Especially important for marketing and its main channels of user communication, but also helpful for a team to rally behind a vision is the creation of promotional art. It embodies in one still picture the theme, the expected content and features, but also the style and tone of a game. Of course it is also mandatory for any press and platform featuring so promotional art plays a huge role in game development success.
At first, while still being in pre- and early production of Gladiators: Survival in Rome, we have used an ingame screenshot with an arranged scene as spiritual guidance (and fulfilling the mandatory upload in the Google Play store listing), we have given that screenshot a hard look. It was determined that it didn’t really express all immediate thoughts and connotations, such as: Survival, Roman theme, Gladiators and one of the main features, the buildings you raise through crafting and citizen management. So the work began.
In sketching, artists can let their imagination run pretty wild, yet there are a few constants of great art based on human psychology, and of course there is also inspiration from other promotional art in movies or games. Let’s look at some of the examples and explain what is interesting about those:
+ The protagonist looks directly to the “camera” and establishes eye contact with users
+ Variations of characters from the game
+ Showcase different clothes and weapons
+ The coliseum surrounded by trees can invoke the impression of survival & upcoming battles
+ A wooden hut or tent in the forest around a campfire reinforce the survival aspect strongly
+ The duel scenario highlights opposing factions of Celts and Romans to meet in battle
+ Having a Roman soldier character details the Roman Empire setting
– User is forced into an observation role
+ Looking directly to the “camera” and creating eye contact with user
+ Demonstrating a band of heroic characters from the game
+ Again, we can show off clothing styles and weapons
– Not a very dynamic scenario
– Pretty basic, overused composition
Looking at the sketches, weighing their pros and cons, we determined that the Coliseum is the Roman symbol, as well as being the home to Gladiators, so it would need to be in 100%. Villagers in the background give a nice touch to the lively world we’re crafting and also can be used to give a visual hint towards our farming, crafting and citizen management. And of course there needs to be the ever-looming foe of the protagonist, who not by accident resembles King Leonidas as the man known for fighting against odds and outnumbered, the soldiers of a corrupt Emperor making life a little bit miserable for everyone. 🙂
Mockups are then made with a wild mixture of available assets, from game graphics – you even see our early prototype soldier models there – to test images for icons, for coming to a conclusion on composition, colours, emotions and even down to the choice of clothing.
After creating these mockups, we determined even though our game is about survival and battle in the Roman Empire, it’s a bright and colourful game with pleasantly looking and contemporary graphics so the end result would need to reflect this as well.
Whereas many times you will see Full HD renders or very splashy art inspired by movie posters, we believe that would create a false image in user expectations towards those games utilizing that technique in their promotional material.
Instead, we use the same low poly semi-abstract style we have in our game with softer brushes, less sharp edges and brighter colours to highlight the jovial mood and the conviction to make a survival game that is not all about the grim aspects but also about the joy of creation.
Optional: Easter Eggs
Finally, every artist has a desire to give a nod towards his creativity and personality while not disrupting the image. A fun way to implement this is easter eggs: Not intended necessarily for the main purpose of the picture yet fun when noticed. As an example, in this promotional image you will see sheep playing cards on the lawn in the character’s background. Try to find easter eggs in our other promotional art or even in our game!
Creative Marketing Producer