Musings on Auto Fire visuals

I still have a ways to go to hit the look I want out of Auto Fire.

All my visual assets so far are bought from the Unity Asset Store, or made by me (and I am no artist).  The challenge of using purchased assets is that often cars or environment elements are created to look super-realistic, since that's the direction Unity is making its biggest improvements.  However, I don't want the game to lead too far into the realistic direction for a couple reasons:

The first reason is legibility.  Everything needs to be exaggerated somewhat because all the elements:  Obstacles, buildings, vehicles are pretty small onscreen.  Any top-down game has this problem since a vertical-standing object often has a pretty indistinct silhouette from above.

The second reason is the fact that I am taking massive liberties with scale.  Buildings are the size of cars are the size of people, because I want the game to feel fairly roguelike in how its world is constructed and navigated.  When I had some realistic looking assets at the start, everything looked really weird.  I had purchased some realistic gun muzzle flashes and smoke and somehow it emphasized the scale inconsistencies.  I then put back the stylized explosions you see now.

For environment art I am trying to use the lowest-poly models I can find, and then I put the textures through a cleanup filter, but I want to do more (and I have to just for performance anyway).  I'm not looking to make the game look cartoony, but "clean" and "easy to parse" would be great targets to hit.

Those "rooster tails" you see when accelerating or braking are just an experiment with stronger, stylized feedback for speed changes.  The look isn't quite right yet...  In the end if I can get something closer to the ground VFX from Auto Modellista, that might be pretty rad.


Auto Fire v0.5.01 - Windows 64-bit 942 MB
Oct 16, 2018

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I think people-to-car scales are okay, the people are "visibly" smaller but big enough to earn the tile they're using.  The buildings might stand to be a little bigger, just for the feels. Like an RPG "building" that's big enough to go inside, but not really to scale. ("This impressive castle has two rooms on either side of the hall, and a throne room at the end!  So huge!") We're not going inside, so they don't have to be THAT big, but a little more would help, I think.

All the car models in the asset store seem spread between the extremes of hyper-realistic or cubes with wheels. And far too few are "apocalyptic" enough. The Synty "Apocalypse" ones are probably too cube-y for what you want, and I think you can only get them in the big mega-kit.

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Yeah it's a bit of a balancing act with scale, and realistic scale isn't what I want of course, but I was rather shocked when I swapped in some realistic stuff and I started to feel like the game looked...  kinda dumb.

Yeah that sweet spot of good vehicles with clean silhouettes and a low polygon count is hard to hit on the asset store.  Any objects with "cartoon" on it is usually on the minecraft side, with a few exceptions like Toon Soldiers by Polygon Blacksmith (which is going for a TF2 look).  I've seen Simple Apocalypse but never looked closely at their vehicles because they put all the lego-styled characters front-n-center.  ...the vehicles aren't bad...  I could mayyyyyybe rough them up a bit in texture to help them match my other stuff (mostly Battle Cars from Evozon and War Cars from Havolk).  Actually the vehicles in Synty's Polygon Battle Royale pack might be better (although both would mean spending a fair amount for a small percentage of usable stuff).   

I'll bookmark them and check into them once I use up my existing cars.  Thanks for the steer!

Synty's "Polygon" stuff is really nice, but doesn't have the "quantity" of vehicles I'd like to match the "quality." The "Simple" series generally has a lot more choices, especially as they've been doing that for so long. I have those same Evozon Battle Cars (all three kinds) and love how they look... I just wish there were more cars that matched that style.

On that note... This just came up:!/content/130909

I saw that last night and reallllly loved the parts.  The proportion of the cars are a little too Micro Machine-ish though.  However, I may pick it up anyway just for all the spike plates, tires, and mounted weapons.  Also the van and pickup aren't as stubby looking as the cars...

Yeah, it's not perfect.  And I'd like to see a few more choices in vehicles, but I like that it has the interchangeable bits. Someday, something will turn up!