Book of Demons: The Search of the Art Style
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Book of Demons: The Search of the Art Style
10 November, 2016
Interview
Book of Demons is a very peculiar action/RPG, which got a lot of press, but unfortunately did not become a massive hit on Steam. 80.lv talked with the team behind this game and discussed the peculiar art style, which tries to present 3d models, crafted in Blender, as moving origamis. 
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Introduction

We are an independent gamedev studio founded by 3 guys: Maciej Biedrzycki (co-founder of Codeminion), Konstanty Kalicki, and Filip Starzyński (founders of Twinbottles). At the moment there are six of us in total.

Our best games, games we made for the love of gaming, not money were casual games, most notably Saqqarah, Magic Match, Brunhilda, Phantasmat. Beside these, we also had a few unintended flops and projects we made to make ends meet. 

Book of Demons

The idea was to create highly accessible hardcore games that would capture the experience of greatest titles of the golden age of gaming. We were toying with that concept for some time before we decided we are ready to merge our companies and plunge head first into the project. We designed seven games, Book of Demons is a first installment in the series. Each game will be a humorous tribute to a whole genre and a game that for us was a pinnacle of said genre. The goal is to boil the concept down until only fun is left. Fun accessible to both players who can’t have ten hours to sacrifice for playing and those who can.

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You can read more about the idea behind the whole Return 2 Games series (and watch our animated manifesto) here.

Art Direction

Our games should be visually cohesive across the series. We needed a medium that would highlight the fact that we are creating tributes, a kind of commentary to a history of gaming. At the same time, this medium had to be flexible because each game in the series will have different visual style and genre.

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The design process was daunting but we ended with an elegant solution – paper pop-up books. The action of each game will take place in a different book with the unique art style, yet at the same time, all games will be ancient tomes in a derelict library.

You can read more about our visual style design process here.

Paper-like Models

At first, we actually prototyped everything in physical form, preparing textures in photoshop, printing, cutting and gluing objects. It was fun, but obviously not sustainable process for real production. Once we had established that paper medium will work we switched to fully digital pipeline. Objects we made in house were modeled in Blender, textured, rendered and then painted over in Photoshop.

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World Building

We created a set of rules 99 pages long (true story!). We call it the Art Book, and it describes rules for representing objects in our paper style. Whenever we are in doubt we refer to that book. Of course, when something just won’t work in paper we make exceptions. Smoke, glass objects and such would never look good in paper unless we would go for full comic representation. So we make exceptions because rules (even when they are 99 pages long) must be sacrificed when they interfere with general vision.

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Engine

We are using our in-house engine called CUG. It’s a technology we have been using and developing in our former companies. The engine is mainly 2D focused, but recently we upgraded it to handle 3D graphics too. It’s pretty neat. If we had to name two main features they would be full portability and flexibility. It’s our code and we have full control over it. Of course, there are drawbacks. When something doesn’t work it’s us who has to fix it. But pros outweigh cons in our opinion.

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Distribution

Back when we were beginning work on our games  GreenLight didn’t exist and Steam was kind of exclusive platform for established developers. So we planned to distribute game digitally and even implemented whole self-updating framework with that purpose in mind.

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However, we got in touch with people at Steam and they accepted our game without GreenLight. So now Book of Demons is available on Steam Early Access. For those who already like the vision of the whole Return 2 Games series, we have prepared Supporter’s Bundle which gives access to all 7 games (when they will be ready, of course). It’s available on our website.

We would really like to distribute boxed versions of the game (maybe with some paper models of our characters) but for that, we have to wait until we finish the game and leave Early Access. We are planning to do so in Q1 2017

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Filip Starzyński, Co-Founder and Game Producer – Thing Trunk

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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