For indie game devs, creating your first game is an exciting experience but also extremely challenging. Wasabi Horizon is our first game and though we’ve made an immense amount of progress, both as designers and as a team, we’ve also faced plenty of obstacles. One area where this is clearly reflected is in the design of our main character. Sharing the journey we’ve been through in creating the character of Wasabi gives us a chance to look back at where we started and possibly help those also starting out to understand that a game can go through tons of changes over the course of development.
Wasabi Horizon began as a month long game jam that we joined in order to build up our chops. It’s been over a year since then but the experience was incredibly fun and memorable.
The initial story for Wasabi Horizon came from our artist Bryant Chavarriaga. Wasabi is a samurai warrior looking to avenge his fallen warrior friends who have been turned into sushi zombies by an evil panda chef. When our Bryant first came up with the character design for Wasabi he looked small and gangly but still kind of cute. The design was made up primarily of very simple shapes that worked for us at the time. (photo to the left). Bryant, our artist, had no prior experience creating game art but he had created this concept in minutes using Google Drawings (an extension of Gmail and google drive that allows you to create vector drawings and export them as a series of formats). As you can see, this little guy is basically one round ball and a tentacle wearing a headband. The concept was simple and cute and the team instantly fell in love with it. Over the span of this month long game jam we began to create more characters, environments and even different Wasabi’s. The next version of Wasabi (photo right) added more tentacles and a touch more attitude. We were so involved with the story and the characters that we began to develop for this game jam that even though we didn’t win, we decided to develop our game further and expand on the concept we created.
Bryant was still using google drawings at the time but we decided that if we were really going to pursue the completion of this game we would have to bring on a couple more artists to the team to assist Bryant. Newly graduated and extremely talented the new artists turned the world of Wasabi Horizon upside down. Here is one of the concepts for Wasabi created by artist Adrian Leon (photo left). As you can see the look and feel completely changed from one version to the next and we loved it! As we continued to develop Wasabi’s story and aesthetics, we started to miss the innocence of Wasabi’s original look, so we worked with Adrian to create this next Wasabi (photo right). As you can see, Wasabi’s signature attitude was still intact. We also thinned him down and shortened his tentacles, but over all it was the simplicity of this character’s look that we loved.
We enjoyed having these awesome artists on our team but as graduates they eventually went off to begin their careers in different parts of the country and we parted ways. The changes to our team were hard after they left; Bryant once again was left to tackle the game art alone. Determined to kick ass, Bryant decided he was going to learn Adobe illustrator and Photoshop to ease the process of creation and of course to better the quality of the art that he was producing.
The process of game making at the level we are at could be a difficult one. The changes in our team and in our personal lives have posed many challenges to us and our process, but all of this has made us grow closer as a team. Bryant has mentioned, “The design of Wasabi’s character is a direct reflection of the evolution of the team”. I think that this rings true, not only for us but for all indie devs trying to bring each of their ideas to life. This is the latest Wasabi design Bryant has created (photo left). All in all there are about 15 versions of Wasabi, each with minor differences. This final version of Wasabi has become the teams all time favorite.
This is where we are now, we’re always exploring all aspects of the medium in the hopes of telling a story that we love and feel is worth telling. And if other people like it then I guess that’s cool too.
The journey of the indie game dev is an exciting one. If you’d like to keep yourself up to date on our progress with Wasabi Horizon follow us on Social Media! Thank you for your support.
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