Some new Total Annihilation roughs

I've been trying to draw some TA stuff again, this time from a lower perspective (unit portrait views). It sort of makes sense to make sure the units look great and recognizable from a pure top-down view, but I still wanted to... expand on the designs, which is difficult with top-down drawings.

Core and Arm sheets.

I threw in some Dark Reign and Starcraft homages just for fun. I think Dark Reign in particular had some very nice unit and building design. Instead of a boring buggy, it had the Spider Bike. Even something potentially very boring like the (Taelon) power generator was turned into something very characteristic.

I also wrote down various ideas which popped into my head while drawing.


A particular concern of mine is the (unwitting?) use of "Dazzle camouflage"-style color schemes which I see in... well, not just in RTS games, thinking about it, so I rant a bit about that. Dazzle camouflage was not meant to hide ships, but rather to make visual identification (of ship type and heading) as hard as possible. Of course, when you alternate colors on a figure, you sort of tell the brain that these areas don't belong together. If done excessively all over the figure, the whole thing breaks apart, losing not only it's silhouette/mass, but also its identity in relation to other figures with the same color scheme. On the other hand, if you just paint all of the figures blue, the silhouette and mass will be intact, but telling the figures apart will still be hard.

So, in regards to color schemes in RTS games, I think it's best if one picks a few "flag" colors, say, two dominating colors, like a team color and a race color, then two or so more minor race colors. The top-most part of the units should have various iconographically effective shapes forming out of these colors (working with the masses of the figure). I don't think two colors is enough to help differentiate a lot of figures, so I'd sometimes put the extra minor colors in a dominant position on special figures. The Core is dominantly red and silver, but mix it up with some black and camouflage yellow, and then there's a role-defining colors like fusion core teal and construction stripes.

I've been playing TA Spring on my Netbook. It gets hot. I'm thinking it's because TA is so sexy.

Wasteland 2?

Wasteland looks pretty colorful and cartoony (characters, colors and story) for a spiritual ancestor of Fallout. Looking at the Kickstarter page, the pitch art for the Wasteland 2 (while nice looking) sort of clashes with the so clearly expressed sentiment to stay true to the original. On the other hand, I don't mind when a different style is used, as long as the designs are intact. On the other hand, Wasteland 2 has an opportunity to be graphically distinct from "brown brown black gray brown" and "brown gray brown brown black". I guess Borderlands is a bit more lighthearted stylistically, but I've never played it. Last Armageddon has one of the best settings of any post apocalyptic game I think, but now I'm derailing.

Anyways, I decided to draw some of the characters from Wastelands. A lot of the robots are just nonsense, but I decided to struggle with what I was given and not change them too much towards what I'd like to see. The game actually uses the same portraits for different encounters, so there's some room for doing variation once the base has been established.

Wasteland concepts

Wiki page with ref
Mobygames page ... Dang, I forgot to do VAX and the Scorpion tank. Maybe later.

Edit: I doodled some more while watching a nicely produced Wasteland Let's Play. Here I've used the 4 head tall figures from Wasteland's overhead view (people have more normal proportions on the encounter portraits though), but changed the perspective from what appears to be a sort of top down cavalier projection to a typical isometric one.

Isometric wasteland mockup

Wasteland certainly has components of what we now consider a typical post-apocalyptic game, but it also have this... atmosphere of 18-19th century type story telling. At one point in the game, the player's party enters a garden with giant wondrous fruits and vegetables. Apparently someone has made canoes out of giant banana skids. I could almost see Alice, Dorothy or (Beanstalk) Jack stumbling into such a place. This made me add the giant mushrooms wrecking the asphalt. There's also a type of haphazard, carefree quality to the storytelling which makes me think of older stories rather than our modern, formalistic 3-act, moralizing ones. Vengeful baby with gun!

I drew some random figures on the map just to see what happened visually. In Wasteland, encounters rarely show up as figures on the overhead map, which is understandable since it's a lot of work to animate 400 different enemies and NPCs. Persistent figures also brings up a lot of problems like, guys getting stuck, blocking each other, shooting at walls during combat, permanent corpses, yadda yadda. Though... I wouldn't mind seeing an X-COM version using the Wasteland setting. There's the Ranger Center trying to discover technology, random hostiles, mutants, and robot bad guys with their own bases.