World-Building Fun!

Hey, we’re back with another one of these exciting blog-post things. So, in touching a bit on the subject of art direction and the conceptualization of the world Sak lives in, one thing we’ve been pretty adamant about from the start is creating a richly detailed and immersive fantasy world in which nothing is really considered ‘arbitrary’. The characters, creatures, objects and architecture are carefully thought out and not just thrown into the game ‘just because’. This is especially important when you’re running on an uber-tight budget trying to produce an indie title, it takes hours of time to take an idea from concept to digital life, and time is expensive.

 So, the need for original that means creating a veritable cornucopia of rough sketches for absolutely everything then putting them through refinement after refinement to arrive at a final drawing or set of drawings that can be used by our 3D artists to compose the high-definition/high-topology digital model (useful for cinematics and such), and that model is then painted and textured, rigged and animated if required (for people, animals, plants and other elements that move), and finally the functional model is given its instructions in Unity and brought to ‘life’, and we can tell you one thing for certain; the process never gets boring.

The ultra-awesome feeling of creating all this crazy stuff is amazing, but then watching it come to life in the game engine takes it to a whole other level that really puts into perspective why we’re so determined to build amazing games for a living. We’re still indie over here, and most of our team is still working regular day-jobs, so juggling a massive project like SAK’D, which is in all respects like another full-time job, is not without its challenges, but the rewards far exceed the blood, sweat and tears.

As far as our process is concerned, it’s pretty typical of any game development cycle. We typically start with an idea, written or spoken, then rough out a visual concept or twenty of a character or a scene and then, once we’ve decided on something we love (not like either…something we genuinely love), then we build out a 3d model, compose the models in the game scene, then jump into building all the artistic finishing touches that really make everything sing.

SAK'D Concept Artwork
SAK'D Game Screen

Although we’ve had a couple shifts in artistic direction over past few years as we’ve honed and refined, revised and refinished, we finally locked onto a style and consistent world vision that we felt really captured the amazing realms and the populace therein. It all starts with the concept work though, probably one of the most fun and relaxed parts of game development. Even though we have a game design document, we’re always spit-balling new ideas, blasting out some haphazard notes, sketches and doodles, and trying to conceive of ways to make SAK’D even better. In truth, most of us could spend all day and night working on this project, its a ton of fun and we get to hang out and work with creative friends all of whom are aligned to the same creative goal; to produce on of the greatest little adventure games you’ve ever seen.

Thankfully, we have a super cohesive team and really great communication, so things roll along from concept to creation pretty smoothly. When we first started a few years ago, we were entirely voluntary (i.e. zero funding) and development on the game was completed about as inconsistently as you might imagine, but we did remain vigilant about spending at least some time on the project every week to keep things moving. I think more than anything, just keeping at it is important. Trying to build a big game like SAK’D is complicated, time-consuming and sometimes stressful (mostly just not getting enough time to do what you love), but being tenacious and following through on the dream no matter how slow or underfunded it gets, no matter how late you have to stay up or how early you have to wake to get that extra time in… it’s all worth it for the finish.