Saturday, November 11, 2017

My thoughts on ICONS (all caps, because I’m yelling it)

Hello ladies and gents! My name is James McCauley but now-a-days most people online just call me “Pi”. I’m an aspiring illustrator and concept artist and long time member of the smash community (I’ve been competing at events for over a decade with the tag “<3”) . I’ve also been following the wavedash since its public announcement and was extremely excited to get an opportunity to play the game at super smash con 2017! Most of my comments and views come from my hands on experiences with the game then. I’ll try to be clear when that isn’t the case.
 You can actually read this on my blog with some sketches to better illustrate some of my ideas by clicking here: http://www.lessthanpiart.com/2017/11/my-thoughts-on-icons-all-caps-because.html

Design Choice/ Art Style
I really like the style of the game, there isn’t much I would change here. The goals, as I understand them, are
1. You need to read shape and silhouette when really small.
2. Leave room for a wide variety of characters and stages to exist and still have cohesion between them.
3. Be able to separate what’s important (characters, stage, ledge, projectiles) from what isn’t.
I believe the Icons art style does all of these things very well. High saturation (vibrant color) isn’t realistic but this is a game where people double jump and shoot beams out of swords.
High saturation seems to work well for other games and art forms in drawing in a wider audience as evidenced by games like Overwatch, league, Pixar & Disney movies. They all use very vibrant and colorful pallets.

Oh and an aside… Speaking of Overwatch, I see a lot of people draw comparisons to Overwatch, I don’t really understand the connection. Both games are highly saturated? But that's about as far as I get. I think there is a lot of room with Icons for extremely diverse proportions, a skinny dude with guns won’t look out of place next to a space goat. Overwatch has much more detail and softer angles and curves more realistic proportions. but their characters are going to take up more of the screen more often. Icons has different needs, most of the shapes are large and detail is used much more sparingly because the characters need to read from far away.

Animations and FX
I’ll go into more detail on each of the characters later but as it stands now there are some issues I have with a handful of animations in that they don’t clearly communicate knock back trajectories and/or don’t communicate a character's personality during key opportunities. Missing VFX is clearly still an issue. I lump there together because they really do play off of one another quite a bit.


Gameplay
I was extremely happy with overall game play decisions. The goal of the game is to knock people off the stage and prevent them from coming back. Standard.
Movement felt crisp and responsive. Wavedashing, especially max distance wavedashing felt very good thanks to the small 3 frame input buffer. Dash dancing, (being able to cancel you dash animation with a dash in the opposite direction) is back present in this game. I’m not a huge fan of either of these mechanics, In my opinion wavedashing isn’t very intuitive and Dash dancing is a super low commitment movement option and I’m all about intuitivity and big commitment in game design. But I get the choice to include these and can definitely live with them.
Sheild Gust, is a new mechanic which allows for more design space around out of shield options. being able to reset to neutral in exchange for shield health is a really nice idea.

I did have a bit of an issue with characters feeling like they should have grabbed the edge during some recoveries. it seems like those have been cleaned up in later builds.

STAGES YO!!!
These stages are dope! I really think the environment guys are killing it. The stages look good they are functional and read very well, they don’t fight with the characters for attention. NOt much I can add. I love the stages! Ashani’s stage is fire~~ The ground lights up when you walk on it!
You can check out some of the stage guys talking about their process here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOcaSVVWgCk


ASHANI!

Lets start with Ashani, she was the first character to be revealed and she has seen the most front facing change, I was really happy with her second reveal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-9Lh2O6JhA she looks fast and powerful. She has a clear silhouette that’s is easy to read. My one gripe is her visor I really don’t like the shape of it, its like she is wearing upside down glasses? It often times his her nose and the distance between her nose and mouth which is off putting to me. I hope her in game model's visor matches the splash a little more closely.

Ashani was the first character designed. So she has had the most time to be iterated upon. I think the care and attention shines through clearest with her. The animations even back during the SSC build were crisp and clearly indicated where hitboxes were for the most part and the weight behind and knock back of the moves. My two exception to this was her forward air it LOOKS like it should be a kill move with the full body wind up and heavy weighted cool down. It doesn’t really function like that in the build I played. And also er UpB was very confusing with out VFX a lot of people didn't understand it was a hitbox, the more recent build cleared that up.


Kidd
Kidd is dope! I can’t wait to hear kidd talk more I’m sure his voice line, ouches, and stuff are gonna be great! Now that said… while some of his animations are pure gold others still fall a little flat for me. His side B doesn’t have enough weight built into it. I think a little boost VFX from his thrusters would help, I’d throw in some big VFX curled horns would help sell weight and how special the move is at the very least during impact. But animation wise I’d love to see kid with his head lower while traveling and have him buck and recoil during impact instead of just having him bounce off of his opponet on impact.
Kidds slow walk which was showed off on the most recent gameplay stream was a HUGE personality moment: https://youtu.be/31-vndZxS2Q?t=2929 He is carefree, loose, and bouncy. He is confident and happy, he already won before he showed up! His other neutral positions don’t match that carefree posturing. (maybe we are still waiting on other idles to cycle in?) I’d love to see that reflected more in his idle and jumping and falling animations. He looks ready for a fight instead of like he already knows he’ll win, and with minimal effort.
I also didn’t like his dash and run animations They strike me as a little off balance, like he isn’t move fast enough to keep from falling forward I love the gallop though idea though.
I’d love to see more horn Motifs for his specials wherever possible. Especially his shine. Right now we have 3 frames to work with on shine buck some horns!

Xana
Xana is dope!! I love most of her animations they are all weighty and hard hitting! I’d LOVE to see some personality between some of her moves especially with her throws. A flash of a smile, or a flex before she drops elbows would be huge personality moments for such a showy lady.

There are a few moves that don’t read quite as well when she catches a side b in the air people always expect a suicide move off stage. She grabs the opponent slams downwards but the pop up into the air with nothing below them. I think a good sell on the upward knockback would be a back breaker like move when she grab the opponent with both hand and slams them into her knee. It would sell the vertical knockback much better and look showy feel really good with a nice crunchy sound effect to sell further.




 

I also wanted to point out nair. I LOVE the idea of a full body slam I do not like it on nair. It doesn’t look strong to me. That motion, raising your arms and legs behind you isn’t a powerful strike. It does make sense when your core mass is falling for your arms and legs to lag behind you so I'd LOVE to see this as a down air that stops momentum and drops her downward like smash4 momentum changing aerials; like raymer's dair but a hard big commitment spike. For her nair I’d love to she a showy move when she flexes those big green muscles, it be a moment when you can sell personality.




 

Raymer!
Ramer is dope~ It took me a bit to get into it but I really enjoy Raymer’s visual design. I like how the concept artists referenced to Jason's hair. I have the biggest issues with his game play though. See, I love his normals. They all look and feel really cool calm and calculated, and thats what I think when I think Raymer. Oh. Except for his fthrow. his kill throw. I want just a tad more start up there. Maybe a fancy gun spin, maybe he jabs both guns into the opponent at the same angle of the knock back? Effortlessness if fine there but I think more anticipation need to be built into it kill throws. (think ness back throw, mario backthrow, charizard seismic toss) But yeah over all I love his normals.

I have an issue with his specials. (Sorry Adam I love you)
-When I Up+B I want to be able to shoot behind me for that extra boost toward the stage. This really bothers me, it is the most frustrating part for me! Its compounded that much more by the fact that I can aim his Down Special 2 either direction it just doesn’t feel intuitive that I can’t turn around and shoot backwards in order to save my life.
-I want Down Special; Raymer’s roll/dash; to be on his Side Special instead. It feels super strange on Down B I mean it is definitely something I could get used to over time, but since I want to move forward or back I want to hold forward or back when using this special. I also think having that much power (its a kill move now) on a move with that much utility in the newest build is super busted. I'd look to add power yeah but I wouldn't put it there.
-Raymer's aim shot his current side special, I’d love to see it just moved to his neutral special and just have us aim the way we are looking. I’m also not a fan of his just sticking his arms out. I’d love to see him holster his guns and do a wild west showdown at high noon quick draw type of shot on release.

-I don’t understand the when and where and why you would use Raymer's current neutral B over his current side B or current Down B. It’s like using standing Falco laser. I’ve had very limited time with raymer but this move just feels like you are either putting yourself at a big disadvantage or just stoping game play while your opponent shields. If they are in line of attack maybe they shield gust one of the shots back, maybe jump over it? And then you go back to fighting.
I’d love to see a move replace this one maybe an item pull? Maybe a charge that makes the next bullet stronger? Maybe he shoots under himself, as way to stall and help his anti juggle game? IDK…

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/335988469987934218/337710211915710476/e0d37f4b-81ef-4d82-92eb-fd30da8d51891380380175.jpg

Zhurong! Zurong is dope. The version of her I played was VERY similar to marth with nominal differences I think bair dash attack and counter were the only moves that really differed? Oh and her animations were PURE GOLD! oh my goodness her run! her dash! her turn around animation out of full run?! my favorite animation in the game. Felt like she would go tooth and nail to get things done. Her personality seems very hands on and wild, like her elegance is a facade when she is put underpressure she will explode! The current iteration of the character is all new! A gap closing side B that really changes her threat zones. And a new neutral B projectile that changes how she approaches the neutral game. A new Fsmash, a lunge that covers a fair amount of distance is also going to change how she closes out stocks. I don’t really have as much to offer here, but I'm excited to try her out!

I also want to say; real quick; if you read this stuff wavestaff you guys are awesome, the people I've met in person are literally the most receptive people I've ever met. They are super passionate about this game and even more than that the people they are making the game for.

To the critics offer your criticisms they listen and take them to heart. They WANT to make a game you'll love for years to come.


P.S. I EXPECT Stab Crab on release.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Congrats Armada or 2017 EVO Melee Champion!


Congrats to the 2017 Super Smash Brothers Melee champion, Armada! Taking a the whole event without dropping a set.

This time its just a quick 30 minute sketch before bed. Definitely wanted to share it with you guys though.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

30 Minute Photo Studies #23-26


For this set I took a crack at a few of the personalities I follow on YouTube. You know between painting and studying. TO be honest this set didn't get the reception I was expecting which means a few things in my mind. One I've gotta keep pushing; yeah; I am improving but these aren't "shareable" yet. and Two; I might need to spend more than 30 minutes on a piece of art if I expect perfect likeness.
But yeah guys please continue reading to check out the art, and don't forget to leave a little feed back for me.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

30 Minute Photo Studies #19-22


Still Grinding on these studies. Continue reading to check out the other three and check out my opinions on them.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

30 Minute Studies #15-18


Back again with another set of 4!... Gonna be brief on words this time and let the art speak for itself. Gonna do about three more sets of these before I move onto another kind of exercise. Just continue reading to see more.