I’m happy to announce that we’ve got eminent pixel and game artist Rhopunzel working on the in-game art for RimWorld!
Rho has worked on several awesome indie games. The most recent was Starbound, with pieces like this scary skeltal dragon or this crunchy mech. Before that, Rho did pretty much everything for Gnomoria.
Some people have asked how much the final art will change. Up until now, I’ve done all the art in a simple, iconic style. Rho will be working in a similar style (though at a much higher level of ability). We’re sticking with the vector look because it satisfies RimWorld’s design constraints very well. The goal with this art isn’t just to look good – it must satisfy a specific set of design goals as well.
First, it has to convey a lot of complex gameplay information in a really intuitive way, even when compressed to a tiny space on-screen. For example, looking at a character will tell you:
- Their identity (who, exactly, is it?)
- Their team (raider, colonist, trader, etc)
- Their general category they fall into (fighter, worker, researcher, farmer, etc)
- Their facing
- Their apparel (possibly several layers)
- What they’re doing
- Maybe, in the future, their current equipment or weapon
Packing that all into a space as small as 32×32 pixels and making it look good is tough!
Second, it has to balance abstraction with specificity. If it’s too abstract, people can’t intuitively understand what’s going on. If it’s too specific, it fills in too many gaps so players have no room to subconsciously interpret what’s happening. We need to leave room for players to interpret, because player intepretation is the real engine of game-driven story generation.
Third, it has to be lightweight in content, so it runs and loads quickly, can be iterated quickly, can be modded easily, and can be expanded to a wide variety of objects and characters. We’d rather have 100 kinds of characters with 3 frames of animation each than 3 characters with a hundred frames each. Because what matters is the final experience of the game, which in the case of RimWorld is best served by variety, not detail.
I’m happy to say Rho has been rising to the challenge. We’ve already been passing pieces back and forth and watching the style develop. Here are a couple shots of random colonists in various mixed outfits. Yes, one of them may be naked.