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brent_w

Opinions Wanted: RTS Art Direction

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I've been mulling over the art direction to take with a planned RTS project, which I'm writing an engine for, and I was hoping to get some feedback. The direction I keep coming back to, because I think it would be interesting, is a stylized adaptation of Sci-Fi from the first half of the 20th century. To show you what I'm talking about: Robots Ray Gun Rays The Great Machine Rocket Ship I'm picturing robots like those from movies such as "The Forbidden Planet" battling against tanks mounted with large "Death Rays". Flying saucers with "ray-guns" being chased down by sleek silver rockets. Computer displays of Oscilloscopes and Nixie Tubes. Super weapons such as the Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator. :wink: Etc. The problem is, I don't know if other people would like this style as much as I would. So, what is your opinion of it? Would you play an RTS which looked like the sci-fi comics and films of the 40's and 50's?

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They're not RTS but Fallout and Fallout 2 mixed post-apocalyptic wastelands with sci-fi elements that were heavily inspired by the sci-fi of the 40's and 50's. They got a fan or two. [grin] As long as you can motivate the choice of style with gameplay that goes along the the same lines, I think it can be an absolute killer. [smile] It's often quite nice to play something that doesen't bother with realism but just looks good.

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The issue I'm having really, Is that I've got the gameplay mechanics and programming side of this project pretty much ironed out.

However, of all the various story and theme ideas for games I've had, none happen to fit the mechanics of this particular game very well. So, when it comes to the story and visual side of this project, I'm having some issues.

I did some brainstorming on the problem, and so far this retro sci-fi idea is the only one I really like. I like it because I find the visuals interesting, it escapes the 'overdone' category sci-fi games usually fall into, and it absolves me of any responsibilities to realism.

I'm betting that these retro sci-fi themes will allow for more creative flexibility. Because the 'science' in the genre at the time was largely 'handwave', in many ways this theme would fall just as much under fantasy as it would science fiction. For that reason, I believe players would give me more 'suspension of disbelief' than I would get from a standard 'near future sci-fi' game.

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I would not. I liked Fallout, but I'm not sure this would be the same idea.

There's nothing wrong with a retro art style (I think Spore does plans flying saucers with this theme), but to me it screams "CHEESE!" It telegraphs to me that everything's going to be silly or goofy (like Destroy All Humans), more aimed toward children, and that I shouldn't expect intricate missions or detailed content.

Now that's my admitted bias from playing other games with this kind of theme. You might be planning something totally different. You could pull off a very cool "Dark City" / "City of Lost Children" polish to things, which takes the retro feel and makes it at least a little more complex and modern, and then I'd probably be happy. (Heh, I'm obviously in the minority so far, so take this with a boulder of salt)

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If you can still capture the grit an realism and maintain the style and humor, like fallout does, then you would have done a good job. But thats gonna be alot more challenging than other artistic styles in my opinion.

I especially like the style implied by the 4th image, the large technological structures but cant see how you could capture that well.

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Quote:
Original post by brent_w
I'm betting that these retro sci-fi themes will allow for more creative flexibility. Because the 'science' in the genre at the time was largely 'handwave', in many ways this theme would fall just as much under fantasy as it would science fiction. For that reason, I believe players would give me more 'suspension of disbelief' than I would get from a standard 'near future sci-fi' game.
I've been reading a lot of Phillip K Dick's sci-fi lately (50's-70's), and yeah, most of the 'science' was hardly explained and was just a tool for him to go off on philosophical explorations. Most of the 'science' was made up of relays, punched tape and drugs - from this he built anything from memory alteration to time travel to an androids perception of reality. It works for me ;)

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Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
I would not. I liked Fallout, but I'm not sure this would be the same idea.

There's nothing wrong with a retro art style (I think Spore does plans flying saucers with this theme), but to me it screams "CHEESE!" It telegraphs to me that everything's going to be silly or goofy (like Destroy All Humans), more aimed toward children, and that I shouldn't expect intricate missions or detailed content.

Now that's my admitted bias from playing other games with this kind of theme. You might be planning something totally different. You could pull off a very cool "Dark City" / "City of Lost Children" polish to things, which takes the retro feel and makes it at least a little more complex and modern, and then I'd probably be happy. (Heh, I'm obviously in the minority so far, so take this with a boulder of salt)
Well, you might be the minority here but in the other forum I posted this question in, there has been more skepticism.
That is my biggest worry, however, that it will come across as cheesy.

As for the art direction, ideally, I would sort of merge the retro sci-fi theme with art deco themes ... attempting to "darken" it.

The best example for this I can come up with would be the "World of Tomorrow" scenes from the film, "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm".
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But to be quite honest.
I question whether I even have the artistic ability to pull that off.

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Theme is of little importance -- what matters is your belief in it. If it's strong, the player will believe in it, too.

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