After a short intro to level art, I wanted to explore more thoroughly the creation of an environment in Subaeria. I’m not an architect -and probably never will be-, but this discipline fascinates me by its multiple aspects of both art and engineering. I think there is a very interesting link between architecture and level art.
Creating a game environment is a subtle balance between the beautiful and the useful. The environment must be pleasant to discover, and the player’s progression through it can’t be hindered by the objects used to decorate it. Architecture inspires me quite a bit because it attempts to answer the same problem of duality between form and function in a space.
“Creating a game environment is a subtle balance between the beautiful and the useful”
This principle of form associating with function, central in architecture, is very useful in the creation of an environment. It says that a building is not only a sculpture but is first and foremost a functional space, be it a train station, a university campus or a house. In a game, the environment establishes the mood of a place as well as its emotion. Additionally, like in architecture, these locations also have a function within a game, like the staging of a challenge to overcome for the player. That being said, the form and the function shouldn’t be dissociated and, for me the whole challenge of level art is to infuse a mood to the scene, and if possible to add to the experience of the player.
In Subaeria, the function of each room is imposed by the level design. Every room is a puzzle that the player must solve by manipulating different parts of a system. It’s composed of robots, traps, boxes… Changing a piece of this system can have very negative effects for the puzzle, potentially making it impossible to complete.
I see level art as a way of aiding the player in the understanding of the puzzle’s structure. That is achieved with very thorough work on the lighting and placement of key objects. It’s very similar to the composition of an image in painting or photography.
Let’s use the room above as an example. It’s composed of multiple groups of robots, each madeup of one fixed turret and one other robot patrolling around it (Figure 1). Three of the groups are placed in an equilateral triangle shape at the center of the room (Figure 2). To aid in the understanding of the puzzle, I’m going to highlight this triangular form by placing objects in the blue zones (Figure 3). To accentuate this effect even more, I’ll place some lighting above each group of enemies (Figure 4).
What I find fascinating in this (you’d certainly say I’m a little crazy), is that all these efforts affect the player subconsciously, but can have a great effect on his experience of Subaeria. In my next post I’ll cover my tips and tricks on creating great level art and influencing the player as he progresses through the environment.
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