Monday, 31 January 2011

Game Environment Research (Part 4)

Once again following previous posts, I'm still looking at videogame concept art and levels to build up an understanding of what makes a good video game level. This piece to the right comes from the game "Resonance of Fate", my guess would be that it comes from a very early stage of the concept process as it's a very simple mix of photoshopped images mixed together with a silhouette places over the top, nonetheless the themes of the game are presented, such as a grim steam punk type world with what could potentially be a noir storyline. It's clearly set in a large metropolis of a city and gives the sense of winding streets. It's really hard to analyse this image further as it's quite basic and is potentially a promotional image for when the game was first announced but it's important in my research as it shows the progression concept art has in the industry ranging from basic imagery to detailed concepts used to express the atmosphere of the game and areas to finalised environment pieces then finally detailed floor plans and blue prints.

The other image below from "Resonance of Fate" follows the more traditional type of concept art I've looked at so far, with that same detailed/painted style as the ones from "Final Fantasy XII". It seems when it comes to concept art it's good to choose an art style thats going to suit the type of game you want to make, eg: "Kingdom Hearts" is generally a light hearted adventure in a 'Disney' fashion so it uses bold graphics with bright colours, where as "Resonance of Fate" is a dark industrial game with darker under tones so the art direction would require something similar.

Next is this piece from "Bioshock". The game takes place in an environment that is within the ocean, to enhance the feeling of being surrounded by water the designer has clearly opted for heavy use of blues and greens, but with carefully placed lights to break up the image and make it more interesting. The structures tell the player alot about the world they're in, clearly drawing reference from 1930's art nouveau.

It should be noted that conceptual designers can draw inspiration from a wide range of sources such as the artist has done where, mixing 30s art with a steam punk aesthetic mixed in with an aquatic theme, this really does give a sense of character to the scene. This piece is very polished in terms of concept art
and is clearly used as reference when it came to creating the final level. The piece below is much more rough but still translates a range of information about the game, showing that you don't always need a highly polished piece of work to translate the amtosphere and style across to the modellers.

Finally I'm going to take a look at the level of "Rabanastre" from the game "Final Fantasy XII". The level design for this city scene is vastly different from the one in "Mass Effect 2", as it features winding streets but sometimes with no shops or anything to interact with, including non-player characters which just seem to exist to take up space and not really offer more than a "busy street" atmosphere, it seems the main goal of this level is to try re-create a realistic market/city centre in a logical way with streets and offshoots where you can find certain shops or buildings. Whilst the layout isn't simply it's not too confusing but players could potentially get lost trying to find a specific place/person to speak to.

The texture and design work are immense though, when wondering around you really do feel like you're exploring a bustling metropolis, with larger than life buildings creating a sense of awe the first time you see them. The textures and designs all stay instyle with each other and really help emphasise that this is a desert town. Whilst this level is impressive and mimics a real life situation it could eventually be a chore for the player to traverse when they want to buy a specific item or complete a specific quest, it's good to want to create a realistic world but keep in mind that you're still designing a game thats meant to give entertainment.

With all the images I collected analysed I feel I'm almost at the last step of reasearch. Next time I'll be focusing my attention soley on finalised levels.

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