This evening I finally found some time to tinker with Painters Guild [official site]. It’s an artist guild management sim which was greenlit on Steam and which has been sitting in my inbox waiting for a spot of investigating. There’s actually a little taster of the game which you can play over on the official site and that’s what I’ve been fidding with.
Artist workshops from the Renaissance are actually a good fit for this type of game. You must manage your workload and your finances while training your employees and satisfying your patrons. The taster has you managing Andrea del Verrocchio’s workshop which consists of Verrocchio and his underling, Leonardo da Vinci. People show up at the door – members of the clergy, noblemen other likely sources of income – and ask you to produce canvases of a particular size and difficulty. Accepting the commision means placing the canvas in the workshop and dragging one (or both if space permits) artist in front of it to paint. For a successful commission you have to fill the blue paint meter before the white timer ticks down. Dragging the artists to a chair lets them rest while a desk forces them to study and improve. Profits are then used to pay your guild fees. Sometimes emissaries turn up with news about patrons like the Medici family or the Pope which affect stats like prestige.
The demo is pretty bare bones but pleasant to play. I think my favourite aspect is swapping one painter out for another when they’re tired so a commission still gets finished. That’s a personal thing because I go through phases of being really annoyed at our obsession with artistic authenticity/importance via authorship. Reminders of artists’ workshops where apprentices would often help with aspects of the painting’s creation are pleasing to me. I suspect that might not be a sensation a lot of people are particularly into, though.
According to Lucas Molina, the developer, eventually the game will give you the ability to expand your workshop by picking up new artists from the period and change the decor. I’m pleased that those include Artemisia Gentileschi and Sofonisba Anguissola as well as chaps like Botticelli and Michelangelo. I’ve always been rather fond of Gentileschi’s Judith Slaying Holofernes.
That said, I’m not sure what the relationship will be between the artists in your workshop and the work they produce. Verrocchio and da Vinci sold three versions of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus while I was managing them and four or five canvas renditions of Michelangelo’s Creation Of Adam – a fresco very much attached to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Obviously that’s just convenient for the game but I did end up imagining that Verrocchio and da Vinci were managing some Renaissance forgery scheme.
Crafting pigments and artistic paraphernalia is also intended as are a wider variety of paintings.
Looking further down the list there are some slightly less clear elements. It looks like the style in which you paint will become important, so perhaps you’ll have to get artists to specialise? Caravaggio chiaroscuro OP. There also a mention of relationships and romances. I’m not sure how the addition of romances will work in what is basically a management sim. Maybe it’ll be a factor in whether you get commissions or something?
Anyhoodle, if that tickles your fancy Painters Guild is currently set for a 1 September release.