Value and Temperature Structure as Guiding Principles in Game Art

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If you follow my Twitter account, then you should already know that I regularly post stuff from Muddy Colors.

This is no exception, even more so because it will be relevant to my current work. Two posts by Dan dos Santos about basic image composition, the first one about value structure, the second one about temperature structure.

Those two posts struck a chord with me, since they clearly explain what I already plan to do in the therapy game I’m working on.

When it comes to games, adding depth to the composition is seemingly less of a problem, since the movement already provides you with that information. However, discerning objects you can interact with from the ones that act purely as set pieces is another question.1 The higher the player’s velocity within the 3D space, the faster he has to parse the environment for clues – especially when the players are not able to influence their own velocity, which is the case in rail shooters. As it happens, I’m exactly making one of those, thus the need for an environment that can be parsed instantly. As well known by the red barrel problem.

Giving interactive objects another colour temperature than their surroundings seems like a good way to make them stand out, while their brightness can act as a hint of their distance.

It’s just one example of art history having solved a lot of problems for game design already – you just have to know where to look. As a matter of fact, a new book by Chris Solarski2 called Drawing Basics and Video Game Art might just be the source for such information – I’m definitely looking forward to getting my hands on a copy in order to rifle the old masters for their tricks …

  1. As well known by the red barrel problem↩︎

  2. Disclaimer: Chris is a good friend, and I have followed Chris’ development of the book. ↩︎