So I’m task to create a scene/environment of my choice, finally I can do something I want to do! I can let my imagination run wild. But before I jump into painting mental ideas, I should do a bit of research. I've read some interesting articles on environment design I came up with these rules:
- Direct the player with the environment/props
Environment layout and props help guide the player to the next section. Be it something blocking the players path so they have to try another one. Or a prop which catches the players eye so they go towards it.
- Use lighting to you’re advantage
Lighting/colours is a great way to sell the mood. If you’re trying to show the a dark/evil mood then there should be more cool colours. Lighting is also a great way to guide the player to certain area, like a bright light at the then end of the tunnel. All colours have physiological traits linked to them which is another way to imply things to the player. Red warns them of something bad.
- Storytelling through the environment
The environment is a great way to tell a story. Left for Dead's safe rooms had writing on the wall which really gave you an idea of what happen in the safe room before you arrived and what sort of people passed through there. It also provided a down time with some comic relief before tense action starts again. Which provides good pacing to the game.
- Let the players imagination do the hard work
Let the players imagination do the work at times, for example instead of having a dairy with what happened to a person in a torture room, have that room filled with props ( power tools, blood stains, scratch marks etc.) all of these props imply what happen in the room, and leaves it to the player to create their own image of what happened making it more personal to them, which I find makes for a stronger emotional connection.
- Pick a style and stick with it
Keep the style uniform across the whole game. If you want to cartoony and exaggerated look, then apply it to everything, not just one aspect. Brink failed to do this, it had exaggerated character models which looked great, but had photorealistic textures applied to it, two very different styles conflicted. If its done correctly, it makes for a more believable universe and immerses the player more.
|2 Different styles clashing|
- Attention to detail
I found many little things really add to the environment, they might be minor by they do add all up. Interactivity is one of these. This adds to the realism of the game, making many objects of the players environment interactive will immerse them a lot more. I find nothing more immersion breaking than not being able to open a door to check in the room. Little touches also really helps with immersion but I find many developers skip this as they think no one will notice, well, we do. These could be things such as flies hovering over rubbish.
Time to start painting crazy things......