Monday, 2 May 2011


The game environment needs to be designed and constructed in a way to be able to assist and navigate the player through a level.
As humans we find our way by landmarks. It could be a major supermarket, pub, or clubs. So naturally in video games, decorative navigation is one of the key formulas to help the audience remember distinguished locations in the level.
This can be accomplished by the logo design of the building. Does it stand out, or mean anything in connection to the story and objectives?  The use of colour scheme… What does that colour represent?  In some cases, clans, tribes or just companies of some sort have a certain colour code, so it is easily recognised among their target audience. This method is also used in games.  One big example of this is Unreal tournament maps, more often than not, each side of the maps are identical, however the colour coding of majority of the wall textures and lighting reflect the team colours base, whether its red or blue.
This indicates direction to the player and tells them where they are and where to go.

Unreal Tournament CTF Map

The type of assets you decide to put in the environment suggests questions to the player; why it is there which affects the atmosphere.
This reflects deeply on the story behind the environment history and its architecture.  A lot of questions need to be asked in creating this atmosphere.
What time era is the environment set?
This reflects on the type of material you would use for the buildings.
What type of foliage grows in the environment?
This may suggest the type of season the environment is currently in.
Most important are lighting and weather conditions. This has a major influence on the atmosphere effect. The most effective way of getting the maximum potential out of your environment is creating great atmospherical ambience. This can be achieved by taking your own reference material, this not only means you get to take photos of every single piece of detail in the scene for detailed modelling and texture usage, but also get a feel for the actual environment itself and how it makes you feel; how spacious is it?
Each part brought together correctly can produce amazing environments.

The realism factor in video games is based primarily on reference material, which is not solely used by the artist. Programmers, animators and visual effect artists, will also want to know how the foliage moves in the scene with the weather, what kind of special effects will not look out of place and blend in to the atmosphere. Each artist sees the world differently having their own interpretation of the way they look at things. This adds different art stylisation to the design, which gives a healthy balance to video games developing their own uniqueness.
This done incorrectly, can hinder players belief in the game world, which could be badly placed props with no meaning e.g.  French road signs on the streets of Chicago, or a famous London bridge in Mexico. What the game industry has to consider is, games are contributed all over the world, and people will see this as familiar and notice these faults.

Mass effect 2

I particularly like ME2 - Lair of the Shadow Broker environment scenery, concept by Matt Rhodes. A major part of Mass Effects feature theme was inspired by Blade runner movie concepts produced by Syd Mead. In keeping with the futuristic sci fi technology, flying vehicles and the look of the film (darkness, neon lights and opacity of vision).

Blade Runner Movie

Directed by – Ridley Scott
Concept Art – Syd Mead

Blade Runner has always been an iconic looked upon inspiration and has been used in a wide range of medias to create beautiful scenery. People can gain inspiration from any media whether it’s music, books, movies, people or the world they live in. Inspirational based creations can always be a strength as you automatically want to create something bigger and better than what they produced.
This plays proof in the book written by Philip K. Dick – Androids dream of electric sheep, which was what Blade Runner was originally founded upon.

Derek Watts Art Director – Mass Effect Video clip

Adreien Cho Art Producer – Mass Effect

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