege 1. The game I am playing the most right now is the Witcher 3, though I only play it to reward myself after a hard day of work. As an honorable mention, I have to add “The Darkest Dungeon” brilliant art style and game design!

6. If you could ask our community one question, what would it be?

Would you like to see more games from 2Awesome Studio covering the world of Dimension Drive and the story of Jack?

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