Hello everyone! I’m Dom, a programmer at Spiral Circus, and I’m very excited to share the news that our surreal underwater adventure Silt is coming to PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 on June 1st.
Silt is a puzzle adventure set deep in a harrowing ocean abyss, where you play as a lone diver searching the depths and exploring dangerous waters to uncover long-forgotten mysteries. But the diver has a secret. Harnessing unusual power, you will be able to possess sea creatures that roam the void of the ocean, discover new creatures, and use their unique abilities to solve puzzles, traverse the environment, and delve into the darkness.
With the game just a few weeks away, we wanted to share one of the processes we’ve developed to bring our artist Tom’s traditional ink-on-paper art from still images into an interactive game world.
From pen and ink drawings to game assets
Getting Tom’s design into the game would be the biggest technical challenge for us. It was essential that the game look like one of Tom’s paintings and not that his art had been transplanted out of context onto something else. The idea was to give Tom almost total control over the look of the game from within the drawing program. This means control over composition, camera framing, tonal contrast, lighting, shadow, texture, fog, everything that he would naturally draw if he were working on one of his pieces.
We had to find a way to let Tom do all of this while still being able to rebuild everything in the game engine and make it interactive. We used layers in the drawing program to keep the logical elements separate from each other, then wrote a script to shuffle the layers into something the game engine could process.
Bringing concept art to life in-game
To create a level for Silt, Tom creates a single, unique, high resolution image in a drawing program. He designs it, composes it, lights it, details it as if he were producing a digital painting. We then run a script that converts the single layer art file into a fully interactive level in the game engine, slices it into pieces, places them in the right places in the scene, builds collision, adds dynamic lighting, builds points of input and output, set up cameras and connect scripts for the game.
We set all of this up using the layer names in the art file. Once the script runs, the level is ready to play. We can then add additional gameplay elements, visual effects and sounds to the game engine to help bring it together in an immersive and atmospheric experience.
Timelapse showing the process of creating an area in Silt
We spent a lot of time iterating on this process, getting the in-game appearance to be as close as possible to the appearance in the drawing program. When it was finished, Tom was able to design our game world with the confidence that his art would appear in the game exactly how he wanted it to. Investing the time and effort in removing technical barriers in the way of art can really pay off in the long run.
We hope that gives you more insight into the world of Silt. One of our main ambitions for the game is to deliver a unique and surreal experience that we hope you’ll remember long after you’ve finished playing, and we can’t wait for you to discover the depths when the game launches on PS5 and PS4 on June 1.