Why This Beautiful Game’s Bizarre Bosses Look The Way They Do

It was the art that got me. When the first email about Might & Delight’s Pid showed up in my inbox months ago, I was ready to skim and delete it. But then I started up the video and saw what looked like children’s-book paintings coming to life. That’s when I decided I needed to play Pid.

Of course, it’s never enough to just look pretty in video games. Thankfully, Pid‘s combo of platforming, gravity manipulation and puzzle-solving does look like it will make the most of the game’s eye-catching visual template. The action happens on a distant planet where society has stagnated and the bosses, in particular, look like giant versions of playthings gone horribly awry. Pid‘s creators say that the designs for these giant enemies are meant to evoke certain emotional and gameplay responses from the player. I wanted to know more about how the game’s unique aesthetic informs its mechanics and developers from Might & Delight responded with commentary for the images you see below.

If you like what you see, Pid is out next week on Xbox Live and Steam, with a PlayStation Network relase coming later this year.

Making a boss is a boss fight in itself. It draws from all disciplines of game development and puts the team’s combined craftmanship to the test. It is like a miniature take of the game. We always start with the concept/design, which at its core asks the question “what does the player do?” From this the gameplay is dressed in graphics, animations, story and setting. Each of the bosses has its own distinct flavour of gameplay, one focuses on moving yourself in the beam, one focuses on moving items in the beam, one focuses on puzzle-solving and one focuses on classical platforming.

To create the best possible gameplay, it is important that the graphics clearly convey the function of each object. A big, readable, color-coded shape makes sure that reading the screen isn’t part of what makes Pid a challenging game. The bosses and enemies get their graphical language from physical toys. They have very few joints and sometimes they look as if they were cast in one piece.

Running, jumping and using the beam should be second nature to the player when facing the butler who acts as an exam of those skills. Platforms on his waist and shoulders invites the player to climb him.

Infamous villains need two things: a mask and a gun. This boss encounter puts a strong focus on lifting things with the beam. He also needs to be able to move around a lot since the fight is supposed to be very action-oriented and hectic. These two reasons motivated us to make him float freely, so why not a balloon?

The Gourmand is a puzzle-oriented boss. The slot on her stomach and the lamp she is holding was supposed to be part of the puzzle but we ended up not using the lamp. Her shape alone clearly tells you she will not be fighting you directly, although she doesn’t look like a very nice robot.

Ken is an unsettling villain. His slender figure and way too many fingers make for a disturbing impression. He stalks Kurt — At first he keeps his distance, leaving creepy notes and lurking in shadows, but eventually he goes for a direct confrontation. When facing Ken, it becomes obvious that Kurt is just a child after all. There is nothing he can do against the agile, adult robot that wishes him harm.

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