ART DIRECTION OF CREST

18 of April, 2014

I will here explain some details about the art direction for our latest project. Ready?

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So, where do we start? Crest is a god game which takes its place in a time where the most advanced cultures were those we today call river cultures. Many god games takes its place in simpler times, why do you think that is? I think it's because humanity didn't posses as much power, and a certain guy hadn't declared god dead. So the reason for having the game to have humble beginnings would explain why the people would and needed to listen to you. Now, I don't suggest that spirituality has no place in our time, but rather that the finer metaphysical questions were probably not the most important concern when you're trying to build a fledgling civilisation. We thought it would be wise to use an ancient backdrop, and what is more ancient than Africa's past, the cradle of humankind?

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I'm not saying that everyone will be devout, there will be some who're  critical believers and some disbelievers. Just look at the person above, doesn't look like he cares about god, or anyone. I think the conversation will be something like Tool's song Right in Two. There will be times where you want to make a cosmic facepalm at your stubborn people. This is not a game about omnipotence.

Crest takes inspiration from ancient African heritage in order to give the player a feeling of a mythological time from humanity's ancient cradle. The game emulates a visual language akin to the geometrical shapes in masks that can be found in several Sub-Saharan cultures. But also the playfulness and exaggeration with proportions, colours and patterns have been taken into consideration. The people in this game look like the masks, totems and idols made by ancient African people.

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The design of the people and the environment should be seen as an amalgamation of several cultures and sites of Sub-Saharan Africa. The technological prowess is supposed to be similar to an Iron Age society. The style takes a lot of historical liberties, this is more of a fantastical take of the continent and its diverse peoples.

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In order to be economic with the workload and to be able to control every minute detail of the visual style we've decided to choose a minimalistic flat shaded low polygon look. The textures are simple in this 3D game, but the lighting is more vivid. With the help of flat shaded and sharp geometric shapes we hope to achieve a “cubist-painterly” style where the lights paint facets of colours on the models.

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What about the perspective? Well., it will be the usual omnipresent fare which you've probably seen before. We're more interested with experimenting with the proportions, akin to medieval European religious paintings where the most important subjects where huge compared to others. We will most probably have a dynamic range of sizes as well, so a character can shrink and grow. Here's an example, the Maestà altarpiece by Duccio.

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And below here's a mockup showing off this.

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And lastly a few words about god, we didn't forget about the manifestation of the player. This is also important in our game. One of the things I find most fascinating with the game is the question if god shapes man, or if mankind shapes god? Or maybe both? So one of the ways we will illustrate that will be through depictions of the god, the player. A sort of altarpiece or tapestry.

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You can see the depiction of god above. A sexless being. It doesn't need to procreate and is so to speak perfect. An androgynous being who is both male and female, and neither. This is a common concept explored in older polytheistic religions for example. And I also believe that an androgynous representation of the player would help with inviting a diverse audience to project themselves into the role. There are few of us who are truly androgynous, so most of us are equally alienated. Perhaps that can also free us from expectations of how we should behave? Anyway, this is an example of how it will look in-game.

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I hope you've enjoyed this art direction adventure, see you around.