illustration | art | design
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Kaa the Koala — Character, Landscape, Game Asset Art

Art Direction, Character & Landscape Design, Asset Creation

Kaa the Koala —

Art Direction, Character & Landscape Design, Asset Creation

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During my time at the Centre for Digital Media, I was in a group of five students to create a game in Unity. We created Kaa the Koala. I was in charge of designing and creating all the art assets, including character and landscape concepts.

The essence of the game was simple: as a koala, you explore a trashed landscape, while collecting trash and planting eucalyptus seeds. We were amused by the fact koalas sleep 16-18 hours a day, so the game switched between day and night times, where the koala would be either awake, or asleep (where a ghost would pop out).

We wanted to make the game cute, fun, and accessible — and have a beautiful environment to explore.

 

Character Art

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We wanted our koala character to be cute, accessible, and, for the ghost, magical. Hence, I used simple, minimal shapes with soft curves.

The awake koala is a normal, cuddly grey koala, whereas the ghost koala has more of a ethereal, glowing presence.

 The grey awake koala, sleeping.

The grey awake koala, sleeping.

I worked with our animator to create animatable layers, as well as 360 degree perspectives of each koala.

 360 perspectives of the ghost koala. I created a separate asset for each 45-degree angle. Its limbs, body, ears, and head are on separate layers, for easy animation.

360 perspectives of the ghost koala. I created a separate asset for each 45-degree angle. Its limbs, body, ears, and head are on separate layers, for easy animation.

Landscape Art

As we were creating a 2.5D game, we were working with an isometric design. We wanted to create a mystical, magical landscape, so I took inspiration from the beautiful Monument Valley, and used contrasting yet soft colours with a geometric landscape.

Here were a few initial concept shots I created to illustrate a day/night effect on the landscape.

 Initial concept for the daytime scene.

Initial concept for the daytime scene.

 Initial concept for the nighttime scene.

Initial concept for the nighttime scene.

Asset Art

Besides the landscape and character art, I also created art for game assets. We had to make sure these fit into the isometric tile.

 This was our initial concept to symbolize a “trash” item. After some testing, we found that players were confused by the visual, as it looks like oil spillage. We then changed the item art to look more like a trash bag.

This was our initial concept to symbolize a “trash” item. After some testing, we found that players were confused by the visual, as it looks like oil spillage. We then changed the item art to look more like a trash bag.

 The final asset for a “trash” item.

The final asset for a “trash” item.

 Seedling, to be animated into a tree.

Seedling, to be animated into a tree.

 Tree, grown from the seedling.

Tree, grown from the seedling.

To be consistent with the cute, accessible style of our game, we went with a more round, bubbly feel. Here, the soft roundness of the objects contrast with the geometric, sharp nature of the landscape: it indicates affordance that the assets are not just part of the landscape, but something similar to the koala character that the player can actually interact with.

Overall Game

As we designed, developed, and tested our game further, we kept iterating on variables to optimize for the best balance of difficulty and fun. We ended up creating more land space, where the player had to explore the land to properly play the game.

 The game in action: the landscape is sharp and geometric to indicate a surreal environmental beauty, whereas the interact-able items are round, soft and accessible.

The game in action: the landscape is sharp and geometric to indicate a surreal environmental beauty, whereas the interact-able items are round, soft and accessible.

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We made tree leaves glow to indicate affordance of interacting with them, and added UI elements to indicate the player’s progress in the game.

 The game during the day; the koala loses energy as it walks. We included an inventory at the bottom, for future levels.

The game during the day; the koala loses energy as it walks. We included an inventory at the bottom, for future levels.

 The game at night; the player controls the ghost koala, which has to avoid the evil sun ray until time runs out and it becomes daytime again.

The game at night; the player controls the ghost koala, which has to avoid the evil sun ray until time runs out and it becomes daytime again.

 The ghost koala can hide behind shadows to avoid the light.

The ghost koala can hide behind shadows to avoid the light.