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Magnetic Billiards

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Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint


Drawing again - part #1

Blog posted by Ste Pickford on Fri, 11 May 2012
Subject: ISMMTTM

Ste Pickford

It's a funny thing being a self publishing indie game developer. The 'self publishing indie' bit can take up so much time and effort that I sometimes forget about about 'game developer' bit.

I still consider myself to be primarily a video game graphic artist, but it's actually quite rare that I get to draw anything these days. Most of my time is taken up with biz div, admin, accounts, website maintenance and programming, PR and marketing (especially PR and marketing, even if we're probably going about it all wrong), game design discussion, planning, and pointlessly tracking the progress of dozens of little numbers which go up all the time (downloads, App Store charts, leaderboards, page views, even Klout score!).

When do I get to work on graphics it doesn't always involve proper drawing, as a lot of graphics work involves fonts, UI elements, screen furniture, and that kind of thing.

Sometimes I find I've gone weeks, or even months, without doing any drawing at all. And what happens then is I that can't remember if I can even draw any more, and I wonder if I'm even capable of still doing my 'main' job.

I had a moment like this a week or so ago. I'd cleared a ton of admin stuff, and finally made some space in my schedule to actually do some graphics work on the Monkey game, which is currently a prototype within Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint for Skeleton Key holders, but which we are going to develop into a full game.

I wanted to experiment with some ideas for background art styles, which meant starting with a blank sheet of paper and actually drawing again. I was actually stumped for a while. Not because I didn't have any ideas, but because I was too scared to start drawing again, in case I couldn't do it any more. I kept on going back to fiddling with spreadsheets and looking for website fixes I could work on instead, before finally getting started.

Anyway, this was the first result, which I've shown from sketch in my notebook, to rough, finished bitmap, and then finally a mock up of it in the context of the game.

I'm thinking of sticking with the monochrome / tinted style of the prototype for the backgrounds, as we can get a lot of re-use out of each bitmap this way, and it helps the background graphics stay firmly in the background, and not distract from the foreground elements (platforms, enemies, etc.), no matter how much detail I put in the background tiles.

You can just see in the sketch at the top the comment 'Strider rocks' - I definitely had those big chunky rocks from Capcom's Strider in mind, but I think they've come out looking more like a sort of mangled Q-Bert.

I've done a few more tiles like this already. I'll post another one up in a day or so.


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Magnetic Billiards is a fresh family of puzzle games by The Pickford Bros.

The first game, Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint for iOS, is no longer available for download.

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Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint, 2nd Best Puzzle Game, Best App Ever Awards 2011

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