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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperArt (Moderator: JWK5)"Great Monument Valley vibe here" - people say
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Author Topic: "Great Monument Valley vibe here" - people say  (Read 607 times)
Max Rudek
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« on: October 16, 2018, 05:56:16 AM »

Hi, I'm a developer of Sole Light.. and yes more or less the game was inspired by a Monument Valley but mostly in how it looks and feels kinda "surreal". I share a videos and screenshots of my game over the social media, reddit etc. and people tend to say "Nice Monument Valley vibe.." or "Reminds me of Monument Valley" it surely is but do we call almost any pixel platformer "nice Mario vibe here" ? I can't figure out if it's good that people compare my game's mood and art with MV or not.. I'm not making a clone, I couldn't I'm a solo developer, I'd never achieve such greatness but I chose a style.. it fits me well and I can express myself via this style. Question now, should I rather take this "comparision" positively or negatively?

I don't know if I'll ever achieve half of that great MV look.. but I do my best
Thank you.

Monument Valley / Sole Light

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JobLeonard
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« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2018, 02:21:34 PM »

You're basically asking for the distinction between copying someone and being inspired by someone. It's actually more of a gradient, really. If you like an aesthetic, learning by copying it a perfectly fine starting point, but it inspiration also requires insight. It requires getting what makes something tick and being able to play with that, intuitively or not.

The problem with this particular aeshtetic is that it already starts out really minimal. It is low-poly, and isometric. That leaves little room for the part where you add your own personality to the style.

Then, on top of that you also have a similar lighting model, and a similar color scheme! So you end up with four very dominant visual elements that are similar, which ends up overpowering any differences the aesthetic styles may have.

You say you can express yourself well via this style. I'm sure you can, but at the same time you are strongly leaning on an established aesthetic. Think of when teenagers love manga and learn to draw in the "generic manga style". Often they express a desire to work really hard to master doing it the "right" way. The problem is that this "right" way is a lie. It's a rigid system that they follow without understanding it. So the end-result is technically capable but often devoid of personality. Because it has to fit this preconceived rigid system at all costs, and instead of becoming artists with their own voice, they end up making themselves indistinguishable from anyone else. It's basically getting really good at fitting in, to the point of having nothing left that makes you stand out.

So what is the difference then between copy-cats and those who are merely inspired? Well, one thing is that when they take the elements they like and make it their own. That requires more than just learning how to emulate a style. It requires breaking it down (consciously or not) and adding ones own ideas and other influences to it.

What do you like about the MV style? What makes it "tick" for you? What do you need? What about the style feels like you connect with it? Feels like it's "yours"? What can you do to make it feel even more "yours"?
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Max Rudek
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« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2018, 02:05:01 AM »

Thank you for an aswer, appreciate it.

You're basically asking for the distinction between copying someone and being inspired by someone.

Not at all, I'm not trying to copy the game, or the how it looks. Yes there are many similarities like you said.
Then, on top of that you also have a similar lighting model, and a similar color scheme! So you end up with four very dominant visual elements that are similar, which ends up overpowering any differences the aesthetic styles may have.

but what I'd like to achieve is a different game at all. If you took Baldur's Gate and Pillars Of Eternity - the second one grabbed a lot of things from the previous one. In my opinion the similar: color palette, lighting in many cases etc. even specific shots. Both isometric and story driven (except that BG is more a book with gameplay).


But you mention that
So what is the difference then between copy-cats and those who are merely inspired? Well, one thing is that when they take the elements they like and make it their own. That requires more than just learning how to emulate a style. It requires breaking it down (consciously or not) and adding ones own ideas and other influences to it.

Of course I might not be yet on that level where I take a part of a game and disassemble it in smaller parts and then make out of these parts something that's clearly unique and mine..
What do you like about the MV style? What makes it "tick" for you? What do you need? What about the style feels like you connect with it? Feels like it's "yours"? What can you do to make it feel even more "yours"?
Those questions are really important.. I'll try to answer them.
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2018, 08:13:27 AM »

Thank you for an aswer, appreciate it.
You're welcome, hope it helps!:)

Quote
You're basically asking for the distinction between copying someone and being inspired by someone.
Not at all, I'm not trying to copy the game, or the how it looks. Yes there are many similarities like you said.
It wasn't an accusation! Smiley I was clarifying that to answer your question you need to answer this question too.

Then, on top of that you also have a similar lighting model, and a similar color scheme! So you end up with four very dominant visual elements that are similar, which ends up overpowering any differences the aesthetic styles may have.
but what I'd like to achieve is a different game at all.[/quote]Of course! But what you intend to make and what others see instead are not the same thing. They approach the world based on what they know, which is, well, the visual similarities to Monument Valley. They won't know what your intentions are unless you communicate them, which may or may not happen through the aesthetic.

Quote
If you took Baldur's Gate and Pillars Of Eternity - the second one grabbed a lot of things from the previous one. In my opinion the similar: color palette, lighting in many cases etc. even specific shots. Both isometric and story driven (except that BG is more a book with gameplay).
Yes, but that was the point: PoE "copied" the aesthetic from BG to signal the ways in which it was going to be more of the same. Just like how trailers for movies are so similar when they're in the same genre, to signal to you "this is going to be like that other thing you are familiar with.

So another part of the problem may be: in which way is mimicking the MV aesthetic signalling that your game is going to be similar to it? And that isn't a bad thing, the question is whether those are (implied) similarities you want or not? If the similarities builds up expectations you don't intend to meet then people will blame you for disappointing them, even if your game is fine on its own.

Quote
Of course I might not be yet on that level where I take a part of a game and disassemble it in smaller parts and then make out of these parts something that's clearly unique and mine..
Don't worry too much about that - a lot of this is learning-by-doing! Just play with the aesthetic, and look for lots of other inspirations to mess around with, and try to "feel" the aesthetic.

But if you want to reflect a bit and want to become more aware of the way you approach aesthetic judgement, I recorded the game design lectures I gave a few years ago about "interpretive frames", as they are called, and put them on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtp-pkkDjK6HCh1p-Up34BIdSuKe9piBM

Maybe that will help.

Anyway, good luck, and don't forget to just have fun playing around with it! Smiley
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Cobralad
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« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2018, 08:53:57 AM »

pillars of eternity is pretty much unlicensed sequel to baldurs gate that involved same artists.
Are you making your own colors or just taking them out of monument valley screenshots? Teal vs purple and gradients vs flat shade character are very deliberate artistic choices. On your screenshot there are those monochrome cubes and lowpoly rocks that break those rules. Character is not shaded same way as rocks, pure grey and black does not fit in that pallete, not to mention realistic fire particles.
Right now it pretty much looks like cargo cult interpretation of monument valley. There is clearly complex lighting and composition going on in MV but average person brain gonna just perceive it as "cool" and "minimalist". Maybe you should establish some personal visual rules and emotional feel you try to achieve if you want to break out.
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Max Rudek
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« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2018, 03:08:10 AM »

Once again thank you so much, great informations and feedback.
in which way is mimicking the MV aesthetic signalling that your game is going to be similar to it? And that isn't a bad thing, the question is whether those are (implied) similarities you want or not? If the similarities builds up expectations you don't intend to meet then people will blame you for disappointing them, even if your game is fine on its own.

So If my point is, if by this aesthetics I give people a promise of sorta Monument Valley like "game style" and by "game style" I mean they can expect eg. linear story, surreal atmosphere and overall relaxing mood.. BUT with different core gameplay, I don't intend using similar mechanics that MV uses. What is more I didn't say I think it's bad people compare my visuals to MV.. tbh at first I took it as a nice compliment.. but later on I worried that they may think about it as "another clone" etc.

I kinda like the idea that they may expect similarities in the experience but that's all. Isn't it what PoE did? I know they improved a game that was decades old and MV isn't..

Don't worry too much about that - a lot of this is learning-by-doing! Just play with the aesthetic, and look for lots of other inspirations to mess around with, and try to "feel" the aesthetic.

You really helped me, I won't worry, I'll just do my best to provide as unique experience as I can. I'm gonna spend more time playing with it more. And I'm watching 3rd part of your talks, it's really good, I'll make use of it.

On your screenshot there are those monochrome cubes and lowpoly rocks that break those rules. Character is not shaded same way as rocks, pure grey and black does not fit in that pallete, not to mention realistic fire particles.

You mention I break the rules.. but is that fine or I did wrong? I mean this is something I projected in my head and I wasn't aware of the aesthetics rules I'd like to stick to at this moment. Still looking for help from more exprienced artists (as I'm solo developer). Thank you once again guys!
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Cobralad
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« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2018, 09:22:44 AM »

You mention I break the rules.. but is that fine or I did wrong?
Everything thats not unintentionally repulsive deserves to be sold on market i guess, but also right now there is inflation and middle of the road is considered to be bad. I guess you should either hire artist or read up graphic design and composition basics if you want to be aware about presentation.
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Max Rudek
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« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2018, 11:59:58 AM »

I guess you should either hire artist or read up graphic design and composition basics if you want to be aware about presentation.

I know I could hire an artist, but at the moment it's not possible due to lack of budget. What I'm trying to achieve is to have an vertical slice, a playable demo that would allow be to get some funding. People seem to like the current art but I personally think that it lacks uniqueness or "sometimes". I'm gonna make more research sure, if you have any useful resources that could help I'd really appreciate sharing them. Thank you
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Schoq
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« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2018, 02:51:28 PM »

If I were aware of Monument Valley and then saw your game I'd 100% take it for a cheap attempt at cashing in on being mistakable for a better known product, and I don't think I'm alone in having that reaction, regardless of your intention. To avoid that I think you'd be better off trying to differentiate. Make it look like its own thing rather than an inferior copy.
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Max Rudek
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« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2018, 10:49:31 PM »

If I were aware of Monument Valley and then saw your game I'd 100% take it for a cheap attempt at cashing in on being mistakable for a better known product, and I don't think I'm alone in having that reaction, regardless of your intention. To avoid that I think you'd be better off trying to differentiate. Make it look like its own thing rather than an inferior copy.

Fine, I might have taken the "inspiration" thing too seriously, if all of you guys say that it obviously looks like a "copy my style" thing I won't deny it.

 Why I asked this question was because I was concerned and wanted to avoid reactions such "cheap attempt at cashing in". If it's clarified now, I should search for my own style, any approach how to?

 I mean what I've been doing until now was looking at pinterest or other games that would fit my style and trying put their elements together.. I think once I posted the game on reddit and facebook pages, people pointed me if there will be "gradient backgrounds" and all the posts "nice MV vibe" pushed me even more towards MV aesthetics.. maybe I wasn't 100% aware of what I was doing yet.
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