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It’s time for an art related devlog ! We’ve talked about a lot of other elements of the process of creating a video game (Pathfinding, Game UI, Finite state machine, Unity Cloud Build...). It can be difficult to get or create assets as a game dev.

You can wonder for example, is it’s better to create them yourself or get them online? Or what is the process of creating video game assets.

We will explain to you here the process of a game asset creation at Million Lords.

 

Simple questions first : what are these assets?

 

The assets are the resources of a game. It can be sound, image, text or video files a game is made of. Here, we are going to focus on the visual side of these assets, and how it applies to our game Million Lords.

Now, what are the graphics assets of a game? It’s all the objects that will allow us to build the levels/monsters/characters/objects that will appear on the screen while you play.

For Million Lords, the assets first take the form of tiles. Then you get the props (graphic proposition: cities, forests, mountains,…), that will go on top of the tiles.

One of the decisions we had to take at an early stage was to decide if we developed the game in 2D or not. It was not only to simplify the graphic process, it was also because of a desire for creativity. The game being a tactical game, it was necessary to make a global vision of the map available. Knowing this, the visual choice was to focus on an isometric 2D, i.e. an overhead view of the map without perspective.

 

Plains Million Lords

 

How to create game assets with Photoshop

 

The mobile game assets are designed and drawn in high resolution with Photoshop . After that step, we export them at the right format : the developers will afterwards integrate them with Unity.

It’s also possible – and some prefer it this way – to work on the game assets directly in size 1:1, in the final game format. In that case, it’s advised to always have a reference to work on all your elements at the same scale.

In our case, we’ve chosen to first create our assets in high resolution for several reasons. First of all, to have the freedom to resize our elements with any quality loss, but also to exploit them in our communication and marketing visuals. Everything is a matter of choice.

 

At Million Lords, what is your creation process?

 

On a more technical point of view: in Million Lords, there is 3 biomes – plains, desert and ice. Each biome corresponds to one specific high resolution PSD file, on which we are going to create the tiles of the biomes and the props associated with it. The default size here for the file is 4000p x 4000p in 300 dpi : it will allow us to export the file in a smaller size with any quality loss for the props.

Each prop will correspond to a different layer in the PSD file. It’s important to make a high number of small elements (tree, rocks, flowers). It allows us to make different combinations to create a multitude of different propositions. These will create many different assets that will give a more organic feeling once it’s integrated in the game.

 

Photoshop Process

 

Once all the props are done, they are then exported in an integration format that is decided beforehand with the developers. Here we use 256 px.

There is 2 steps for this :

  • With a Photoshop script, we export the layers at the format PNG 72 dpi (=> “export layers to files”) that we file in a first directory.
  • We will then use the tile that we use as a reference in 256 px and add all the elements we need (since are now at the right size). We will export again using the same script. (Still =>”export layers to files”)

And when all of this is done, it’s just a need of sending the finished game assets to the devs so that they can integrate them into the game !

 

Cédric (@TyronGearing) drawing assets for the mountains

Written by Cédric Roux (@Tyron_Gearing)

Don’t forget to check out our other art-related devblogs if you liked this one 😉