Post news RSS Dev Blog #6 – Lights And Shadows In Lake Ridden

Reference photos are of great use when you're looking to bring an entire world to life! In this blog post we talk about how we use reference photos for Lake Ridden.

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Midnight Hub is a Swedish indie studio run by former Mojang and Paradox developers. Right now we're hard at work with our story-driven mystery game Lake Ridden. Feel free to reach out on Twitter if you got any questions!

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Making a game is a very iterative process, as we’ve talked about before. You need to get the big chunks in place before you can tell if it all fits together and makes sense (and is fun!). When you got a rough outline of the world, items, story or game mechanics it’s time to zoom in on smaller stuff. And a lot of the time you need to get back and do multiple passes to really nail it down. It’s all part of the journey when making games!

After working on Lake Ridden for more than 10 months together, we’re finally at a point where it’s time to start pushing the lights and shadows of the game! All the art we’ve shown in earlier photos was very much a placeholder, just as with the white boxes instead of trees, if you remember one of our early posts.

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Photos from the park in Malmö, capturing lights and shadows. These photos are then

used as references when we work with the lights and shadows inside Lake Ridden.

The art team (AKA Erik and Anton) have been hard at work with the light in the game world since last week. The light, no matter if it’s sharp sunlight, soft moonlight or warm candlelight, plays a critical role for defining the atmosphere of the game. It really sets the art direction and overall look of the game. A bright blue sky on a sunny day tells a completely different story than a dark and moody afternoon.

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Collages of photos used as reference material for the game.

This is a mix of our own photos and images all across Google

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Mood boards like these helps the team to communicate

around what a typical night in Lake Ridden looks and feels.

The first step was to use some of the reference photos we shot out in the woods some weeks ago, then we went to see a local park here in Malmö, to snap some photos of cool lights and shadows. Using these photos we created mood boards that determine the overall feeling, lights and color palettes we want to use when it comes to a typical day, night or weather conditions inside the game. The mood boards really come into play when we create textures for the in-game objects like trees and rocks. It’s important that it all looks and feels as part of the same living, breathing universe.

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A shot from inside the game engine. This is a work in progress of an early morning inside the game.


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Work in progress regarding the sunlight. Should it be hard, warm, sharp or crispy?

The lights and shadows help tell the story and set the mood for the game


dev 21 lr 6Night inside the game. If you look real close you can see stars peaking trough the dark clouds.


We’re not aiming for hyper realism, but a realistic representation of how something feels. What does a sunny autumn day feel like? What does a rainy, cold night out in the woods feel like? The tweaking itself is done inside the game engine (we’re using Unity). This is the place where we actually build the game, the work space so to speak. We’re using different plug-ins and this awesome color correction tool Johan wrote to tweak and balance colors and saturation inside Lake Ridden.

Tyson darling 21Office dog Tyson getting warm again after a rainy walk yesterday.

Having Erik’s dog at the office really brightens the day!


We now got a pretty solid idea about what a typical day, night and evening will look like in the game, now it just needs a couple of more iterations and then all the juicy stuff that is fog, particles, depth of field and tons of other visual candy that will make Lake Ridden really good looking!

Cheers,
Sara & The Team

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