VENUS PATROL PRESENTS: BEHIND THE ART OF ASTEROID BASE’S LOVERS IN A DANGEROUS SPACETIME


11.16.2012

Brandon Boyer

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Back in late January, I was stopped short by a single screenshot that emerged from Toronto’s local hub of the 2012 Global Game Jam, the one you see directly below, for Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, a game self-described as “Jumpman meets Asteroids meets Han saying “Don’t get cocky”:

Though, to be honest, it wasn’t too big a shock, as in addition to illustrator Jamie Tucker and programmer Adam Winkels, the Spacetime team also included Matt Hammill, whose work I’d been consistently floored by going back to his original student game Gesundheit (which later saw commercial release), and who you might also recognize as the ASCII master behind Jim Munroe’s recently-featured (and newly award winning!) adventure Guilded Youth.

The team, now joined by musician Ryan Henwood & officially re-grouped as Asteroid Base, haven’t stopped there: they’ve taken the past year to prepare the game — in which two players frantically ward off waves of enemy attack by manning various battle-stations on their cross-sectioned ship — for commercial release next year.

Most recently, Hammill put together a fantastic look at the various & awesomely unusual visual inspirations for the game, which — in the spirit of recent inspiration posts by the God of Blades team and the artist-lineup behind Honeyslug’s Frobisher Says — he’s given Venus Patrol permission to feature here, included below the fold, with Hammill’s own commentary.

Explains Hammill:

After we’d decided on our concept for Global Game Jam, we started thinking about visual style. Jamie and I both have an illustration background; this is the fun stuff for us.

Because “a spaceship with guns” is hardly a rare concept in games, we really wanted to avoid a default look, so leading up to GGJ, we began gathering references from outside video games. I’ve always found this keeps you honest about how much you’re borrowing from any one source. Even though at the time it was “just” a jam game, we wanted to be coming from the right place.

Since the game features a ship’s cross-section, right away we hit on our nostalgia for the sci-fi technical manuals we had as kids:

like Battletech

and R2-D2 by Kevin Tong.

This started leading us further back in time to older sci-fi and space illustration…

Russian matchboxes

…not to mention this frickin’ wicked Russian Star Wars poster.

We also turned to contemporary illustrators playing with the same geometric and pseudo-scientific vibe, like:

Chris Ware

and Mike Lemanski.

When looking for references for the ship controls, we searched for vintage music gear and came across these awesome fake retro paper sculptures by Dan McPharlin:

And finally, there were these two music videos which we just totally loved, and which inspired us tremendously.

The funny thing is, taking inspiration from all this led us full circle back to video games anyway, as all these references end up relating to Tron and Asteroids and Geometry Wars. But hey, at least we paid our dues.

Find out more about Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime by visiting the official Asteroid Base blog as it revs up for its expected 2013 release.


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