Game Development Reference
ideas, sources, and experiences. It's something to cultivate for personal as
much as professional reasons.
In game design, having a rich intellectual life pays off in the unique
work that it allows us to create. For example, BioShock 's designers were
only able to invent the unique world of Rapture because they had previous-
ly researched art deco and objectivism. Without massive random research,
BioShock could never have existed.
Think back to the last time you drew pictures on paper. Maybe you were
in high school art class, or doodling in a business meeting. In any case,
you almost certainly had this experience: you draw a shape, then notice a
certain part of it reminds you of something entirely different. While ex-
panding on the new idea, you make a mistake. To cover it up, you invent a
new object to go on top of it. That new object forces you to change the sur-
rounding shapes. The process continues like this, with one change inspir-
ing the next. By the time you're done, you've drawn something completely
different from what you originally intended. You've used the process of
creating art to create a new idea.
The power of art is that it keeps the hands working while simultane-
ously recording our ideas. By pulling us into flow, it reduces inhibitions.
By putting paper in front of us, it lets us access and record thoughts that
can't be rendered in words. By introducing mistakes and physical limita-
tions, it forces us toward new ideas.
Different kinds of artistic processes access this power in differ-
ent ways. Concept art can explore characterization or mood or a space.
Storyboards eliminate ambiguity in framing, coloring, and sequencing
of images. Previsualizations explore different ways of communicating
an idea. When Pixar was working on The Incredibles , it created formless
color swatches for every scene to understand the visual and emotional
progression of the film by color alone. Some artists even create creatures
or characters in sculpture.
Orson Scott Card, the author of Ender's Game , described his process
for inventing fantasy universes. He gets a giant piece of blank paper and
starts drawing a map. He lays down cities, landmarks, and terrain fea-
tures, each with names. He doesn't plan it out; he invents the world while
drawing. Naming and relating each of these things forces him to think
about its history, the society that created it, and its reason for being there.
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