Quoted from Ferret:
Heck, if you don't have access to a game, watch one of the streams and send a link and a timecode with your explanation. Even feedback that can't be incorporated into Oktoberfest can help advise the team for future games.
OK, thanks for listening!
=== GENERAL THOUGHTS ===
It feels like you desperately need an art director or "executive producer" that takes Balcer's mechanical vision and creates an overall vision for the art and animation package. If you think you have someone today that fulfills that role I would challenge you as to whether you have the right person in that role. Your art director should have started early in the design cycle by requesting several concept art mockups from a couple different artists that have something in their portfolio that looks similar to the vision in your head. Get honest feedback on those conceptual designs.
What are the guidelines for your world? The color palettes, fonts, shading, lighting, mood, line thickness, stroke colors, perspectives should have been down selected from the multiple concepts. All characters in your world should look like they came from the same world; having the same proportion and physicality; then rendered or drawn with consistency.
The animations are extremely choppy. This gives you that feeling that we're in a 1990's era video game. I remember creating 8 frame sprite animations for video games back in the early 90s that looked better than the creepy-looking characters stalking the fairgrounds. This looks terribly dated.
There is a lack of consistency in art styles between cartoonish and realism. Select a style, stick to it and make sure you have the right talent that can pull it off.
I think your strongest element that ties the Oktoberfest world together is the wood look on the transition. For example, the mode select gates that open and the player score area - that's something to build from.
=== SPECIFIC ISSUES ===
At the 25:11 mark, take a look at the wood pallettes between A. the frame, B. the player score area and C scoring number tiles. They look to be from different color palettes - it is things like that make me want to pull my hair out. Why are the score numbers even on tiles? It makes the player scores bar too busy looking.
At the 24.54, the mode timer looks to be made up of 4 wooden blocks that had sex with a 7 segment LED display - yuck! Probably sounded like a cool idea to someone but it looks weird. Again, a completely different color wood palette in play here. Maybe a more traditional Barvarian clock or even a simple timer using the German font would look better. Even stealing the Houdini mode timer might look better.
At 8:34, the BALL SAVED screen is really, really nice. Use more of that style throughout. The burst pattern clearly ties to the burst pattern to the playfield. The bubble texture on the font is nice; use more of that technique but maybe with a bratwurst as the image. One minor adjustment... the gradient green that surrounds the text needs to be feathered more...too stark of a transition between the green and the burst pattern. That burst pattern style as a backdrop for text should be repeated more often. Place a version behind the Ready Player screen instead of the black, empty screen (see 9:06).
Remember, if anything is paid attention to by the player it will be between balls and between player turns so make those transitions great. They are really weak at the moment.
At 9:01, the Closing Time should be bigger with perhaps the same burst pattern text effects as the BALL SAVED. On the video, the blue stroke over the mauve/red text is hard to read. People perceive blue to be blurry.
11:47, animate some motion of the liquid in the beer stein during the drinking contest and add some movement to the woman's arms and braids. Overall the concept is clever but way too static looking. There is nothing about the animation that looks like you or her are making progress.
17:25, when the juggling tent opens, the image of the crowd is bad; really bad. I would kindly urge you to replace that image as soon as possible.
=== FINAL THOUGHTS ===
If API hired me to be the art director today understanding that that game is about to ship, and with a small budget to improve the display art package, here's what I would do:
- get consistency on the color palettes; especially the wood elements that frame the LCD experience. The strength of the existing design is the wood theme on the "tent select." Carry those thematic elements of that artwork throughout more of the screens. Rework the play score ribbon to remove the tiled look.
- 3:02, completely redo, from scratch, the fairgrounds scene. The concept is solid from a gameplay standpoint but artistically, the execution doesn't "stick the landing" at all. This is perhaps the worst screen at giving Oktoberfest the 1990's, early PC game reputation. The rollercoaster Oktoberfest in the background is really too cheesy.
- You're right... it is too late to do pre-production design on a machine that is ready to ship. Going forward, I would revisit your approach to developing animations. They are uninspired, dated looking, and the number of frames per animated sequence is ridiculously low. Going forward, I would think about moving to a more 3D rendered environment and artist.
Thanks for listening and good luck going forward.