I'll sometimes look through discovery queues on Steam, and I must admit that I usually make a decision on whether to skip something very quickly, usually based on what I see in the first displayed screenshot.
If the graphics look terrible, I'm likely to just skip it immediately, without giving it a chance.
To be fair, a part of that is that I prefer games with realistic settings, which tends to mean realistic-style graphics (e.g. not pixel art, intentionally retro, overly cartoon/anime themed), and also favour first-person games in general.
Still, the first impression is important, and considering that the first thing about a game that you'll often see is a screenshot of the gameplay, graphics are a huge part of that first impression.
Fun With Bugs: Items in use in Glade Raid are primarily accessed through a bit-masked value that was created as 32 bits. It was designed to fail if any requests came in for items above #31. But I recently added a bunch of items, pushing the total to 37 (including "Empty Slot" at bit 0). I sent my other programmer (who wrote the bit-code) a request to extend it into a 64 bit, and didn't worry about it at first because I wasn't working on the last 6 items.
Welp, the fail-over didn't work. Instead of failing, it just tested any items with indexes above 31 as if they were index 0. So, any unit with at least one open inventory slot always counted as having the 6 most powerful items in the game. Suddenly, all my guys could walk on water, cast enormous fireballs, knock down opponents with every strike, and more! Fun times.
Still going back and forth on whether I want to do an art pass before launching Alpha publicly... I'd prefer to get feedback and see if the concept has any potential, but some reactions lead me to believe the current placeholder art might be too much off a turn off for many people to even give it a proper chance :/ Don't wanna miss an opportunity for an interesting game due to temporary art.
So in the meantime, did a few art test/mockups for the street scene. Thoughts?
Immediate good feeling about #3 and #5. The colour and contrast catches the eye. Looking closer, the depth and perspective of the other four seems unnecessary if they're only going to be backgrounds. I prefer the vivid colours.
For me it's also #3 and #5, though I also like #6. The first two look too much like placeholder art to me, and the KRZ style (apart from being extremely difficult to do well) strikes me as less suited to mere backdrops. It'd have to be part of an overall, cohesive aesthetic, and I think that this might be easier to achieve with the other ones.
If #6 was a (little) bit brighter then that would probably be my choice. Given the game content (particularly the outdoor festival where people are celebrating in the street) I'm not sure the dystopian atmosphere for #3 or #5 really fit. The "technology" within the game isn't that dissimilar to that available now so I don't think it really needs to be futuristic either. As you're also encountering the street scene after a day's work but not too late at night it would seem a bit jarring for it to be pitch black.
I also feel that having a difference between the feel of the street at the beginning of the game and the more intrusive surveillance elements towards the end if the player goes that route would give a nice contrast with a more "relatable" background.
Thanks for the detailed feedback guys! I think Renz may be nailing down to something. I was considering pushing the Blade Runner-y (Void and Meddler) stylization and adjusting game world, but AL_B makes a good point about relatability and bigger impact of the growing guards/drones (and maybe cameras/scanners later on?)
Another reason behind that style is my own artistic ineptitude (since I do not want to hire an artist yet). Basically, I want to pick a style I can create in (which already rules out 99% of options lolz) So I figured simple vector art with some grain/concrete texture like in #3 and #5 would realistically be most feasible. I was thinking of taking the Current style and just painting over with the vector art (maybe getting rid of the perspective) and applying filters/textures, and later lighting. I would do the same for the office/home scenes.
All in all, I'm still trying to figure out if I should invest the time in redoing it... if it's truly holding people from even taking a look at the alpha, then I'm not even able to test the concept like it is intended to.
I think I like 6 best because, yes, the perspective is nicer, but also because the way the art you've chosen there is curved and has different angles in it makes it look like it has much more depth to it.
A lot of the others look kind of flat, especially the "solid rectangle with some lines in the middle" road - which looks especially odd in #4 because the perspective of the background and the perspective of the street are completely different.
Well it's the catch 22 of solo indie projects. We can't be good at everything, so something other will be average/bad on release, or you have to get an additional person who is good at that thing to do that aspect of the game for you.
Well, I took my friends' advice to get over my ego and posted an ad on GameDev.net looking for a 2D artist to overhaul it. Let's see if anyone is inspired dumb enough to contribute waste their time on my promising shitty prototype!