Loren Colcol — Product Development at Playstation

Hype Train (2D Platformer • Unity)

2D Shoot-Em-Up • Platformer

ursamajorgames.com

All Aboard! Project HypeTrain is a 2D platformer shoot-em-up project of Ursa Major Games, a startup game studio founded in Santa Cruz. With a rich game world full of wacky train cars, prepare yourself for the wildest train heist of your lives. Guns, loot, bullets, hobos, and dinosaurs, wait, hobos and dinosaurs?!?! Yup, this is going to be a bumpy ride.

ForUrsa Major Games RoleArtist • Designer
Date05/2014-03/2015 EngineUnity
GraphicsPixelmator • Photoshop Team Size7

Hype Train by Ursa Major Games.

Hype Train is a game created by Ursa Major Games, a start-up founded in my sophomore year of college by friends and classmates from UCSC, USC, and Cal Poly Slo. We all came together as students passionate about making a game project outside of class. We formed in Spring 2014 and went on for about a year creating Hype Train. From the start, it was a project that brought out what we learned from in the classroom, while also becoming a learning experience into creating and running a start-up.

Project HypeTrain Alpha Gameplay with commentary by me! PLAY THE LATEST ALPHA RELEASE @ ursamajorgames.com

As an artist and designer, I wanted to build on my art skills and really help create a aesthetic for the game from start to finish. From concept art to digital art, level creation to items, as a team of 3 artists we collaborated on various directions and styles for Hype Train. As a concept artist, I experimented with a couple different styles and ideas. I began with a rougher, more limbo-esque style of visuals, taking the silhouette aesthetic and keeping tones to dark and light, no color in between. This idea had a more mature vibe in terms of lighting and color go, but as for the world and characters themselves, I wanted to keep them simple. In the end, we decided to go quiet the opposite direction after deliberating on the tone of the game as being very "hype" centric. Thus we ended up with vibrant colors, soft shapes and edges and chibby style characters.

Concept Art for the Hobo Attack. usage of boxes and platforms were a fundamental part of gameplay and I highlight how that might look in through this piece of art.

Concept Art for the Vault Car. I liked the idea of playing an emphasis and lighting, and how it would create some unique visuals.

Concept Art for a Bar Scene. I wanted to keep the tonal balance of lights and darks while also revealing my idea for particles and exploding objects with the silhouette aesthetic.

Train cars were the basis of our levels. Above you can see the concept art I created for some fo the more generic train cars. Some were cabooses with rows of seats, others were coal cars, and some were fancier and far more luxurious with chandeliers and a bar. The style of these cars was very soft and cartoony, to keep with the overall aesthetic of the game.

Concept Art for the shape and figure of characters. Again, we explored chibby and cartoon style characters so round shapes and body types were essential in the character design.

The art process was definitely a learning experience, but ultimately one that helped me grow creatively. One of the biggest struggles initially was working out an art production pipeline. How do we get one person’s style, and all recreate that exactly the same? Well the shorter answer is, you really don’t. Instead of trying to mimic the art of one person, we all decided to collaborate a style between 3 artists. From stroke size to brush types, we had to all put in pieces of our own to the aesthetic to keep the art honest between the 3 of us, and form an art pipeline we could all contribute to.

Art Production Pipeline sheet.

Bell boy.

Nick.

Sheriff.

Various characters are based off of some references to films and shows we enjoy. There’s Doc Brown to the bottom left!

Each train car is procedurally generated at random after the next. I was tasked with designing each individual train car in collaboration with our game designers. Since we wanted to create a game where cars came from different worlds and eras, I had a lot of creative freedom into designing unique cars such as hobo cars, dino cars, meat freezer cars, and luxurious caboose cars.

4 of the more basic train cars, cargo, coal, and lumber cars.

The Dino Car was especially fun to create. This car was inspired by an all time fav of mine, Jurassic Park. What made the car a learning experience was creating foliage, tress, grass, and vines. I experimented and referenced various sources and liked the way it turned out overall. The color choice and shading brings extra pop to this level.

The Freezer Car is essentially a butcher freezer on wheels. Creating the meat was the highlight of this car, and an added feature is that when shot at, the meat will fall and kill anything below it.

Though we only had a chance to work on Hype Train for about 12 months, we really had a chance to put our skills to the test in produce something we could all take full ownership of. Working on the gameplay features, the art, the levels, and everything in-between taught me how to communicate across various roles from programming, art, and design. It particular, it was a huge learning experience in art production and creating a pipeline to produce art with various skillsets and art styles, through collaboration, trial and error, and documentation.

We collaborated as a team over some of the mechanics that would be special to the game. One such mechanic was blow-back. We wanted the guns in the game to not only fire projectiles to kill enemies but to also serve as a mechanic for jumping. The player will blow-back with extra force opposite the direction the gun is pointed. As such, players can jump higher and further.

As players progress, we want to reward them with power ups and skins. At the shop car, they can buy upgrades to their weapons and new skins for their character. The gun above fires at a rate x2 for more bullet mayhem. Our main character is also using the bellhop skin.