The auction starts...now!
Bid Wars: Pawn Empire is a game where you bid against your opponents to buy storage units full of mysterious objects inside. By completing quests and collecting items, you get to know a bit of the city's characters and their stories.
I was the Lead Artist and Art Director for this project, responsible for the small Art Team, made of Matheus Oliveira and Nick Aboud. We worked with a talented team of Programmers, Game Design and QA.
For this project I drew characters, buildings, created an animation, designed the UI and the logo.
Character Design: diversity matters
During the concept, when talking to the main game designer João Beraldo, we discussed that it would be great to include more diverse people, because most characters from other games of the same category were all white. The whole team was very supportive of this idea and we got a green light.
Our moodboard was full of people from all origins, body shapes and fashion styles where we chose which of them would suit better the characters from the story João Beraldo had written.
We ended up with something completely new, with guidelines that were never done before in the company! Each of them has their own personality, background story and helps create a more compelling world for the player.
Mercedez, the badass
Mercedez is one of the many characters the player will find along their way. She's the badass owner of an auto mechanic, who likes to participate in illegal street races.
I was responsible for her design. When talking to João Beraldo, we liked the idea of her being a latina. I searched for clothing references from Formula 1 to movies like Driver. The team liked the 4th one, from left to right: leather jacket, dog tag, messy hair and no makeup.
The leather jacket inspiration was Ayrton Senna's uniform, a famous Brazilian racing driver that was very popular (specially in Brazil), who sadly died in 1994 during a race.
Due to changes in the project, we had two version of her: the original and the sexier one. It was not the team's favorite, but it was decided to follow along with the last one.
Here are some more characters I did, this time for the Pawn Room section of the game, were you're able to negociate the value of objects they're trying to sell you. Once again, we wanted that all kinds of people to appear in the Pawn Shop, giving it more real life-like feeling.
Re-skin of old pals
We had a very tight deadline of only 4 months to make the MVP of the game (an early playable version without the whole game content). We needed new bidders for the auctions, but had very few time to invest in creating ones. The solution then was to take the bidders from Bid Wars 1 and give them a makeover.
I painted over them to achieve a more polished and closer to the Art Direction of the new game and managed to make an extra bidder (the last indian lady).
The early version of the game had a very abrupt beginning that felt like a game error, so I proposed to have the game begin with an animation intro so the player could understand where the game took place and who were some of the characters (such as Rich Seller, your opponent and Mutt, who helps you). It couldn't be long or the player would be bored and skip it — the attention span when playing mobile games can be amazingly short!
It took me around a month to make it.
Below you can see the beginning of the storyboard and a simple version of the animation I did to test scene transition and screen time.
Character Intro Animation
We wanted each character to have an introduction so the player would pay more attention and feel like they had just unlocked a new part of the game' story.
Since we could not make a different intro for each character due to time and app' space limitation, I searched for inspiration in fighting games such as Street Fighter.
I picked different colors palettes to better identify each character. It was used not only during the Character Intro Animation but also in other parts of the game, such as the Quests tab.
Here are some backgrounds I made for different places where the game takes place.
The game takes place in a fictional decadent city where the player owns a Pawn Shop. Part of the gameplay is when the player get enough money and power to control a city block, helping to restore it and understand a bit of its history.
Here's the first sketches for the main building: the Pawn Shop. It had to be in the very center of the map, so the player would not lose sight and be lost. It can be upgraded.
Each building have their own mechanics inside of it, so we tried to make them all different from each other.
UI (User Interface)
Tapps Games is used to make most of their games for younger audiences, so a lot of the UI's expertise there was focused on cute things, colorful palettes, round and bold font letters. One of the few projects out of this group was Word Masters, a game focused on older audiences and where I was the only artist to work on it. This experience was crucial to make the production of this new UI faster.
For this game where our main goal was adult players, we made just like Word Masters: opting for a more sober UI with flat colors, few gradients and avoiding round shapes whenever possible. Font sans serif and thinner, but still readable in a mobile device.
Following the same directions for the User Interface, I tried many variations of the same font to create the game's logo. The city's landscape seemed like a nice way to represent the idea that by playing the game you can gain more power and control different blocks of the city.
In the final version, we used 2-point perspective for the Buildings and gold was the chosen color to better represent the idea of "empire"
Thank you for reading!