After showing off some gameplay last month I realized I wasn’t satisfied with how the game looked. Despite my best efforts the sprites I made looked too plain and simple, and it would take a disproportionate amount of effort for me to get Vision ~ SR to shine on my own. Over the month of May I’ve been chatting with some skilled freelancers, and a few have signed on to work on this project. By living cheaply I’m able to offer fair compensation from what I make at my day job. One could look at my game’s development as a “really expensive hobby”, with “expensive” referring to money and free time. But since I’m an adult now I can do what I want.
On this post I highlight the efforts of Molly Heady-Carroll, who will be creating concept art for VSR’s prominent characters and bosses. So far she has been great to work with and you can expect more spectacular creatures to be shown off soon. But for now I want to focus on the evolution of the design of Oracle, the main protagonist.
Oracle is a cybrog, the design of which was inspired by BR-W9 from the 2009 game Contra Rebirth. The decision to have VSR star a cyborg that can see the future was made for gameplay reasons; I needed a character that had most of their abilities from the start, but would be unable to use them until the player progressed through the game (I’ll go into why in a later post). With this reference I initially just dove into making the sprites from there without drawing it out first.
As it turns out, getting a cyborg to look appealing while not falling into the uncanny valley is quite a challenge. The first design had a stoic, creepily serious expression that never sat well with me. I later replaced the face with a singular “eye” to make it look more appealing. It wasn’t until I decided on getting a revamp did I consider updating the look further.
Amusingly one person told me that Oracle’s sprite resembled a “purple fox furry”, and someone else drew it like that. Clearly this was not the intention. But hey I got my first fan art of the game, so that’s a milestone right there.
Anyway I had Molly design some concepts, and we eventually reached on a final design shown below. The alterations to Oracle’s “hair” was a great change; making her look more sleek and futuristic without being creepy. Basically the concept artist made an illustration based on the pixel art sprites… which seems backward in retrospect.
Larva Oracle is Oracle’s true, suitless form. While in the suit Oracle is a dangerous force to be reckoned with, and I thought it’d be funny if it was actually being controlled by a cute bug the entire time. I still wanted a hint of mysticism in the design, as she’s still powerful with her ability to see the future. In fact in larva form Oracle’s clairvoyance is a bit stronger, but she lacks any combat ability. The four spots on her back are receptors she uses to commandeer the suit.
Currently Larva Oracle is only briefly shown in the game on the title screen and during her death animation. The form will be more significant as the game continues.
Thanks for reading, I’ll be sure to share more designs and other fun insights soon.