Rejected Concept Art

Rejected Concept Art

These portraits would be unremarkable, except I drew them as concept art for the San Diego Game Jam of 2016. It’s an event where game design students get together into teams to make a little computer game over the course of 48 hours. My team chose to make their game about the growth of a cult, and we were going to let the player choose from three goddesses with distinct gameplay styles in the beginning: the Egyptian Isis, the Greek Athena, and a third goddess we never decided on.

In the end, that idea got scrapped because our leader wanted to do more abstract, fictional gods rather than drawing from historical mythologies. But he still liked the concept art I drew for Isis and Athena, and I didn’t want it to go to waste. So here it shall remain on the Internet for time immemorial.

In our initial game design, Isis was portrayed as a goddess of wisdom whose cult used peaceful methods to recruit followers, whereas Athena as a goddess of war had a more aggressive, martial approach. Of course in real mythology Athena was also a goddess of wisdom, but I thought she would stand out more in terms of gameplay if we emphasized her warlike tendencies while Isis got to be the pacifistic intellectual.

Civilization Evolution: Egyptians

CivEvolution_Egypt

This procession draws from the concept of civilizations evolving through time as presented in “world history” computer games like the Civilization and Empire Earth series. Sometime I’d like to use this as concept art for a game like those, or at least a mod for one of the existing titles out there. I have here a couple of everyday Egyptians as they might have looked in prehistoric times, their “classical” attire from Egyptian civilization’s heyday, and then some speculative industrial- and modern-age designs. InCivilization, they’d probably represent the settler or worker units, and in real-time strategy games like Age of Empires they’d be the villagers gathering your resources.

While this was exhausting to put together, I want to do more of these for a few other ancient civilizations (e.g. Babylonians, Romans, or Maya).

Egyptian Medjay Ranger

Egyptian Medjay Ranger

A Medjay Ranger from ancient Egypt. Though the name “Medjay” originally applied to nomadic warriors in the desert southeast of Egypt, by the New Kingdom the Egyptians had co-opted it for their own native police force (which is what I’m representing here).

The “African Kingdoms” expansion pack for Age of Empires II HD is coming out this week, and I wanted to draw an African soldier in celebration of that. In fact, given that the modding technology for AoE2 has evolved to the point where you can add custom civilizations and units to the game, someday I’d like to add my own Egyptian civilization using the new African architectural set. The Medjay Ranger could be their unique unit (enhanced speed, range, and accuracy, but reduced hitpoints), whereas their Wonder would be something like a Sphinx or one of the big Temples if not the Great Pyramid itself.

LOST CITY Houses

Lost City Houses

Some concept sketches of houses for my game concept Lost City. Each represents a typical commoner’s dwelling in the game’s four “stages” (analogous to the ages in Age of Empires). The Clan stage represents prehistoric hunter-gatherers in makeshift shelters, the Village stage represents the dawn of agriculture, and the Town and City stages represent the evolution of an urban civilization. You advance to the next stage once your reproducing subjects reach a certain population and overall happiness level. The main cultural influence in this game is African, albeit from different regions of that vast continent.

LOST CITY Video Game Design

Most of what I’ve posted on this blog thus far has been artwork, with a few stories scattered therein. But by and large these have been amateur hobbyist pursuits. Today I want to talk about my professional ambitions, namely video game design. I’m studying the subject of game design and development over at Coleman University in San Diego, and the introductory course I’ve taken over the past few months has planted in me one concept for a project I see a lot of potential in.

This design, tentatively named Lost City, hybridizes the city-building and real-time strategy game genres. Influences I can name include the Age of Empires series, SimCity, Black & White 2, Pharaoh, and Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis. It takes place in a fantasy setting mixing various African cultural influences with prehistoric life, a tropical world where African-looking people coexist with dinosaurs and other Mesozoic fauna.

You start a standard game with a small clan of hunter-gatherers sleeping in makeshift shelters, and have the task of keeping them fed and secure as  their population reproduces. Over time, your community will upgrade into an agricultural village, then a bustling town, and finally a shining city with grand architecture. As this settlement expands, your people’s needs and desires will evolve too; at first preoccupied with the basics of survival in a harsh wilderness, they will develop a craving for finer luxuries like organized religion or entertainment once they’ve settled themselves in sturdier homes.

While Lost City can be described as a sandbox game, it does have something approximating a victory condition to motivate the gameplay. If you maintain a 90+% level of satisfaction for all your citizenry’s wants and needs after upgrading to the “City stage”,  you’ll be rewarded with a Monument (similar to the Wonder in Age of Empires) testifying to your glory. After this moment, of course, you can continue playing with your sandbox. On the other hand, if you persistently fail your task of governance, your subjects will riot and destroy your Chieftain’s Hut or Palace, thus bringing about the terminal defeat condition.

Of course, there are numerous perils to take into account here. Not only is there a variety of dinosaurs to worry about, but you’ll also have to withstand natural disasters like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, brush fires, and plague outbreaks. And once your settlement’s economy fills up with surplus resources, enemy tribes and nations will barge into the map for plunder and conquest.

Stayed tuned for elaboration on my proposed gameplay mechanics and concept sketches!