Are you like me? Do you love the look of stuff made out of trash? If so, feast your eyes on today’s Spellirium Minute episode, which reveals a little more of the source material that i provided to the game’s artists to achieve that junky-fab trashpunk aesthetic.
The Mystic’s house and the city of New Mound are two locations where this look really shines through. Later in the game, you explore a dilapidated shanty town on a polluted and an Ewok-esque treehouse village. If you like what you’ve seen in the Spellirium screenshots, rest assured there’s a lot more where that came from!
“Trashpunk” is the term i’m co-opting to describe the aesthetic in Spellirium. It stems from “cyberpunk”, which describes not only an aesthetic but an ethos, and “steampunk”, which drops the ethos to describe only an aesthetic. (But what an aesthetic!)
Today’s Spellirium Minute talks about the visual references that informed the trashpunk look of the game. They include Jean-Pierre Jeunet (City of Lost Children, Delicatessen, Amelie), Terry Gilliam (Twelve Monkeys, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen), The Dark Crystal and The Princess Bride. Easily at home on the list would be Labyrinth which, in addition to featuring a character made out of junk, features a whole lot of David Bowie’s junk.
There i was, sitting alone in my office. The government funding had been spent, and the quality of the work i had commissioned from a hastily-assembled team was just not up to snuff. i didn’t like the way Spellirium was looking or playing. i had no money or time to finish it. And i didn’t want to finish it.
But when our background artist Greg Brown came on board, the project turned a corner. Suddenly, the vision i had for the game was being realized. Suddenly, i could see Spellirium as a finished product. And lo, it was glorious.
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The idiom of not being able to see the forest for the trees applies in spades to game development. You tend to get so close to your creation that you can no longer make good decisions about it. That was the case when Jimmy McGinley and i had our Battle Royale over a very small, but very significant change to the Spellirium game mechanic.
Thankfully, Jimmy’s suggestion to allow freedom of tile swappage made the difference between a not-very-fun game and a very-fun-game.
By the time we’d reached prototype 5 of Spellirium, i was pretty confident in the concept. We went ahead and prototyped around twenty different puzzles to put them out to players and to see which ones stuck, and which ones were Fit for the Pit.
As the video reveals, the most popular puzzle was “Picture”, so we put it in the current game such that players would be playing it again and again. But our implementation was a bear, and it turned out to be a level of work akin to fighting through a 100-level randomized dungeon in order to power up a single, consumable health potion in Disgaea. We’re going to be less heavy-handed with the Picture puzzle in future revisions of the alpha.