Saturday, November 17, 2007

Pure blue

The last time I was in "the industry", I worked with a bunch of artists. We literally sat in a little group and had a load of fun.

One of the things they used to hassle me about, was this notion of programmers not understanding colour. Thier standard joke was that when you ask a programmer what blue is, they say 00:00:FF (i.e. 0,0,255 or whatever the HTML version of that is).

Artists dont really think in pure tones like that. That is a machine way of thinking and I'm only slowly becoming aware of why it is important. The idea of shades of colours where other colours are involved (so for instance, a blue that isnt pure blue, but is blue-green). Its pretty easy to see that whole programmer colour thing on websites, but it really does play a big part in people's perception of an environment in a game. So I'm taking this a bit far, but I feel that getting the colouring right for my game will be a big part of making it work.

Hopefully once I get some of the techy issues sorted out (which will be a far more in-depth and expansive blog post compared to this) I'll be able to explore the theme more. Clearly for my game to have the "Air" theme I want, it will need to place a lot of emphasis on the blues. Maybe I'll pay for an artist to choose it. Or it'll come out of the concepting phase.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The designer as artist

I'm a game programmer by trade. I know, that means I shouldn't comment on art matters right? Well, what about a programmer/designer? If I'm a designer does that make it ok?

Now I'm absolutely talentless at actually creating visual art, lets be very clear about that. But I definitely know what I like when I see it. What is strange, is that I'm finding myself feeling more and more like I want to create art rather than something derivative. Every time I find myself pondering the nature of games, I come back to the potential that hasnt been explored.

If you look at the current games on gametrailers for any particular day, you're likely to find hundreds of incredibly derivative games. Not just in terms of gameplay, but in terms of presentation, composition and even feel.

What if one were to try and break away from that? What if you COULD strive to create something so unique that it had never been seen? What would it look like? What would it PLAY like?

The abstraction of gameplay is reasonably common. I'm a ludologist by nature, so I understand that for me games are about rules. But somehow I've come to realize that it cant JUST be the rules that makes me play. If that were the case, why would I not just play abstract rule based board games? The difference is the real-time interactivity and presumably the thematic immersion gained from having interactive scenes. Basically, its the "3d world" thing that I like. I like that I could join a game and just look at the sun, even when its not shining brightly in the real world.

Much of what I like about the real world, is an abstraction based on nature. I like a clear sky with millions of stars. I like a remote hill with a stormy sky. Like a brilliant picture of a striking natural place can really make you think about the world around you and your place in it.

So maybe thats what I'm missing in a lot of games. I'm missing that feeling of abstraction, the limitless potential of spaces unknown.

Thats where I want to take my games. Although its a long passage to move towards it. What will its inhabitants look like? What will they do? What will players do with them? How will it all make me feel?

I'll share some thoughts on this once I've had time to sit and think some more.