[001] - Art Tests / Dev Timeline

Follow updates on my Substack: https://melodicambient.substack.com/


It's Melos here!

Marina and I have been working on our 5th game.

We're putting together levels with a tool we've developed, the "Autocuber". Well, the general idea is that it lets you build levels Minecraft-style, with autotiling rules for placing edges. The tool then stitches the meshes together for exporting/finalization in blender. Additionally it supports placing prefabs (like the trees/bushes).

There exist a few solutions for cube-based level design, but they either don't work within Unity (Crocotile) or have performance issues (most asset store plugins). A great benefit of this is it's easy to add edge cases: e.g. there can be UV randomization, we can generate stuff like invisible walls based on the level data.

But the greatest benefit is that it's really easy to make levels in 3D. Sephonie's art process was time-consuming for a number of reasons, one being the level shapes were so bespoke, requiring a lot of texturing on Marina's end, and extra work to make sure things remained readable in the game. We've simplified things with Game 5 by fixing the perspective (top-down), and simplifying the geometry into cubes, as well as picking movement/action suitable for such geometry.

Dealing with some spiders in a forest... (Full Size)

Anyways I'm happy to talk technical details or show the interface at another time.

Development Timeline (2020 to 2021)

What's happened in the creation of Game 5? Let's walk through a brief summary!

End of 2020/Early 2021

From mid-2020 to late 2021 we threw around random ideas. Weird 3D combat, dating games (H-Games..?), an RPG game where you literally are a car and crash into others with terrible controls, Frogger-likes. Strange dating-sim-slash-action games. It could be fun to talk about this at length some other time, but none really turned into anything fruitful.

I think what's important that came out of this time was the idea that we would want to hone in on a 3D game design that would support art being mostly-doable in-engine. (This resulted in the cube-based solution). We were also interested in an art style that could kind of messily combine digital painting and pixel art - ideal for cubes, lower-resolution, but also areas that look painterly.

Late 2021

I would say this (about a year or so ago) was when we started actually prototyping and testing things out in our free time, and I spent a week or so making the basics of the Autocuber as well as combat ideas. We also played with the idea of simple card games (sort of like how final fantasies have them.) One of the main gimmicks we ultimately scrapped was that you'd control a cursor as part of the gameplay, using it to shoot at enemies, but also to click and interact with stuff. It's not that it was a bad idea, but it ended up being simplified in favor of a more tight action experience.

I also had an encounter with some kid's 'gambling games', which got me interested in 'lizard brain' mechanics. The overall design of the game at this point was more chaotic - lots of random events, weird systems pulling at you, themes about why we play an enjoy and engage with games. (That all changed.) I feel like we always have this 'moonshot' design phase where we're just sort of bouncing off ideas without worrying too much about implementation, that way when it comes time to actually work on the game we have a pretty rich body of ideas to work from.

Anyways, I'll leave the timeline at that and pick up at a later date.


Log in with itch.io to leave a comment.


Looking great! (Although I must admit I'm intrigued by what an Analgesic H-game would end up looking like... 😅😅)


Maybe one day.... maybe....


can't wait, and great to see you working with new styles in 3d that let you remain economical with your time. already has a strong look just from that one screenshot.

p.s. are you on mastodon / fediverse? i thought i was following you there but can't find your account

Thank you! Yeah I'm excited by how things will turn out!  I am on mastodon, though not too active right now: https://mastodon.gamedev.place/@hantani


This all looks so gorgeous, I love fixed cameras and the look y'all have arrived at is super-duper cool. Excited!!

Thanks John!!

Whoa, awesome devlog! Excited to follow along and see how it progresses. The Ys influence + combined with both of your sensibilities has me on the edge of my seat. Thanks for sharing and building in the open!

Hey Brett! Nice to see you here, and thanks! I'm very excited about the Ys part :)


wow this game is looking soo pretty! I feel like its closer to the DS style of chunky pixel 3D instead of the n64/ps1 style that most games gravitate to. A subtle difference to be sure but I really like  it!


Thanks!! Yeah, it definitely does feel more along the lines of 3DS/DS - interesting technical restraints that nonetheless have neat ways to approach the art. I'm excited to make more areas with the autocuber tool!


game looks exciting!

Even if it's overhead you could always zoom the camera down and around for cutscenes!

Thank you! Yes, that would be neat, it's a reason I love 3D.. fun to take the camera wherever.