Moon Hunters Art Process

Xin’s been painting for a live audience every Friday afternoon from 3-5 EST, and for those of you who can’t make it, we thought we’d share the steps in his process!

First, he gets some kind of direction. For the example below, we knew we needed more art direction for our landscape development. The previous landscape he concepted was quite bright, and themed along bone and blood, in a relatively clear hilly area.

In the dark Moon Hunters universe, bone and blood are aligned with the Moon-worshipping player characters. So, the other end of the scale would be a densely wooded area where the villainous Sun cultists might have set up a lair.

With the overall idea in mind (dark, dense, Sun), he looks through our mood board, surfs some Google references, and thumbnails in monochrome to get the overall composition, doing this 4 to 6 times before picking the one he’ll go forward with. This takes about fifteen minutes to half an hour in total. He doesn’t need to explain to anyone else what the vision is — this is just for his own reference.

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This is where the live-stream started. He dropped the opacity down and draws on top. He took roughly an hour to “ink” it (since the Moon Hunters styling is heavy inked lines), and another hour to splash in some basic colors.

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After the livestream ended, he took another four hours or so to clean it up, polish it, and layer in more details and color. As you can see, in this one he took a bit of extra time to re-work the central architecture, keeping the ‘sunburst’ motif but making the construction more elegant.

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The next step? Translating this into a scene in the game… join us Friday for another glimpse into the Moon Hunters universe!

Join Us Today: Concept Art Live!

Today Xin will be live-streaming painting a watercolor concept for Moon Hunters, from sketch to semi-finished, from 3pm to 5pm EST today (Friday June 27th).

A couple of days ago as a test, Xin brought this Marrow Temple sketch:

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up to this:

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And this time, he says the piece will be ‘darker’. Tune in to find out what he means!

Also, note that if you were subscribed to the Moon Hunters newsletter, you would have already received a notice in your inbox about this! Join if you want more timely information. ๐Ÿ™‚

Moon Hunters Update: the Dustfolk and the High Tribes

If you’ve already subscribed to the newsletter, you’ve probably already seen all of this! But for the rest of you…

Xin and I have been working on defining the different people and cultures of the Moon Hunters world, starting with the mountains, deserts, and forests.

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The Dustfolk

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The desert tribes are some of the friendliest, relying heavily on Blood magics to detect water beneath the surface, digging incredibly deep wells as needed. Even the smallest children of the tribe can usually recite basic Blood prayers, giving the desert folk a reputation for quick healing and practical wisdom.

Desert priestesses speak of an ancient thirst that draws all of humanity down into the cavernous flesh of the earth, safe from the evil sun. However, two storytellers rarely agree on what happens down there, for those that answer the call and indulge their thirst.

Here’s an assortment of villagers drawn from a few different tribes, side-by-side for comparison with the heroes. The differences can be rather subtle, but you can learn the style and customs of each tribe after spending more time with them.

The High Tribes

The people of the wind-chapped mountains are hunters, not farmers, as there’s neither enough fertile soil nor sunlight to sustain most vegetables. Even in mid-summer, the evil Sun is a distant, pearly figure, not so much brighter than the Moon. Of all environments, the peaks may be the most similar in night and day, seemingly trapped in a constant dusk.

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(The beetle in the gif probably isn’t native to that climate, but it sure does look happy about its travels! We’re not sure whether it’s dancing to impress its reflection or it’s just trying to keep warm. Either way, dance, beetle, dance!)

Most tribes prefer to build in wood, mud, or grass, but the High Tribes legends say they moved to a higher elevation to test their strength and self-discipline. They revel in the challenging permanence of stone and metal, with artisans excelling in Bronze magics and careful stonework. As a result, the finest jewelry, metal blades, and architectural advances tend to come from the mountain folk. In addition to hunting for meat and skins, they supplement their supplies with trading.

The High Tribes’ most profitable export is in weaponry. The Spellblade wields weapons forged by High Tribes on the jagged peaks of the Zaragos Mountains, where winds ceaselessly dig ore out of the very stone. After many years of hermetic study, training, and meditation, a Spellblade fuses his or her own will into the very metal, until the blade can anticipate its master’s whims.

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(Note for the detail-oriented: it’s not a scabbard, the wrappings hold together multiple layers of leather.)

Unfortunately, looking down on the world from their elevated viewpoint, the High Tribes tell themselves that they are closest to the Moon and most deserving of Her power. Most of its leadership are arrogant, possessing very little respect for those with more compassion. There are always exceptions, of course, particularly among merchants and rebellious youth, but the High Tribe culture is dominated by a sense of prideful superiority, valuing strength, purity, and loyalty over other, “lesser” virtues.

Crowdfunding?

A few people have asked whether we’ll crowdfund using the Square Enix Collective, but the honest answer is that we don’t know! Maybe! We haven’t decided yet what the best course of action is. For now, we’re keeping our heads down and working on the game.

At this point, we’re hoping to be ready for crowdfunding in July or August. We want to make sure we put our best foot forward and offer as much gameplay footage as possible. In the meantime, we’re glad to have you along for the journey!

Announcing Moon Hunters!

Kitfox Games is proud to announce our second project, which has been simmering for a little while in secret:

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Moon Hunters is an open-world adventure for 1-4 players, solving ancient mysteries and building mythologies. Explore a hand-painted pixel art world that’s randomly generated yet rich with crafting, non-linear stories, and arcane lore.

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Features

  • An open, procedurally generated world: Over a hundred different locations and landmarks each have their own potential to help or hinder adventurers.
  • Exploration is key: Every landmark and territory may contain a Myth, which is essential in growing your world and your character.
  • Non-linear story: The mythology of your character and world is determined by your actions, and the world reacts to you differently based on the mythology you build. How will you react when you find a villager has lied to you? Temperamental heroes may be tempted to kill them in revenge, while more charismatic heroes use guile to extract the truth. Or do you try to ferret out other possible traitors? If you have trained in the powers of Dark Magic, the traitor may have a secret to share…
  • Myth-based crafting: Find, collect, and combine rare resources in different ways to create items, learn spells, and summon creatures.
  • Day and night cycle: Monsters and villagers behave differently and rituals have different results depending on the time of day.
  • Pick-up-and-play action: A quick, tight feel inspired by Legend of Zelda lets players set their own pace. A majority of the time in Moon Hunters is spent fighting monsters and claiming magical treasures, so itโ€™s important that combat feels responsive and intuitive.
  • Character progression: Unlock new powers, creatures, items, and myths as you explore the world.
  • Gamer-family friendly: Accessible controls, short play sessions, and co-operative gameplay allow families to play together easily.

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You can sign up for the Moon Hunters specific newsletter by checking the website: http://www.moonhuntersgame.com or just clicking here.

The project was chosen to join the pilot program of the Square Enix Collective! If you head over there, you can read all about the concept and show your support by upvoting us!

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Any press inquiries or random suggestions, comments, and questions can be either commented there… or send an email anytime to tanya@kitfoxgames.com.

The Winner is: Gekkian Diplomat!

The results are in from our little community poll! Thank you to everyone who participated.

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As you can see, the Gekkian Diplomat clearly won out, with over 50% of the votes. We also collected responses on Reddit.com and Twitter, which followed a similar trend. What with already having humans and robots, perhaps it’s only natural that an alien would win out… but of course, everything seems so much more obvious in retrospect.

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We’ll be refining the Gekkian player character’s look further as we bring it into the game, and of course we’ll provide 4-5 different heads to try out with different ear configurations and facial expressions. We may, of course, also re-visit the other designs in the future.

Thanks again for helping us make a tough decision!

Building Your Captain

From the start of the project, we knew Shattered Planet was about exploring. And when we first implemented a protagonist, we were often asked, “So who is this guy? What’s his story?

It was a fair question. The protagonist we chose was a distinctive character design. Internally, we called his initial sketch “the Renegade”.

But when I tell my friends about my accomplishments in Brogue or Minecraft or Binding of Isaac, I don’t talk about what The Hero or Cubeguy or Isaac did — I tell them what I did. And not everyone can or will relate to the Renegade as themselves.

So, we’re adding some basic character customisation, which you can access from your space station at any time. We’ll be launching with three character types, and we’re ready to show off our first two.

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I haven’t decided yet whether there’s any significance to choosing your type — maybe being a Renegade could give higher Wits but lower Strength, for example. But we love the strategic depth yet initial simplicity of games like Brogue, which always start you out the same way and let you build your strategy as you go, and quickly re-start a new run when you die.

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However, you can rename your character at the cloning vats, all the better to have a hilarious obituary to share with your friends… even if when you tell stories about Shattered Planet to your friends, it’s all about your strategy, the crazy levels you found, and the bizarre set of circumstances that lead to your death.

Which one will you play?

Inventing the Inventor

The Inventor is an important character that the player interacts with on a regular basis, so we made sure to dedicate some extra love to creating its concept.

Here’s a glimpse into our creative process for its character design!

First Iteration
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– A1 and A2 were too goofy
– A5 felt too gangster, so we made a nerdy A4 version
– We need more sketches!

Second Iteration
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– We did a quick survey of 15-20 developers and B2/B3 were tied as the most popular.
– B4 now looks like old grandpa, which we decided was undesirable
– MORE SKETCHES!

Third Iteration
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After a bit more sketching, we definitely preferred the friendlier, happier faces and decided it was time to narrow down on the design. The white arrows point to our internal favorites.

Fourth Iteration
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At this point, we’re pretty satisfied with the design of the head, and the yellow-green one is our favorite color scheme… so this is what the good doctor will look like in the game. What do you think? Did we make the right decision?

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Character Design In-Progress: Captain Aurora

We spent some time refining the male protagonist (“Captain Flint”) in his default configuration. He’ll have other heads and skin-tones available, but we felt he was a good starting point.

We looked at all of the classic adventurous space captains (Han Solo, Mal, Captain Kirk, maybe even a little tiny bit of Flash Gordon/Zap Brannigan) and tried to find our own distinct design for Captain Flint.

We wanted him to seem independent and perhaps a bit defiant in his quest for adventure. Internally, his art assets are still referred to as “the renegade”.

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We’ve started looking at our second protagonist design. We want the female protagonist (“Captain Aurora”) to have a more military, athletic feel.

Like the male Captain, she’ll be customisable, but we want all of her versions to communicate that she’s a serious, skilled combatant, like Zoe, Starbuck, or Ripley.

We’ve moved away from styling her like an outright “assassin”, but so far, we’re happy with Captain Aurora’s evolution.

What do you think of them both?