So, no video this week as the actual changes to the RPG WorldBuilder are minimal as far as dynamic video content is concerned. Instead, I’d like to talk a bit about the creative process and the idea of being flexible in design.
One of the things you quickly learn in the development of any project is that while you may have certain ideas and direction as to the nature of the project and the end result, rarely will these ideas remain unchanged during the journey to complete said project. For example, in the development of this app we have created a good deal of artwork that will never even be seen in the finished version. While this may seem like a huge waste of time and effort (and I suppose it could be viewed like that by the more negative folk among us), I view it as working through a design process as I explore and come to a finished state, the state that initially existed as an idea but required multiple iterations to see the tangible, physical elements site by side and say “yeah, this is it.”
The creation of a project doesn’t always work this way as sometimes things are created immediately and are used in the final version. The idea here is that when one enters into a creative process, there may exist a nebulous end goal of design, but that goal can only be achieved through a flexible, organic process of trial and error. For example, we have recently made a design choice to edit the over world tiles for this app. This is based solely on the overall look and feel of the content. During the creative process, we have explored various design styles and while we know we want a fairly hand drawn look, the actual nature of the finished look has only recently come to fruition. And the catalyst for this decision did not come from the app itself but rather from a project outside this app.
In the course of redrawing artwork for the Far Away Land RPG, I began redrawing the maps included in the original books. At first the maps were based off the design style of the tiles we were using in the RPG WorldBuilder demonstrations. I felt like these were sort of muddled, similar, and unimpressive visually. The same was true for two finished FALRPG maps done in that style, visually unimpressive. So, the FAL maps were redrawn from scratch into the final version that you can see below…
And it is in this style that we have decided to redraw each tile for the overworld portion of the app. Why? Because it looks better. It gives a better sense of depth and specificity as to the various biomes included. It feels better. It’s more interesting. It’s more detailed and it’s more exciting to look at. Specifically, there are various shades which add depth. The tiles will remain the same shape as before (they are not isometric) but the content within will have added color and shadow to give more detail and to differentiate tiles on a glance. The aesthetic quality plays into the design factor in that it makes the images easier to learn and interpret which in turn reduces the learning curve for the user.
In order to come to this style, it took multiple iterations and trial and error. We had to make mistakes and prototype things out. It took the time to allow the style to marinate and sink in and for us to discuss and view it from various distances and times. You try several things to determine what doesn’t work, learning what doesn't work leads you in a specific direction. You get warmer until you get hot.
I have no idea how this would all work in a large team. I can see various opinions and ideas getting in the way, meetings where design was discussed and left on the table to discuss later on. As it is, we have a small, two man team where we share a specific vision as to the nature of this creative project. We are flexible and can quickly adapt to meet design goals and obstacles. This allows us to not only work faster, but to continuously focus on the end goal of design. It is in our best interest to work synergistically for the greater good of the app.