Tribes of Mexica Makeover 

Our initial prototype for Tribes of Mexica was done in a very short amount of time. We were quite pleased with it, but we knew that there’d be a lot of changes going forward.

One of the features we really wanted to improve was the overall art style. After debating it for a while, we decided to give ToM a magical, fairy tale vibe that’s not predominant in videogames. We gathered a variety of references, but eventually settled on James Jean’s work (who, appropriately enough, used to be the cover artist for the ongoing Fables comic book series).


The beautiful, double-sided cover of Animal Farm.

James’ fine linework and smooth fills were quite striking, but his detailed illustrations would be rather difficult to reproduce in a videogame. More than that, though, we didn’t want to force artists to simply emulate another style, but instead to use it as a rough guideline while bringing their own flavour to the look. With that in mind, we contacted numerous illustrators and commissioned a single piece from each one: a coloured sketch of a Cipactli.


Our original Cipactli.

The Cipactli boss fight proved the most memorable part of our prototype, but we thought that his deformed, Godzilla-like design lacked personality. The monster’s premise was interesting enough — a cayman with jaws on every joint and frog/fish like features — but since it didn’t really come through in-game, it became the perfect subject for a makeover.

Out of all the test runs we did, these were our favourites:


Cipactli #1, a villain with a sinister smile and curled eyebrows.


Cipactli #2, a grotesque figure peppered with snarling jaws.


Cipactli #3, a lithe humanoid with a tribal motif.


Cipactli #4, a muscular beast in a comic book style.

Being so close to a project can make it easy to lose perspective, though, so we figured it couldn’t hurt to ask for some public opinions. We’ve created a little Cipactli poll just below, so please cast your vote and leave us some comments!

[poll id="2"]

Posted by Radek Koncewicz
@JustRadek, designer at Incubator Games
BillyJ Says:

Definitely sinister!

Radek Says:

We’re currently doing some test runs for in-game environments, and still need to do the same for animations. They’re all very much in progress, but we’re holding off on posting ‘em until they’re at a state we’re comfortable with showing.

Tribes of Mexica makeover. « Significant Bits Says:

[...] at our Incubator Games website, we’re running a little art poll for Tribes of Mexica. We’re giving the game a bit of a makeover, and we’ve commissioned [...]

Tim Says:

You’re going to need to create something more ‘squat and round’ to get it to read better from your default camera view. I’d suggest more tenticles or arms than the bi-pedal upright cayman.

Tribes of Mexica makeover. | Indie Game Blog Says:

[...] The URL to the post about the art-style change can be found here: [...]

Sotoku Says:

I think the lithe looks too heroic. And sinister looks like it can’t use it’s other mouths.