Like with any game, the art in Spareware has went through its phases. The current art lead Tommi Helin is here to shed some light into the making of art in Spareware.
The style for Spareware is kinda cartoony and colorful while having it's dystopic nature. We went to look for inspiration from sci-fi comics and cover art of the 80's. They had nice clean colors that popped right out of the pages even if the topic was serious. Comics like Judge Dredd were a huge influence on us.
The serious and sometimes dark worlds covered in bright colors is reflected in the narrative of Spareware too. In the minority report style, the people of the city are made to believe that things are quite good even if in reality it's the opposite. No one remembers the destroyed nature outside when the city is so bright and colorful.
The colors are also a good way to guide the player and change the mood. Because this game was developed with the mindset of making it for get togethers or other kinds of parties where people hang out and maybe want to play some fun stuff together, we couldn't make the visuals too dark or gloomy to ruin the mood we were aiming for. Also with proper usage of colors, it's easier to separate environment, NPCs, UI elements and players from each other. There's so many enemies and so much going on that they turn into indistinguishable mush.
Also we picked orange as the 'theme color' for Spareware. We tried to use it as much as possible, most notably in the menus. But orange was also important with highlighting elements in the environment, mostly those you could collide or interact with. Then other elements, like the props which are generated on the roofs are actually desaturated drawing as little attention as possible.
In the new London patch, the highlighting color or theme color will be red. That's of course not the only change in the new patch. We're actually doing a whole another iteration with the graphics of Spareware. The first version was what we like to call Kouvola-simulator (maybe a good international equivalent would be Detroit Simulator). It was dark, grey, gloomy and overall colorless and depressing. The next version was filled with really shiny glowing colors. The robots were coated in a shiny paint which made them really bright spots of color. When we tried to add things like health and ammo bars, everything just blended together. We had to tone it down, scrape off some of the paint revealing the metal and add more pastel type of colors. That is the current version.
The main focus of the new iteration is to just add more variation to the environments. We want to get rid of the repetitiveness problem, which was most complained about and which we very well knew at the time of the initial release.
I really like the characters in the game. They look cool! It was great that we found the style for the robots early on. After the first prototypes we nailed it. I'm also starting to be happy with the color scheme. We just have to add the much needed variation to it and the environment too, so we're getting there.
The new patch will hit around May and one of the things included is new visuals with new props and elements in the levels and new biomes.