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Please Help - Game Art Style

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Kiskara, Mar 8, 2015.

  1. Kiskara

    Kiskara

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    Hi all,

    We are working on an new SciFi RPG. After working on the universe (background) for the game and the general story content we are now about to make the concept art. As the artist of the team I have different options and all are well in my possibilities. However i would like to know from you which art style you would want most for an RPG SciFi game. So i put up a poll on debate.org. Since the pics are a bit small I reposted them here in their original size.

    Please vote at: http://www.debate.org/polls/what-art-style-would-you-like-for-a-scifi-game
    (ok, i noticed you have to make an account to vote there, while I prefer voting there, I see that some people won't go through the hassle of making an account. So maybe just answer here with a short reply. Best a one worder: modern, retro, dark, cartoon)

    Here the pics I posted there:

    If you could chose the style of a new RPG SciFi game, in what style would you like to have it ? The corny semi steampunk cartoonish style of the classic Flash Gordon film of the 80ies ? In a cute romantic retro style of the SciFi series of the 60ies ? In a dark scary style like Alien or Doom 3 ? Or in a more realistic style like Avatar or Mass Effect 3 ?


    Think of all the old SciFi films and dime novel covers of the 60ies with their cute aliens and techs.


    Another cute and corny style, but more aiming to old comics and the films that have been made of them, especially the Flash gordon movies of the 30ies and the remake in the 80ies with physically quite impossible settings. (Flash Gordon Movies)


    A dark scary mood overall, aliens are always something bad and evil. The dark force of the universe. (Alien movie, Doom3 game)


    Keep it simple and believable, just make it as we think it to be realistic in a future, like loved game series like Mass Effect or movies like Avatar.
     
  2. Teila

    Teila

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    I love the old retro style! Unique in games and so nice to look at. :)
     
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  3. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

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    Anything on the top would be good. From the "dark scary" screens down it ends up just looking like every other game being released these days.
     
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  4. BeefSupreme

    BeefSupreme

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    Absolutely! Too many games these days have dark and gritty space marines. I really like the 50s and 60s retro aesthetic, where everything is naively fantastical and the future doesn't suck.
     
  5. AndrewGrayGames

    AndrewGrayGames

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    On the survey - You could just make a poll instead.

    Right, so on the design topic: if you're having to ask "what aesthetic should we use," stop. Pencils/keyboards/lawnmowers down.

    When you see your game in your mind, what do you see? Seriously, play the game in your mind. No code. No text. No artistic assets. Fire up your imagination. Close your eyes. See the game you're trying to realize. Use the MK-I Human Brain you were equipped with when your character was created in real life, to play your game in the state that you want it to be played in. I can wait.

    ...Got your vision yet? Then, you know what aesthetic it is you're looking for. I suggest writing whatever you imagined down. Do this sort of "thought experiment" on a regular basis. It worked for Albert Einstein, and I'd be willing to wager your imagination is no less active.

    Just because you can present it in a number of ways, doesn't necessarily mean those established ways are even what you're after. Make your game look the way you need it to.

    And, have a vision to build from in the first place. It's the most important part of building your game.
     
  6. DanSuperGP

    DanSuperGP

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    I vote 60's sci-fi dime store novel covers. So cool, I would so want to play a game that actually looked like that.
     
  7. BrandyStarbrite

    BrandyStarbrite

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    H
    Ha! Ha!
    That's a really fantastic, yet interesting way, of putting it! :D
     
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  8. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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    Cartoon. Simple, light, and flexible while also allowing for levity.
    Gigi
     
  9. Steve-Tack

    Steve-Tack

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    Retro 40's/50's/60's by a wide margin. The idea of taking old sci-fi novel covers as an art style is getting a lot of attention with No Man's Sky, but still, there are a lot of directions you could go with that without feeling you're just copying those guys.

    The other options have been done to death. Well, maybe not 80's Flash Gordon, but that may be a little too specific.
     
  10. CDMcGwire

    CDMcGwire

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    I got the 1996 early beta version of the MK-2
    Great multi-threading capabilities, but never seems to be able to put enough processing power on one specific task. Also, one thread is always stuck looping through broken up bits of music tracks.

    Back on topic: I seem to ask this in every forum thread, but... What kind of game are you working on?
    What I want would depend on the game presented. Am I expecting to enjoy a dramatic, emotional experience with believable portrayals of science? I would go with more recent Sci-Fi depictions like Mass Effect. Were I going for a light-hearted, adventurous, or even comical experience, I would go with the retro 50's/60's style and use lots of Pseudo-Science. The kind of science you wish worked, but is essentially impossible. Like teleportation, time control, the entirety of the original Star Trek series.

    If the science is intended to be more obscure, almost to the point of being magic, then go with a Star Wars type setting. I don't think there are actually many Sci-Fi settings like the original Star Wars Trilogy and the first two Knights of the Old Republic games. Newer depictions of the Star Wars Universe are closer to mainstream Sci-Fi, but I felt like the originals and KotOR are much closer to a fantasy type setting.
     
  11. Kirahy

    Kirahy

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    hehe, people on different forums give me a hard time, lol
    while on most forums it is mixed, but one is 100% modern while here it is 100% retro, lol. right now it is like

    5 retro
    5 modern
    3 cartoonlike
    2 dark

    If I count this one "Anything on the top would be good. From the "dark scary" screens down it ends up just looking like every other game being released these days." in as retro or cartoon that makes:

    6 retro
    5 modern
    4 cartoonlike
    2 dark

    I guess I wait 2 days more and then make a poll between the two leaders.

    As for @Asvarduils Post, I am an artist. i like to make cool things and I like all styles and it would all be a challenge to create. Maybe I am weird, but my biggest happyness comes from seeing others getting happy with my art. So for me it is important to create something as many people as possible like. If in the end there is really a head-to-head race, i will possibly decide for the less common.

    In one thing I especially agree with @BeefSupreme, the world lacks games where the story does not suck as of "where everything is naively fantastical and the future doesn't suck". Skyrim only had no options for the pure fighter, the "paladin", but tons for the bad person. Dragonage Origin was the last of that merchandise where you could go pure Paladin. Mass Effect 3, while being Paladin through the whole game was possible, the end genuinly messed the Paladin up. The witcher series, while made beautifully was a bit on the dark side.

    So one thing I can promise, whatever style I make, it will be possible to make an ending of pure paladin.

    Thanks for anyone that offered their opinion, but please keep posting people, I really care to know your opinion.
     
  12. MagicZelda

    MagicZelda

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    first image, more old style would be a refreshing change :)
     
  13. Kirahy

    Kirahy

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    BTW I am really serious about this, so please no more philosophical views on how to create a game and how the style influences the action. I am aware of this, this is why we ask this early. @BeefSupreme grasped the reason for this thread really good:

    @BeefSupreme: "I really like the 50s and 60s retro aesthetic, where everything is naively fantastical and the future doesn't suck."

    @CDMcGwire: The style will of course influence the whole story build up. All styles are a challenge and have their traits that will make it fun to create a game in them. Being a game artist is like being an actor, a good actor can play any role .... So what people want is what I want to create and I will have fun to do it. Also our storywriter is totally at home with this. Also it is a huge satisfaction to see you make someone happy with your creation. So what we want is making people happy and that makes us happy and motivated. So this is the other side of the view of @Asvarduil. We see it different and so really really need your personal view, what do YOU want ? (I mean nothing aganst the post of @Asvarduil, he put a lot of effort in writing it and has of course a point here.) It is just not what we are looking for, we have already been over this in the team and really decided what we want, to create what people like. What is of course very welcome is the way most people voted here. What they like and why. The "why" reasons will help us to stay in the topic of a style, like @CDMcGwire pointed out. However in one thing I disagree, I don't see Retro as pseudo science. More like @BeefSupreme said. the good old times when future did not suck, where people have a positive view of life. Going retro for me would mean to use the general optic style of that time. It is more that we would use warm filters for the cam, beautiful views of the landscape. Modern SciFi style is more based on Real Life. So as a leader, the good decisions are still mostly tainted with a bad side. While retro would more be like "A great while ago, when the world was full of wonders..." and an ending like "And there happened in the end what should have happened in the beginning...and everyone knew and has never forgotten that whoever has a mind turned to wickedness is sure to end badly."

    So I encourage you again to tell us which style you would like :)
     
  14. CDMcGwire

    CDMcGwire

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    Aight, coo'.
    I want Fallout without the Post Apocalyptic part.

    So I think that puts me in stylized, but not cartoony, retro.
     
  15. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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    This is your response? You got EXCELLENT feedback from a cross-section of the community, and you spit in their faces. PS - "Really serious" developers don't outsource one of their most important decisions to random strangers on a forum.

    Gigi
     
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  16. AndrewGrayGames

    AndrewGrayGames

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    This is why I wish them luck with getting started on their project. If you don't have a clear vision of what you want your project to be, it will never get built. It's not harsh criticism, it's fact. I've got the failed prototypes to prove it.
     
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  17. CDMcGwire

    CDMcGwire

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    I'm going to air on the side of optimism and say that this artist could have a clear vision with any one of these art styles. They just want to know what other people would like to see the most.

    *COUGH*#IDARB*COUGH*

    It's not outsourcing a decision if they can veto and or modify it. It's collecting analytical data in preparation of many months of hard work! Why wait until it's released, only to then realize people weren't very excited about that style?
     
  18. DanSuperGP

    DanSuperGP

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    Way to make me feel old... I graduated from high school in 96
     
  19. Kirahy

    Kirahy

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    @CDMcGwire thank you, I could not have put it any better. Also I just tried to be diplomatic and nice and trying to appreciate the post of @Ardavuil, lol. I mean i did not spit in the face of all here, that is a bit drastic. I very appreciate that most people wrote a reason or two why they chose a style. While especially one post just tried to teach me what I have to do, or indirectly doubt my IQ and security to put the whole thread. So after this attack I have to say it now, after this also a bit less diplomatic, read the thread topic and answer 100% to it and you avoid situations like that. I mean if I wanted to be taught how I have to work as an artist, i would have setup the thread differently. As is that answer did not offer an answer to the topic and as such is obviously out of topic and thus should not be astonished that I don't jump from my seat clapping in awe ....

    And I do not see where I spit YOU in the face @Gigiwoo, since I clearly said I love that most write a small remark why they chose a style. So your post is great, exactly what I was looking for, I did not kick people here in the face at the least that did such posts. In the opposite I read it with great interest and I think I explicitly expressed my thanks.

    To cite myself from the post that seems to have offended you: "What is of course very welcome is the way most people voted here. What they like and why. The "why" reasons will help us to stay in the topic of a style, like @CDMcGwire pointed out."

    I would say your post @Gigiwoo is clearly one of those as are those of other people here and we really appreciate that. And for the rest I can just say @CDMcGwire grasped exactly the concept we have. We get many opinions, all loving something in special, even within one style people hae different ideas. So I can assure you there is still a lot of creative process and developing happening after you people help us to define the style.

    As of the story, it stands of course already in the concept. However dialogues and details have to be written. And most stories can be told in different styles. And that is what we try to find out, what are you people craving for ?

    Outsourcing would be if we ask you about story ideas. I mean look at "Huckleberry Finn", in general mark Twain chose a pretty easy style that would entertain you. But it could have easily been written by Charles Dickens in the style of "Oliver Twist". Most likely that would have become a classic equal to the version of mark Twain. However the mood in the story would be totally different. So all we ask about is, what mood are you looking for in a game. How would you like our story presented ? What would fascinate you most ?

    Also as @CDMcGwire pointed out, better now than when we finished the game and see it is totally not what people want. I mean look at the Dragonage merchandise in metacritics. While EA is great at paying people who say the game is great, the people's vote on metacritic is often different. And I have to say I could care less to get a 2 of 10 from so called professionals if the people give me an 8 … . I mean Dragonage Origins conquered the hearts of the gamers, and EA did an excellent job to blow it in part 2 and 3 totally ignoring the fans. And they only managed to beat themselves with mass Effect 3 …. the end everyone hated and was about all that they tell you in writer schools NOT to do for an ending. They managed to unite practically all “don't's” in one ending there. So as you see we thought about it a lot and know exactly what we want ….

    So @Asvarduil, there are enough samples of major fails of people that thought they have a clear vision what their fans wanted .... and they did not succeed with sales because they were good, they had just enough money to have a campaign to make people buy before the truth came out and if you look at metacritics, to pay enough people to say the game was great before it came out. We call that "too big to fail" and unfortunately we do not have this luxury.

    Basically most companies do what they like. I think that is unfair for the people that pay these guys for the games. A creator should not play god, a creator should listen to the crowd, make them happy … and this is what I am trying here.
     
  20. AndrewGrayGames

    AndrewGrayGames

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    You're right. And this gets to one of the things that makes game development at the small-scale very hard - you can neither exclusively pander to the audience, nor boorishly shrug off their desires. It's a balancing act; your ideas and your audience's expectations and desires have to share the stage.

    What I've read of your post, suggests you've seen works that have gone so awfully due to the creator of the work simply shrugging off any audience ideas. You've seen this often enough, or severely enough, that you've walked into software development thinking, "my thoughts and wants are secondary to that of the customer."

    If you go down this path, your works will fail by 'feeling' derivative and false to your customer. You'd be amazed how well customers can pick up on not having a strong core concept for a game in the first place (happened to me in The Hero's Journey, but also happened to me in the short time I tried to pursue Let's Plays.)

    There's something to be said for being confident in your vision and your creation, but willing to improve it. To be confident in your creation, you have to know what it is. You must always listen to your customer, they will give you all sorts of helpful information; that's always the case.

    Again, though - It's not a simple case of, "oh, I'll just ask my audience what art style, sound design, content, mechanics, in short everything they want." You can ask that of your audience; however, you're on the wrong website for that. For the most part, we're all implementing our visions of our game, so by default we're unsuited to what you're attempting.

    That being said, if you are really adamant and sure of the idea of crowd-sourcing the core concept of your game, how about asking for all of that stuff on major gaming sites, where gamers are working to make their voices heard? Additionally, whatever the outcome, you should write a post-mortem of this crowd-sourced game design experience here. The idea has some novelty, and it'd be interesting for your to try it and inform us of the outcome.

    One more practical point, though - this whole topic is a major reason why game designers cleave to genres. Genres exist due to a sufficiently large body of work having already shaped our audiences' expectations from a work that resembles an existing body of work. Some people would laugh at the suggestion, but since you're genuinely having a hard time, I'll say it: why don't you think about the overall genre your work belongs to, and start off by having your "first draft" of your game simply being a trope-storm from that genre? In that way, you're sure to get quite a few major expectations right off the bat, but be able to more easily incorporate your audiences' ideas on what they would like to see that's different.

    EDIT: One more thing that occurs to me - I'm in a similar boat to your own, just in a different creative area. You can see the difficulty I'm having, even with a strong concept of what my game is. In my case, I found out that sticking strictly to established tropes won't necessarily make my project effective, particularly not the whole 'revenge' thing.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2015
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  21. DanSuperGP

    DanSuperGP

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    This one... so much.
     
  22. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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    @Asvarduil nailed it spot on. Nothing more to add. And for the record, I prefer CARTOON styles lately. Realistic sci-fi and fantasty tends to come across as amateurish, unless it is AAA, and sometimes, even then.

    Gigi
     
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  23. Kirahy

    Kirahy

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    So yeah, i am happy we found a consens and now your imputs are very valuable. Thank you :)

    On that background I agree with you @Asvarduil. And yes, you can take so and so much from the crowd, it is really a balance act to bring your own ideas to make the game original and follow the crowd enough not to bang them on the head with a totally opposing to general taste idea.

    I mean in the end there are always some people who will not like it. For me a game that hits 72 of hundred is ok, and that is what I aim for with planning. The rest also is a mix of luck and meeting of lucky cirumstances. But the games I talked about are clearly under the 72% acceptance plannable limit. So a game planned well with not some bad luck in it should hit perhaps 78% plannable with no bad circumstances.

    So yes and also thanks for wishing me luck, I will really need it :)

    I am also asking on other platforms of course, but I must say, here I got the best general input since you also offer reasons for your choices.

    I will follow this thread still, so please keep posting your preferences. We are working on game elements and the main story that are not dependent of the game style. So the final decision will not be made before 2 weeks, and of course I will post the result and the reasons.

    Thank you all for the support.
     
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  24. AndrewGrayGames

    AndrewGrayGames

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    Try; Fail (a lot); Become too "good" to ignore. ;)

    ...Working on that last part, though. The first two are pretty quick.

    And, I agree. If I'm forced to chip in on a graphics style - not that I won't argue against it as long as permissible - I second the cartoonish/cel-shaded style. It's easier to pull off, and ages surprisingly well. There's a reason Dragon Quest VIII got remade on mobile, despite being a late-mid PS2 game.
     
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  25. Fera_KM

    Fera_KM

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    Consider The Operative: No one lives forever and Alien: Isolation, both great games, understand why the two games vent for widely different aesthetic design, and how it conveys the mood and storyline.
     
  26. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    Cartoon styles are more future-proof, which is especially important for indie games that might take longer to finish. The cartoony 1980s laserdisc arcade game Dragon's Lair looks pretty good even today. Attempts at photorealism from the 1980s - not so much. With photorealism you're always chasing technology just to avoid looking too outdated.

    Art direction is a different subject. I think any of the four styles in the original post could be done in a cartoon style, for example, and they'd convey different themes. I'm kind of partial to the corny Flash Gordon style since it's different. It might lend itself well to an episodic game, in the vein of the old movie serials.
     
  27. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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  28. hopeful

    hopeful

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    My impression from outside of this thread is that players like the old pulp fiction type scifi style, with the clear fishbowl helmets, jet packs, curvy ray guns, and all.
     
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  29. AndrewGrayGames

    AndrewGrayGames

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    Don't forget the outfits made of tightly-fitting tinfoil fabric. Those are a must!
     
  30. Kirahy

    Kirahy

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    Hi, thanks for the input I will look at them
     
  31. Kirahy

    Kirahy

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    Hi all, a decision was made ... The majority in different forums voted for a retro style. However the next one was modern. So we go to a moderate retro style, that will be close to modern. Think of Odysee 2001 or "Robinson Crusoe on Mars". Intersting was also that different forums had different preferences. So if you ever plan to do something similar as we did, I recommend using several forums to get a representative result.

    So that means still a future that does not suck, lol (@BeefSupreme). since of course this will also have an impact on the story. What is sure is that we will allow more "hero in shining armor" options. Means a bit more black and white decisions instead of over reslistic where all your decisions have a drawback. Nothing againstthat btw, but I think it is realyl time for a game where you can really dream again. So we will also have the drama more to Hollywoodfilmy of the retro age. With happy Ends etc. This does of course not mean that you can't get a bad end, you still have decisions to do. But there will be one possible ending that is really a happy end.

    So i end this thread, even a bit sad, it was nice to discuss with you all about this and I got really good input. A big thumbs up to this forum, it was clearly the best of all where I asked the question.

    And sorry @Gigiwood for not chosing cartoonlike. I somehow also was tempted by that one. maybe the next game after we have one out :)

    I thank all of you who helped us with their opinion. It was very appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2015
  32. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    Thanks for sharing the results of your polling. It's interesting info.
     
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