What a difference a splash of aesthetic vision makes!
At this point in our embryonic existence, Brooklyn Game Ensemble consists mostly of game designers and programmers (and one talented hybrid). We’re not devoid of visual aesthetic sensibility — Eric studied painting, for example, I got my start in graphic design back when it was being called “desktop publishing,” and we all have a keen eye for usability and flavor. Still, when we jump into working on a game as programmers and game designers, we want to prototype a structure to play around with as quickly as possible. We leapt from the unformed tohubohu of abstract concept into the actuality of a 3D prototype world, and when the mists first cleared we had this:
Our library consists of stacks of books — and our first books were plain rectangular boxes in a few different colors, piled up in randomly placed stacks. We used this as our workshop to try out various ideas on how the player would interact with the environment, and what objects might exist. (As you may be able to tell from the image, one of the objects we had been considering seems to be represented as a giant ink well… hmmmmm.)
As we moved towards the procedural generation of our library-world, we also started to discuss the perspective and visual style of the world. Fortunately, our team includes an architect: Nathalie Pozzi, who’s making her first foray into digital games but brings enough experience and vision about the aesthetics of space that she’s frequently elevating our game to new levels and new ways of thinking about things the rest of us might otherwise take for granted.
Kris and Josh provided a number of adjustable variables, handles into the code generating and rendering the level which allow the rest of us to affect how our world looked without getting our grubby hands into the nice, clean code. Here’s the “after makeover” shot of our world after Nathalie spent an afternoon tweaking what it looked like:
For now, we’ve chosen a fixed “orthographic” perspective, with stark shadows on the edges of the books. The floor’s bright blue for contrast, and a blank slate in more ways than one, since we haven’t explored too many ideas for what lies underfoot. Making prototypes is one of the most exciting phases of game development precisely because they’re like rickety little boats which you’re sailing into the unknown — but revealing more about themselves to you as you sail along!