Spell Icons & FX

This week, I’m going to talk to you about spell icons and FX. The subject is an interesting one to discuss, because it’s not necessarily what you remember about a game and yet it’s so important… I’ve already mentioned it in other posts, but the biggest difficulty – in both animation and video games – is consistency… ensuring that the entire project is coherent. And, of course, the more people there are involved, the more complicated it is… Everyone has their own aesthetic and reflexes, and if you look closely, you can tell who did what. In all our games, we tried to achieve this rigorously, even if we didn’t always succeed as well as we’d have liked. I don’t mean to spit on our earlier projects, far from it. But you can’t help but notice that styles systematically clash a little. Our animation work has made us very aware of our shortcomings. In games, from one zone or monster family to the next, certain things can go unnoticed, but in an animated series or movie, a color change in one sequence, a “non-model” character, or illogical compositing can destroy the entire team’s work. Therefore, directors’ and artistic directors’ job is (among other things) to ensure that everything is homogeneous. Perhaps it’s a question of age or perhaps linked to the media itself, but audiovisual productions seem (to me at least) more orderly and easier to organize. In video games, there’s a strange black cloud floating around – constant indecision. Unlike in a movie, we do not know exactly where we are heading. Even though we worked on the GD documents months in advance, there are always things that change. In animated films and series, if you want to lower costs, you cut down on the number of characters. You avoid crowd shots… And when you board, you avoid throwing in 360° shots right, left and center…

Of course, these constraints are present in the game, but you’ll also add technical constraints. Coders can’t tell you in advance (unless they reuse motors for years) what you’ll be able to do or not before tackling the issue. It’s when they get their hands dirty that we start to know in detail what we’re going to be able to do.
I’m mentioning this because I’ll bring up the subject again in two weeks when I talk about the boss fights. I’ll talk about this concept, which is very close to our hearts, and its various evolutions (in reality, when you’re living it, it’s really challenging).

And this post on icons/FX is perfect because, in addition to talking about consistency, you’ll also understand that even the tiniest of subjects can become a huge mountain if you want to handle it well.

Even before creating FX, we liked the first icons a lot but for some reason they had a hard time fitting into the decor. That said, we initially wanted to do something simple, without frills, and they fit the bill very well. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It is much harder to do something simple and effective than something “realistic” or “busy”. These icons met the requirement of being “simple/effective”, but they were still missing a little something for them to tick the “in the right style” box. Strangely, the solids that were their strength were also their weakness… They were all you could see.
We did try to give them some depth… Personally, I love this style… But here too, they were missing something… But we made good progress when we started playing with transparency for icon backgrounds. It was a good idea to better integrate them into the decor.
So… We made changes and moved into pure style… These are the icons you saw at Japan Expo… And even if they work well, some of you would get them confused… They were a little too simple and ultimately too similar… But they set us on the right path.
On the left are the old versions, and on the right are the ones you’ll discover soon. In the end, we mixed a bit of everything. A bit drawn, but not too much… More dynamic, but not too much… And above all, something that looked good with the decors Arnaud’s team was producing.

Then, it was a matter of Sylvain and Sébastian taking up this first draft for the FX to be coherent. The name, icon and FX… All three needed to be one. I’ll let you appreciate the fusion of the FX-MEN (Sylvain and Sébastien) and ICON-MEN (Franho and Aisk). It’s a bit like when the Fantastic Four and the Avengers team up to save the universe – nothing can stop them. In order, the spells are: “Where It Hurts”, “Dragon Fist”, and “Two Fingers” (who can figure out the reference for that last spell?).

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post.

In the next post, we’ll talk about the character management interface (with the old icons for those of you who’ve been following along).

And two weeks later, it’ll be THE subject… Our little team’s reason for being: Boss Fights. I can’t resist the temptation to share a fake screen that we’re using as a reference for now (with the old icons for those of you who’ve been following along).


Excerpt from Tot’s blog, September 13, 2018.
Read the original post (in French) in its entirety.

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