Graphics style and artistic direction is crucial among game developers. Art styles dictate the entire look and feel of the game and influence target audiences. Some examples of various graphical styles are;
This is a piece of concept art for Team Fortress 2, from Valve.
The developers chose this style of graphics mainly due to engine limitations at the time. Cel-shading is much easier to render, and due to not necessarily having to draw dynamic shadows on the models, and not having to render as nearly as many shades. The Team Fortress 2 (Abbreviated as TF2) creates a very unique style. The edges and textures are very soft, the proportions of the models are generally exaggerated to give very cartoony, but still very much grounded in reality feel.
Team Fortress 2’s art style is crucial to its gameplay. One of the key features Valve wanted was for the player to identify each class of character simply by their silhouette, thus making team-play easier and identifying foes quicker. Team Fortress 2 is a competitive team-based first-person shooter, often with extremely fast-paced gameplay, and complex graphics would be overwhelming and confusing towards the player.
Team Fortress 2 went through a very long and complex development, with many different styles of graphics and gameplay elements experimented with. Of course eventually, Valve ended up with this iconic game, a game that mostly iconic because of its art style.
This is an in-game screenshot from Ubisofts’ FarCry 3
FarCry 3’s graphical style is both beautiful and terrifying, and both of those aspects of the game are achieved with a stunning degree of realism. Ubisoft undoubtedly chose to head in this direction not only for continuity of the franchise, but to really immerse the player in the game world and story. A world in which the player can loose themselves in, is a world where the story and environment become more potent to the player, and ultimately (in most cases) more enjoyable. FarCry 3 presents an array of characters who all have individual stories and personalities. As such, the player can far more easily relate to those characters if they look and act as a real person would.
The graphical choice forces the player to play differently, and in FarCry 3’s hostile tropical environment, it can really shock. Real-life threats like tigers, sharks, and armed militia only feel as threatening as they do because they are represented as realistically as possible, forcing more of a reaction from the player. Dangerous and hostile environments certainly have been represented in different art styles, such as The Long Dark in it’s cell-shaded style. It works in a very similar way.
This is a screenshot of Limbo, a side-scrolling puzzle game developed by Playdead.
Limbo introduces the player to a dark and abysmal world, a world where very little is explained. Everything either seems out of place, or terrifyingly in place. The game is exclusively grey-scale, meaning details about the environment remain a mystery. The art style of this game what made it such a hit, very little like this game has been seen before, and its the general minimalist-abstract style is what makes the entire game work so well.
A large part of Limbo’s appeal is the fear of the unknown, the lack of certain visual feedback just adds to the general surreal atmosphere that surrounds this game. Only the silhouette of anything is every visible, it creates the same feeling of seeing an unknown shadow on the wall. Limbo is only Limbo because of it’s very unique art style, and without that style the whole game would be turned upside down. It’s hard to imagine it in any other style.
Graphics Types and Purposes
Concept art is the preliminary sketches or mood boards that set the style for the whole game, it helps designers realize what the game should look and feel like, and assist the designers in creating in-game assets like models and textures.
GUI stands for Graphical User Interface. It’s a way for humans to more effectively interact with a computer system, using various visual elements like buttons and icons, as opposed to a purely text-based interface using type commands. The visual structure of the GUI can vary dramatically from platform to platform.
Pixels are tiny units that exist on a graphical display. The word pixel is actually a combination of picture and element. Pixels are the smallest ‘measurement’ on the screen.
Image Resolution is directly linked to the amount of pixels on screen; the higher the resolution of the screen, the more pixels are a available, and the higher the image quality presented. Within 3D games the resolution of the rendered scene can dramatically change performance, the higher the res, the more the GPU has to work.
Bitmap image a raster image, and the opposite of a Vector image. When enlarging or distorting a Bitmap image, individual pixels may be seen. Bitmaps are by far the most common form of digital image. Popular Bitmap file formats include JPEG, PNG and GIF.
Vector images are the general counterpart of Bitmap images. They are images that maintain a perfect resolution no matter how much it is enlarged. Vectors use a series of mathematics algorithms, calculating the relative space to one-another, because of this they take far longer to render.
Compression is the term used to describe the size of a file being decreased using algorithm. Compression is useful for saving storage space, however compression may have unintended side affects, and before accessing a file you must to uncompress it.
Many different ways exist for capturing and digitizing images, the most common of course it capturing them with a digital camera, but the best method for digitizing physical images is scanning them, converting the image into a file format. Once the image has been obtained, a place for it to be stored is sorted immediately afterward. Digital images can be stored on HDDs, USBs, and in a variety of formats. You can even the cloud for safe storage.