Chaintanks Devblog 1

It’s been just over a month since Ludum Dare 34 wrapped up when I released Chaintanks and wrote a postmortem on it. About half of that time was the holiday season so I didn’t as much work done as I might during any other month, but I’ve made good progress nonetheless.

My first goal was to create new sprites for all of the vehicles in the game. Before I could do that though, I needed to nail down the art style.

One of the problems with the first version of Chaintanks was that it’s difficult to tell the difference between vehicles. They look different, but only barely, and I’m not sure if players actually noticed the vehicles upgrading at all. So not only do I want the art to look better than what I threw together for LD, but I need it to be more useful from a gameplay standpoint.

I tried a few different art styles for the first vehicle and wound up with these:

art style attempts
Different styles of pixel art trucks in the order I made them

The first truck was a rather high res, and I added a bunch of dirt to it as I thought it would fit well with the theme of vehicles made from scrap.

For the next two sprites I went with a similar style to what I’ve seen in a lot of games on Steam. I used a very limited color palette, kept the sprites small, and added a black border around them.

I got some feedback on these three sprites, and the one thing everyone seemed to agree on was that the first truck looked really ugly with the dirt on it. The fourth truck is the result of cleaning up the first truck.

In the end I went with the fourth truck, but with a black border added around the edge. The only concern I have is that I may have actually made these sprites too large for how small they’ll actually appear on the screen. It probably isn’t a big deal if a lot of the detail is lost, but at the very least I want the black outline to be clearly visible so they stand out more. To that end I might make it thicker down the line.

Once I’d nailed down the art style, I needed seven head vehicles to be used at the front of chains, and seven vehicles to be used in the tails. For the tails I ended up modifying the corresponding heads and doing a bit of a palette swap. Without further ado, here’s what I’ve done!

Head Vehicles 1
The first three head vehicles.
Head Vehicles 2
More head vehicles!
Top tier head vehicle
The highest tier head vehicle has a steely look to it to set it apart from everything else.
Tail vehicles
Most tail vehicles have a different color scheme to set them apart from the heads.
Tail vehicles 2
The last of the tail vehicles

At the moment I’m thinking this art will be more or less final. There may be some touch-ups, but after spending weeks cranking these out I want to avoid spending much more time on the art.

My goal here is to ship something bigger than just something from a 48 hour game jam. I could probably spend weeks or even months tweaking and improving on the art, but if I ever want to ship this thing I need to simply call it done and move on to the next task. The last thing I want is to have another Alpha Strike on my hands! If it turns out the these vehicles look absolutely terrible in game though, then I might have to reconsider using them.

Now that I have the art for seven tiers of vehicle, I can get to work on the changes I proposed in my postmortem. I might also be able to put out a build for people to try so I can start getting feedback, so be sure to check back soon!

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