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Feedback What is the right place to discuss game visual style? Or top-5 things that would distract you?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by alex1st1, Oct 18, 2019.

  1. alex1st1

    alex1st1

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    Hi All!

    The problem: I'm working on this Yeti Home Defense game:



    And hear from people around about over-saturation and not having single style, but nothing in particular.

    What is the right place to discuss game visual style?
    E.g. top-5 things that would distract you from playing?
    And, as my target is mobile, what could be improved without fps loosing?

    My reference style is 3d game kit, the setting is extraterrestrial planet invaded by crystals.
     
    Joe-Censored likes this.
  2. JoeStrout

    JoeStrout

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    This is the right place. Visual style is just one aspect of game design, but if it's distracting from gameplay, that's squarely in the topic of this forum.
     
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  3. neoshaman

    neoshaman

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    The problem isn't so much the style but the visual literacy:

    Comparing the two tells me you need to either start following a class course, which will teach you how to parse visual elements as shape, textures, light, volume, colors, and how to compose them ... or to hire a specialist, ie a competent artist.

    That said some quick fix, can increase readability, like having clear separation in the saturation domain between pure environment (harmonize the saturation level of the colors) vs dynamic objects (should be at 20% of saturation distance from the environment color).

    Ps:
    texture as visual elements is not the same as textures as image you put on 3D objects, which can lead to confusing statement like different textures (images) can have different textures (image quality) :p
    For example cel shaded game tend to have flat textures (image quality) compared to realistic games which have more noisy elements. Even in realistic games textures (images) can have different textures (image quality) like rugged or smooth.
    In your case, the main character have a lighting texture (image quality) that is overly smooth compared to the texture underneath (for example the hair), which create visual clash of style and weaken the image. You also have overly harsh shadow and garish color, while the overall "gestalt" (composition) is rather poor.

    One way to selectively study the result is to decompose the image into HSL (hue saturation light) component and look at the various contrast in isolation, also a high pass on the light to separate high frequency and low frequency will tells you where are the potent part. This will let you visualize the visual hierarchy like an artist feel it, it you understand what's going on.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2019
  4. alex1st1

    alex1st1

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    Ok, will try by myself

    I have set low saturation and changed explosions and fog from additive to blended shaders -do you feel this looks better?
    I need your advice how to make horizon not so sharp line...
     
  5. neoshaman

    neoshaman

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    The horizon will be taking care by using decoration as framing device like I explained in the post in the OTHER thread. You probably need something that looks like distant background (like mountain, etc...) look at the phantasy star example I shared in the OTHER thread (we should probably keep all discussion to the more active thread).

    Also the white stuff below the crystal a great visual blending touch, it's creating a dampening low saturation transition to a highly saturated elements, which appease a lot the clash, good job. It's much better than having it read as snow scattered everywhere and fighting visually for importance. Having a similar blending decals under the rock (maybe dirt decals, or some grass around)) would also help not having them seem randomly place with no reason. If the ground is terrain and not just a flat plane, keep the collider flat, but raise a bit the terrain around the rock (and other big elements) to smooth the transition (as if dirt accumulated).

    Tree are also scattered randomly, that's a good thing you use them as back up dancer, but they should probably be scattered in group, and maybe just a bit more variation in height.

    Overall it's a nice improvement.

    Don't hesitate to look at other game, the more you understand the visual concept, the more you see it's everywhere irrespective of production value, competent artist applies the same composition to AAA or to casual game, from high end to low end, 2D or 3D, movie or game.
     
  6. xVergilx

    xVergilx

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    1. UI
    2. UI
    3. Trees / plants / rocks placement is too chaotic
    4. Background scale
    5. Terrain texture is too low quality or missing proper normal map / height map; Or the mesh itself is too flat.

    Health bar could have a proper background instead of boring rectangle. Make it a bit transparent if possible.
    Same applies to the cooldown icons. White text on the white background is ugh.

    Ideally make it the same icon, except a bit tinted to the black. In any case, spend some time polishing UI.
    It is really important for any user base.


    Object placement should follow some general idea. If its a forest - then place place trees in groups / more dense.
    Same applies to the rocks. If those are mountains - then it should have some kind of logic or environmental storytelling behind it.

    Have some objects at the background with a proper scale to break down a horizon issue. Or raise a terrain + place rocks. Plant some trees etc.
     
  7. IvanWullems

    IvanWullems

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    There are a bunch of issues others have noted, but I'll answer your original question regarding style:

    A big thing is to see if things 'fit' together. In your opening cutscene, you have some relatively cartoony characters and a low poly tower right up in front. In the background, you see a beautiful realistic sunset. This clashes horribly, and immediately makes it seem like you're using various styles.

    Another example is in the gameplay. The castle 'nodes' are relatively high quality, and give a sense of 'realism,' while the towers that rise up from them are far more cartoony. This clashes.

    Some of the rocks used are using a realistic texture, while some of the trees feel like they got dropped out of a cartoon (albeit one that tries to look realistic.)

    I think that is your core issue causing that feedback. Determine whether your game is supposed to look cartoony or realistic, and update the assets to reflect that. Once you fix that, more issues will pop up which you can then fix.

    As another point of feedback: The audio in your last video immediately had me mute it. The explosions as they are, are very unpleasant to listen to.
     
  8. alex1st1

    alex1st1

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    Hi All!
    What do you think about this idea:
    figures 1 and 2 below create some visual borders of game scene (the composition is not complete, it's just an idea)
    figure 3 represents enemy spawn point
    and snowy mountains in back far away
    Is the idea good to go (add some details)?


    yhd_rock.png
     
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  9. xVergilx

    xVergilx

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    Its a good idea, just the execution is not so good.

    Make it look less artificial and more natural.
    In most cases you don't want your borders to be like "here's an invisible wall", but rather "this looks not passable".
     
  10. alex1st1

    alex1st1

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    Definitely, it was just a draft ;)
     
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  11. alex1st1

    alex1st1

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    Thanks for your reply!

    Regarding s"of the trees feel like they got dropped out of a cartoon (albeit one that tries to look realistic.) " - all vegetation now is borrowed from unity 3d game kit , so either their artists decided that style is good for extraterrestrial planet (my world is extraterrestrial too), or they are mistaken and mixed different styles.
    What do you think?
     
  12. alex1st1

    alex1st1

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    Thanks for your reply!

    Regarding Health bar could have a proper background instead of boring rectangle - it is from Unity Tower Defense template, so I believed that unity artists know what they do when they do this style of bar, do they?...

    Regarding Trees / plants / rocks placement is too chaotic - on foreground I wanted not to have clear field, i need obstacles for gameplay, on background I can have forest but i doubt that mobile will survive a lot of meshes...
     
  13. alex1st1

    alex1st1

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    OK, and what if this way - walls with magic blue fire, clearly stated they are artificial?
    Need your advice regarding UI font color - yellow is completely invisible...
    blueFire.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2019
  14. alex1st1

    alex1st1

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    An what if I want to add some flat elements upon a grass plane - like a road ? Should I create one plane for road square block and then clone that plane to make long road?
    How would that plane upon plane hell influence performance?

    Making one big " grass with long road" texture won't help because ground plane is very large, texture would be blurry
     
  15. neoshaman

    neoshaman

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    The blue flame wall is a pass for me, they attract the eyes away from the action.
    Snow under small elements don't work well in your case. What's the purpose of these small elements anyway? Plane on plane, if one plane is transparent or have alpha, that's overdraw, big nono for mobile, especially on elements that cover half the screen.
     
  16. alex1st1

    alex1st1

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    Ok, so do you think that stones without fire on right side of picture below look better than line of stones with blue fire on left side?
    What if I make blue fire smaller? Fire ads some magic to the scene while simple stones in line do not look realistic...
    Small elements were here to cover very simple grass, now added some dirt and moved small plants closer to stones on the right side - is it better?
    Dirt and snow are actually transparent planes with Mobile Particles Additive shader, do you have better tech solutiion to do same thing?

    And while mountains look good they do not cover skybox to horizon - leave as is or grow them higher?

    blueFire2.jpg
     
  17. neoshaman

    neoshaman

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  18. alex1st1

    alex1st1

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    Thanks a lot for your reply and links!

    I understand that flame will compete for user attention, but what if it burns just for a while?
    e.g. my scene begins with a wizard speaking "let that flame protect us as our walls do!" and flame acts for several second like runway lights and turns off completely to the end of battle?
    That to my opinion will clearly say to player that really artificially looking lines of stones (with flames) were done by castle crew and ARE artificial intentionally.
    Would that be good enough or you belive that I shoud rethink and create some huge rocks or hills or mountains both sides of scene?
     
  19. alex1st1

    alex1st1

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    And I still need your advice regarding horizon and dirt...
     
  20. neoshaman

    neoshaman

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    The flame don't matter, what matter is the graphical impact and fonction. If you find a way to make the flame fit the composition, it's great.

    But you can't solve the issues by applying piecemal patch, you are getting suck into being to close, take a breath, look at the problem globally, and redo everything. But that's why I advise you to get an artist, you are basically entering a field you don't have mastery, and I don't think you are at a point where you would properly understand and apply advices. I mean you can try, and you can even have some success, but it will be limited, I feel like, based on your answer, you are reaching the limit of what you can do alone.

    I won't answer directly and do my yoda, and see what you get AFTER you read ALL the link above (mostly they are the same thing told in various way, which is great to "get it"), which are basically mere introduction, maybe lightbulb will pop in your head, who knows.
     
  21. alex1st1

    alex1st1

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    ok this is how it would look in gameplay (no flames after 2 seconds after start)
    what would you say?
    image_00142019-10-2411h33m009.png
     
  22. alex1st1

    alex1st1

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    Hi All!
    I have created very short video showing new visual composition, what do you think about composition and video itself?
    Could it be used as a promo trailer or should I fix something?
     
  23. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    A lot of improvement!

    It still looks a bit amateurish in some regards but has come a long way I think.

    There is a YouTube channel by Marco bucci that covers art fundamentals in ten minute episodes. It's a great crash course and better understanding of art theory may help you tighten things up further still.

    You might not see connections at first as bucci is focused on painting, but if you go with open mind and maybe even practice a bit of digital painting in Photoshop, some of that experience may start to bleed over into your level design.

    Good work
     
  24. alex1st1

    alex1st1

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    Hi All!
    Have asked an YouTuber to publish small news about this game on his channel among other games he reviews.
    The video had 22 000+ views, but only 38 gamers has installed the game and only 2 of those has not deleted it after a week.
    Do you think the game has to be improved further or should be abandoned completely in favour of something more usual - maybe runner? ;)
     
  25. neoshaman

    neoshaman

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    Nah find an artist, you have maxed out what you can do visually alone with random asset. Presentation is key to grab. If you have a decent presentation, then the number will matter, people need to relate first. Then it's the gameplay, it must have retention quality, then it's monetization, so you don't end up poor by supporting the game.
     
  26. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    Agree with above. Uniqueness of the design doesn't seem to be issue to me, rather the overall presentation, especially visually.

    It seems you made great strides with this so may be starting something fresh is smart thing to do. If you don't have means to get better art, may be try to design around something simpler that you.can polish visually to a higher quality.

    Even if it's nothing but 2d icons, if you just get colors and other basics done right it can still look really nice and professional.

    For soloist, I think it's good idea to get one handicap so you can focus hard on rest of project. For instance, copy a design so you can focus hard on theme and visuals. Or vice versa, copy a theme so you can focus on design. Just make sure it's a theme you can comfortably reproduce on your own.

    If you need feedback to help with the art you can post here and also at.polycount forum. Usually not hard to get lots of good feedback, especislly.if you show that you take it serious and do the work. (Like u did here)

    Also bear in mind, 22k views is like diddly squat. You may only expect 10 percent or less of impressions to turn into a purchase, so really you need millions of impressions to have a shot at living money.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2019
  27. alex1st1

    alex1st1

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    I believed that first is community of players who like gameplay itself, and graphics comes later - when you are sure that gameplay is good enough.
    Was it wrong?
    If I invest to art upgrade - bwt how much you think it could be? - who guarantees that players will come?
     
  28. neoshaman

    neoshaman

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    Chicken and eggs, by good graphics I don't mean top tier, I explicitly use the word relatable, currently your graphics are too random to be relatable, understand there is no hooks, nor visual quality nor style. You lack a strong apealing vision.

    Basically your beliefs don't matter in practice, if I believe in the noodly lord spaghetti monster, reality won't bend to my will either.

    You need to understand the logic:
    In order to experience the gameplay they first must download the game, for that you must first broadcast its existence then player need to decide what's worth for them to try, that is the hook. If you don't have hooks nobody will care.

    It's only when you entice them with a relatable hooks that they can experience the game, if they like they will sticks. But you have to first pass the filter.

    You have to present value for people to try.

    A basic shortcut is to ask, what's the fantasy fulfill by the game presentation?
     
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  29. Martin_H

    Martin_H

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    I think you need to take two steps back, look at the market and ask yourself what you can provide that could be more compelling for some players, than all the stuff that already is out there.

    Another runner won't cut it, unless it's "the best runner ever" for at least some people.

    Like neoshaman said, you need better hooks!
     
  30. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    The graphics don't need to be good but they need to communicate clearly.

    Ideally, the are simple, legible, and reinforce the theme and overall game design visually.

    I should be able to take one glance at the game and get clear sense of what kind of experience it will be to play. This does not require sophistication or fidelity, but it does require design. That's where having some sense about art fundamentals comes in handy.
     
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