Tech Art – a fundamental part of your pipeline
SGA: Before we dive into the technicals, tell us a bit about your mobile project Dream Hospital?
Jovan: Dream Hospital is a simulation management game for mobile. It has recorded over 5 million downloads and was very well received among the target audience. It helped us grow as a team in terms of figuring out all the aspects of mobile game development and publishing processes. We started the development of the game with the goal to set foundations in terms of technology and good practices that we could use later for our future titles.
SGA: A lot of the playability in this genre lies in the art direction. How did you land on a style?
Jovan: Coming up with the right art style and then creating a pipeline for it was a very difficult task. Having analyzed our target audience preferences and after we did research on titles they play and like the most, we set some rules we wanted to follow. It took us numerous iterations to finally come up with a style that was what we wanted.
SGA: Now that you established that, and considering you were a team of 5, how complex was it to develop a pipeline and did you go from scratch?
Jovan: We did a lot of research initially about known practices and started with some tools that seemed to be good choices for our project that would save us a lot of time and energy. However, after some time we realized that in the long run, it is better to rely on custom-tailored technology that is a perfect fit for our needs so we are able to have full control and make it usable in future projects.
SGA: Tech art is notoriously mystical and not always in the first game dev team members one would name in a pipeline. This makes it even harder to find resources, advice, and best practices. Did this slow you down?
Jovan: Pipelines can change very quickly as technology advances so you have to be ready to frequently upgrade your practices. You have to develop an open mindset in order to be ready for constant changes and not be afraid to try out something completely different. Tech art is very specific as it requires not only knowledge of technology and art, but also a problem-solving mindset as there are constantly new challenges ahead. We decided to solve challenges we face in a way that is most efficient and beneficial for us in the long run.
SGA: What are the main lessons you will take into the next project?
Jovan: Something you wish you didn’t have to learn from experience. One of the most important lessons is to pay good attention and be very careful when deciding on using particular tools and plugins. Some factors like long-term support provided by the developers, longevity, and compatibility of the product are very important. Going for a plugin that looks like a perfect tool for a job at a glance, may seriously backfire at a later time. Most of the issues we had were linked to the plugins/tools we were using, so we ended by going with our custom solutions.