Project James – Playable Test Demo of a Hand-Drawn 3D Game

Ok, I’ve had my fun with some blogging, now let’s talk about why I’ve called you all here tonight.

From my previous post, you know that the first major game by Dust Scratch Games will involve 2D hand-drawn characters in 3D space.  That’s right: a hand-drawn 3d game. This isn’t necessarily the first time such a game was made: the jrpg “Time and Eternity” for the PS3 is advertised as the first playable anime, for example. But that game had the animated sprites in a fixed position in front of the camera, giving the impression of a crude first-person game with cartoons pasted on the front. This, among other reasons, was cause to generally poor reviews. Other games that tried hand-drawn images in games were either beautiful 2d games, or suffered for similar reasons in 3d.

The beauty of my implementation (currently with the free Unity game engine) is that it is completely independent from the camera and the gameplay. Make any game you want, first-person, third-person, action, rpg, adventure, puzzle, etc. and the visuals can be implemented with this methodology. The art is entirely created by the artist, frame-by-frame, to help ensure ease of creation and complete control. This system is best suited to character animation, and animation of simple, smaller objects. Currently, I also separate parts of the character to allow independent animation (legs and arms animate independently, for example), and positioned the parts in such a way to allow more depth and convincing shading. And it’s all HD art, of course. It’s a fantastic opportunity to bring traditional animation back into the mainstream (or at least a little closer to it).

The first game we make using this style is tentatively called “Project James” (until we can think of a better name). It features a boy in a fantastical world, searching for who he is and what his name is (yes, his name will be James, but he doesn’t know that). If anything I said still doesn’t make sense, check out our youtube videos, or even better, try out our new playable demo featuring the main character in movement! Keep in mind that in-browser gameplay isn’t as visually impressive as a stand-alone pc build, but this gives you a rough idea. Look for a new menu tab on the site to find this and other demos in the near future!

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