May 04

The making of Magic Match: Graphics

Magic Match graphicsLately we’ve been giving several interviews for local magazines here in Poland. This is because there is a lot of hype going on with the recent release of StoneLoops! of Jurassica and the nearing beta of Saqqarah, our most ambitious project so far. Anyway, one of the interviews was quite peculiar because it focused on the production of the graphics for Magic Match (our most successful game so far) so I thought this is an interesting topic to write about in English as well…

There are many interesting things to say about Magic Match, both from the development and business points of view. If you ask me, the game deserves a whole postmortem of its own – and in fact I plan to write it soon. Anyway, before we get down to the details of making graphics for Magic Match there are some basic things you should know about the game’s development.

Magic Match was created by only two developers – me and my business partner Konrad. We did everything ourselves including the design, graphics, programming, sounds and music, testing and business stuff. The only outsourced element was the voice in the songs because our attempts to sing proved to be futile. We worked on the game for about a year, part time as we both attended daytime studies at the time.

Concet of Giggles the ImpI never consider myself a graphic artists, rather programmer and designer, so creating graphics for Magic Match was a true pain in the ass for me. I already had some previous experience with graphics but nothing so fancy like what had to be done. In the end we struggled to create the graphics by using all the tricks we knew and learned most of the new stuff on the way as we had no alternatives. In this sense Magic Match is all programmer art, although I would say that this not the kind of programmer art you see most of the time.

Choosing the type of graphics for the game was a no brainer for us as we both can’t draw. All of the game graphics were created in a 3d package (3ds max), rendered into layers and combined and post-processed using a 2d application of our choice (Corel Photo-Paint). We had a total of 3 concept arts that I created with only two of them slightly resembling the final works.

Menu concept and final

 

The first piece of graphics that was created was the game’s logo. After many years I am still happy with the result I achieved. I remember me and Konrad initially having second thoughts about the logo being too hardcore, in the way that it could easily brand the next installment of the Baldur’s Gate series. Fortunately the style of the in-game graphics was later received very well and certainly added a lot to the games mood and atmosphere.

Whether we wanted it or not, the logo became a benchmark and a “source” for the rest of the graphics in the game. Remember that we were lazy programmers at heart and making high quality graphics was a real pain. In other words we had many motives to reuse stuff again and again. If you look closely you will notice that the elements from the logo appear all over the game in the form of buttons, frames, borders and icons. I was worried that because of this the game would look poor, with the same elements repeated all over the place – but it turned out real great. Thanks to this the game’s visuals have a concise and coherent look that many games lack.

Corel Photo Paint in action

Of course not all graphics could be derived from the logo. This would be just too easy. We imagined several characters that I was supposed to create for the game – Merlin the Wizard, Giggles the Imp and The Vile Genie to name just a few. There were also two very complex scenes: the main menu background with Merlin casting spells on the balcony of his tower, which took me a about a week to create and the map of the Lands of Arcane, which was an even more problematic task. Fortunately with Konrad’s help who modeled many of the details on the map (the villages, mine, camels, oasis and the Lepricon ) we managed to complete it even quicker than the menu.

3ds max in action

Creating the 39 components used as tokens throughout the game was also one of the tricky parts. I remember us making constant corrections and throwing many component graphics away just because they didn’t look right in the game. In the beta period of the game we still received many complains about the components mixing up and not being clear enough for the eyes. That’s why we decided to give each component a small radial glow in the background that would highlighting what was supposed to be the dominant color of each component type. This proved to work quite well.

 

Menu work in progress

 

The last thing I’d like to write about is the rhomboidal shape of the board we used in Magic Match. It started as a simple design idea and we implemented it because we thought it was a nice twist. We didn’t expect that this feature would get so many attention in the end. Actually it proved to be both a serious trouble and a true blessing. The trouble with the rotated board was that some people (about 20% according to my estimates) used to tilt their head to the side while playing the game to match the orientation of the board! After many hours of playing Magic Match those gamers had a terrible neck ache and many of them spent their precious time to tell us about it again and again…

Magic Match Svreenshot

 

The good part about the rhomboidal board orientation was that it helped to raise the download rates of the game significantly. Magic Match introduced a new kind of match-3 mechanics – something that was later called the popular “drag select”. But from the screenshots you can rarely tell what kind of matching mechanics a game is using, especially if you’re looking at the thumbnails. Without the tilted boards Magic Match would look just like Bejeweled or Jewel Quest on the screenshots.

With our latest games (StoneLoops! and Saqqarah) I did surprisingly little of the graphics, so when I will be writing about it the texts will be shorter and more business oriented. I hope you found this article interesting as I will be posting about other aspects of the development of Magic Match and our other games in the upcoming days and weeks.

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2 Responses to “The making of Magic Match: Graphics”

  1. Gail G says:

    I love Magic Match and own it for my PC. Perfection would be being able to play it on my ipad. Are there any plans to port the game for ipad?

  2. Maciek says:

    Hi Gail. Thanks for your kind words about Magic Match. Unfortunately at the moment we don’t have any plans to port MM to iPad. Sorry!

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