WIP: Character Designs and Treehouse

Today I’d like to show some of the character designs I’ve been working on lately. I’ve shown a lot of background art here already. Now it’s character’s turn. The designs are still very much work-in-progress but I feel they’re starting to come together finally.

The siblings

On the right we have Emma – she’s a bit of a wallflower. The cool dude on the left is the oldest brother, Pete. He’s a huge metal fan.
Last but not least in the middle we have the youngest sibling, Mikey; he’s the playable character in this game.

And here is one of the more villainous characters. Because obviously no haunted theme park would be complete without a creepy evil clown lurking around the corner, right?

What a clown!

Finally there’s also a WIP background I’ve been working on for a while: We’re looking up at the boys’ treehouse in the woods. This is where the story unfolds when they discover an unexpected visitor.

Every kid should have a treehouse

That’s it for today!

Menu Screen Test

Just a quick update today: I’ve been messing around with various ideas for the game’s menu screen and finally settled on something that I feel suits the style pretty well.
In keeping with the late ‘80s/early ‘90s vibe, I’ve mocked up this handheld game console as the menu system. This is where the player will be able to load and save their progress as well as adjust the game’s settings.

Menu Screen Test

The Culvert

As the kids try to make their way into the haunted theme park they realize they can’t just bust in through the main entrance. Looking for alternate ways to get inside, they come across a culvert that seems to lead straight where they’re heading.

Outside the culvert
Inside the culvert
And just like any self-respecting teenage horror movie victims participants, they (of course!) decide to enter the darkness…

The Haunted Mansion

Working on the engine at the moment. That and the VHS Look post-processing shaders have been keeping me busy lately. It’s hard to find a good compromise there: On the one hand I want the game to have the authentic look of an old VHS tape that’s been watched too many times. But then again I’ve put so much work into the background art and this gets all but ruined by the VHS artifacts.

Today though inspiration struck and so I revisited an older scene that’d been sitting idly on my hard drive for a while. No creepy theme park is complete without a Haunted Mansion, so here’s a first look at what to expect:

The Haunted Mansion Entrance

Here I’m trying to recreate that somewhat over the top spookiness of Disney’s Haunted Mansion. Of course our heroes will have ample opportunity to explore the mansion and mingle with its inhabitants – whether they want to or not…

Easter Update

First up: Gotta say, I’m terrible at this blogging thing. Really need to force myself to update on a more regular basis! Since my last post I’ve managed to find some time to create several new background scenes that I’d like to show here today.

The first one is an opening shot that shows the protagonist’s home somewhere in suburban America. I reckon I’ve captured that early 90s feel pretty well in this one:

The protagonist's home in suburban America

The next image is my first look into the actual “Screampark”. Still some visible grain and noise from the rendering, guess I’ll have to redo that. It’s not too bad seeing as the render times are fairly reasonable due to the very low resolution of the images. The composition and scenery could probably use some more polish. But I’m mostly experimenting with the color grading here to really capture that cheesy horror movie feel:

A first look at what the inside of the Screampark might look like...

Inventory Screen

This afternoon I was experimenting with the GUI for inventory a bit. Originally I’d planned to go with a Gameboy as the inventory screen, but unfortunately that didn’t work out too well due to its harsh constraints in color and resolution. The game itself is at such a low resolution that it clashed quite badly with the Gameboy’s even lower resolution. So instead I’ve opted for a custom hodgepodge of 90s computer interfaces: A bit of Windows 95 with a heavy dose of NeXTSTEP in there as well:

Experimenting with the Inventory screen

As for the engine, I haven’t been doing much on that front lately. My main focus was on prototyping graphical assets to make absolutely sure I can pull this off… nothing worse than having developed the perfect game engine only to realize that your assets just won’t be able to keep up with the images in your mind!