Sunday, August 9, 2015

Developing Tenebra - Visuals

   So.... how the hell do you intend to make a game all by yourself? It's scary!! It's way too much work! But... wouldn't that be cool?!?
   I started playing around with the idea of making a short horror game in 2012. Just something I can have fun with at my own pace. And if you got a fulltime job and a family that pace can be really, really slow. 
   I spent almost three months just pondering how I could make a game if I'd only had one or two hours tops per day. I wanted to make an exploration game (more on that later) - so the biggest investment would be game content. If you decide to make a 'realistic' looking game that easily means months and months of work just to build a basic model and texture library. Also - and that's just my personal take on this subject - realistic looking games have an expiration date. A stylized approach would speed up development time by a number of X. 
   I began researching silent film movies. I was especially inpired by the Swedish movie called 'The Phantom Carriage'. Here's what it looks like:

   I blocked out a rough terrain (using Valve's Source Engine), added lots of fog and a grainy animated screen overlay texture to give it that 'old scratched movie' look. I modeled a handful of foliage models (most of them shared one single 32x32 black texture), cranked up the contrast level to 11 and got something that looked very promising:

                                                                                                                                     First in game test!

   This would be feasible for a one-man art team :) 
   The indoor areas are a big more difficult. I decided to run with the following minimalist approach: 

- reduce the amount of visual information to the bare minimum (as in: how many models do you need to recognize that you're standing, for instance, in a living room)

- usually have one single strong light source per area and no filling (bounced) light, highlighting only points of interest and let the player's imagination fill in the blanks.

- distinguish between ambient/low priority game assets and 'hero models'

Here's a fantastic example (from David Lynch's Eraserhead) that shows what I mean:

No comments:

Post a Comment