I've been listening to a lot of Biosphere lately and drawing environmental concepts. Here are a few of my favorites:
Item altar and lighting test.
This item altar will be one of many within the game's world. The player will discover these regularly as they explore. These powerups act as shards of each ability the player can unlock. Once the player has collected a handful of shards, they unlock a new character ability for solving puzzles (covered in a previous blog entry). You wouldn't be wrong to call these our own version of the "Chozo Item Spheres" from Metroid. These little rewards will act as our "invisible guiding hand" to lead the player through the game's world/narrative.
As far as it's lighting is concerned, I'm still not decided on whether the dynamic lighting in this scene will help or hurt the overall feel of the game. It's hard to say with only this example, it will require further tests and maybe even a full production play test to see if it's worth implementing fully.
One of the game's enemies revealing itself.
This is still a work in progress for one of our boss characters. This nasty dude can split into smaller versions of himself and travel through the little inaccessible cracks in the game's world. If level development goes according to our internal tests, the in-game environments should look identical to our concept art.
Our hero being chased.
Once this nasty dude is out in the open and fully manifest, the chase is on. These will act as high anxiety moments to create a sense of pacing for the player. This way our long sprawling environments and puzzles become more palatable over extended gameplay
I find that without the proper music, art like this is impossible for me. I've never been able to draw without some sort of noise keeping me on track and motivated. It's especially effective when I find that perfect track that inspires the emotions that we intend to inspire in our players with gameplay, art, and sound. Pulse of the Labyrinth has been strongly inspired by unnerving ambient tracks and the occasional gritty dubstep/electronic track.
I suppose if I had to dispense any advice with this blog post, it would be that fully immersing yourself with things that make you feel similar to how you want your players to feel is a great way to produce work that is moving in parallel with what you intend it to look like. It's also great for driving those around you a little crazy.