Creating a Visual Theme and Style

Art is often a big part of a game, so establishing a visual theme and style is very important during the development for the art to be homogenous, and for it to match the narrative and the gameplay as closely as possible.

When we started defining the visual theme we knew what the basic gameplay would be, namely that the player would control riot police squads to keep riots under control in an urban environment. We also knew that the actions the player take in the game should feel meaningful and have an impact on the player.

With this in mind, the first thing we did was decide on a visual theme that would fit this experience. We ended up with a grounded cyberpunk theme set around 50 years into the future. In this theme we imagine a world in grave imbalance in all areas from social classes to the environment, so finding meaningful conflicts in this realm would be pretty easy. Some examples of conflicts are lack of food and clean water, human labor being worth very little, huge disparities between rich and poor people, transhumanism, etc.

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With a theme broadly defined, the visual style was next. After discussing different styles and what we wanted to convey to the player, we decided on going for realism. The riots should feel real and the players’ actions should feel as meaningful as possible, so this style made the most sense. We also wanted to challenge ourselves to create a realistic looking game environment.

After the visual style and theme had been defined, we created moodboards for a variety of different areas. This started by going onto image sharing and searching websites and downloading any image we thought aligned with the view of what our game would look like in terms of design, colors and atmosphere. These images were then put together into a single image that represent a specific area of the game. We made five moodboards in total, for the high, middle and low class housing areas as well as for the rioters and the riot police forces. These will help inspire and guide us to create art that is homogenous throughout the development process.

Written by Lukas Orsvärn