Tuesday, February 12, 2013

d4i - round 2 - Superfrog remake game for Team 17

This is for a group (team Stilton) project that I am part of in term 2 of my final year in University - design for industry module.
The goal is to recreate a 90ies classic platformer game by team17 and make it relevant in today's market. The name of the game is "Superfrog". The target platform is Iphone/android smart phones.

This is what we pitched to Team17, at their office:
It went very well. They were impressed by our progress so far and the approach we are taking.
 The presentation slides 13-21 are the ones that I worked on and presented.

A little disclaimer about the game:

It's merely a demo of the first level and a test to see how it works out as a modern remake. At this point, it's just an university assignment and a fan-made game.
Team 17 is awesome in a way that they will aid us with feedback.
Please note that I (and the others) have signed an NDA paper as well.

However, due to the nature of the legality of our university owning the demo, this game is likely to not be bound by secrecy. This can be very positive, as it allows us to seek the most hardcore superfrog fans out and get them involved!

We want to create something that not only pushes the graphics and makes it competitive/relevant today, but also keeps all the core ideas that hold a special place in people's nostalgic hearts.

It's going to be a brave remake that brings it back to life with a kick.
That means adressing the old art style, adressing the level designs, adressing everything - so its extra "Super" :D .

EDIT: Today Team17 announced and made it public that they are remaking Superfrog.
They did tell us that they are working on a remake at the meeting, but we did not see it. Our game is not to be confused with that, as it had no impact on the development of the official remake, nor did the official have impact on the development of team Stilton's superfrog.  I never saw the official concept art or assets while working on the art style guide and my concept art. Looking at the sprite, mine is very different in character design. They kept with the original more, while I used a number of tricks to make the character look more like a frog and sneak in some more superman references. It's a good thing that we didnt see how othe official one looks.

That said, we are NOT working on the official Team 17 game. It will be interesting to see how our game is different to theirs, as we take an alternative route. :)

 I was assigned as Art director and lead character modeller and animator  but also ended doing the majority of the concept art.
During the christmass break, I compiled an art style guide that looks into the graphics of different platformer games and reverse engineers their approach. It also contains a big number of changes that our game will have from the original.
Here is the WIP art style gide:

As work in progress, please note that it is going to change, new slides will be added, old slides might be removed or changed.  

Here are some of the pencil tests of run cycles I did for superfrog:

The concept art for the enemies:
I picked a number of the original enemies from the old superfrog (depending on how often they appear in world one and how much time it would take to animate- snail has no legs, bee doesnt walk, hedgehoog's knees are hidden). Using Artrage 3, made a quick concept drawing of some of these enemies and decided to model three of them.

And finally the concept art for the level itself:

To create that I decided to be a bit cheeky. The background (skybox) plate was drawn in artrage, then imported to inkscape.
The reason I chose to use inkscape(VECTORS) for the midground (and some of the BG that will paralax):
- It allows me to create clones of a single object. When I change the original, all of the clones update to accomodate the changes. This is very useful when you need to make the asset fit with the rest of the environment. It saves time!
- It forced me to be modular even in the way the level concept art is made.
- It helped me understand possible issues in art style when starting to put the assets in Unity. I numbered those issues and wrote them on a notes layer.
- Much smaller file (since its made of mostly clones of just a very few actual objects)
- Less destructive editing
- Helps me preview if a tiled texture is tiling well.
- This approach gives a nice and easy png files with transparency (grass strands) that are already named to export to a consistent directory.
- Textures and assets can be used in unity as placeholder graphics. The vector nature of the file means that the object size in the file is the size you get when you export, but that can be multiplied by the dpi factor and  give very crisp and clean images in any resolution due to pixel snapping.

I shared the source SVG file with the rest of the team to play with. Some of the team members expressed interest in using it as a starting point, others with no experience or desire for vector graphics decided to stick to photoshop.

The programmers on the team were able to put together a quick unity demo with the assets from my svg file for the presentation for Team 17. Experience in creating gameplay mockups at Cogworks and Disney interactive paid off!

I am sure that game designers would be smirking at the idea of putting a platformer style gameplay on a touch based device without buttons. Team stilton has come up with a number of ways to accommodate the limitations. We are going to take on that challenge. The game will hopefully have an online ( unity 3d engine) demo which anyone can play for free in their browser.


  1. You are totally wrong man. This is NOT the superfrog stlye. Stop it before it will be too late !

  2. its not the official game :D

    What's wrong with the approach?

    Here is team 17's official hd remake:

    Are they doing it right?