Development Diary #2: Art Style

The art in Cally’s Caves was done entirely by my good friend Dave in an open-source pixel art editor called Aseprite.  Well we were very happy with the art as a first effort – Dave taught himself how to do it in just a few short months – there’s always room for improvement, and some of our reviews commented on the art in a not-so-positive way.  I know that with Cally 2 it is incredibly important to have the art be amazing, and comparable to the best art on any iOS game, in order to have the best chance at success.  Things evolved naturally when Dave moved to a different city and let me know that he probably wouldn’t have enough time to do the art on another game (he will be staying on in a design/level editor capacity).

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I posted on the TIGsource forums about looking for a pixel artist for Cally’s Caves 2, linking the first game and hoping and praying someone would answer and want to collaborate with me on the game.  Enter Pablo, an artist who emailed me asking if the position was open and sending me a portfolio of some of his work.  I instantly jumped at the opportunity, recognizing his work as exactly what I was looking for.  The first actual work he sent me for Cally’s Caves 2 was this promo image, which you may have seen before on this blog:


Needless to say, I was energized by seeing how he took Cally’s original design, and put a more detailed, almost anime-ish spin on it.  I sent Pablo a spreadsheet of all the sprites/art I thought we were going to need for Cally 2 (I had already drawn up a design document at that point), and he immediately set to work, and I started getting gems like this in my email inbox:


Pablo has been creating art that is exactly like what I want for Cally’s Caves 2.  Everything is more animated; Cally’s ponytails bob when she runs and jumps, her facial expression changes, and it still all holds true to the original game.  He succeeded in drawing on the original game for inspiration, while putting his own unique stamp on the new art.


Cally 2 will have a number of the same types of enemies as the original, while adding many new types to keep it fresh and enhance the depth of the game.  The slime (pictured above) for instance, will make a return, although as you can see it’s had a major face lift.  I hope that by updating elements of the original Cally’s Caves that worked well (like the slime), well adding in fresh ideas, we can retain some of our small audience of 7000 gamers, while drawing in new ones with a more stylized look.  Pablo’s challenge has been to take someone else’s art and make it his own, and I think he has been doing a fantastic job so far, he is exceeding all my expectations.

banditsreturnWorking with Pablo has also taught me that when it comes to game development, proximity isn’t a make-or-break factor.  I’ve never met Pablo face-to-face, we haven’t even Skyped or Facetimed yet, but he has taken the vision I had for Cally 2’s art and run with it.  We have a 300 emails in our current chain, and I imagine that count will probably triple by the time we are done working on the game.  That’s the beauty of making games in 2014 I guess!

We are currently 2 and a half months into the development of Cally’s Caves 2, and Pablo is about 60% done the art for the game.

Next: The Music


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