Now that Crystal Collapse is out, it’s time to put the focus back on Cops ‘n Robbers. To that end, I’ve been going over some of the old level graphics and wanted to share some thoughts on the progression.
This is the oldest level design I still have a hold of:
As you can see, very plain “programmer art”. Given that I’m not an artist, it was what I could do quickly.
This level stayed as the default while I built the systems to make Cops ‘n Robbers into a game. I had already decided that the first set of levels would take place in farm country, and you can see the attempt to visually show a botched bank robbery.
This was my first graphical revamp. I redesigned the bank to look more expensive, and changed the barn. The roads were rounded and a noise filter applied to make them look more like dirt. A cloud filter was used to give a bit of a grass texture. The farm plots were redone; I was attempting to show corn in various stages of growth. The fences was supposed to be barb wire. The overall look was rather muddy, although this was a large improvement over the original art.
This was the second revamp, and is far more extensive than the first. I redid almost all the art of Cops ‘n Robbers at this point; adding animations to the existing characters as well as most of the required objects. This is where I developed a specific theme for the first 5 levels. Level 1, having existed for a while, got a facelift. I changed the fences to a more ranch style and used them as a border. The farm plots were redone to have different crops. The addition of tufts of grass really helps sell the grass texture.
The most important change was to add a black border around everything. This eliminates the washed out look the previous version had and enforces the toon look even more.
Celeste, fresh from finishing Crystal Collapse, is tackling the effort of trying to make my graphics look good. She tweaked the bank and redesigned the barn, but the most important addition is the shading. These are the same base graphics as the previous version, but now they “pop”.
It’s interesting to follow the progression of the art; each step is less extreme than the previous one. I do think we’ve reached a good place with this level, though. Barring any redesign of the level mechanics, this should be the version that ships.
Also, spare a thought for Celeste, who has to tackle the characters after she finishes the level shading…