Posts Tagged ‘State of the Art’

State of the Art: How Isaac Cohen uses shimmering virtual cloth to explore emotions

L U N E

Over the last few months I’ve had a slow back-and-forth with Isaac Cohen – a game creator whose work caught my eye at GDC because it’s got this wonderful experimental attitude to spaces and play. He also has these gorgeous textures and iridescent effects I haven’t seen elsewhere. I wrote about my own experience of specific games Cohen made like Blarp and Warka Flarka Flim Flam, but with this I wanted to explore what he was creating from the designer’s point of view.

Our emails ended up being quite long so I’m going to pluck out pieces which were of particular interest as we chatted – we started with the shimmering fabric effect that recurs across many of the games! Read the rest of this entry »

State of the Art: The Long Dark’s aurora

The Long Dark

The coloured lights flaring across the night sky in the frozen Canadian wilderness were one of the most anticipated elements of Hinterland’s survival game, The Long Dark [official site]. Since the Kickstarter we’ve known they would do more than brighten the night, playing a key part in the game’s episodic story mode, but now they’re in the game I find myself braving the uptick in danger they bring or setting aside a necessary survival task to stand outside and stare up at the skies in delight. So how did the design of the aurora develop. how did the team balance beauty and hostility and DID YOU KNOW that the Aurora Borealis makes a noise in real life that Hinterland incorporated into the game?? Here’s creative director Raphael van Lierop to explain more in our latest State of the Art feature! Read the rest of this entry »

State of the Art: The slimes of Slime Rancher

Phosphor slimes

I’ve spent a looooooot of time with my slimes in Slime Rancher [official site] and watching them bounce and coo as they wiggle free of my corrals and wobble off like determined balloon-toddlers has been a delight. But how does one convert a ball into a creature with such a strong sense of spirit? How do you keep their little slime modifications from becoming a confusing mulch of wings and ears? What happened to the meteor slime? How does Gremlins figure in the design of Slime Rancher’s monsters? And will anyone listen to me when I tell them puddle slimes are actually cuter than tabby slimes???

Let’s do a slime art and design interview with game designer/Monomi Park studio co-founder Nick Popovich and find out… Read the rest of this entry »

State of the Art: The monsters of Prey

Prey's Typhon

I’m only a little way into Prey [official site] at the moment but one of the most interesting aspects for me is the monster design. I love pausing the trailers to peer more closely at their glitchy, weird forms without worrying about being killed. The monsters in question are these hostile lifeforms which all come under the bracket of “Typhon” but there are different species of Typhon within that.

The differing shapes, sizes and movements make it easy to distinguish one species from another. There are the scuttling spidery, crabby Mimics, the tentacled, floating Telepaths, the humanoid Phantoms… But there’s a common visual thread – all of them are these glitchy, threatening oilslicks whose forms never quite settle. Even when dead their surfaces ripple and shimmer. Emmanuel Petit (lead visual designer) and Jason Timmons (lead visual effects artist) offered their expertise so we could unpack the design of these writhing oddities. Read on to find out why the idea of colour palettes makes the team laugh and how they repurposed foliage tools for monster silhouettes! Read the rest of this entry »

State of the Art: Old Man’s Journey

Old Man's Journey

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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State of the Art: How Edith Finch’s most memorable scene works

Another day at the cannery

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 »

State of the Art: Chris Delay talks Scanner Sombre

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 »

State of the Art: Guild Wars 2’s art passes from father to son

Horia Dociu various concept art for Guild Wars 2

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 »

State of the Art: The art of creating Subnautica’s flora

If you’ve spoken to me for more than five minutes, chances are I’ve mentioned Subnautica [official site]. It’s an open world survival game set largely underwater on an alien planet. You explore biomes, collect resources and, as updates to the early access project add more content, start to piece together the story of the planet. I played huge amounts of the game before more significant story elements were added and my big project was my volcano lair’s garden. I collected all the weird and wonderful plants I could and cultivated them in little plant beds outside my underwater home. That’s why, when I had a chance to speak with art director Cory Strader, I immediately wanted to talk about the game’s flora.

Read on to find out how The Abyss, microscopy and a real fish with a transparent head and a visible brain all played their part! P.S. You can click on images to see larger version of the concept artwork or, if they’re game screenshots, to just see them in isolation. Read the rest of this entry »

State of the Art: Lights, action, razzle dazzle with League of Legends’ VFX

Visual effects in League of Legends

Visual effects in games intrigue me – they contribute so much to the flavour of a character or an experience but often they’re at their best when you’re not consciously registering them – they need to complement and harmonise and blend… In a game like League of Legends [official site] they need to communicate character, telegraph attacks, fit in with the established vocabulary of more than a hundred other champions and let the designers further customise them to create themed skins. Jason Keyser, a visual effects artist at Riot who has been working on champs like newcomer Camille explained to me just a little of what his work entailed while he was over for League Fest earlier this year: Read the rest of this entry »

State of the Art: Thumper’s Bio-Metal Art And Insects

Thumper

Rhythm action beetle adventure-coaster Thumper [official site] is one of those elegant games with great core mechanics. I think a lot of people have been commenting on how it’s made them feel or on the slickness of the interactions, but I wanted to zero in on the look of the game. It’s this pared down bio-metallic thing, somewhere between a heavy metal album cover and a chrome-infused minimalist bar which ends up at sleek but unsettling. To delve deeper into Thumper’s aesthetic I spoke to Brian Gibson, the man behind the game’s art about colour, speed, focal point trickery and more!

As with all our art-focused features, just click on the individual images for a larger version:

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State of the Art: Burly Men At Sea

Burly Men At Sea [official site] sailed onto my radar at Rezzed earlier this year. Part of the Leftfield Collection, the game offered a beautifully stylised tale about three bearded brothers going off on an adventure. The reason I was particularly excited was, more than any other game, the demo I played seemed to capture the essence of children’s story books and translate that to the screen in a way that felt natural.

To find out more I spoke to one half of the development team at Brain&Brain, Brooke Condolora and asked her to share snippets from her sketchbooks and from across the game’s development.

Take a peek after the jump, and click on any of the images to see a larger version.

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State of the Art: Sunless Sea and the world of Zubmariner

Sunless Sea‘s [official site] first expansion, Zubmariner will be released on 11 October bringing with it new ports and cities to explore and tales to be told. Or as developers, Failbetter, put it: “agonising choices presented in beautiful prose.” But it wasn’t the beautiful prose which caught my eye in recent dev blog entries, it was the undersea (or rather, Unterzee) flora and corals. That’s why I’ve been asking Failbetter CEO and art director, Paul Arendt to tell me a little more about how the art works in the game.

For the images in question, just use the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard or click the arrows just next to the pictures!

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State of the Art: The Visceral Style Of Scorn

When the Scorn trailer came out a couple of weeks back I was fascinated by its aesthetic. It has that potent mixture of architecture and biology which skims so close to revulsion but is also incredibly beautiful. It reminded me of conversations about abjection from art history, of ideas about transgressing bodily boundaries, of monstrous organs, dripping fluids…

But I wanted to know what Scorn‘s developers thought. What led game and level designer Ljubomir Peklar and his colleagues to these spaces for their game? Here are their answers and some of the wonderful artwork they’ve shared. You can click on each image for a larger version if you want to examine the fine details!

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State of the Art: The Elegiac Beauty Of Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight [official site] was a Kickstarter project I remember being captivated by because of the art style. It’s all bluey greys and underground exploration to solve a mystery – kinda elegiac. There’s a beta awaiting further exploration in my Steam library but I’ve only been able to dip in for small chunks of time thanks to a set of trips and other distractions. HOWEVER that didn’t stop me emailing the game devs about the artwork. As a result artistic lead, Ari Gibson, has opened his sketchbooks (at one point literally) for RPS.

Here is a whole bouquet of concept art along with Ari’s own comments and explanation.

N.B. Clicking the sketchbook images takes you to a slightly larger version but otherwise what you’ll see when you click through is the same picture, but it turns them into a clickable slideshow which can be a nicer way to look at concept art as it greys out the rest of the page and lets you concentrate :)

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State of the Art: Katherine Bidwell On The Models Of Lumino City

Waiting for the tiny band to show up

These are all photos I took at the exhibition – if you want to see the larger version just click on them.

“All our games so far have had some element of handmade-ness to them but Lumino City has gone to the nth degree.”

Katherine Bidwell, co-director of studio State of Play, is taking me round the GameCity exhibition of their Lumino City game models. If you’re not familiar with Lumino City you could be forgiven for thinking all of this card and wiring is entirely a marketing concept, bringing a digital creation into our physical world. Actually it’s the polar opposite. Lumino City was created as a sprawling fantastical architectural model in real life before being painstakingly converted into a digital gamespace.

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