Interview with our Pixel Artist- Bryan

Hey all!

We seem to get a lot of compliments regarding our pixel art styles in Halcyon 6 and Star Renegades (that’s a good thing right?) sooo I thought you all might be dying to know more about the mystery man behind the scenes: Bryan! I asked him a few questions and of course- like all artists- there isn’t really one answer but 100 million iterations of the answers. So let’s get to it!

 


 

Me: Did you start off in games? How long have you been doing art for?

Bryan: Welll, my first Art Job was teaching art to Children followed very closely by a contract position at Little Guy Games, where I worked on Stick Wars 1,2,3 for IOS, as well as Super Snack Time and Little Bandits.  In regards to how long I’ve been doing art, the answer is always. I remember trying to quit art once, but was always drawn back to it. Professionally I’ve been working as an Artist for 7 years now. Pretty much since I came back from getting married in New Zealand.

 

Me: What’s your biggest influence in the game art genre?

Bryan: Oh hm…that’s a hard question as I don’t think there is a single influence and instead I had different influences at different points. I remember drawing Mario and Link when I was really little, then taking my Dragon Quest, Super Metroid, Breath of Fire, Breath of Fire 2, Final Fantasy VI strategy guides to school and drawing the images in them over and over again.. And later, games like Metroid Prime, Windwaker, Okami, and Viewtiful Joe, Zone of the Enders, Breath of Fire Dragon Quarter, Metal Gear Solid, Valkyria Chronicles, Fire Emblem and Mass Effect were big influences. Now, games like Nier Automata, Hyper Light Drifter, and Owlboy have been big influences.

 

 

Me: Sooo I gotta ask, what is your favourite game ever?

Bryan: [chuckles] I can’t say I have a favourite game. I have favourite games for different genres, but Metroid Prime, Metroid Zero Mission, Nier Automata, Parasite Eve, Bayonetta 2, Fire Emblem Awakening, Advance Wars Days of Ruin, Final Fantasy VI, Virtues Last Reward, Shadow of the Collossus, Mario 64, Megaman 2,3,8,X, Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow, Super Mario Galaxy, Smash Bros Melee, and Xenogears immediately spring to mind, but I could easily list a top 10 of any genre.

 

Me: Can you show me your favourite piece of art you’ve ever drawn?

Bryan: Usually the more funny an image is the more it lasts with me.  I really enjoyed doing Smash Date series of images as well as pixel art Nintendo images. Also a couple of illustrations I did for books have a warm feel that I’ve attached myself to.

 

Me: What were your biggest inspirations for drawing Halcyon 6 and Star Renegades?

Bryan: When it comes to art style for Star Renegades and Halcyon 6, Halcyon 6 was already in motion when I came to work at Massive Damage and I had to match what was already there.  There is a point where I feel like I stopped copying what was there and I made it my own, and that would be in the diplomat animations, and the final Boss animation and all of the higher tier ships.  I think I took the essence and added as much personality to it as I could, I wanted something that both felt fun and alive. Star Renegades was mine from day 1, the team had taken a lot to games like Dead Cells and Hyperlight Drifter Visually, which led to artwork without outlines, so I used them as a basis of what next level pixel art looks like and then I started trying to make each asset I did better and more interesting than the last.  I really wanted animation to speak to what the game is which is why we went for such a high frame rate for 2d art. In color pallet I wanted a lot of backgrounds with analogous colors with gradients overlaying them. I really wanted something that had a lot of personality but also looked very cohesive. I went with permanent wind because I wanted everything to be majestic and epic. I was getting really tired of post-apocalyptic settings and wanted this to be a group of planets there is actually a point in saving. That is why I’ve tried to keep a lot of colour in the game, as well as grass and other fauna.

 

Me: How’s your work process in creating art?

Bryan: My process when it comes to making art is rather methodical.  I think of what I want something to look like, then I simplify the hell out of it, and think about it’s essence.  often I end up with a really bland start and am ashamed of loose work that I do, but I”m always surprised how I can save assets by cleaning them up and thinking a new way to polish them.


Me: Any advice for developing artists?

Bryan: I think my advice for developing artists would be build up a strong technical base and try matching every style.  Also have fun images that show what you can do rather than what everyone else is already doing. All of my art jobs have started because the team had an artist they liked but the didn’t have art being made fast enough and I got the job because I could match the style. I think I’ve very analytical in how I approach art.  Also be as versatile as humanly possible. The more tasks I can do specifically the more useful I am and I really think that’s the best way to break in.

 

Aaaand those were most of the answers I could get from Bryan before he had to resume his progress on Star Renegades! All the backgrounds, characters, and animations are hand drawn by him- and Bryan is our only game artist here at Massive Damage! If you want to check out more of his awesome art (pixel or not) head on over to his site bryanheemskerk.com

 

 

Star Renegades Dev Log #1

Star Renegades development is heating up!


Hi all!

It’s Softcookie here from the MDI team!  For those of you who are new to our upcoming game, I am the UI designer/community manager! Our UI developer Linda has stepped away on maternity leave for a bit, so I have been giving a hand in the UI of STAR RENEGADES (i.e. the game we’ve been obsessively working on).

We’ve been a little quiet on the social media front lately, and that’s because we’ve been holed up in our dev caves working reeeeeeeal hard to submit a build for PAX West and Gamescom! We finally submitted this last week (and on time too lol), so fingers crossed that we get in! Being able to cross off this deadline from our task list has given us a bit of breathing room to come out of our rooms, see the sun, interact with other hoomans, etc.

We look FIIIIINE!

 

To prove that we’ve been working hard on Star Renegades, here is a list of movies that most of us HAVEN’T seen:

  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Deadpool 2
  • Black Panther
  • Pacific Rim: Uprising
  • Tomb Raider

(And the crazy thing is these all take place in the same universe, right??)

 

So, with the point of these DevLogs being to fill you in on STAR RENEGADES, we figured we’d jump straight to the topic of our new combat engine!

(Not that the entire game is combat! It wouldn’t be Massive Damage if we didn’t have a pile of supporting systems on top of our core game. We’ve got a super flexible mission and event system, for all your future content needs, plus we’ve got an AMAZING equipment system, as well as a few SECRET systems that we’re working on that we’re hoping will blow everyone’s socks/pants/boots(?) off, all of which we’ll tackle in future dev logs.)

COMBAT


So first off, it bears asking what the heck are we trying to do that hasn’t been done before?

Well, the answer is a few things!

First off we’ve got a built-from-the-ground-up combat engine that revolves around the idea of enemy transparency, that is to say, you can see what your enemies are planning to do at the beginning of a round, and it’s up to you to use your heroes’ abilities to counter your enemies’ actions.  Make a wrong move, get a little impatient, and it might lead to devastating consequences!

Here at Massive Damage, we’re calling this system our “Read-And-React” Combat (Peter’s term, stolen from basketball, which you can vote for in the comments section) or Reactive Action Battle System (Garry’s Term, which you can choose NOT to vote for in the comments section, because it’s way less elegant and doesn’t really communicate anything).

 

So, a simple example of one of these Read-and-React (yep, I’m using it! Take that Garry!) moments is say an enemy is targeting one of your squishies with a flurry attack (it does 6 hits, and 6 damage each hit) for a whopping 36 damage, enough to kill your squishy.  Now you COULD choose for your squishy to defend (incoming damage is -50%), thereby reducing that damage to 18 (not great, but as you can probably tell, unlike most turn-based games, you have an actual reason to defend).

Or, let’s say your machine gun fella has an Overwatch power, which allows him to return fire on the attacker for each hit (return fire on the attacker for 5 damage per attacker hit). So he does that, AND THEN your damage soaking tank GUARDS your squishy, taking attacks intended for them (allowing her armor to soak up all that dreaded DMG). AND THEN your weird portal-sword wielding robot man conjures up a reflective damage portal vortex in front of your damage soaker, and now each time your tank gets hit, the attacker gets hit too! 

Well that didn’t go according to plan

 

Anyway, that’s pretty much the system. We’ve got tons of other stuff on top of it, some of which we’re pretty sure has never been done before in a squad combat-based system, like personal shields systems that interact with debuffs in interesting ways, and a power selection flow that emphasizes experimentation with an maximization of squad powers so as to really emphasize TEAMWORK. Oh, and interrupts. And SO MUCH MORE!  

 

INTERSTITIAL ANIMATIONS


And wrapping that all together is a really cool in-house animation system that we’re using to build all the nifty and dynamic attack animations anyone could ever want!

And the best part about it is its acronym: C.A.T.T.L.E. (Combat Animation Tool That Lucky Engineered).  Garry came up with that one. You really came through this time with that one, Garry.

Anyway, so that’s a wrap for our first dev post! We’ll have tons and tons of more stuff coming your way soon as we continue to experiment and tune Star Renegades to perfection!

But for those of you who don’t give a damn about perfection, and who might live in the Ottawa or Montreal areas, you should absolutely come on down to CGX in Ottawa (June 23/24) or Comic Con in Montreal (July 6-8th), where we’ll be showing a PLAYABLE version of the build.

 

That’s right. A PLAYABLE version of the build.

Hopefully, that’s a deadline we won’t regret announcing!

 

Remember to WISHLIST us on Steam as well- for firsthand beta testing 😉

Steam: Star Renegades

Feel free to join our Discord server or follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more spicy GIFs and updates.

Anyway, back to our work caves.

 

Cheers,

MDI Team

Announcing our new game, Star Renegades!

We’re excited to announce the new game we’ve been working on for the last little while.
Without further ado, here’s the teaser trailer for Star Renegades:

and you can WISHLIST it here on our Star Renegades Steam page:

http://store.steampowered.com/app/651670/Star_Renegades/

Thanks for your continued support! We can’t wait to show you more in the coming months!

– Massive Damage Team