Kongregate Developers Blog

Beyond the Pixels: Exploring the Artistic Vision of Bit Heroes Quest

Bit Heroes Quest logo at the top - a blue shield with grey swords crossing behind the shield, a red ribbon that says Bit Heroes, and Quest in big letters below the ribbon. Under the logo are pictures of character concept art in pink ink on white paper. They look like little devils and angels with different outfits, tails, horns, wings, etc. Below that it says "Join The Fight" and "Beyond the Pixels"

Bit Heroes Quest stands out for many things, including its freedom to include any theme in the game and multiple game modes, but there is one visual theme that is intrinsic to the game - and that is BIT.

Pixel art is an art form that uses singular pixels to construct a 2D digital image block by block, and is one of the most distinctive features of the game.

To talk about the art, inspiration, and challenges of Bit Heroes Quest, we have with us the project's art director, Octo.

Would you like to introduce yourself?

“Hello! I am Octo, Lead Technical Artist from the Bit Heroes Quest art team.”

What do you like the most about the art in Bit Heroes Quest?

“One of the most enjoyable aspects that come from creating pixel art is the sense of nostalgia. It reminds me of the first video games I started playing as a kid with old NES & Atari2600 consoles. There's a connection between the game's visual simplicity and my inner child that always brings back good memories.”

Concept art of the last Bit Harvest Event in blue ink on white paper. Each character is made to look like a food-themed knight with an onion, bun, croissant, garlic, and a spatula themed knight.

Have technological advancements influenced the way you approach pixel art, or do you find value in preserving traditional techniques?

“It's been fascinating over the years, approaching our art from different angles according to the current trends, both in video games and web development. Technology has surely evolved, providing us access to more references and advanced software, but the approach to painting pixels hasn't been affected, many thanks to its blocky resolution.”

What are some unique difficulties you face when working with pixel art compared to other art styles?

“Pixel art comes with its own natural limitations, simply by working with low resolutions. As an artist, I have a limited number of pixels to work with, challenging my creativity and forcing me to skillfully utilize each pixel to convey intricate designs. It also requires me to leave some room for interpretation. Pixels can be deceptively simple, but upon closer inspection, you will notice the huge amount of detail and craftsmanship that comes in an 8-bit package.”

Sketches in red ink of the "Lovepass", "Rope Knots", Parrot, Spinach, and "LoveSaver" with the full pixelated art next to it.

Are there any design strategies or principles you follow to ensure a diverse and interesting collection of items is consistently added to the game?

“Definitely! First and foremost, I try to cultivate a healthy critique environment within the art team to motivate all artists to stay on the lookout and bring fresh ideas. The game's community also plays an important role in creating new items. We always keep an ear listening to their feedback to flesh out the next content update.”

How closely do you work with other members of the development team, such as game designers and programmers, to ensure that the art aligns seamlessly with the gameplay mechanics?

“Game development is a collaborative process by nature, so I have to keep one foot in the artistic process at all times with the other foot in other areas. The artists also work closely with game designers on a daily basis to guarantee our items serve a purpose in the game's features and narrative; we also communicate with the Code team - especially during integration -for fine- tuning the balance between visual aesthetics and optimization.”

Concept art in blue ink of a wolf character, swords, and additional weapons

Walk us through your creative process when designing characters and environments for the game. How do you start a new piece, and how does it evolve from concept to final implementation?

“For each and every new event in scope, we first brainstorm ideas and proposals during the concepting stage. We try to keep a fun, relaxed mood at this stage to let our minds be unrestrained and produce amazing art. We also create lots of visual libraries and mood boards at this concept phase to help us land the design for all characters and scenarios before picking up the paint brush. After several rendering and detailing iterations, our new game items are finally approved by Art Direction and exported for game implementation by the Code team.”

Bit Heroes Quest features both pets and mounts. Do you have a preference between creating the different designs? What unique considerations do each type bring to the creative process?“Both Pets and Mounts have their own charm, but I would pick mounted creatures as my own personal favorites, simply because they allow more space for character development. Their sprites and animations are more elaborate, allowing us to discuss in detail about its origins, diet, behavior, etc.”

Concept art of mounts and pets in red and orange ink - dolphin wearing sunglasses, a whale with a love-themed captains hat, octopus with a heart shaped nose, a treasure chest filled with hearts, and a heart-shaped cannon called "the ship breaker"

If you were a character in Bit Heroes, what kind of unique visual customization options would players have for your character?

My character would be in the new, old fashioned way: medieval items with a futuristic treatment such as electric swords, holographic shields, etc. Something along the lines of a cyberpunk knight.

If you could wield an ancient artifact from the Bit Heroes Quest game that symbolizes your artistic influence, what would it be called, and what special powers would it grant you?

I would get my hands on the Primordial Codex, a book of mythical ancient writings that may be crafted to amplify both offensive & defensive skills based on your Mainhand´s element.

Among all the art you've created for Bit Heroes Quest, do you have a favorite character, pet, mount, or piece of equipment that you're particularly proud of? What makes it stand out for you?

One particular event that both the art team as a whole and I as an individual enjoyed creating is Halloween, and for my own favorite character, I would pick Melvin - in zombie horde mode.

Concept art in blue ink - Three iterations of a fire and skull character with weapons.

How often does an artist need to play a game, to get familiar with the main concept of it?

I like to spend my time on a relaxing Sunday playing a game. Just a few hours suffice to understand the overall look and feel of any given game.

What themed zone would you like to create for Bit Heroes Quest?

Seasonal events involving retro fashion are fun to work with.

Imagine a quest in Bit Heroes that is set in an environment inspired by your favorite piece of real-world art. What kind of world would it be, and how would players navigate through its challenges?

It's hard to choose, but perhaps I would like to try “the Scream” by Munch, or Vincent van Gogh's expressionist art style, see how it gets translated to the Bitverse and get a response from the community!

Thank you so much, Octo for giving us this opportunity to get to know more about the art behind Bit Heroes Quest. Keep crafting those amazing pixel items for us!

If you have questions regarding Bit Heroes Quest, or simply want to meet more heroes who share your same passion, we invite you to join the Discord server and meet the community that supports the game.

Play Bit Heroes Quest now!

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