Wordadoplicus.com is/will-be a site designed to centralize real-time and social word games, first through the web, and later via mobile. It will be a social site, with forums and challenges, and will feature new word games that will evolve with time and will change as the players suggest new ideas and new rules.
This is critical to understanding the premise of Wordadoplicus -- evolution. In trying to emphasize this quality, Wordadaoplicus uses the idea of dinosaurs and taxonomies to classify games.
A fast-paced game where people can type boggle-like words against many other competitors might be called "the Velociraptor" because Velociraptors are fast, hungry, and hunt in packs.
A slow-paced game that is cooperative, like scrabble, might be called "the Brontosaurus" in order to emphasize a slow, methodical and ruminating approach to the game.
There will be turn-based games that last an hour. There will be long-term games that go on for as long as the user desires, and they will all be classified differently, just like dinosaurs. Eventually, there will be dozens of different games ranging from scrabble-like, to boggle-like, to crossword-like games, each with different type of game rules that will produce brand-new games, never before played. Each with different DNA and classifications.
As you might imagine, having a singular identifiable dinosaur character that may be the face of this website would go a long way to conveying the idea inherent in the website. But more important, might be a character/logo that emphasizes the highlighted terms described above: evolution, dna, dinosaurs, classifications, taxonomies.
There are other metaphors that are just as appropriate in a visual design -- namely building blocks (like legos) or building blocks like 2-d pixels or 3-d isometric pixels (a la minecraft), or the erector sets.
As the number of type of games will grow, and as the users themselves will earn different levels and will want to customize their avatars, having a unified visual cadre of dinosaurs that feel customizable will be critical going forward. Moreover, can the environment feel customizable and flexible? Can the volcanos in the distance look like they are made of bricks/pixel/legos?
The game site will try to incorporate the visual aspects as part of the game, so all assets as vector graphics (eventually SVG), will be critical. I'm not looking for a character logo that is static and will always be the same. Front-end developers will have the ability to program the character vector graphics to respond to events (very minimally). Thusly, having even the dinousaur characters broken into addressable components (eyes, limbs, legs, fangs, wings, teeth, backgrounds) like SVG groups will help.
As an example, if you go to http://wordadoplicus.com
and try the game Pterodactyl, you will notice that the background is actually alive (i.e. it's not a PNG, but a SVG) and the triceratops and tyranousaurus rex change based on the state of the users relation to the site (if they are disconnected, they are grey... if they are playing (vs watching) then they point to the right).
I am not looking for all these variations from this design contest, but for a base set of characters, including a singular main character/logo, that are visually similar, are componentizable, and emphasize the highlighted attributes above.
I have included many image files to give a sense of what I'm looking for, and for what inspires me:
- the first is an isometric-block rendering of a dinosaur -- it is neither too cutesy, nor too simple. It emphasizes the 'block' nature that composes a dinosaur and therefore a game.
- the second is a group of four scenescapes in an eps file that I have been using on the site. This art is neither pixelated nor isometric nor seemingly composable, except in regards to the layering. I appreciate the simple curves (silhouttes) that define a dinosaur, and how the gradients and background layers feel like they could be changed to alter the mood. If it weren't for the fact that I don't have _exclusive_ rights to this art, I might have stayed with it.
- the third is a screenshot from one of my favorite games "Super Paper Mario". The aesthetic in this game was intrinsic to the game-play. Traditional 2-dimensional sprites wandered around in a 3-dimensional world and artfully (and whimsically) have a foot in both worlds.
- the fourth is a traditional sprite-sheet (of the famous koopa). I include this here, not because I'm looking to design a 2-d scroller and need hundreds of different variations of poses, but because it emphasizes that a character is composed of smaller components which eventually I hope to become interchangeable (first in the visual design space, but, moreover, metaphorically in the space of games themselves -- the games will be composed of different rules, etc)
- the fifth is a beautiful 3-d (hexel, I believe) isometric looking scenescape. It shows that pixelated graphics don't have to be cutesy or icon-like but can be evocative.
- the sixth has a similar feel, with an isometric hard-edged world of parallelograms juxtaposed with a beuatifully curved sprite in the foreground
- the seventh shows what could be a game from the 1980s to early 90's. The aesthetic of a minimal set of pixels forcing a dithered contrast between clouds and background (with the different hued layers to show distance) is a nostalgiac aesthetic. Potentially there is room for this nostalgia to come back.
- The last two are screen shots from the 2/3-d scroller game Fez which has a similar game-play mechanic to paper mario.
I give all these ideas to explain what I like, but I am looking for people to challenge me too.
I will be needing
- a singular character to be the Wordadoplicus face... this dinosaur must be recognizable and catchy, maybe both as a 2d graphic, and as a 3-d hexel/pixel/block graphic as well (or maybe, even half-half -- i.e. a 2d graphic that feels like it's erupting out of its confines into the 3-d world)
- multiple backgrounds, components of other dinosaurs and other variants, all in vector graphic format
In my mind, I love the idea about isometric 3-d, but I am not 100% sure they will be the best to re-use throughout the site, so 2-d flat graphics might be the easier to program (snap.svg, raphael, etc).
I want minimal, but not too cutesy. I appreciate the Nintendo design aesthetic, but feel like everybody nowadays has a logo that emphasizes overly childlike features, (big eyes, etc). I am not against this, and would certainly appreciate personality over a character lacking empathetic attributes.
-----------------------UPDATE May 25th, 2016 ------------------------
Thanks everybody who has contributed thus far. I would like to make an update to this description to give all designers a little more insight.
Thus far, I've been very impressed with the submissions. Many of you have responded with characters based on the criteria I set above.
At this point I would like to highlight a criterion that I think has not yet been adequately captured, but will be very important: composability. Many of you have contributed character designs that evoke composability: blocks, pixels, polygonal facets (both 2d to 3d), but they actually may need to be post-receipt composable by _me_ (a person with extremely simple in vector graphic tools).
As an example, I'm uploading 15 pictures of dinosaurs that anyone can find on the net. You will note that they all have the same look and feel and that there are only 4 main characters here: a triceratops, a pterodactyl, a long-necked thing, and a short-fanged stubby-neck thing.
I don't want these characters (I am still looking for the building-block motif), but they exemplify a few characteristics that I'm looking for from everyone contributing:
- simplicity (if a character has too many details, it's harder to make modifications without ruining the character... the simpler the shapes, the easier it is too create variations)
- composability (can i take the pterodactyls wings and add them to a different dinosaur? can I highlight the body, or the legs and enlarge/skew/rotate them for a different feel?)
- unified look-and-feel (all 15 of these feel like they come from the same artist's hand)
This last point I want to emphasize as the final deliverable I will want to obtain from the winner:
- a suite of simple character archetypes (the 15 examples I gave are only 4)
- this same suite in both 2d profile, 3d isometric, and this is a new request: portrait/head-on (like the 15 examples)
The winner would provide me with a unified look-and-feel of a suite of characters (including the primary one) in these three different modes (2d profile, 3d isometric, and 2d portrait/head-on).
Everyone's doing great work, and I wish there could be more than one winner.
UPDATE on LAST DAY
Unfortunately there can be only one winner, (or actually three -- as I upgraded the contest). Most of the entries were very good, and it's a shame I can't continue with all of you on all of them. There has been some excellent cross-pollination. I contacted the DesignContest staff and they told me that I should ask all of you to leave your artwork up here as both an example and in case you are not one of the three winners and I want to buy from you in the future. Thanks again everyone.