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The Evolution of RATS Environment Art: Chapter 2 – Third time’s a charm?

The Evolution of RATS Environment Art: Chapter 2 – Third time’s a charm?


Gamers, fellow indispensable indies & of course to the majestic Citérémis supporters… how you doin’? As promised, today I am continuing the subject of the artwork & its evolution. Specifically, I will discuss the reason why we chose the style that RATS has, what major adjustment has been made & finally I will show some of the work I have done over the past couple of weeks.

As I mentioned in the first chapter, we had decided recently that it was necessary to revise the game’s artwork for a third time. It was clear since the beginning of the project that the use of a cartoon-like style was best suited for the game & we were to continue in that direction. However, we concluded that the artwork was simply not cartoony enough & therefore needed to be adjusted in order to not only accentuate the comical & absurd premise of the game but reflect the gameplay mechanics as well.

Before I explain the reason for choosing this style for RATS, I would quickly like to discuss the attributes of such a style. Of course, opinions will vary, but what I feel is amazing & most attractive of using a cartoony style, as an artist, is its elusive nature. It is amongst the few design languages which gives absolute free rein to artists. There is no doubt that we all recognize what is cartoony & we can certainly agree or argue as to what are the general guidelines it constitutes. However there is no clear cut definition for this style. It is for this reason it has inspired such an immense range of genres & technics which makes it ideal for any subject matter & it is not surprising either that it is communicated to viewers in such a wide range of artistic forms such as graphic novels, film, etc…

Fig1Furthermore, I believe that one of the greatest advantages of using this style, similarly to that of an animated cartoon, is the immediate disconnection from reality it creates & therefore we, as viewers, accept that rules, such as the law of gravity, can be bent & even broken. Point is friends, it is a design language which enables anyone to create & accept worlds in which an elephant can fly or a coyote, despite his continuous failed attempts of catching his dinner, still orders ACME products & hasn’t starved to death. It is where cats walk on their hind legs, wear cop uniforms & chase a rat who robs banks. The possibilities are limitless… In essence, it is for this reason why we chose this artistic direction. It intensifies the absurd & nonsensical premise that RATS is. Granted, gameplay mechanics are rules & inherently limits your actions, but the style enables you to accept that the rat is almost as big as a cat, wins every brawl & can reach ridiculous running speeds with fire & smoke coming out from under his feet.

Fig2So what does the third iteration boil down to? Glad I asked! We simply doubled the size of the artwork. The adjustment itself is rather straight forward but it entails a whole lot of time to complete. Fortunately, so far, the advantages do balance out the whole process. First, the current size enables me to add more detail & therefore more “character” to each object. Furthermore, it permits me to have a greater control on the overall look & shape of each element & finally; this has been the perfect opportunity to revise, modify & clarify elements that were too confusing. Consequently, many objects, especially those which are interactive, are now, hopefully, easier to understand & locate in the world. I say hopefully since what we think might be obvious is relative to each individual’s perception.

Fig3Of course, doubling the size alone isn’t sufficient. In order to strengthen our style, while creating the artwork I have followed four guidelines or adjectives which are often used to describe various cartoon genres & they are: asymmetry, exaggeration, distortion & simplicity. So without further ado, I have assembled below various pieces for your viewing pleasure & please note that I did not put everything because we do want you to have some surprises when the game is completed.

EvolutionRatsEnvironmentArt-Style2In the end, although this transition remains to be a rather simple one, it is, on the other hand, extremely time consuming & has significantly slowed down production. Consequently, it has postponed our launch goal however we believe & think you will agree that the results are worth the wait. On our end, the results are exciting & are a breath of fresh air which is motivating. We are certain as well that on your end, this choice will enhance your overall experience with RATS. If you have any comments, please feel free to let us know or come on down to mine with some beers & discuss games! (If you do, please let me know who you are first, I have this thing about strangers knocking at my door) So, in the near future, I will continue this series with some of the restraints & challenges I have while creating the artwork for RATS.

Thanks for the continuous support & patience. Until next time.

You can also see some of the art in motion! Click Here

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