Dungeon Vice is a pixel-art dungeon crawling role playing game set in the 1980s, currently in the early stages of development.

In order to bring this project to life, I am wearing many hats: director, project manager, writer, user experience designer, artist, and animator.
Dungeon Vice
Concept, Branding, Animation, Pixel Art, UI/UX
Phantasy Bits
Aseprite, Unity, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects
Creative, Game, and Art Director
The Challenge
Creating a video game from scratch is hard. There are many components that go into it: music, art direction, animation, sound effects, and programming everything so it can work. Even if you’re able to complete all of those steps there is an additional challenge, and probably the most important one… is it fun to play? 
Dungeon Vice Gif - Lane playing an arcade machine
A particular genre I had grown up playing was the classic dungeon crawler, where you move around a grid from a first-person perspective and can only do 90-degree turns. The limited movement made me feel like I was tactfully deciding how to explore the dungeon.  

I’ve beaten almost all the classic dungeon crawlers, but it's an under-utilized genre and there aren’t many new titles. I had a dream game in mind that featured slick pixel art animation, good humor, an engaging story, and a heart-pumping soundtrack — but it just did not exist. So I made it myself.
Classic first person exploration is grid-based featuring 90 degree turns as seen in the DOS video game, Eye of the Beholder
Starting off as the lone adventurer
As a lover of pixel art, I took on the role of lead designer, artist, and animator. 

Drawing pixel art is very different as compared to traditional art. 

In pixel art, you have total control and can manipulate every pixel yourself. Advanced tools will not do the job. Of course, that makes your artwork sharper because you don’t have the soft blur from paintbrushes. However, pixel art is not just about the tools.

Learning techniques is equally as important to get good results and work faster. This required a lot of research and practice to perfect the look I was trying to achieve in my head. Pixel Art was born from limitations of the technology available at the time, but to achieve that retro-look, you have to limit yourself with palette sizes, limited color palettes, and a host of other challenges.

Now you take those precise pixels, and now you have to animate them over a lot of frames. Traditional animation techniques can still apply, but Pixel Art can come with a slew of shortcuts and other challenges when making animations.
Clean-up animation with additional details
Rough animatic
Fortunately enough, when development began on this game, I was living with my older brother who is a music producer. That covered sound effects, music, and other audio- related things required to complete a game.

Programming is a whole different realm. Fortunately there are many development tools available, such as GameMaker and Unity, that help indie developers create their visions. I also met a programmer who wanted to create a video game, but lacked the artistic skills. I realized with our combined skills, us three could collaborate to create our vision.

I lead the overall game design, and art direction, creation, and animation. I’m also the project manager for our team, Phantasy Bits.
What about the rest of the adventuring party?
The Game - Dungeon Vice
Drawing inspiration from classic Dungeon Crawlers such as Eye of the Beholder, Shining in the Darkness, and Dungeon Master, Dungeon Vice takes the classic fantasy formula and brings it back to the future (or past) of the 1980s.

As the player, you follow the path of Lane, a socially awkward addict of video games, as he ventures out from the safe haven of his local arcade to solve the mystery of his brother's premature death. Along the way, you'll battle various foes, encounter strange and interesting characters, and explore mysterious urban and hostile environments. Complimented with 80s-styled Synthwave music, and punishing gameplay
Dungeon Vice Screenshot - Lane standing in a long corridorDungeon Vice Screenshot - Lane entering combat with a Street PunkDungeon Vice Screenshot - Lane standing on a rooftop looking out to a cityscapeDungeon Vice Screenshot - Lane remember his brother's death featuring cut-scene manga panelsDungeon Vice Gif - Lane putting away his batonDungeon Vice Gif - Raccoon enemy idle animationDungeon Vice Gif - Street Punk animations
As we continue development, I’ve improved my skills in pixel art and animation and the team’s vision for the game has grown larger. Success will look like a game that people enjoy and want to play. 

This game serves as my love-letter to the 16-bit era games that I grew up playing, and the skills I’ve gained from becoming an indie developer continue to serve me well as a designer in these modern times.
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