The word that might best describe tiny adventure Lystre is “mindful”. Not just in the playing of it - although this is clearly an experience meant to relax, as you wander and clamber across a peaceful little island as a cartoon bird - but also in its presentation.
The muted colour palette is thoughtfully selected, the flat-colour 3D art style designed to uplift without distracting from the journey. Finer details are carefully chosen, often unexpected delights: run down a hill in Lystre, for instance, and the feathered heroine will put out her arms to steady herself as she goes.
Its creator, Florence Monnier (aka fluximux) is well-known throughout the Dreamiverse for her minimalist approach to art. Here, the French developer tells us more about the unexpected encounter that inspired Lystre, creating that flat-colour 3D art style in Dreams, and the magic of “design by subtraction”.
What is your latest project all about? Describe it for us!
Lystre is a tiny 3D game in which you play an anthropomorphic little bird with broken wings on her first day on the job as the guardian of a lighthouse. It takes place on a small colorful island. There is an underlying reference to disability (and equity) in it.
Where did the idea for this game come from?
I played Rime and Iloilo a few weeks ago and was motivated to create my own island with a colorful art style! I also added some inspiration from The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker. I created the story from there. I wanted my character to be a bird because I've been obsessed with them ever since I had to free one that was stuck inside the walls of my apartment, a few months ago.
You describe it as a “tiny walking simulator”. What do you think makes a great walking simulator? How have you incorporated your feelings about that into this project?
For me, a great walking simulator takes place in a compelling realm, and has an engaging story. For this tiny game, I really wanted to create a place where I would love to take a stroll.
As the project evolved, I added some climbing elements - though most of the climbing will be optional. So in the end I am not sure it is still a walking simulator per se, but I hope players will enjoy the atmosphere.
Tell us a little bit more about the lighthouse guardian we’ll be playing as!
I don't have a name for her yet, but she is a young disabled bird who is a bit stressed out about her first day on the job.
How do you achieve this lovely stylised 3D art style in Dreams? What top tips do you have for people who are trying to achieve similar visuals?
I have been trying to achieve a flat color 3D art style for a while, using different techniques. But it's only after watching Media Molecule’s DreamsCom Twitch stream with rocky_with_a_gun's interview(opens in new tab), in which he explains his technique, that I managed to really progress - even though I can't make it work on darker colors properly yet.
On the Grade and Effects gadget, I turn Brightness and Bloom to the minimum. Then on each sculpt, I turn off Emit Light and level up Glow.
I recommend watching rocky_with_a_gun's interview, SakkusMind’s video tutorials on stylised art (opens in new tab)- and not hesitating to use paint and text gadgets. I used all of these for my project.
The style of this game definitely seems aligned with the kind of art you’re known for in Dreams: minimal, soft colours, clean lines. What is it about making art in this kind of style that appeals to you, and makes you happy?
As an indie game lover, I feel drawn to games that have this kind of stylised art, and I enjoy seeing the colour palettes designers use. Starting with Baby Bird and progressing from there, I tried to develop my style; even though it takes a lot of time to create this type of aesthetic, I feel I have found something that I love and that fits me.
You’re perhaps more well-known in the Dreamiverse for your art, but this is an interactive project. When did you first become interested in developing games? And what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned on your game dev journey so far?
Originally, I purchased Dreams thinking I would just recreate scenes and elements of games from my childhood, without the intention of publishing them.
After some time, in parallel to recreating existing aesthetics and gameplays to practice, I was publishing assets that I thought would be useful for the coMmunity. I soon realized I wanted to develop more original content. I would say that Dreams reignited my creativity!
What has helped me throughout my experience with game dev is the concept of "design by subtraction" by Fumito Ueda (Ico, Shadow of the Colossus) - which, to me, means it’s best to keep a simple and minimalist perspective on your game, take a step back and see what can be left out.
Do you have an approximate release date for the full project yet?
Not yet, but I hope I can publish it in October or November.
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