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A Look into our Art Process – Pirate Planks

September 23 admin

Here is a look into an art and development pipeline of a mini-game inside a bigger slots game we are currently working on. This mini-game is dubbed ‘Pirate Planks’ and is a simple pick-game.

Staying true to our small studio philosophy of ‘lean startup’ (validated learning) and to be pushing daily code and production, we went from game design concept to completed production in less than a week with a team of 3 pulling 10+hours a day. Everything is custom created and the game is cross-platform browser friendly (except IE right now – working on that still!) because it is built in HTML5.

The way our team coordinates is through HipChat, and here is a screen-cap of how a day in the life of our remote process works. Someone at Lucky Lady Games seems to always be available online at any given time 24/7 – so if we get lonely, we just go here and ping each other for a quick chat! We have a team that is half early-birds and half night-owls! In our studio it seems, marketing team are night owls, developers are early risers… so not sure if this is opposite of other teams but it works well for me. Can you guess which group I fall in? 🙂

So going back to Pirate Planks…
To start a project, it starts with the Project Manager/Game Designer (which currently is me) telling the guys what I am looking to create. We discuss quickly in HipChat, then we add it to our Timelines and Deliverables Schedule. We all share this schedule in  Google Docs so we all can see what each member is working on without having to micro-manage. We work in a task-based environment and find this is fantastic for nurturing creativity, which I have heard many game studios lack! 

I will send our Art Director some high-level wire frame of how the game design works along with a game design documentation for development. It can be something as simple as this to show the mechanics of how the game is art-up:

Then I will send some art direction in a file using DropBox with notes on what I am looking for. I usually have an idea of how I want the game to look and I scour the internet using Google to get my idea across. This acts like Pinterest board of sorts and helps the team get on the same page with my vision:
Once everyone is in full-understanding of concept… the content team works on final text copy, the development team works on math/backend game code and the art team will draw up concept art:

Then we go in and talk about color palettes… and decide as a team what we should do. We went with Dusk til Dawn, this is the color direction we went with…

…but Im wishing we went with a warmer finish for the finals, but because we currently don’t have the luxury of time and resources to go back on our decisions, I have to bite the bullet leave it alone for production timelines sake.

I know some art directors and project managers will go back and make their art team change this, but I believe in picking my battles. And on a scale of 1 to 10, this is a 6 for me… so I will usually wait for 8-10s before really going into things like a complete over-haul. I think anything that is not overly “crucial” we can go back and edit later when we have that luxury. Right now, our goal is to push forward and get this game out for our launch date which is less than 2 months from now.

Plus, I always keep in mind that what I like might not be exactly what the general public likes, even though Im currently where the buck stops (as our CTO so kindly puts it), it is always best to A/B test everything we push out in a real world scenario.

A snippet of Bonus Round Code looks like this… (I wish I could tell you more about it, but Im definately not a programmer! I do know HTML and some Javascript because in my past life I was a web designer… but if this is something you are interested in, there will be future blogs about developing games in HTML5 coming your way by our dev. team members…)

Now that the art is wired up, the development and art team will work together to make it work. They will run through different animation & development issues such as making the planks lay properly and making it disappear upon click.

We usually always run into some sort of issue… for example, because HTML5 is so new, dev. ran into an issue such as:
so you know how the planks are boxes right

but invisible boxes

well the browser doesn’t know it is invisible…

so when you click on the invisible portion sitting over another plank, it’ll remove the wrong plank…hmm…”


But it always gets resolved cause our team is experienced and solution oriented.. 

“i might have to you something from
my past
a piece of technology … from like 10 years ago to solve this one…”

And then and hour or later…

“sweeeet! :D
nothing like using some HTML i learned in 1999… actually 1996
…and it works on the iphone too
…and the planks are so big that they are fairly easy to click on”
And then the teams wraps up… say some nice things to each other, grab a beer and move on to the next project! 🙂
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