A designer, storyteller, and illustrator. That was what I called myself, but in truth, I am a creator. Be it artworks, novels, games, or ideas. They rattled in my graphic designer’s mind and are waiting to be formed. With a keen sense of visual design and spontaneous creativity, I plan to push myself into grander projects. My next step looks towards expanding my design prowess, but further beyond lies a more independent occupation. Admittedly, this career path was decided on a whim, but the dice I rolled could never have been better.
Project Inkbrush was a Metroidvania-inspired demo that sought to capture the Traditional East Asian Painting style in a video game setting. The project delves into how the art style would appear in an animated and interactive medium. Being co-developed between students from different majors and schools, we set out to face the demanding challenges of game development. Driven by the desire to develop and create, we aimed to complete a demo that would eventually evolve into a full product. For this project, I was responsible for the visual style of the game. Such as animation, user interface, and environmental assets. Extensive research, planning, and practice were needed as the art style was non-existent in the medium. The game’s code was programmed by Sean Miles, a computer science student at the University of Washington.
Traditional East Asian Painting was an art style with a distinct appearance and philosophy. Unlike other forms of art, it looked at the essence and soul of an object. This ideology allowed painters to focus on the feeling of an object instead of simply creating a reflection of life. However, the traditional form was rarely seen in the video game medium. Only depicted in snippets to support and display the Asian theme of a game, and never up front as the main aesthetic.
To develop the game demo the visual design must have considered the underlying principles of the painting style. Also, solve the problem of transferring and adapting the ink and paper process into a digital format. However, the aesthetic could not be the driving force behind the project. Consideration for how the audience would interact with the game was as important as the visual style. For the gameplay mechanics, Hollow Knight, Celeste, Okami, Gris, and similar games provided a source of inspiration.
Ten weeks and minimal experience led to a final demo publicly uploaded. Through development, the project had gone beyond simply capturing an art style. It needed a way to tie the form to gameplay. Which led us to an “artist’s journey” theme. This added sub-text sprouted the central mechanic of the game. Unfortunately, the planned project had become too large to be completed with the time constraint and current experience, so several features were dropped. However, the project still successfully achieved the original goals.
Beyond this capstone, the project has the potential to be developed into a full-fledged game. With the concepts my co-developer and I had planned, we believed it would become something special. We intended on working on the project in our spare time until we had the chance for full-time development. For funding options, we looked at several options, but the demo would require a month or two of polishing before we would move forward. In the end, making a game in ten weeks was a wonderful but tiring process that I was glad to experience.