the portable city

by definition, not static


status: archives being slowly restored, comics being relocated, new artwork and writing in the queue


Astronomics Game Art : Designing Mining Equipment! Pt 3


Oversized Equipment

With a base set of equipment solved for Astronomics – demo on steam right now! – there were two things next on the checklist: thinking about colour design, and thinking about some of the equipment that didn’t fit into the neat little categories of drilling/pumping/vaccuuming etc.

Firstup, we tackled some big ones: one of the things we wanted the player to get to work towards was processing raw materials — and that meant big processing equipment that could intake entire containers of raw material and spit out something different. These were a really fun challenge to keep in the same design language as our smaller machines while pushing the scale.

This is one place where our safety-bar themed style really helped — the ubiquitous bars were very useful as a shared unit of scale between the smaller and larger equipment – and in these early drawings they were a clear warning sign that I hadn’t fully measured out the scale relationships:

Here you can see the containers, when scaled down to a size where both could fit into that protected area on drawing 3, have safety bars about half or less as thick as the safety bars on the machine. Scale remained something we had to wrestle with and fine tune as we went, and we’ll actually come back to the containers in a little bit.

The other larger piece of equipment we needed was one that’s central to the demo — the crane! Here you can see a few of the different ideas we were exploring.

Key elements were: we wanted it to attach securely to the ground, and we wanted the player to feel like they had maximum options when it came to positioning its pickup and dropoff points. With those priorities and with our low-poly 3D outcome in mind, we ended up grabbing the legs from A and putting them on D — D felt like the most flexible in terms of how far we could spin or stretch the reach of the crane, and also the most simple in terms of modelling and animation challenges.

There were further edits and redesigns and tweaks and additional passes on a lot of this stuff — especially the containers — but I thought folks might like to see how we approached colour for the equipment! And that’s a HUGE question, so I’ll be saving that for its own post, alongside the epic journey that colour took while I was on the project.