Every game that is accepted to be distributed through Steam has a number of standardized assets that must be generated. These assets not only vary in size, but also in aspect ratio – thus, each asset has to be manually tweaked to make sure that the information and images are aligned desirably. Here are a couple of examples.
Brink was one of the largest releases when I was working for Valve, and they wanted a large takeover capsule to promote it. Bethesda provided fantastic and easy to use assets, which made the task a pleasure. I must have come up with a dozen different iterations before the final one was selected, mostly changing which character was featured and various ways of transitioning the bright textured blue into the black on the sides. At one point, I even nearly got away with animating the flames coming out his Molotov cocktail. I loved that job.
Duke Nukem was one of the most anticipated releases of the year, and I got to make some of the capsules for it. We had a jumbled but layered version of the package art, but it was clearly not designed for use in a landscape layout. The background was mixed in with the Duke somewhat as well. Ultimately, for the sake of time, we punted and simply scaled the image down, fading one side to black. We submitted it for review and it was accepted, with my favorite publisher revision request ever: “need to be able to see the gun laser at his crotch.”
E.Y.E. is a Source mod, I believe, and was created by a pretty small company. They had gotten some beautiful artwork with some character types, but I wasn’t satisfied with the way they combined the art with their logo. Originally, E.Y.E had a red glow, and the characters were in full color – everything was bright and sharp and competed for attention. I slipped a lower saturation red color filter over most of the characters, leaving the logo and one character in the contrasting yellow.
Magicka: Marshlands was the first game asset I generated for Valve. Magicka has quite a cult following that it has built upon fun multiplayer gameplay and quirky humor. The title, zombie, and background were given to me, but I’d like to proudly note that putting the hot dog in the zombie’s hand was my idea.
Terraria is a favorite of the Steam team, and generating the assets for it drew strongly from fooling around in high school, making 16-bit sprites for homemade games… but now, my tools were just a little bit more powerful. The Worms asset was also fun, since I had been a fan of the series since Team17 rolled out Worms:Armageddon in 1999. I actually couldn’t find the Worms font in the Valve fileserver, so I turned to the web – finally finding it on an official Team17 promotional website with a fankit from 1999! It hadn’t been updated since, and the download size warning was hilarious.