Welcome back! This is the second and last part of our art blog series focusing on the evolution of the art in Shots Fired. We will be looking at the final stages of our visual style development mainly about old art revamps, new maps, and polishes.
It was mentioned in our previous art blog that the first few months of 2017 was a huge phase for Shots Fired in terms of aesthetics and visual appeal. We will be guiding you through our observations on the old art and the steps (and missteps!) we took that ultimately led us to how the game looks right now.
When Puberty Hits Shots Fired
Like a child in its adolescence, Shots Fired, during this time was still uncertain about a lot of things and the path its going to take is still unclear to everyone involved. We were still trying out new gameplay stuff and experimenting on what works for the game and–more importantly–what doesn’t. However, we already had a clear idea on how the game should be looking like until it reaches the late stages of development.
Shots Fired’s art during the time was still a bit gloomy despite having been revised to have lighter colors so it still kind of gave the wrong signals on how we wanted the atmosphere of the game to be like. We felt like the gloomy look of the game didn’t match the kind of humor the game offers. The first decision was to change the overall aesthetic of the game by making everything look more vibrant and “friendly”. A great example to show how much changes were made is in Katsu Dawn Park; the grass was made more vibrant, the trees were improved, shading on the rocks and other objects were polished, and the pond was animated to make the environment look more alive.
A before and after look of some of the objects
Revamping the Clues
The next part of the game to receive the revamp treatment were the clues. We figured that the old clues were still open for a lot of improvements. Most of them still had rough and jagged edges, and they were too small and blocky for our tastes based on the new style we were aiming for.
The remakes included cleaner lines, more details, custom fonts, and handwritten text on some. All contributing in making each clue a bit more personal and unique to the mission it is being used for.
Not soon after, we realized a huge problem with the clues having handwritten-style text and different unique fonts: localization. One of the languages we targeted to support was Chinese so the clues and everything had to be in that language. We were afraid that if most of the text in the clues were not in Chinese, Chinese-speaking players would feel a bit alienated and make them think the game was never actually made for them. So despite us liking how the clues were starting to turn out, we decided to adapt to a different method where we have blank clues where interchangeable text are then drawn above in realtime. Not everyone was 100% on board with this, but we all have to make our creative compromises from time to time.
Doors To The Lobby
As mentioned in the previous episode, the game had a computer screen with Doors OS to handle things like mission selection, the shop, loadouts, etc. However, we wanted players to access some of these menus during a mission and they can’t just lug around a computer as an assassin that hops around each part of the city killing targets. So, we decided to put those into a smaller device: the Phone. The Phone basically acts like the obsolete computer but with the added benefits of being able to call a ride anytime or to swipe right when you find the perfect match. But of course, we can’t just have a mobile screen in front of the player at all times outside a mission. Thus, the lobby was born.
The Lobby isn’t just there for the sake of having a cool screen. It grounded everything together. It acts as a way to access the Phone, the Bingo Book (boss missions), and more. Also an added bonus, it gives slight insights about the protagonist through small details in the scene. Neat!
You read that right; the game has cutscenes. The original version of the game did not have any hints of it having any sort of cinematic sections but the more we delved into the narrative part of the game and the more it looked like a close relative of a visual novel to us, the more we realized that we needed a way to tell the story in a more interesting fashion and not just completely in textboxes.
Chilling with the fishes
Most cutscenes that happen at the end of every week in game are these huge, full-screen images that consist of around 2-3 frames. The purpose of these scenes is to simply tell a story of what the protagonist does during their day off. Some of the more important cutscenes are more complicated; they tell an essential part of the story as the player progresses through the game by defeating bosses. They consist of different scenes and have more frames than the end-day cutscenes.
All in all we thought they were a great opportunity to switch up how the story is presented and also explore the life of the protagonist and how the world revolves around them.
In conclusion, Shots Fired being a unique game in itself gave us tons of freedom on how to approach things. It challenged us to think outside of the box very often. Thinking of a style that works for a game about child abduction, memes, and assassination is not as easy as it sounds. It made us step outside of our comfort zones, and made us realize how important it is to learn how to set aside our creative ideas that doesn’t help or contribute to the game as a whole. We had a fair amount of creative differences (as any studio should) but these differences ultimately led Shots Fired to where it is now. Regardless of how these creative decisions affect the end result of each game we make, we’ll be proud of it. And we’ll continue to grow and learn from them.
That about concludes it! We appreciate you for taking the time to sit down here with us. We have more blog posts coming soon and this definitely won’t be the last time we’ll be sharing stuff about the art side of things. So stay tuned.
Thanks for hanging around!