Like I mentioned at the end of Part II, I had come down with a serious illness, and was stuck at home for a few weeks while I recovered.
Even though most of the time was spent sleeping and feeling horrible, I forced myself to keep trying to work on the game. No matter what I did, the game still lacked the charm I was after.
So I stopped working on it.
During that downtime, I stumbled across a little image made by one of my favourite artists, Arne Niklas Jansson. He has a really distinct style that balances nicely between being cartoony and highly detailed. Looking through some work of his, I found this:
Behold! It's miniature Metroid, and it's absolutely amazing. (This is a much more recent iteration btw)
This, ladies and gentlemen, was a watershed moment for me. When I saw this image, it's like everything clicked in my head, and I knew precisely what direction to go for my game!
By making everything as small as possible, there isn't any space for something unnecessary in a design, simplifying any elements to ensure they stay readable at a glance. Anything that you want to add for atmosphere or extra detail is implied only, using a few pixels or different colours/values, and the player has to interpret them as they see fit. It blended perfectly with the idea and style for the little book, and I was on my way to making the two of them.
Over the next few months, I was busy posting things in art forums, and got some great feedback. Most of it was focus on the game, and there weren't too many responses to the illustrations. As much as I was loving making an illustrated storybook, the fact that in an art forum people were more interested in the game hinted to me that perhaps it would be better to focus on getting a game put together, rather than having it as a small addition to a children's book. And so, the direction of the path I was on changed.
In the next post (Part IV), I'll start talking about my process for planning a proper video game. Hope you'll check it out!