January 20th

Many years ago I castigated a common design method of the day: coming up with a clever graphics trick and then trying to design a game around the graphics trick. This may seem ridiculous nowadays, but back then it was so difficult to get anything good up on the screen that any success in that effort cried out to be used somehow. Lots of games in the early and mid 80s were designed around clever bits of graphics. 

I’m doing something remotely like that now. I know that I want a central part of Siboot to be the experience of being in the “dream world” that serves as the source of Eeyal, the language used in the game. To do that, I need to come up with appropriate imagery, and I’ve been refining my thoughts on how to do it.

The imagery will definitely be ill-defined, vague, foggy. Nothing clean and clear here; I’ve already got some stuff working that shows how I can get the misty, foggy style I’m aiming for. It truly is remarkable how fact computers are these days: I’m writing code in Java that blits images together to produce the final result, and I’ve seen no hiccups or stutters (so far).

The characters will not be represented in any conventional style. They will not be faces or figures. I’m considering a number of possibilities. One would be a highly stylized version of the character’s face. Suppose that a very good artist were to create a portrait with just a few strokes of the pen; that’s the kind of thing I am visualizing. With appropriate halos/auras, this might look right.

Another possibility is to represent each character in extremely simple form: a sphere, perhaps, with only a few basic facial elements providing the identification. We could define a face by just a few variables: size of eyes, separation of eyes, distance of eyeline from mouth line. Perhaps the nose could be treated as a single spot, in which case its location would be an indicator.

No, the answer is to use eyes. Different eyes for each species.

But I still need to come up with the “weirdifying background”. I’ve been thinking in terms of mist, but I want something more visually explicit. A reticulated field? Discombobulate the image? Apply geometric transforms? Hmm...