I’m Steve and I’ve decided to writing about our game development experience so you can understand my point of view of what goes into making a game by an international micro-team.
Getting my head around creating game assets for fourtex zen was actually quite tricky early on, mainly because I wasn’t sure what the feel of the game was. We had the idea to call it ‘zen’, but at that time we weren’t certain that it would stick. If it was going to be called something else like ‘relax’ or ‘peace’, then it would conjure up different images in my mind. But I really liked ‘zen’ because of the simplicity in its name and my preconceived understanding of the word.
As a group we decided to go with Zen as there was nothing in our game that should go against the principals of Zen Buddhism, and hopefully would work to the same aim. This was also good because by this point the name ‘zen’ had already stuck in my head. This helped me a lot because now I had something visual and quite definite to work with. But this was still a long way from knowing what the finished game would look like. Early designs either looked too modern or too busy. I had found a great picture of a sand garden that worked nicely in the background, but it wasn’t free to use, and I think it looked a little too much like a staged Japanese garden and less like it was it’s own identity. I managed to take a photo from the kids’ sandpit in the back garden, making use of shallow depth of field. In the end this worked so well we stuck with it. That photo of the sand is the one you can see now as the background to the game.
The stones themselves were another challenge. Finding one or two actual stones and photographing them would have been easy, but finding a whole set of 20 or 30 that all worked together and looked unique from each other proved very difficult. So I turned to the computer and created 3D rendered stones to use instead. Reshaping and colouring them to make each one stand out. I’m glad I did in the end, as I was able to spend time on each one and make it special in it’s own way.
There was much more that went into the making and styling of fourtex zen than just the background and stone tiles, but these were the key items for me. I’m really happy that it all came to together in the end to give a strong and consistent appearance for our first game.