Category: Art

Prototyping the Commercial Level Art

We’re now starting doing the commercial chapter of Caromble! We have test-levels so far, that show the puzzle ideas we’ll use. But they need a lot of tweaking. Not just for the gameplay, but also for the art.

The art assets for that new area are just dummies right now too, so they don’t look up to par. It’s a common practice to do called Prototyping. That way ideas can be tested without spending big production time which then might be scrapped if the ideas don’t work out.

3D Blockout for Prototyping

This is the earliers blockout stage – just using literally a block shape and some texture from another mesh. Not a beauty – but quick to do.

3D Blockout for Prototyping

After the basic usage was tested in the game, I made a better mesh – and created an UV texture mapping (with a checkered UV test texture).

3D Blockout for Prototyping

Then I used an earlier concept to drop in a very basic texture blockout. This will represent the final result much better – but a real texture with normal map and other effects still has be created.

There is work left to do on this asset – but once our team tests this in the new levels, I can much better tell if the idea works. All those steps help previewing the result without committing too much work too early. And there are still quite some assets to go over – to keep track I place them on colored blocks.

3D blockouts overview

The Commercial-Area assets on color-coded floors for easier working. Blue for the ones that are still in the early blockout stage. Red is for the ones that still need the final texture pass. And green is for completely finished assets.

Caromble! Friday #362: Story & Characters

Thomas—the artist—is completing the final art assets for Chapter 3. The rest of us are adding new sound effects and art assets to the upcoming prologue level. This will be the first level that new players will see. This way we can show a glimpse of the upcoming gameplay and give an introduction to the world of Caromble! and its main characters.

In Caromble! you fight the epic battle against your red alien nemesis. This is a very simple version of the story we have in mind. We know that it’s not necessary to communicate every detail of a story because people will create and experience their own stories inside their minds. What we do want to communicate is this battle between the paddle and the alien. In the prologue level we like to emphasize this duel with a classic “versus screen”. These are some iterations:

Artist’s first sketch

Artist’s first sketch

Programmer's feedback

Programmer’s feedback

Artist's latest version

Artist’s latest version

We have yet to agree on the names of our main characters. Maybe you already have created their names in your own mind?

Bonus question: What are those sentient beings inside the paddle’s spheres?

April Fools & New Boss Model

So yes… we did our first April Fools’ prank since we’ve started making Caromble!. Of course we will not introduce Pay-Per-Ball. The game remains a premium title. We did get some serious reactions to this, and also some fun responds.

The suggestion to ask 0.99 per ball because of the Dunlop Ball logic was very amusing.

Dunlop balls

Dunlop balls

We are currently working on several stuff. Thomas D. is working on the implementation of some new Sound effects. Raymond is working on the Boss Fight of chapter 3 where you need to use Arkatron #2. Peter is working on a Skill level called: “Race Race Race”, without using the ‘Race card’ of course. Pascal is working on the Prologue story level, which introduces both the Protagonist and Antagonist and where the epic battle for Earth commences. Thomas S is working on the new boss model, which gives it more character:

Like A Boss

Like A Boss

We’re still looking or good names for both the Protagonist (the Paddle) and Antagonist (The Red evil Boss-thing). Do you have any ideas?

The Final Caromble! Cover Artwork

I’ve posted the sketches earlier, and you’ve probably seen the artwork pop up in various shapes everywhere. But I haven’t posted a nice clean version here yet – and how about a wallpaper?

I’m used to do marketing artworks, but never actually been on the side of using them myself. So it was once again a good chance to learn some lessons. I chose the highest resolution I could work in, and kept everything in separate layers. That makes working slow, but pays off in the end. In this case especially when the big banner for the firstlook expo had to be printed.
The part that I wasn’t aware of, is how many different formats I’ll have to use this one in. The high banner is quite different from the square Steam

Caromble Banner Photo

There were quite some adjustments to get it into this format – so it’s good to keep all major elements in layers.

Caromble banner artwork

And here is the final version – this time the size for the banner. Some elements moved and the path is longer than in the wallpaper. I like this version of the composition a lot.

Next Steps of the Cover Artwork

Taking in the feedback from the team, I worked on new versions of the Cover artwork (of which I posted the first steps last week).

The crew liked the general idea of the zig-zag pattern. But the idea of tumbling objects got a bit lost in the latest sketch. So here I’ve made it central, and removed the enemy – so that the composition stays simple.

Good progress – but I wasn’t quite quite happy. And the team wanted to keep the alien, as it hints at an interesting story. So here is another version… though the composition is narrowing down.
This drawing is cleaner, so I can use it as base for working digitally on it.

Next I made a blockout, so I have a better feeling for the brightness-values that the image will use.

And finally I added some colors. Some things I just keep in mind for now – for example that the explosions will blend better with the background in the final version. But it gives a good preview. The detailing can begin.

Caromble! Cover Art Is Coming

This will be an important part of our Greenlight launch, so I have to get this right. Here are some first sketches I did for the cover art – of which I will use elements for the various images in the Steam store.

Quite a lot of elements to get in there. I have the paddle shooting the ball straight at some objects. Lots of explosions of course. And the nemesis wailing about.

In a second sketch I tried to highlight the specific game elements more: The ball bounces around, and aims finally at the enemy as central figure. The scale comes across a bit better – and I think it’s overall nicer to look at.

More work is to be done on these concepts – I’ll update next week with the progress.

Sweating the Small Stuff

As we’re in the final mile of the project, there are quite a lot of little details that need polishing. Not the most fun work – but gotta be done. Girders and metal bars are used all over the game, and used still some early test textures without final effects like normal maps. So now I redid all of them, fixed all errors – and brushed them up to the style of the other objects. That will also help to make the game look consistent.

girders 3d

Supports and girders

And menu stuff – little navigation arrows and medals for the achievements.

Menu Icons

More Icons – including achievement medals

And the endboss you will meet every chapter got updated – we’re still tweaking the gameplay. Beware: He can now shoot back!

alien mesh

The “alien” – got a new home.. and weapons.

Level Iterations

In our previous posts we talked a lot about juice. But in those posts, we mainly focused on main gameplay events and objects. As you might know, we more or less have all our levels finished. The gameplay stands, but the levels are all pretty rough around the edges.
We’re currently iterating over the first few levels. With each iteration, the gameplay is tweaked a little more and the graphics and lighting are made more coherent.

To give a few examples, check out the screenshots:

javaw 2014-10-07 21-47-16-07 javaw 2014-10-07 21-24-16-84

javaw 2014-10-07 21-32-11-52 javaw 2014-10-07 22-00-20-32

PS: We know we’ve been a bit silent on the blog lately… but believe me, it’s the calm before the storm!

Making Sparks with Caromble! Engine

A couple of weeks ago Thomas Schmall posted an article about the new particle systems he was working on. I finally got around implementing the last system, the spark particles.

I would like to show you two ways we can use this particle system, and give a brief insight in how the Caromble! Editor can be used to place and tweak it.

The first way of using the system is to emulate sparks generated by something like welding. They spray out in a coherent beam.


Timer trigger that triggers every 2-5 seconds and send the trigger to a particle system

This effect works best if the sparks aren’t spawned all the time, so I’ve used a timer to spawn a spray of  particles every couple of seconds. In the screenshot to the right you see this timer. I’ve set it to send an event every 2-5 seconds.

Now we just need to place the actual spark particle system itself, and fiddle with the parameters a bit to get the effect we want.

I’ve included a screenshot of the relevant bit of the editor screen below. Five properties are important for this effect.

First of, it is important to set the release rate (very) high. The release rate is the amount of particles we’ll spawn per second, and since we’ll only spawn particles every once in a while, we need to spawn a lot of them in this small period of time.

A less obvious parameter is the “ContinuousParticles” property, which is ticked of to indicate that we’ll provide external triggers for the particle system.

The important settings for the spark particle system.

Next to that is the “PulseDuration”, which determines how long we’ll spawn particles after every trigger.

The collision object property determines which objects the particles will bounce of. For performance reasons we won’t bother the physics engine with all particles, so you’ll have to provide a list of objects with which the sparks can interact.

Finally the “MaxAngleRadian” property determines in what direction the particles will be spawned. Since this is meant to be a coherent spray, I’ve set the angle fairly low.

Alternatively the spark particle system can be used in a more continuous way, as shown below.


To use the sparks in this way, you don’t need an external trigger, the particles will continuously spawn, and Perlin noise is used to control the release rate of the particles.

Again I’ve highlighted some important properties for this system.

The upper triplet of properties control the release rate animation in a somewhat mysterious manner. The “FractionOff” number corresponds to the fraction of time that there should be very little particles (the lower bound of the release rate). The “ReleaseRateAnimationSpeed” determines how fast the animation over the release rate is running.

The other five highlighted properties determine the way the particles look. The “MaxAngle” is much higher than it was in the beam example, it now corresponds to a halve sphere. The “StartSpeed” and the “Gravity” property together control how the particles will act after they have been released. They have to be tweaked together to achieve the desired effect.

Finally the “MinLifeTime” and “MaxLifeTime” parameters dictate how long the individual sparks will exist on this planet.

With that I’ll conclude this post. I was hoping to provide a small peek into the daily live of us Caromble! developers, and about the tools we have made to work with. We might release the editor with the game (or at a later stage) so you might get a chance to tinker with it too.

Also, if you have any questions or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Particle Animations

On the art side I can slowly move towards polishing, as at least the industrial set is basically finished. One thing that I really want to tidy up are the effects. My thinking is that if they are in style, then the whole look will come together much more.

The effects were so far really soft – and somewhat realistic. Which doesn’t fit to the more comic-outline style of the textures. The explosion for example is done via an animation. So I redid the thing and animated it in a more cartoonish style:

Here is a smaller hit animation – that will show up when boxes are damaged (that effect is not yet in the game):

hit particle

A smaller hit.

It would be combined with smoke, and also sparks. Here is the animation for it, which would only really work in motion.

Spark animation

A spark – supposed to be many that fly around.

And here is the explosion.

particle explosion


Here are some screenshots of the explosion in action.