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).

james jean fables cover Tribes of Mexica Makeover

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.

original cipactli Tribes of Mexica Makeover

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 concept 1 Tribes of Mexica Makeover

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

cipactli concept 2 Tribes of Mexica Makeover

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

cipactli concept 3 Tribes of Mexica Makeover

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

cipactli concept 4 Tribes of Mexica Makeover

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.