For the game Tenshu General we use bitmap images of vector graphics. I’m a big fan of vector graphics and I will explain why we use it for this game. Vector graphics really invites you to create simple art. Of course, you can use it to create complicated graphics if you want to, but the basic vector graphic characteristics of malleable curves and colored shapes is great for making meaningful graphics with simple structure. I use this ‘less-is-more’ characteristic in my goal of cutting down a graphics concept to its essentials. This approach allows for clear and recognizable graphics and also leaves a little bit to the imagination of the player. Last but not least: it’s fast. Creating a simple graphic, like an icon of a building, is created very fast. This is great for creating concept art and for trying out different styles and techniques.
Another reason I like vector art is that I always wanted to make tile games and these games usually have small graphics representing the buildings, the terrain and so on. If you restrict yourself to only use a couple of shapes, thick outlines and contrasting colors to make an image, you can create graphics that look good even when scaled to a small size. You can use simple shapes to hint at details of texturing without actually using a texture. This results in a kind of cartoonish look. Sometimes, it’s all in the details, so instead of using the normal circle tool to create a circle, I use the draw tool which will not result in a perfect circle, but gives the graphic a little bit of a natural ‘hand-drawn’ look.
In Tenshu General this style is visible everywhere. Almost all game objects are basically icons: the Tenshu, villages, army flags and so on. The objects are about the same size and all of them are clickable which makes for a very ‘transparent’ game experience. Everything is well visible even though a lot of objects can be on the screen at the same time. The casual, playful aspect of the game is represented with simple and clear graphics, but the game is also a strategy game about samurai battles. To emphasize this aspect I use a slightly desaturated color palette for the game. This means that I tone down bright colors to give the game a slightly serious atmosphere, fitting for a general!. So the combination of playful graphics with somewhat serious colors gives this casual strategy its distinctive look.