Unifying style

For developmental things relating to the graphics of the game.
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Lucifer
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Unifying style

Post by Lucifer » Thu Feb 04, 2016 12:03 pm

Ok, so, sinewav raised the point in the 0.4 cockpit discussion thread (too lazy to link it, sorry) that we really need a unifying style. Now, when I first read it, I thought "We need a backstory." We're kinda currently stuck on the Tron backstory of programs being forced to play a gladiatorial style game. We could come up with something better, and in doing so we could describe, as little as needed, a society that results in this game being played and that would be fun.

Then Word came along and said "Hey, art deco!", demonstrating that we could just declare an artistic style and not worry about backstory.

I'm still stuck on backstory, though, and here's why:

If we simply pick an art style, we have plenty of guidance for how to make things look, but nothing for how the messages should look. So we have "x core dumped y". If we decide we're all insectoid spaceships, we might instead write it as "y crashed into x's exhaust stream". So, backstory gives us guidance for how to write the translation files. Ideally, we'd provide some sort of support to servers that change those files (Mud Puddle being the one I'm thinking about).

But going with simply an artistic style is simpler, and in many ways more elegant. So it's useful.

So, all that blathering aside, the idea here is that we should pick a unifying style, something that'll affect our choice of fonts, background in the menus, cycle models, walls, grid floor, grid walls, etc. Everything. Last time we did a total makeover, we voted on individual pieces. This time, we should look at complete packages and pick the style we like best. Or, we should pick the style we want and trust sinewav (who is currently our entire art department) to make shit that fits the style, and we can focus on honing each piece.

In any case, this is the thread for that discussion. I'm personally in favor of writing a small but useful backstory that would guide the art department. I realize that's entering into the realm of narrative fiction, and that narrative fiction doesn't really fit the game. So,

your ideas?
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Re: Unifying style

Post by Rain » Thu Feb 04, 2016 4:53 pm

END OF LINE

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Re: Unifying style

Post by Word » Fri Feb 05, 2016 8:26 pm

Here's what I wrote some time ago, if you can use any of that. :goatee:

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Re: Unifying style

Post by Phytotron » Fri Feb 05, 2016 11:07 pm

Lucifer wrote:We're kinda currently stuck on the Tron backstory of programs being forced to play a gladiatorial style game.
I'm completely fine with that, and in fact most supportive of retaining it. It's implied, and it's plenty.
So we have "x core dumped y".
I like these, too. But that means I've always thought that terms like "suicide" should be replaced with something more, uh, "programmy." I recall Z-Man already proposing replacement terms some time ago, but can't locate it.

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Re: Unifying style

Post by sinewav » Sun Feb 07, 2016 1:38 am

This post is one of several drafts. I am having a hard time talking about lightcycle game aesthetics without bringing up a comparison between TRON and Tron:Legacy and what I like and don't like about these two movies from a purely artistic sense. Before I go into it, I want to say we need a back-story or an extreme makeover like Pink Pony.

The two images below show a similar scene. In the original movie, Kevin Flynn crashes a recognizer in an urban area. In Legacy, his son also arrives at an urban area.

Today's movies emphasize dark realism. You see it in all the superhero movies. To me, Legacy feels deeply Film Noir. Is this scene a gritty part of New York on a rainy night or is it inside a computer? It's hard to know where you are in the movie since every shot looks the same. The color palette is remarkably narrow and everything is way too shinny. Legacy reminds me of how Photoshop filters were overused in the 90s (glow, drop-shadow, bevel/emboss). For some reason we are expected to believe this is the Tron universe just because everything glows.

A lot of art back in the 80s was influenced by Art Deco (Word isn't too far off with that idea). But it would be hard to describe the original TRON movie as anything but surrealism. Even though people mostly remember the cool, blue glow of the characters, nearly every frame in that movie is packed with dynamic shapes, intricate patterns reminiscent of circuitry, gradients, noise, and color — much color. TRON is psychedelic. While you are in that world it is a continual struggle to place things into known context. The most recognizable object in the first movie is a tank.

Legacy tried to create a visually oppressive atmosphere without having an oppressive storyline. I think they painted themselves into a corner with the art style. It is too restrictive and many of the scenes just blend together. Lightcycle games suffer this problem too. All too often it is the result of developers thinking "we need cool effects, lets make everything shiny an glowing" and slapping together some graphics. Or, they copy the look of Legacy, which is Ok in small doses, but really wears on the eyes.

If I were to take the original movie and extend it into the future I would pick different elements to emphasize other than "make everything blue/red and glowing." There is so much to choose from. And Because no one has ever got the look down correctly we could copy the original movie freely and stand out from the rest.

Now, I know there is concern about intellectual property rights, but I wonder if this worry is exaggerated. As far as I know, andi75's glTron never received a C&D and his work is way closer to infringement than Armagetron. Not only that, glTron has been cloned and monetized on Android dozens of times. I think we are in the clear, creatively speaking.

Anyway, some of the questions I ask myself are "how do people perceive technology in the 21st Century?", "What direction will design go after everyone gets comfortable with the modern style, influenced by mobile technology (flat design, white-space, large type)", and "what forms break expectations in today's science fiction?"
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Re: Unifying style

Post by Lucifer » Sun Feb 07, 2016 3:58 am

Considering advances in computing technology, I found that as the two visually represented the current state of technology, they were connected quite logically. I would have also preferred a brighter world in Legacy, but with the crap plot they gave it (after such a solid start), there was no saving that movie. Even the original had the cheesiest script ever, but the story was great and the special effects were amazing (still are).

Anyway, definitely don't want to go in the direction Legacy went. I have no problem retaining the idea that the cycles are programs, but I'd drop the "captured" subtext and assumptions of an oppressive MCP. If we were to pretend it's fanfic, I'd like the setting to be post-TRON, and forked from Legacy's timeline. So alternate universe. We're probably safe to stick with that as long as we don't try to bring in the actual characters from the movie.

Speaking of whiches, what was really interesting in the first movie was the way the programs were humanized. RAM genuinely loved helping people plan their savings for retirement. He loved helping people. TRON was your noble savage type blended with the basic super hero. These were lovable characters we cared about. Legacy took that away and replaced it with some arbitrary life form that had to be saved. Blech. A movie so bad, it's not good.

So, for backstory, I'd rather go with the game grid we present is entertainment for the programs on the computer, and we stick with actual program names for AI names.

I think we want shinier, glassy textures, not quite as rugged as in the first movie, but rich in detail. Remember the first movie was also rich in contrast, that's part of how the colors got so bright in the first place. Maybe we should be thinking "How do we keep the computers-as-world-programs-as-people metaphor and present the current state of technology as we envision it?" So, brighter colors, increasing contrasts, and an overall sterile New Star Trek form?

As a technical note, it's worth considering that the first movie was shot in black and white and colored using a computer. They had to input by hand all the rendering details for each frame because there wasn't a storage device capable of storing all that information. We have that entire task automated and running on a friggin' desktop computer. How would the world of TRON look with so much automation? Also, the original TRON took place on a mainframe. Armagetron takes place on individual servers on the internet. Obviously that's something we should consider, a more distributed system with wormholes/teleporters/etc that enables programs to quickly interface with other systems. The closest the movie got to that was the big sail ship.

Other elements from the movie we should think about: Do we keep the religion oriented around Users as gods? Ok, that was the only one I could think of. My inclination is no. The programs aren't aware there's a world outside the computer. Raises some fun existential questions.
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Re: Unifying style

Post by sinewav » Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:36 am

I took this test: Artistic Preferences Scales

It takes a while to finish. Lots of pictures. I wouldn't mind seeing what others get!
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Re: Unifying style

Post by Magi » Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:54 am

sinewav wrote:I took this test: Artistic Preferences Scales

It takes a while to finish. Lots of pictures. I wouldn't mind seeing what others get!
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Re: Unifying style

Post by Word » Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:08 am

I got this, although I clicked a lot of images of both categories (I did like the stuff by Degas, Monet, Corot and Seurat, but not everything)... :P

then i took that test another time and got a few different combinations, but I chose the same images.
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Re: Unifying style

Post by Pre » Wed Feb 17, 2016 10:59 am

interesting
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Re: Unifying style

Post by kyle » Wed Feb 17, 2016 1:24 pm

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Re: Unifying style

Post by Wik » Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:18 pm

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Re: Unifying style

Post by Ratchet » Thu Feb 18, 2016 4:44 am

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Re: Unifying style

Post by breeze » Fri Feb 19, 2016 10:16 pm

Oh no D:
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Re: Unifying style

Post by Phytotron » Sun Mar 06, 2016 8:56 pm

sinewav wrote:Today's movies emphasize dark realism. You see it in all the superhero movies.
Yeah, I've been criticizing this for some time. So over it. "Words like “realism” and “dark” and “gritty” get bandied about Hollywood as if the only merit a story can have is in its verisimilitude, but that’s a lie. Emotional honesty transcends reality; it’s what allows disbelief to be suspended, and yet what makes a story stay true. When Superman: The Movie was released, Richard Donner promised us we’d believe a man could fly. We did, but it wasn’t the wire-work alone." — Greg Rucka.

Also, Legacy just plain doesn't look like it exists inside a computer, from what I've seen.
But it would be hard to describe the original TRON movie as anything but surrealism.
With a computer/digital aesthetic. It was all about those circuit boards and geometry. The city scenes you reference, also the whole sequence as Flynn enters the computer, I think both embody that aesthetic.

I have noticed over the past year a bit of a backlash to that dark and gritty aesthetic. More colors, and as it happens, also quite a bit of geometry and circuit board elements in a lot of stuff.
Lucifer wrote:I have no problem retaining the idea that the cycles are programs, but I'd drop the "captured" subtext and assumptions of an oppressive MCP. If we were to pretend it's fanfic, I'd like the setting to be post-TRON....
That's part of what I consider implied. It's post-movie situation—and Legacy never existed; this game predated it, after all. The MCP has been defeated (though may occasionally pop up in some form here or there, such as sinewav's MCP server, but not all-encompassing) and now programs are just freely carrying out their "lives" in Light City and beyond—now with internet travel. They still engage in lightcycle and other competition, but it's for sport, games—after all, we freely move in and out of whichever arena we choose, and now respawn rather than being permanently derezzed. It's video games.

But again, I don't think the game (whatever's left of it) needs much story beyond that, especially considering there's not much game beyond that.
Also, the original TRON took place on a mainframe. Armagetron takes place on individual servers on the internet. Obviously that's something we should consider, a more distributed system with wormholes/teleporters/etc that enables programs to quickly interface with other systems. The closest the movie got to that was the big sail ship.
Servers are still physical locations with all the various bits. They're just connected by tubes...I mean, wires.
sinewav wrote:I took this test: Artistic Preferences Scales

It takes a while to finish. Lots of pictures. I wouldn't mind seeing what others get!
Can't click the "Start" button, but just looking at the results, I strongly question this "masculine/feminine preference." Also, perhaps this should be split.

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