Random thoughts and bits of life of a coffee loving artist

Monday, January 7, 2013

Art of Gaming: Shad'O

Even though I do not game besides occasionally poking around with one of my characters on a Korean MMO RPG, I often listen to game commentators and game playthroughs while I'm working usually as background sound but for the most part because I enjoy listening to what has to be said and to watch the players interact in the environment. Many times I find what's being said about the game that is being displayed entertaining and 9 times out of 10 is where I find out about games that many of my friends have yet to hear about. One such incident is was one of game commentator John “Total Biscuit” Bain's videos from his WTF series where he took a look at the indie game Shad'O.

A tower defense game created by the 9 person team at Okugi Studios located in France, Shad'O was released in September 2012. The game's storyline states “you will travel through William's mind in a colored and dreamlike universe, made of a mix of pieces of memories, emotions and feelings. Will you be able to drive the fog of oblivion away and help the boy recover his memory?” From the first impressions video WTF Is... : Shad'O? which Total Biscuit had posted near the beginning of September 2012, I was captivated by the style that was being used and wanted to see the trailer in order to find out what else I could discover. 

Watching the trailer, there was a mix of things that was coming to mind. I was seeing elements that reminded me of Where the Wild Things Are by writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak, the Kingdom Hearts series, and even a little bit of The Nightmare before Christmas. Though a bit on the dark side, the character designs seemed to have a bit of whimsical spin on them. Each environment that was shown appeared to have a different theme which obviously adds to the story that is being told but there was some things that made me have some questions. What was the real sources of inspiration for the art style and why did they go the route of a 'tower defense' type of game instead of a different kind of platformer? Writing to Okugi Studios towards the end of December, I asked my questions and waited. Happily I was contacted earlier today with a response:

Hello Dawn,

I'm Pascal, the creative director of Shad'O. Thank you for your interest in our game. :)
I'm going to try to answer to your question. The art direction of the game and the story background were designed AFTER the game style. We've first decided to do a Tower defense game with some special features, like a story (without knowing what!) and some RPG ingredients. It was much more like a "Puzzle Quest" game at the beginning.
Then the Art Director, David Pellet, brought the idea of Dark and Light. He wanted to work this visual opposition. And it was an interesting idea for the gameplay too : a tower defense with the notion of Light and Shadow.
We set the story into a dreamlike world, which was quite coherent with that thematic. And so, the "Tim Burton style" came naturally from all that choices and, of course, our inspirations (I personally love bizarre worlds like Alice in wonderland).

I hope I answered your question and sorry if my English isn't very good. :D

Have a nice day and Happy new year Dawn!

I was completely surprised when I read the email when Pascal stated that the art came after the choice of what type of game it would be. It didn't seem like a very common practice among the various games I've seen so far but of course I could be wrong on that matter. I can really see the influences of Alice in Wonderland and Tim Burton however.

If you're interested in checking out the game yourself, you can find it here: 
store.steampowered.com – Shad'O  $9.99 
Shad'O Collector's Edition (includes 2 items: Shad'O, Shad'O Soundtrack) $10.99

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