Game overview  |  Game World Background  |  Classes and Their Abilities  |  Class Characteristics by Team  |  Maps, and Art Direction  |  UX Basics

Visual Style and Environments

(credit to the original fantasy artists for these beautiful images)

I like the idea of a “painterly” design style but not one perpetual mood of light and weather. I want beautiful summer days, snowstorms, and dark nights. Load time is an issue for game graphics and landscapes like these can suggest detail rather than require it. Most game moments though range from close up views to middle distance. Going from a very atmospheric landscape to close up has to feel natural and not jarring.  I think a gratifyingly realistic but slightly cartoony style for buildings, trees, etc. is the right tone but then we also have to consider whether we have a game color palette or a scene color palette.

TF2 uses a Sunday funnies color palate but brighter and cleaner. It is simple throughout, details are obvious, even at a distance. This is a practical choice as well as an aesthetic one because squinting isn’t part of the experience they want to offer. Graphics have to load as you hit new areas on the map and the lag of heavy graphic demand is the bane of online games. In a sense, you are dragging the map details along with you. Suddenly you are slogging through mouse mud and unsure if the person you are shooting at even still IS where they APPEAR to be.

I love the ruins pictured here and something like these is explicitly a part of the Green army landscape. Remember, a map isn’t just a beautiful place to shoot at each other, it’s a large obstacle course of challenges and chances for both teams with a difficult goal culminating. If it’s well done, it’s fun and interesting to move around it. If it’s well done the challenges aren’t something you can just avoid with a random exploit you discovered or an obvious, always successful strategic advantage favoring one of the teams. The map IS a story too. It can’t have a lot of loose ends.

This landscape is gorgeous but after a beautiful establishing shot anything this size is hopeless. Our actual fight would something like breaking through that huge gate and clearing out the guardhouse beyond to let in the invasion, or fighting our way across the docks to steal a treasure ship or battling through the highest steep city streets to storm the citadel at the very top.

An online game of TF2 usually has 18 players RUNNING and gunning at top speed across the map simultaneously and the map has to be effortlessly present at all times. The appearance of the game is a huge deal but the experience of lag is such a buzzkill that players will start dropping out right away. Would you rather be someplace beautiful, but you personally are handicapped, or someplace decent in full health and energy? Me too. The quality of Gameplay is like health, the more you are conscious of your health the likelier you are to be sick. If you are even aware of gameplay it’s probably causing friction.

This is so beautiful! The precise style wouldn’t be sharp enough for character facial recognition but if the characters are generated separately they can be sharp and clear.


© Copyright Isaac Miller and Hugh Miller 2020