Thursday, August 6, 2009

Artistic Direction

We have made many decisions on how we want the game to look, and yet we are nowhere near finalizing a style for the game. It'll looking as though we'll have to whip something up quick for PAX, then evolve that style as we work. Anyway, since I'm a programmer by nature and a pretty horrible artist, all I can think of is how the art should work on a theoretical level.

Essentially, we needed to qualify exactly what about the art in the first game was appealing, in an attempt to achieve the same effect with a more advanced and detailed style.

Background art specifically is what we were talking about, since Jon's already got a bit of work done on the game sprites (at least I keep hoping he does...).

Most importantly about background art, we decided that the point of Closure's art is to bring life to static objects through clever use of lighting. My engine supports animated background elements and scripted interactive background elements so we could fill the world with life if we wanted to.

But that's not what the game is about. It's about the light. The light is what makes everything feel alive. It creates a primitive sense of fear not unlike imagining seeing things in the middle of the night because a shadow, a broom, and a volleyball kinda looks like a person. I figure, the fear is more valid when it coms from the player's imagination, rather than mine. This was an unexpected side effect of the graphics in the first game, and it makes for an extremely difficult challenge in this game to preserve effects that were accidents in the first place.

I doubt we'll nail the mood for PAX. In fact, if we do that is a BAD sign because stuff should never work that early on. I have a feeling that even though the game's level design may be complete by June next year, we will still be spending months and months and months making sure that we can make the game feel right. It's a huge task, probably more difficult than any amount of code or art.

Which is precisely why discussing the art is important. We decided to make the backgrounds as static as possible, yet as varied and original as possible. Animated graphics and scripted stuff will show up every now and then as an accent rather than the main focus. Gameplaywise, the light brings motion to static levels; Elevators, moving platforms, etc are all created through lighting over a flat, immobile, static level. It makes sense that the graphics should echo the same effect.



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