ART! VIDEO GAMES! SPACE!
In their weekly letter/bulletin/pamphlet, Paradox Interactive and Stellaris lead artist Aerie have partially lifted the curtain on the design and aesthetic choices of Stellaris. Last week we talked about the various muses that have gone into influencing Paradox’s upcoming space baby. This week, it’s all about the art design.
By looking to classic Sci-Fi from the past as well as modern interpretations of the cosmos, Paradox is looking for the largest brush possible to paint their digital canvas. From their meticulous research, the art team soon found that their influences were of a specific nature.
A theme that soon emerged in the references we liked, that we felt reinforced our vision the best, was images with high contrast, and strong colors. Like an amusement park at night, or a city at sunset, very visible in last week’s dev diary image.
The idea behind high contrast images is to elicit wonder and awe with a dash of mystery. To bring this type of awe and mystery to life, Paradox asked Kentaro Kanamoto to make 10 images that covered multiple themes in the game. Now, the art team at Paradox will be able to use the beautiful and scale centered work of Kanamoto to flesh out the rest of the artwork for Stellaris. This style clearly plays off of the contrast between light and dark, letting your mind create a lived in environment that is palpable in the best ways.
That’s not to say that Stellaris is going to be a gritty dark, slightly Blade Runner-esque, dystopia. Nah. Paradox and the art team want their world to be clean without being plastic — a hard line to straddle. Again, from the dev diary:
Clean art can be really hard to make since it easily ends up looking like plastic toys. This was one of the things I very much wanted to avoid, I did not want it to end up looking like toy armies in space. One of the things that really helped out here was us adding PBR to our engine. (Physically Based Rendering, all the cool kids are using it!) This was implemented in Runemaster, and with this we were able to get more detailed and realistic looking ships by having a large range of material properties to the surface, it adds a lot of detail, and it helps keep ships from having too much of a plastic feeling.
We want adult ships, not some plastic toys! Actually, don’t hold me to that; just in case a line of ultra-realistic spaceship toys finds their way to shelves near me…
Another choice Paradox is adamant about is the visibility of their ship’s weapon systems. Ships will need to be seen, even from a galactic distance, and obviously we will also need to look at those turrets blasting away. This artistic choice has larger implications in game, specifically since missiles and lasers will be hitting or missing depending on the type of ship you have.
Lastly, aliens will need a huge amount of artistic dedication. Because of the inherent human centered design choices, most of the aliens will need appendages to access their ships and push big red buttons of space death. But what if I don’t want appendages? Aeries goes onto say, ” You can of course be a mind controlling parasite which has farmed a slave race to do your bidding, which we do have, but those are not in the majority.” Don’t tell me anything else. That is my soul race.
Check back next week for our look at Stellaris’s next dev diary. Catch ya’ later, mind controlling space parasite…