One of my early ideas for In Retrospect was to have at least one large object that the player goes inside of, and for various reasons (probably the fact that our cultural mythology has several examples of this?) that ended up a whale. Which meant that I would need an outside and an inside version of the whale sprite.
Of course, this led to some decisions about what that would look like. Designing in 2D space is actually pretty interesting, you’re basically trying to convert 3D space to 2D space, but there is no direct formula for the best way to do it. Maybe you do a cross-section, but that’s not always going to work, because true cross-sections look WEIRD. Probably you’re going to pick and choose and just kind of wing it until it looks ok. If you’re me, you’re definitely going to wing it.
Designing 2D space for a video game is even more complicated, because it’s not just a neat picture, it’s an interactive object. Now, I could have gotten really complicated and made the player travel through the entire digestive system or something, but that wouldn’t really work with some of the constraints of my game’s core logic, not to mention I wanted to give the player space to maneuver inside without the whale being TOO big, so actually, almost the entire inside of the whale is “empty” space the player can move around in, while the actual guts and organs and such of the whale are behind the player in the scene. Does this make sense logically? No! But 2D space never makes sense! Shut up I can do what I want!
I didn’t want to totally wing it though, so I searched something like “inside of a whale” on Google and ended up using this image for reference:
Whether it is accurate or not I have no idea, but it looked good enough to me and I doubt many whale biologists are going to play this game and get mad that I don’t have more accurate whale biology in it. Oh, and also I found out later that it’s not even a whale, it’s a dolphin. WHATEVER.
So I used that for the core design, but it still felt empty inside. So I just started filling it in with a bunch of uh… just sort of vague… organy looking… things? I was making them up on the spot, basically.
Anyway, this is what I came up with, part real dolphin biology, part totally made up junk… for my whale.
My GF said it reminds her of a Miyazaki movie and I was like hmm, yeah I can see that. I wasn’t thinking of Miyazaki movies when I made it but his movies definitely have a lot of colorful kind of gross biological… things… with white lighting on them.
“But why is there so much direct light inside of a whale?!”
Shut up, it looks cool, that’s why.
Here is a video of the whale in action. A lot of work for basically a couple of seconds of gameplay where the player won’t really have a chance to notice all of the little details anyway, but I guess that’s just the way I roll…