They are in fact, all related to light, and the way it acts in the physical world, or the artistic lighting of a scene. Whilst I was in Spain writing my script, I also spent lots of time capturing the different behaviours of light, the way it casts shadows, shines through materials, reflects, and bounces from surface to surface. This is something I am keen to replicate in my third year project and so this reference and observation will (hopefully) be useful, though all this has allowed my lack of colour theory knowledge to resurface.
|Olly the photographer.|
Two videogames that have recently redefined what the visual benchmark is for modern graphics are The Witcher 2 and Crysis 2 (another set to do the same appears to be Rage). But its not what they do technically that I want to focus on, actually that's a massive lie, I would love to drool praise all over both the Red and Cry engine's graphical capabilities but it would be a) propaganda b) predictable and c) un-constructive. Both games have extremely coherent art styles that tie together everything from design, to colour palette, to rendering features and lighting is one of the most integral aspects. Especially in Crysis 2.
I might have mentioned it before, or possibly in my brief real-time rendering presentation, but Cryengine 3 is one of the first: and very few, game engines to implement an approximation of the indirect lighting techniques used in photo-realistic rendering. This completely changes the usually flat lighting of a videogame into a gorgeous explosion of colours and tones, each bleeding into the next. Here are some examples, lets see if I can pass off this polygon porn as analysis.
|The Ceph like to coat the walls with jam.|
|A flooded motor way.|
|Beautifully tessellated bombed out brickwork.|
|Yes, even I have a shadow.|
|The nights were some of my favourite moments.|
Here is a really obvious example of the compli-
mentary colour I was talking about. See right >>
Colour connotes temperature and often the cool blues are used in the more science based labs of Crysis, while the warm yellows illuminate the parks and streets.
|Bounce lighting exemplified.|
Crysis 2 was written by Richard Morgan, a British science fiction novelist. He professes a 'complete addiction to videogames', sounds a bit unhealthy to me...but it interests me because I have a theory.
In Crysis you play as a man in a suit who's A.I can transform the suits surface to perform cloaking, armour and power functions. This is signalled to the player through a digitized voice announcing your every action, various on screen visual cues (power meters, image artefacts from physical trauma) and the suit likes to reboot every time you get sufficiently crushed by something. It seems as though this concept was dreamt up by someone who would like to live inside of a computer, and therein lies the appeal to the Crysis demographic. "Can it run Crysis?" is the question that validates, or conversely voids, the £500-£1000 you just spent on a fancy new gaming PC. Crysis' forte is immersion through graphical prowess so the target audience has invested a lot of money in living inside a computer. Something that playing the Crysis games aims to simulate, to live inside a computerised suit that separates you from the world around you, and is something they are immensely accomplished at. Its like a meta fantasy of empowerment. As a player, but for the first 10 minutes of gameplay, you are two layers of reality removed from the fictional world the game perpetuates, and one of those layers in itself is fictional. Yet it all feels so deeply physical. Have a trailer:
Here is the full library of screenshots I took for this post. Spoilers.
I read a really interesting interview with John Carmack, legendary programmer at id Software. He has some pretty interesting things to say about the state of graphics.