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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperArt (Moderator: JWK5)Representing artistic movements in video games
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Alex May
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« on: October 15, 2007, 03:04:43 AM »

From a discussion on IRC.

Since art movements aren't restricted to the medium in which they were conceived, it's possible to represent some or all of them in video games in some way.

There are several ways that this can be done. Any more?

  • Visually reproduce the effect of the movement
  • Employ the methodology in development
  • Represent the results in the game design

Visually reproduce the effect of the movement
By this I mean making the game look like the movement, so, making it look like a cubist / surrealist / impressionist / whatever painting. Lots of research has gone into this. Some pretty competent algorithms and shaders around.

jeb found this (oblivion paint world or something):


Employ the methodology in development
I don't think this is possible. The example used was impressionism; you can't code quickly and capture a moment of time, and expect that work to be as complex and interesting as a painting. It's inherently different. Same goes for other movements. It might be applicable to meetings! Smiley

Represent the results in the game design
So you work hard in a traditional way with regular code and whatever art style, but the actual game design reflects the artistic movement. That is to say, the experience the player goes through when playing the game embodies the theory of that artistic movement. Surreal would be the most obvious. A surreal game where surreal things happen, not necessarily one that looks like a Dali painting, but one where the events don't make sense at first or are subtle and weird metaphors. Whatever, I'm out of my depth.

So, any other theories on application of art movement into games? Examples of games that do this? Are the points above just total BS?

No discussions of what art is and isn't please, or of whether video games are or aren't art.
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Tr00jg
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2007, 07:58:17 AM »

The best and obvious choice would be to just reflect the art in the environment.

But, by far the most interesting would be to implement the style and let it also reflect into the game's design.
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« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2007, 12:21:35 PM »

One IGF entry that comes to mind is The Night Journey. That definitely looks more like some type of artistic movement in interactive form than a proper 'game'.
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« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2007, 09:01:07 PM »

I originally had this discussion in another IRC channel, and most of the people were like: "lol who carez!".
Anyway, I think it's very interesting as a method of designing games. For instance, how would an impressionist game work? I can imagine waving 'round the wiimote for some reason. Games generally have very clear controls- so an impressionist game might  eschew this.

The top-secret-project-that-isn't-really-that-secret that I'm working on at the moment uses an impressionist art style. Mainly because visually, it embodies how the game is meant to feel. The design is also somewhat impressonist, since it encourages play and such.

But I think for games to be truly surrealist, or impressionist, or whatever, we need to translate the basis of that movement to the game as a whole.
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threesided
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« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2007, 09:10:53 PM »

The thing I'd like to point out would be to do with the whole impressionist point you made. The whole point of impressionist paintings was to capturea moment in time as it was happening, and avoid all sorts of nitpicky critical thinking and the whole lot.

The reason that this can't be done well in games is due to the fact that games are not static, and are not trying to capture one solitary moment. The only way I could possibly think of that ever working would be if every single pixel on the screen had a mind of it's own and could adapt with the other pixels, something (i am the farthest thing from a programmer) I would definitely call an impossibility. I would gather that something like that would fall apart very fast.

Some other movements could be done, like modernism or cubism, simply because of their  simplicity.

I think a REALLY cool movement for a game to mimick would be neoclassicism. Imagine chiaro scuro (sp) in real time! I mean, that art was amazing, I was priveleged enough to see some of Jacques Louis David's work in person about a year and a half ago, and I mean, I was an inch away from Napoleon in his Study (LOOK THIS PAINTING UP) And it's honestly just surreal to see the amount of scrutiny put into such a thing.

I think this whole representing artistic movements in games is just a behemoth of an undertaking, and something that would require a lot of art-historical knowledge, which is not a common thread of study in the gaming industry (at least I wouldn't think so).

That's my 20 cents.
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Eden
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« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2007, 09:15:03 PM »

Well the impressionist style works (really well)! So there!
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Alex May
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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2007, 12:06:21 AM »

I think it would be tremendously difficult to do cubism. You'd need some really crazy renderer to do it. It's certainly a challenge, I don't know many programmers who would give a shit about the idea but I'll ask around and see what people think. I think it's true that in general you won't find much art history inside game programmers, but it's possibly slightly more likely in graphics programmers.

Back to impressionism, capturing a moment as it happens can mean lots of things. With paintings this meant that the artist had to paint quickly. This cannot be translated directly to game development, as generally with a program, if you do not spend much time on it then it is not a complex work (whereas a painting is) and anyway it is not a very descriptive medium. It would be more instructive and appropriate to use the visual style (which I originally thought wasn't a good idea) and think about implementing the "capture a moment" idea in the game design somehow.

But I've just thought of a fourth way - setting. If your game teaches about the art movement then that is representing the movement, whether it's a fiction set around the art movement or a more documentary title.
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Alex May
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« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2007, 12:08:07 AM »

Oh additionally, I've just discovered that impressionism is perfect for video game rendering, as the computer only has an instant to draw a frame. It's capturing a series of movements rather than just the one. In fact if you think about it, the low resolution and approximated realism of video games has always been impressionistic.
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« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2007, 06:33:38 AM »

This is an interesting thread.

Just a few things to keep in mind when talking about Impressionism. While it is true that Impressionist painters sought to capture a specific moment (perhaps the same building at different times of the day and year), their focus was very specific and narrow. They wanted to examine light, and they wanted to do it with paint. (This desire can be linked quite closely to the development of the camera. Painters largely sought new modes of image making once a 'perfect' perspective machine was developed. This culminated with the explosion of movements at the start of the last century: Cubism, German Futurism, etc.) The paint aspect of this equation makes it almost impossible to deal with Impressionism in a game, since it will never be rendered with paint. Now granted, that is the philosopher in me speaking and you might like to disagree. Furthermore, I want to point out that a game which uses the visual tropes of Impressionism (similar (and simulated!) mark-making, colours, etc.) has not suddenly transported itself into an Impressionist realm. Granted it may now be engaged in a dialouge with the movement in painting, but I can't really see how it could be considered part of it.

All that being said, the screen-shot above looks very interesting, and I would love to see a Cubist rendering engine. (The trick with that is Cubism was concerned more with time than perspective. The multiple perspectives are a byproduct of trying to represent the way we understand our world, which involves time and movement through space.)

Okay, I gotta run off to film class.
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Kekskiller
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« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2007, 08:19:50 AM »

When I think about art and video games, super paper mario is the best example to show how art and game can fuse. The whole game consists of blocks, macro pixels, modernism-like design and whatever. Yes, you can call it "pixelated vector art" or so, bt that doesn't reflect how this game deals with game design, art, movement and it's representation.

Lets get some screenshots to imagine what i mean:

http://crunchgear.com/wp-content/uploads/spm.jpg
http://www.super-paper-mario.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/02/superpaper9.jpg
http://msnbcmedia4.msn.com/j/msnbc/Components/Photos/070427/070427_SuperPaperMario2D_hmed_3p.hmedium.jpg
http://fotos.trucoteca.com/analisis/Avances/Super%20Paper%20Mario/super-paper-mario2.jpg
http://vpod.tv/Playscope/226740/thumb/
http://image.jeuxvideo.com/images/gc/s/u/supmgc024.jpg

Every level has a style that fits to all activitys your doing while playing it. That means: 1 level is monochrome, just black and white, no grey! It's totally empty except some boulders laying on the ground. Your walking and walking and walking and... nothing! You'll have to run some minutes until something happens. This fits the minimalism of the level's art, pixelated levels are made like old jump'n runs.

Super paper mario is definitely a game where pixelation, vector art and game design fit perfect together.

love it  Kiss Kiss Kiss Kiss Kiss
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Alex May
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« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2007, 09:57:19 AM »

That's great, but did you read the thread?
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Kekskiller
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« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2007, 10:13:39 AM »

Erm, yes. And Lips Sealed ?
That's what you've asked - "Examples of games that do this".
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Melly
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« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2007, 10:36:30 AM »

I don't think you got it.

He did not ask just about games that have an interesting style, he asked about games that try to incorporate an artistic movement into themselves. You know, like cubism.
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