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Art Director? What would you do!? (Forums : 2D Graphics : Art Director? What would you do!?) Locked
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SinKing
SinKing bumps me thread
May 20 2013, 6:52am Anchor

I am developing a promising game based on a pretty original concept. I don't want to disclose the core mechanism that makes it unique quite yet, but let's pretend there is a dominant element that makes everything else seem less important. This is a blessing when I want to get people intested in the game, but proves to be a curse in making it more unique in other ways.

The game is a third person shooter set in a world of decayed decadence - not dystopian or post-apocalyptic. It simply takes place in locations that have been abandoned by their inhabitants. This is the dark side of things. However, there is a light side to our game, which starts with the character design and relies heavily on that unique mechanism I cannot talk about right now.

So, in the end, we have a concept at this time, which states:

"this is our core idea. it is good and unseen, we don't need to be unique in other ways."
- but that's not what I want!
The game plays in your kind of standard environments (urban/industrial), slightly into the future, but not futuristic. We use standard weapons, like shotguns, assault rifle and sniper (the only weapon with a scope in the game) and our characters are average Joes at the onset. The game is also Multiplayer only.

I feel this look doesn't generate enough interest to stand out among other titles. Sure we have the (secret) ingredient, which makes it special, but I want to become apparent from screenshots of environments that there is more than just one good idea. I wonder how to create such environments that look abandoned, yet not war-torn and make them stand out, design-wise. Since visually everything is going the realistic-looking way, we don't intend to stylize our assets in a Team Fortress 2 way. I really want that realism, but at the same time  we need originality. Where do I find these places that aren't just random abandoned village#3302, or generic industrial park #10? How could I enhance what is already there in real-life (like Abandonplaces). How do you draw a satirical town?

I could use some art direction for our project, perhaps someone examples in picture and writing. I might include someone to the team, if they prove resourceful and original. I need references from real world locations and ideas how to set something in a world of decayed decadence that doesn't look like it has been purposely left empty, but rather abandoned. Maybe you have some ideas how to make it a more unique game and find original settings within a world that is still recognizable enough as our own.

May 20 2013, 7:57am Anchor

Your post is very confusing, and I'm not entirely sure what you're asking for. To me it sounds like you want a look of a deserted place, but you can't achieve the looks of it.

1 thing: find references, google is your friend.

Blogof.francescomugnai.com

Google.dk

If you've done this, it's great. Let this inspire you to design the environments and art for your game. If you copy stuff, yes, that it will look like a random abandoned village, but isn't this what you want?  What is important is, you get the look you want - not that you create something that's "not seen before", but doesn't fit to the atmosphere you want. It's the job of an artist to take these references and make it fit with your story, your game, your aestethics and atmosphere.

Also, it seems like you're putting so much effort into make it original, unique and your own - but I can asure you, that's an impossible task.

SinKing
SinKing bumps me thread
May 20 2013, 9:31am Anchor

hank you for your input! It is confusing to me too. The best way to describe what I am looking for is the first image of the blog link you posted. A transformation of the known into something magical and incredible looking. The rest of the images is more or less your generic destroyed monastery or broken house. I am trying to prevent us from going that way, since the houses and environment I describe have maybe been left for 5-10 years and don't look like they have been abandoned forever. That broken look gets repeated over and over and while interesting - it is becoming boring.

I am trying to fit our subject matter, which is like the movie the Road re-written as a comedy. That is why it is confusing These are elements don't match and can only be treated in a satrical or even fantastic way. I'm looking for contrasts: you may find a sad and broken building next to a beautiful lake. I need to find something of a transformation of the known. A worn and grown environment that looks like you could get back into living there by patching up a few things. Yet nobody wants to. It could also have tons of valuable things lying around and cars parked on the streets, since these held no value any more in the world we describe. All the luxuries have been left behind, so it's rather the opposite of these abandoned places, in many ways.

Edited by: SinKing

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iQew
iQew Concept Art
May 20 2013, 10:07am Anchor
SinKing wrote:hank you for your input! It is confusing to me too. The best way to describe what I am looking for is the first image of the blog link you posted. A transformation of the known into something magical and incredible looking. The rest of the images is more or less your generic destroyed monastery or broken house. I am trying to prevent us from going that way, since the houses and environment I describe have maybe been left for 5-10 years and don't look like they have been abandoned forever. That broken look gets repeated over and over and while interesting - it is becoming boring.

I am trying to fit our subject matter, which is like the movie the Road re-written as a comedy. That is why it is confusing These are elements don't match and can only be treated in a satrical or even fantastic way. I'm looking for contrasts: you may find a sad and broken building next to a beautiful lake. I need to find something of a transformation of the known. A worn and grown environment that looks like you could get back into living there by patching up a few things. Yet nobody wants to. It could also have tons of valuable things lying around and cars parked on the streets, since these held no value any more in the world we describe. All the luxuries have been left behind, so it's rather the opposite of these abandoned places, in many ways.


I find it confusing too, because it simply isn't realistic. You're asking for abandoned places, in which nobody was living for about 5-10 years. A place, which seems to have been abandonded in a rush so that only the most important things were taken with the people who fled. I suggest to watch a few documentaries about how the world would look like, if humanity instantly died. I know there was a good one, but I don't remember the name by now.

The thing is, if you have a look at a city, which was fully intact and then abandoned for only 5-10 years, nothing will have changed much. Buildings won't have big cracks or anything, only plants will have grown (like in the first picture of the blog). And adding that special atmosphere you are looking for is mostly a personal thing. That is because light and color are doing 95% of the magic atmosphere in a picture (+music and soundeffects for a video/game) and only a tiny bit is really about WHERE a scene is set.

So, you have a rough idea, you want an abandonded place. Now, think about color sheets and what kind of feeling you want for those sets. Having a set piece of paper with all the colors on them is pretty much what most art directors would do at the beginning of everything.

Best wishes
Kjell

SinKing
SinKing bumps me thread
May 20 2013, 11:53am Anchor

I may have been confusing about the realism on textures and models. This is purely a choice we made, because it is easier to achieve than an artistic vision. The game is in no way about making a realistic game. It's about being creative about using the themes of abandoned, decayed-decadence and having a lot of fun with these themes. The end of the world will be very colorful and entertaining in this vision. And it won't be caused by a war or desease or anything else that could have let the people flee in panic.

So far you all have added your preconceived ideas of how abandoned cities should look like. This is exactly what I am trying to avoid, and which I find so hard to distance myself from, too. I probably explained things wrong to begin with. We have these notions of catastrophe a la Metro or Stalker or I am Legend. Usually everything is broken and decayed, people live in misery, etc.
I want to show people in our game that have an exceedingly great time in the end of days. They are not scavenging or plundering, they are simply using up the last of what is there, giving no thought about tomorrow. In a way it is a depiction of exactly what we are doing as societies now, but it's stylized and reduced to a few features. Color is a good call there Kjell, because we will have a saturated look, not the brownish and depressing style at all. 

The problem is exactly that which you stated: nothing much will have changed. So how to make this little change obvious and interesting?

That is the challenge I am proposing. To reinvent the end of days and make it a happy one for once. Show not the losers, but the winners. Show not the end, but the beginning of the end. There are always those who live well, even when everything went sour. There are places these people will go that aren't destroyed. Remote, secluded areas. And nature will not have won them back entirely, yet.

Actually, I am getting a lot of ideas from having this discussion here :). I can understand how you have problems grasping the essence of the art direction for this game. I've been the same way and am still trying to reach a definitive vision. However, if you see what the game is about in a few months, you will understand why this direction and not the more standard "end of days" scenario. It's time to turn a tide on all these Zombie games with their gritty looks and mutated creatures. It is far more shocking to me to have the perfect world taken from you, then when you are fighting for one that is already lost. Essentially that may yield the same results and in the end everyone dies, but the perspective is a different one.

YADDA YADDA YADDA :) SO FULL OF MYSELF

Your image thread was amazing Line Art. We had a spontaneous team discussion and we made some really good points based on some of these images and some HDR photography. Really helpful there, thanks! The thing is - it is not about subject matter, but about composition and some of these images made a really strong point on that behalf.

Edited by: SinKing

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May 20 2013, 9:04pm Anchor

Go look at the city of Pripyat.

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ambershee
ambershee Nimbusfish Rawks
May 21 2013, 12:44am Anchor

Your issue is that you're trying to ground yourself in reality a little too much, when you've said yourself that your want to reflect a world of decayed decadence more so than your average game locations. Your fundamental issue is that you're trying to base yourself on a real world location that probably doesn't exist yet (modern/futuristic, decadent, abandoned). When I think of modern decadence, I think of things like five star hotel foyets and overtly grand architecture - locations that are inherently expensive such as Dubai. Bioshock as an example has a very fantastical setting rather than a realistic one, but it has many of the same roots and sought to amalgamate both industry and grandure in its portrayal of Rapture.

I can't comment on your exact setting, but I would perhaps seek to capitalise on the image and structure of the modern workplace - offices of massive corporations often have overly impressive facades and entrace halls (all the spaces that are generally public, or used to facilitate business) - but once you peel back the veneer, you'll find that the attached factories are a stark contrast. This isn't so unlike real life - consider what Apple's headquarter offices look like in contrast to their actual factories.

The other thing that needs to be considered, and it's important, is why the location is abandoned. This will make a fair impact on your game world.

SinKing
SinKing bumps me thread
May 21 2013, 6:44am Anchor

Ambershee - you nailed it! That was more or less the thing we decided during our meeting. Instead of going with a real-life setting and making it look abandoned (yet not completely ravaged), we decided to choose a Burtonesque setting - while keeping the realistic appeal of textures and materials. A bit like Dishonored without the cartoon look.

The fantasy-like appeal of the environment will be in the composition of its locales (thank you Line Art!). The mystical feel will come from color schemes and lighting (thank you iQew!). And the theme of decay will be transmitted through the crackled shapes of everything (no 90° walls!), instead of bullet holes and torn walls every 5 meters :)
I think it is amazing how a project can change and become more unified, by re-thinking initial design ideas and just keeping to iterate, until you find a match between gunplay, gameplay and visuals. The job of an art director seems to be more important in that regard than the job of an actual director/project lead.

We border on a cartoony feel now, but won't stylize too much. The reasons why the environment is abandoned will be apparent after I make an account on Indie.db. I just want to make sure, we are a bit into development and have some map-wip, before I open an account for our project. Thank you all very much for your input and excuse my tone. I have this habit to sound more provocative than I want to in my posts.

Edited by: SinKing

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