How its gorgeous scenes were made
Old Man’s Journey [official site] caught my attention before release entirely on the strength of its aesthetic. It reminded me of board game illustrations, of children’s books, of a particular Courbet painting, and of colour palettes remembered from trips to the sun-baked south of France. The game itself offered a touching tale told through environment and memory as an elderly man strapped on his rucksack and headed off.
The landscapes you encounter are both the setting for the game and the game itself because you play by raising and lowering the layers of scenery. Where the curves of two layers intersect the old man can hop between them, dodging obstacles and navigating around errant sheep. I sat down with Clemens Scott, the game’s art director, earlier this year to find out more about how he made the hillscapes work:
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On fish and fairytales
EDITH FINCH SPOILERS AHEAD. THIS IS A REALLY OBVIOUS WARNING SO CONSIDER YOURSELVES WARNED!
What Remains of Edith Finch [official site] is a home exploration story – an anthology of the lives of Edith’s family members – where playable vignettes tell you what happened to each of them. Each vignette is a distinct tale with its own mood, its own rules. Here I sat down with Ian Dallas and we dug deep into the story of Lewis. Without giving too much away before the jump Lewis’s story is probably the star of the game – not my personal favourite, but the one which showcases just how different and accomplished these vignettes actually are in the current landscape of games. Join us as we explore the world of fish and of fairytales…
The illustrations are a mixture of concept art and screenshots from Lewis’s story and can be enlarged by clicking on them. Read the rest of this entry »
With no plan and constant iteration
This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the inner workings of their games. This time, Inside [official site].
Playdead don’t design games in the same way that other studios do. They’re the result of a process where nothing is written down. There’s no script and no design document. No member of the team owns any aspect of what they make and what will go into the final game. Everything is up for change.
From that creative anarchy rose Inside, a game of the leanest pacing and most intricate staging, and entirely wordless. Story and play are entirely communicated through its meticulously constructed environments, which spin subtle mystery and challenge with spare details – a chainlink fence, a hanging rope – created through five years of constant iteration.
This is how they were made. Read the rest of this entry »
Rays of light
Scanner Sombre [official site] is Introversion’s curious LIDAR-inspired exploration game. It caught my eye last year at Rezzed because it had such an unusual art style – the only thing close to it is A Light In Chorus and that does very different things with the specks of colour which make up its environments. In Scanner Sombre you use a scanning gun to reveal the world around you and to navigate its secrets.
A spectrum of colour helps you parse the terrain with bluer areas being far away and reds indicating what’s nearest. Yellows and greens mark out the middle ground. It’s an atmospheric game although it cleaves to a narrative I wasn’t particularly interested in. That said, it managed to get under my skin to the point where I quit out forever about halfway through because I was TOO SCARED. But the art style is the thing which drew me in and which continues to absolutely fascinate me. Chris Delay, one of the studio’s directors, was on hand to talk more so we delved into particle systems, maps and the secret mouse button function: Read the rest of this entry »
Recently I had the chance to talk to ArenaNet (and thus Guild Wars 2) art director Horia Dociu about his work at the studio. One of the interesting things about his promotion to the role is that he succeeds his father, Daniel. As a result there’s a lot in our Q&A which is actually just a touching account of a partnership/mentor/mentee relationship across two generations of a family which was nice to read. I particularly love the point about making sure people have a place where it’s safe to try and to fail. Beyond that we talked via the email questions and answers about the art of the game which has been the most personally satisfying for Dociu The Younger, how to keep an art style from looking dated in a living game and the relationship of concept art to in-game assets… Read the rest of this entry »
This week I’ve gone back to the Gifs Of Games Being Worked On thread and a few of the other ongoing art threads on the TIGSource forums so I’m including some new standouts below: Read the rest of this entry »