Wednesday, 5 February 2020

From Dev to Dev. Francesca De Vivo, from Fantastico Studio, for Ultimate Reality!

from Instagram
A new series of posts about Tech-tips! From expert developers and artists to newbies on indiexpo website!
We are very happy to start and to introduce Francesca De Vivo, from Fantastico Studio, an indie Team based in Rome, Italy. She is the talented pixel artist of the group, that made also indiegames for Nintendo Switch and other consoles.



She tried and analized Ultimate Reailty, a new game published in November, played by several youtubers and with an interesting pixelart style in a cyberpunk city.

Here it is the word of Francesca about this game!

"indiexpo has recently asked me to write my thoughts on a new indie game called Ultimate Reality. I’m not much of a writer, but since this is a website patronized by experts, I thought I could just muddle through by being very technical and hope you guys will get bored and give up halfway through this.
But then I started to play the game and I started taking notes and I got so involved with the process that I’m actually thinking of being serious for once in my life. This is a very interesting experiment that Indiexpo has roped me up into! Let’s get started!

Ultimate Reality

Ultimate Reality
is a game that has you wear the mask of a caped superhero with the ability of shifting though dimensions. Something dark is afoot and you have to use your superpowers to thwart these evil plans! The story is set in a fascinating cyberpunk world where you jump on roofs and punch villains like there's no tomorrow.

What has made pixel art so interesting in recent years are the new takes on it we have seen in the indie games community: so many artists play around with hues, effects, transparencies and larger color palettes.
This sort of thing wasn’t even in the realm of possibilities when pixel art was born in the 80s, but what we see nowadays is a mix of the abstraction pixel art is know for and of the richness of modern game art. I would be lying if I said I didn’t love it!

Ultimate Reality does exactly that: it takes a very synthetic pixel art style and adds hues, glows, smoke effects, camera shakes and the likes. It’s a fitting choice for a rich environment like the one portrayed in the game. It creates a very fascinating atmosphere for the player to enjoy. Just look at these colors.



The neonoir vibe is very strong with this game, and the environment is so detailed and varied that it makes me want to explore.
The character design is really well thought out too and I really like how the artists create such a wide variety of enemies when constricted to such a low pixel density. As usual the less pixels you use the harder it is to make things look good, but if you do it just right, the art will look great.

One thing it took me a while to learn is that UI and HUD are the places where you have to compromise. Sometimes you just can’t cram all the infos you want into a pixel art interface.
The artists of Ultimate Reality did a neat job with the UI, and I l love the illustrated menus where you can pick your suit, check your upgrades and navigate the map, but there are places in the HUD where they had to alter the pixel size to fit in everything the gameplay would need.



As I said, you can play around with hues, transparencies and all kinds of effects, and still get the 80s vibe going, but when you see different pixel sizes on the screen, that’s when the pixel art illusion is suddenly broken. These are not the 80s anymore! Where’s my Thundercats lunchbox?
My recommendation when you just can’t go for a full pixel art interface would be to use a simple and clean regular HUD/UI, possibly one that disappears when you don’t need it. (think Celeste or Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP)

You have to keep the gorgeous UI illustrations though. I love those.



I would also encourage the artists to boost the vaporwave palette in the intro. It looks so cool in the rest of the game! Same goes for the dynamic effects like the smoke, the rain or the camera shake: I would love to see more of those in the intro too. I know that creating big illustrations and long animations in pixel art is probably the most time demanding part of the job, but I really want to know more about the world of Ultimate Reality and I hope the artists will expand the narrative.

I guess what I’m saying to the artists is: you’re doing it right, go deeper!"

- Francesca De Vivo

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