Report article RSS Feed Environment Design and Influence: Part 1

Let's talk about environments. The world that a game is set in can play a larger role in telling a story then any amount of exposition or clumsy dialogue can do. Environments are key to immersion and when all else fails, a striking and interesting world can mean the difference between a completely forgotten experience, and a gaming moment you cherish for years to come.

Posted by ChrisMurray on Apr 24th, 2013

Let's talk about environments. The world that a game is set in can play a larger role in telling a story then any amount of exposition or clumsy dialogue can do. Environments are key to immersion and when all else fails, a striking and interesting world can mean the difference between a completely forgotten experience, and a gaming moment you cherish for years to come.

So, by now you are properly aware that the mod will be set in an eastern European city much like City-17. Like Valves city, I hope to not restrict the design and influences behind the creation of such an environment to just one real world example. For instance, Reversion will feature buildings based on common architecture found throughout many cities across the world.


Those images above are photographs of Sofia, Kiev and Detroit. Sofia and Kiev represent the European roots of the Half-Life 2 environment staple and I want to stay true to that, but not restrict myself. Detroit on the other hand showcases the towering brick and metal towers of many American cities and I believe it would be a missed opportunity to disregard such diverse and beautiful buildings when drawing from architecture both conceptually and inspirationally.

I want the city to have a natural feel to it structurally. If the player stops for a moment because the building they are walking past doesn't fit aesthetically to the design of the world, then the immersion can come crashing down. Australian architecture (Predominately Sydney) is a fantastic point of reference when regarding the seamless inclusion of American and European architectural styles.

I'd love to hear your views on the design direction I want to take the mod. Please be assured that the priority of the environment design is still for it to feel heavily rooted in both Half-Life lore and to avoid any canonical contradictions.

Part 2 of this article will be posted next week and will regard the natural side of Reversions environment design.

Sources
Sofia - Worldfortravel.com
Kiev - Us-passport-service-guide.com
Detroit - Media.mlive.com

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Шill
Шill Apr 25 2013, 11:13am says:

So, you're going to take the environments from City 17 and the pictures, and weather them? That'll look awesome, I think this mod will have the best aesthetics of all the mods I've seen so far. I hope this mod never dies.

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Hezus
Hezus Apr 25 2013, 2:35pm says:

I like how you talk about your design choices. I used to have a blog for my discontinued mod An Open Window where I did the same. Sometimes my readers would give me some really enlightening feedback or ideas.

About immersion and architecture: Valve chose an old eastern European city for the setting of city 17. If you want to continue the story there, you're pretty much restricted to the way Valve imagined the city. However, you only see small bits of the city (mostly in the old center), so it's not uncommon to find more modern areas. Especially after the fall of the Soviet Union, some eastern European cities developed new areas where for instance financial institutions emerged. So large skyscrapers are not an uncommon sight.

This might be interesting for you as well: Forums.steampowered.com

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ChrisMurray Author
ChrisMurray Apr 25 2013, 4:30pm replied:

I agree, the community can create ideas and design paths that a single designer or closed team wouldn't even see.

In regards to the architecture, I think it will be a fun challenge trying to blend structures and buildings that aren't necessarily featured in Half-Life, into the world in a believable way.

That map of City-17 is pretty damn good. I remember seeing the incomplete version a while back and it's nice to see a fleshed-out and detailed version. Also, your mod (An Open Window) looked really interesting and it's a shame that it couldn't be fully realized, but at the end of the day real-life has to take priority and I respect your for making that call.

Thanks for taking to time to comment!

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iAmaNewb
iAmaNewb Apr 26 2013, 10:19am says:

From the style of the mod through images, I think we can expect a city that has high humidity and plants and vines growing on walls. Like the image "Extreme growth"

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