First of all, we finally have a brand new site! It’s where all future Tribes of Mexica updates will go, but since I started these art posts here, I figured I’d finish off the series with one more entry.
In part 3, I finally got a background and all the necessary character artwork, but there were still plenty of missing assets that had to go into the prototype.
I asked my younger brother (who’s a graphic designer) to do some menu backgrounds and a custom font for us. Larabie Fonts is a good place to snag these or look for templates, so I didn’t expect it to be a huge amount of work. I gave my brother $100 and figured he’d be done in a day or two, but then the requirements kept on piling up.
Button icons, a tutorial screen, custom battle messages, etc.; none of these had to be done from scratch as there were plenty of references, but the quantity of UI elements grew to be far more than a weekend of work could cover. We didn’t have a lot of money, but I gave my brother another $100 for all this extra work.
We also needed some icons for the spells and status effects, so I asked Alice (who did our cover) to help with these illustrations. I also liked the Street Fighter esque health bars my brother did as they gave Tribes of Mexica a fighting game vibe, so I requested a few portraits to accompany them.
In total there were 12 spell icons, 12 status effect icons and 8 portraits, with a bit of palette-swapping/layering to cut down on the work. Alice was quite comfortable with this and we paid her $200 for all the images.
Finally, we needed some spell effects. Initially we wanted to have the same studio that did the character art to also create the spell animations, but they were too busy. We asked some other artists that we knew if they’d be interested, but they either didn’t have the time or were not well suited for the task. In the end, I posted another ad on ConceptArt.
Out of all the responses, I chose to go with Rafa? Kwa?ny. Rafa? seemed like a good fit as he had some impressive CG animations and was willing to do the work for $200. I paid him a $75 advance and we talked over the details of all the spells, but then he simply disappeared. I e-mailed him a few times but never got a response, so I filed complaint with PayPal. Eventually PayPal “recovered” $0.53 of the $75.00 and promptly closed the case.
With just a few days left until the deadline of the DreamBuildPlay competition, we had to scramble to come up with an alternate solution. We bit the bullet and implemented some particle effects which I didn’t think there was time to do, and I paid my brother another $100 to create some static images for this system. This was the part of the game that got the least amount of polish, but I was still quite happy with the end results.
On top of all this, I also messed around with a bunch of art stuff myself. I trimmed, cropped and resized some of the UI pieces, and — having previously asked for our background to be split into multiple layers — created 7 different arenas from one template.
This was done by moving, flipping, scaling and cloning individual layers and altering the level/colour balances of the entire image. These edits were somewhat noticeable if you took a closer look at the final backgrounds, but they were not the focus of the game and the rough spots were worth the extra variety.
Overall we created Tribes of Mexica on a shoestring budget, and the artists involved contributed partly because they were interested in the experience and the project’s visual themes. I wouldn’t necessarily count on the same level of support in the future if we couldn’t raise a bit more money, but it was definitely a positive experience that helped to frame our approach for dealing with contract work.
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