We’ve been hearing nice things about our art in Tribes of Midgard, so we decided to do a feature blog post about the visual style. We’ll break down our decision-making process, and give examples of how we achieved the unique look of our game. This post will be a little shorter than others, as we do need to keep some things a surprise and can’t share all our secrets right away!
After our team decided to make a game about Vikings, Giants and Norse myths, it became clear that we needed to pick a visual style that helped convey these ideas with imagery alone. Our Art Director wanted players to feel as though they were entering an old fantasy world, like picking up a book with ancient legends inside; players would know to expect some kind of epic journey with an almost ‘fairytale’ arc to the action. Tribes of Midgard doesn’t try to imitate any particular style, but rather seeks to capture the mood of diving into a tale of adventure from the past. When myths and legends are shown in photo-realistic ways, it becomes easy for our brains to start comparing it to what ‘feels real’, whereas stylized illustrations can help to spark the imagination and enter into a world where the rules and expectations are malleable. As game developers, it is far easier to draw players into a game when they are open to the possibilities of what may exist.
Another point of inspiration for us is the classic comic-book style of the 20th and 21st century. We liked how comic illustrations capture intensity and suggest scenes of drama, tension and high-stakes action. To convey this feeling, our 3D Artist and Art Director researched and developed a custom post-process shader that produced a hand-drawn effect without taking attention away from the mythological feel that we were also seeking to achieve. We knew we could maintain a soft mood through the use of a lighter colour palette and cel-shading that gives the impression of a game or comic you might have read as a kid. These techniques have helped to emphasize the fantasy and ‘heroic’ elements of our game while still striking the right balance of expectations for a Viking game.
Selecting a visual style for a video game must be done carefully, as it informs the player about the game and gives them expectations for the action and how they should expect to feel while playing it. We’ve been inspired by old fantasy illustrations and dramatic comic book covers, but are maintaining a fresh take on these styles that best suits the game we are making. Taking careful consideration of how you want your players to feel and think when seeing your game for the first time is the first step to developing a visual style and identity. Who knows – one day someone may be inspired by Tribes of Midgard to create some art of their own!
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