As a gamer, you get to experience the game in its final state. For us it starts much sooner, in the case of Swap This it was roughly a year before the actual release. In this series of posts, I hope to give you an idea of what happens during the creation of a game such as Swap This. First up is the creation of the characters.

Swap This! Behind The Scenes #1

When we started development, we knew we had to make sure the game was not simply regarded as yet another match-three game. Our ambitions were much higher than that, and it had to show through the art style as well. So we set off to create a whole new game world for the game to take place in. We needed to make sure that everything made sense and that it became a cohesive and exciting whole.

As far as playability and clarity goes, the best graphics to have as tiles are simple colored squares. Giving single slabs of color personality is kind of impossible, but it still gave us something to aim for; a play-field with a clear grid that is easily scanned for color by the human eye.

This directly resulted in several design decisions:

  • Let’s use one base color for their bodies
  • Let’s put them in ice-cubes so they fit snugly into a grid

These decisions were important for the character artist and marked the point where he could begin making sketches. He now knew it would have an underwater theme, needed to have clearly visible base colors and that they had to be stuffed into icecubes. The first character created with these guidelines in mind was the ‘fish’.


from concept to final artwork

As you can see we opted for a dolphin-like skin, which is very smooth any shiny. Also, we decided early on that each creature should have something silly, something different,making them unique. In the case of the fish it became his propeller tail. This character in the end became our mascot character for Swap This, our Pikachu if you will, since he was most people’s favorite and is most versatile in how he could be used in future games as well.

Next up: The game’s back-story.

Collin, Tuesday February 8 2011