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Ballistix

Graphics / Art style

5 posts in this topic

Hey guys,

 

What would you pros describe the art/graphics style used by Valve in making of the game Alien Swarm?

 

Just type in Alien Swarm Valve in Google to see few screen shots.

 

Thanks a lot!

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I'm no artist, but here is my attempt to describe it:

  • Realistic (not cartoony, cell-shaded)
  • 3D (not 2D)
  • Science fiction (robot)
  • Industrial (no plants and wildlife)
  • Dark (plenty of shadows)
  • Present (not futuristic)
  • Limited presence of fantastical elements (fantastical elements are things like magic and such)
  • Technology (not space-magic etc.)
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I'm no artist, but here is my attempt to describe it:

  • Realistic (not cartoony, cell-shaded)
  • 3D (not 2D)
  • Science fiction (robot)
  • Industrial (no plants and wildlife)
  • Dark (plenty of shadows)
  • Present (not futuristic)
  • Limited presence of fantastical elements (fantastical elements are things like magic and such)
  • Technology (not space-magic etc.)

 

I'm not sure if you played the game or not, but it should matter anyway.

 

What do you think about these textures though? Don't they seem like they have this cartoon like touch/colors to it as Valve used in Team Fortress 2? Not the models, the models are definitely realistic, but the textures.

 

Thanks man.

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I'm no artist, but here is my attempt to describe it:

  • Realistic (not cartoony, cell-shaded)
  • 3D (not 2D)
  • Science fiction (robot)
  • Industrial (no plants and wildlife)
  • Dark (plenty of shadows)
  • Present (not futuristic)
  • Limited presence of fantastical elements (fantastical elements are things like magic and such)
  • Technology (not space-magic etc.)

 

I'm not sure if you played the game or not, but it should matter anyway.

 

What do you think about these textures though? Don't they seem like they have this cartoon like touch/colors to it as Valve used in Team Fortress 2? Not the models, the models are definitely realistic, but the textures.

 

Thanks man.

 

 

I think you are right.

 

It's easy to get the first impression of realistic approach because the shaders are realistic, only some light colors are pretty extreme. But when you inspect the textures without shaders they are very limited palette. 

 

Let's elaborate on something:

 

A) Cartoon style is where you express materials with limited palette. You reckon things like grass surface are of course very varied but you have toned the detail level down in your visualization. This is what TF2 graphics are about. This style is also often coupled with toon style lighting, outlines, accented proportions etc.

 

B) If we look at Portal we can see the limited palette as well. But here it is actually a declaration of material in the game world. The developer is stating this surface really is flawless pure white. This metal is perfectly even colored and without any signs of wear and tear. This wouldn't work on all materials because we know what things like human skin, rough stone, wood board, grass really should look like and we can compare that to what we seet. But it does for anything man-made or fictional.

 

How do you distinguish between A and B? Sometimes it's hard to tell but if you find enough of the uneven and rough materials somewhere among the uniform colored surfaces you start to get impression of B rather than A. Also the realism level of overall lighting can also give hints to if the game really is in cartoon style or not.

 

In this Alien Swarm example  I can't really tell (based on the screenshots, I haven't played it) if the limited palette is because the developers are expressing everything in similar style or if they are stating that some or even most materials are perfectly uniform in color. But considering all above things it leads me to believe they are going for B).

Edited by ShadowFlar3
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Personally I think that it's not the textures that seem "cartoony". I think it is actually the style of the 3D models and texture maps are simpler. 

 

Texture-wise, they do show wear-and-tear effects. Such as in this screen shot:
http://images.onlinegamesinn.com/Alien%20Swarm2.jpg

 

However, especially looking at the player models:
http://static.gamesradar.com/images/mb/GamesRadar/us/Daily/2010/07-Jul/20/Valve%20promo/alien-swarm2--article_image.jpg

 

Simply put, the models are comprised of less objects. And the texture maps have less detail. It's definitely a combination of fewer 3D objects in the room, and less detailed texture maps. 

Just look at these two comparisons.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-5Psek4tWXqI/Tz5apbKe0rI/AAAAAAAACDM/SUbEJvl4pUM/s1600/Alien-Swarm_2.jpg

http://www.onlysp.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Dead_Space_3_13449647107732.jpg

 

The "Dead Space" guys suite is just made of a lot more parts, and the texture maps for it are also more detailed with more contrasting colors. The Alien Swarm levels don't have as many pipes, cracks, edges, etc. 

 

One last thing worth mentioning, the 'Alien Swarm' graphics might look a little more "cartoony" because the designs for the 3D models themselves look kinda generic and outdated. Compare the helmets for the two games I posted links to. "Alien Swarm" helmets are basically a circle with a glowing visor. That's what makes it look cartoony. That's just my opinion though.  

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I think it's the really bright colors that make it look cartoony, but I'd say it falls somewhere between realistic and cartoony.

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