I’ve stumbled upon this game and immediately thought that Golemizer 2.0 should have this look (go through all menus and intro until you get to the actual game). I like the clean lines, the easy-going of it and the fact that you can actually see properly the character and details in the environment.

The Guardian 2: Lantern of nightmares

Golemizer

The more I think about it though the less I think it’s really a question of completely changing graphics more than just having graphics that work together. You may like or not pixel art like you may like or not the graphics from the game I linked above it’s not the question. No matter how a game look there will always be someone to complain about it. But for The Guardian 2 you can tell that all graphics were made for that game. Things are matching together and nothing feels out-of-place.

Golemizer – First interface

For Golemizer I had to use graphics from many places and this creates some kind of weird feeling that it just doesn’t go together. The first version of the interface was using the same wood borders as seen in houses. These graphics come from Lost Garden and I then edited them to get what I wanted. Daniel Cook’s work was great but once I was done with it the end result wasn’t quite satisfying­. You’ll note that now the wood and walls are only used for houses since I had to compress the interface a bit for Kongregate integration and that I really didn’t like the previous interface anyway. That was still the best I could find and do for $0. By the way I may know how to use Photoshop but it doesn’t mean I’m good at creating nice graphics …

The houses … Most of them are from Reiner’s Tileset here. Again it’s some nice work and it allowed me to add many type of houses in Golemizer for free but when it’s mixed with other elements I found on that website then again something doesn’t feel right. Both websites offer more than ok graphics but when mixed together it just prevent people from saying “oh Golemizer is such a pretty game!”.

And then I finally had to pay for some work and later some players helped as well. Generally I’d say that those are the best graphics in Golemizer but again the problem comes from mixing everything together.

House from Reiner’s Tileset

Custom work from a paid artist

The first thing you notice when comparing the two houses is that they’re not drawn the same way. On the first you have more of a top-view and on the second it’s basically just a front view. I prefer the one the artist I paid have done as it looks a bit more cartoonish and I prefer the front-view anyway. Both are good-looking but not when they’re sitting next to each other.

The same can be said about golems.

Mutant mushroom from Reiner’s Tileset

Rougarou from paid artist

Monsters from Reiner’s Tileset were not looking all that great and that’s why the priority for paid work was for golems. It seems I can’t find the first version of the rougarou but basically what I did was to take the body of a player’s avatar, paint it gray and put the head of a wolf from Reiner’s Tileset. It was quite horrible.

One thing I discovered while working on Golemizer is that pixel art is expensive. It seems that for an artist it’s much more work to create nice pixel art than something hand drawn. I had no idea but it was a bit too late. At one point I was considering using blimps from Blimp Wars in Golemizer but it didn’t take long to realize that it would just create even more graphics incompatibilities.

Golemizer’s blimp

Blimp Wars’s blimp

The work that was done for Blimp Wars was much less expensive than anything done for Golemizer. I also prefer the style from Blimp Wars to be honest.

Help from players

I’ve been blessed by receiving the help of many players for new graphics in Golemizer. It allowed to expand some themes but the problem is that even there the style is not quite compatible. It’s not they were doing bad work it’s just that it’s hard to expect work that look all the same from people who are doing it for free. Besides there was already a lot of graphic incompatibilities so I just dealt with it without caring too much.

When it comes to clothing however players are producing some of the best clothing I’ve seen. It’s also much easier to get things that work nicely together as they all have to follow the same pattern for avatars so it means less risks to come up with something that doesn’t match what’s already in there.

Bottom line

So the problem of “bad graphics” in Golemizer is not much related to bad graphic work but much more to too many things that just doesn’t work well together. A game can look not so great but if everything match together it’s still better than having some nice pieces that look ugly together. There just wasn’t enough in each free graphic libraries for Golemizer and I thought I would get away with it by not spending money on custom work.

A game like Minecraft might not have great graphics but at least all graphics look the same. It’s consistent. In Golemizer it’s a bit all over the place and it becomes hard to say “oh look that Rougarou is really great” when it just doesn’t fit in the big picture. Not sure Minecraft would look “good” with say high-res trees with everything else remaining big pixel blocks.

Keeping some stuff from 1.0 (like clothing which all look good) and starting over with complete custom art pixel could be an option. But like I said it seems for artists it’s much more work. There’s nothing wrong with pixel art but if it takes half the time to draw a house hand-drawn compared to doing it in pixel art then it means there’s an important financial aspect here to consider.

Help from players is nice but I don’t see how you can build that kind of project with people who just want to help. Players are not players for the rest of their lives and even the most dedicated player-artists Golemizer have seen have moved on at one point or another. And unfortunately just because a player wants to help it doesn’t mean he really can. It’s nice that people are offering to help but good intentions are not enough.

And as much I hate to admit it without a game that looks consistent there’s no way the press will put ugly screenshots on their website. Well … some will do anyway but it surely doesn’t help. Sure it’s not the only factor that plays here but it’s part of it. Golemizer could very well be a pixel art game as long as all pixel art match together. And it doesn’t currently.

A complete graphic overhaul of the current version of Golemizer wouldn’t work before you ask. First it would completely mess the whole world unless everything was of the same size as it was before (and some size of items are completely off). And if I’d have to deal with some of the current atrocities I don’t quite see what much good it could do. Secondly if I’d be to put thousands of dollars on Golemizer it wouldn’t be on the current game. It would be like saying that the current version of Golemizer didn’t do well strictly because of graphics and it’s not the case. It sure didn’t help but for example I wouldn’t trust the current server code to handle thousands of players (which would be required if I wanted the game to succeed at all) among some other stuff you have read and more stuff that I will post later.

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