As a gaming community, many of us don’t even consider the work that goes into creating a game. It’s a medium that brings writers, editors, producers, musicians, artists, animators, actors, marketing specialists, and enthusiasts together, to collaborate on one single vision. Often, developers outsource to other studios that specialize in specific tasks, such as motion graphics, user experience interfacing, historical research, etc. I’ve been a proud gamer all my life, and feel that the medium as a whole, is what it is today because of the passionate people behind them.
This is why it breaks my heart that some games that come out end up overwhelmingly underperforming. Take for example, “Fuse”, a game developed my Insomniaic under the original name “Overstrike”. When presented, it got people quite excited due to its vibrant artistic direction, interesting characters, and fun to use weapons. What we got instead was a generic, military style shooter with rpg elements and alien technology. Although it was a “good game”, (according to metacritic and various user reviews) it wasn’t great. It sacrificed some of the more artistic elements in favor for a more recognizable style of game.
As an artist, I can speak for many other artists, both professional, and amateur, when I say that creating visual content for games is much more involved than what’s on the surface. I can only imagine the frustration some team members have faced when a game like Fuse changes artistic direction so drastically!
Let’s take a game like Destiny into consideration when talking about art direction. Some people argue that what they’ve seen of this game isn’t jaw dropping, or revolutionary in terms of visual fidelity (I disagree), but I partly blame jaded gamer expectations and the nature of E3 demonstrations. You can already see the immense level of detail and vibrancy throughout its world, just from that small amount of gameplay footage we’ve seen thus far. For a game to really speak out to you, it not only needs “pretty graphics”, but also a grander scale of cohesion across its art direction, and choices of atmosphere, color, polygon count, frame rate, and lighting. Every aspect of a game like Destiny is fully fleshed out with concept art ranging from a huge variety of ideas, or stages of creature and character development.
I hope that this provides a sense of context to those who don’t stop to smell the roses. We’ve been treated with a plethora of eye candy across all platforms throughout our lives, and should take time to appreciate the intricacies in gaming. Whether its the paintings on the walls in a hallway, or the way the trees are placed in a jungle environment, we as a gaming community should learn to appreciate the time artists (and everyone involved in gaming) has put into creating everything. Just make sure not to glamor over lazy and bad design! With that said, here’s a time lapse video of me digitally painting Raiden, from Metal Gear Rising: Reveneance. Game on, Jae Blaze out!