Choosing an art style for my point and click game

I am very indecisive. I’ve been making short games for over a year now, and I’m still not 100% sure what kind of art style I want to use to make a longer adventure game. Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve tried so far, and which way I’m leaning.

Low poly 3D with toon shader

Solitude – A Flicker of Hope

For some reason, I decided to make a 3D game for my first foray into point and click game development. I guess I wanted to make life difficult for myself! To keep things relatively manageable, I used 3D assets that I purchased from Synty Studios, and applied a toon shader to give my character a more stylized appearance.

At that point, I thought I wanted to make a longer 3D game, so this was a practice run, with the eventual plan being to model my own 3D assets in a similar style.

Turns out 3D was a short-lived experiment, and all my subsequent games have used various different styles of 2D sprites instead.

3D assets pre-rendered as 2D pixel art sprites

Faking Bad

My second game was for a game jam hosted by Synty Studios, so I used their assets again, but this time I went for a more classic pixel art look, by setting up a 3D scene in Blender, and rendering 2D sprites with a pixel art effect.

It was a fun experiment and I kinda like the effect, but it’s a bit too anti-aliased/blurry and I don’t think it’s something I’d do again (although I do still sometimes use Blender to set up scenes for perspective reference, which can be very handy.

Pixel art

The Alignment Paradox

My third game was for Adventure Jam 2023, and I went for a hand-drawn pixel art style this time. It was my first time drawing pixel art, so it’s a bit rough round the edges, but I enjoyed the process, and started to get the hang of it toward the end.

This was also my first time using both PowerQuest and Aseprite, and after an initial learning curve, I found the workflow really efficient and enjoyable.

Hi-res pre-rendered low poly

Moon Logic

This short game was mainly an experiment in a stylized hi-res art style, again using pre-rendered sprites from 3D assets (although these ones I made myself). I like the way it turned out, but the workflow from Blender to Unity is a bit cumbersome.

Pixel art again

Unagi

Back to hand-drawn pixels for my fifth game, and I definitely felt like I was getting the hang of it more, and it was nice to get back to the straightforward Aseprite workflow.

Hi-res hand-drawn (Blender grease pencil)

Leave Well Alone

Still not ready to give up on hi-res, this time I used Blender’s grease pencil to draw a 2D scene, and rigged a 3D model for the character, also using grease pencil, and then rendered it all out as 2D sprites. This gives quite a unique style, but again the workflow is quite time-consuming.

So what next?

In between all these short games, I have been slowly developing an outline for a longer game I want to make, and recently started working on a background for one of the rooms. So what art style did I go for?

I’m still drawn to the possibilities of using Blender’s grease pencil to make a really unique looking game, but so far I have struggled to get the kind of effect I had envisioned, and drawing/painting in Blender is not as simple as it is in other art programs like Procreate or Krita.

I may keep experimenting with that, but for now I have decided to commit to pixel art. I think when I started on this journey, I told myself that there are too many pixel art adventure games, and it’s not possible to make something that would stand out. Since then, I’ve been learning more and more about pixel art, and following some incredible pixel artists, and I’ve come to realise that while there are quite a lot of generic looking pixel art games out there, it is definitely possible to make something unique in a pixel art style. You just have to get really good at it! So that’s what I’m working on at the moment. Here’s the background I made recently:

I have since decided that I’m not happy with this background, so I’ve redesigned it and will post the updated version as soon as it’s finished!

What do you think? Are you a die-hard pixel art fan, or do you also like alternative art styles for point and click adventure games? Leave a comment and let me know.


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One response to “Choosing an art style for my point and click game”

  1. Dan Hansen Avatar
    Dan Hansen

    I’ve had a similar journey and while I will continue to experiment in 3D and illustration, I’ve realized that pixel art (even very low resolution at that) is my best hope for making longer or just MORE adventure games someday. Those other skills are also good for supplementing my pixel art workflow though. I’m a fan of stylized or low fi looks over realism. Limited palettes too. None of that scaled down art crap.

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The Alignment Paradox
Faking Bad
Solitude - A Flicker of Hope