Developer: Lionade Games Game Title: Check-In, Knock-Out Release: 2015
Let’s just say the colors (and overall art style) weren’t good the first time I tried. I had to figure out a lot of rules about color use and I made a mess of it.
The day I came up with the current color palette of Check-in, Knock-out was the day I tried something different. Me being attached to my first idea held me back from making something better. But the moment I realized something else might work, I was able to turn it into something much better and more unique. The color guidelines I set for the game were playful, fresh, recognizable, and inviting. I wanted players to say a few things when they see Check-in, Knock-out: “Hey this looks like fun!”, “I think I’ve seen this before!” and “Please, let me play already!”
As for the backgrounds, I wanted every level to be recognizable in its own way, so they each have a base color, which is never used in the backgrounds of other levels. This kind of simple clarity can make a difference in whether the player feels comfortable playing the game or not.
It certainly was a team decision, and I actually was a bit skeptic about it at first. Later I found out it was just the perfect thing for the game and the pixel style really added something to the inviting and playful parts of the game. And besides, Check-in, Knock-out is one of those games all about content. With this style we can make loads of it.
Inspiration & Ideas
My inspiration for the characters came from a yellow block, a red block and a blue block. Yes, really. The programmer gave me a playable prototype of the game, featuring one-colored blocks. Every one of them had a different movement feeling, which I used as my main inspiration. The slow yellow block resulted in Dr. Doctor, the blue block turned into Bob, and the red block became Destiny. The feel of the character came before the visuals.
As for the shapes, the game The Other Brothers was a big help, but most of the shapes came from my own style, developed over the years.
At first, each character had his own unique color, giving them more of a personality. I really thought it would work. This caused mass confusion, though, when all players picked the same character. Our first natural fix was to not allow players to pick the same character. If we had gone through with this idea just because the visuals didn’t do their thing, a great part of the game would have been ruined.
The current game has four player colors, which you can partly see on the character you control. And again, clarity creates comfort.
Challenges and decisions
I never did a pixel art game before Check-in, Knock-out. Some people say my inexperience with pixel art made the style unique and refreshing. As I said before, trying something new never hurts, especially when it turns out well. The hardest thing is saying the words “this will do.” At some point in the concept phase, you’ll have to say it and decide you will continue with this.
We thank Menno Stas for giving us the opportunity to learn more about the development behind the art of Check-in, Knock-out.