I forced… *coughs*… begged my coworkers to become my test bench for working through and developing some of my games. The most notable of which was Unlocked. I was truly at an impasse with my design. I loved the key building aspect and I found the sequential set collection mechanic to be truly novel and yet it didn’t really have a vehicle to make it work. Consider a V12 engine with advanced capabilities but no car to put it in. What is its value? And that was where I was.
And then I found an artist who would make my dreams a reality. It is funny how that happens. You have an idea but no real inspiration until you come across something that speaks to you. In this case, I was browsing deviant art and stumbled across an artist that goes by the name of Rittik. Her key artwork pieces were truly inspired.
I highly recommend visiting her deviant art site and checkout all that she has to offer.
Anyway, I did some analysis of her work. It appeared that she would design the keys by sketch, then she would add textures and make them pop into 3d using accents and bevels. It was masterfully done. I talked to her and immediately signed her onto Unlocked as the first artist. But with her abilities came a problem. My game was about building keys mechanically. As shown above, the keys were not mechanical but rather an artistic rendering of the keys purpose. Some of her keys (the best ones) defy the laws of physics. E.g., components floating on air or starting in negative space with no attachments to the primary part of the key.
But I was the development lead, I could ask her to make her keys such that the bittings build up as in my previous incarnation of a game. At first I started thinking that I could have the key bittings around the outside of the key. I didn’t want to affect her artwork she had already done. This was the result:
It was a messy solution. In playtesting it made people confused. There were questions on direction of completion and the shapes were entirely too similar. So I gave in and asked her to change the artwork. To her credit, she tried her hardest to make it work:
Functionally, the key worked, but man did it make a great thing look bad. This was not the solution I wanted. Ultimately, I asked Margarita (Rittik) to return to her previous and much more agreeable style.
The answer to this would require much much more work.