The Style of Video Games Graphics Summit

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Name Yin Wu,Degree Master of Arts, Title of Thesis The Style of Video Games Graphics Analyzing the. Functions of Visual Styles in Storytelling and,Gameplay in Video Games. Examining Committee,Chair Carman Neustaedter,Assistant Professor. School of Interactive Arts Technology,Simon Fraser University. Jim Bizzocchi Senior Supervisor,Associate Professor.
School of Interactive Arts Technology,Simon Fraser University. Steve DiPaola Supervisor,Associate Professor,School of Interactive Arts Technology. Simon Fraser University,Thecla Schiphorst External Examiner. Associate Professor,School of Interactive Arts Technology. Simon Fraser University,Date Defended Approved October 09 2012.
Partial Copyright Licence, Every video game has a distinct visual style however the functions of visual style in. game graphics have rarely been investigated in terms of medium specific design. decisions This thesis suggests that visual style in a video game shapes players. gaming experience in terms of three salient dimensions narrative pleasure ludic. challenge and aesthetic reward The thesis first develops a context based on the fields. of aesthetics art history visual psychology narrative studies and new media studies. Next it builds an analytical framework with two visual styles categories containing six. separate modes This research uses examples drawn from 29 games to illustrate and to. instantiate the categories and the modes The application of this analytical framework. against the games reveals a series of design heuristics Finally the thesis findings. framework and heuristics are tested in the detailed close reading and analysis of visual. style in two representative video games, Keywords visual style visual design gameplay narrative aesthetics believability. Dedication, This thesis is dedicated to my family especially to my wife Jing who shows. great understanding and supports me each step of the way to my grandma who. encourages and enlightens me with her lifetime of wisdom to my late grandpa who. instilled me the importance of diligence and endurance to my mom and dad who give. unconditional love and support to all of my close ones who bring me cheers and joys. during my graduate years,Acknowledgements, I would never have been able to complete my thesis without the guidance. support and inspirations from my supervisor committees fellow graduate students and. the wonderful people I worked with at SIAT, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my senior supervisor Professor.
Jim Bizzocchi who is caring patient and passionate He made my research in video. games a joyful experience and taught me everything on how to be a competent scholar. I would like to thank Professor Steve DiPaola my supervisor for all the support and. extra inputs he gave me I would like to thank my external examiner Thecla. Schiphorst for her agreement to review my thesis As always I appreciate her. scholarly perceptions and advice, I also owe a great deal of gratitude to my fellow graduate students Jeremy. Turner Josh Tanebaum and Angela Melgaard at the SIAT research labs Every. discussion with them contributed something new and exciting to my research They. opened my eyes to new knowledge in the research field and their suggestions for. literatures played a big role in building the theoretical foundation of my thesis. Although working as a teaching assistant at SIAT is not directly related to my. research it provided me with the critical financial support during the time I would like to. take this chance to express my special thanks to two people who gave the opportunity to. work at the first place Yaana Dancer who recommended me for my first teaching. position and Susan Clements Vivian who gave me the very much needed trust during. my earlier days of teaching,Table of Contents,Approval ii. Partial Copyright Licence iii,Abstract iv,Dedication v. Acknowledgements vi,Table of Contents vii,List of Tables xi. List of Figures xii,1 Introduction 1,1 1 Research Question 1.
1 2 Research Method and Outcomes 4,1 3 Research Data 7. 1 4 Thesis Reading Guideline 9,2 Literature Review 11. 2 1 Existing Analytical Lenses 11,2 1 1 Jim Bizzochi s Narrative Framework 11. 2 1 2 Owen Demers Six Visual Genres in Digital Painting 12. 2 1 3 Rudolf Arnheim s Gestalt Psychology of Visual Expression 13. 2 1 3 1 Definition of Expression and Traditional Theories 13. 2 1 3 2 Dimension One The Holistic Nature of Expression 15. 2 1 3 3 Dimension Two Structural Similarity in Expression 16. 2 1 3 4 Dimension Three Generality in Expression 16. 2 1 4 Eric Zimmerman s Aesthetic Parameters Narrative Interactivity. Play and Game 18,2 2 Visual Aesthetics and Expressivity 21. 2 2 1 Forms and Beauty in Art History 21, 2 2 2 Artistic Expression Symbolism and Visual Rhetoric 24.
2 2 3 Realism and Abstraction 36,2 3 Narrative Studies 43. 2 3 1 Classic Narratology 43,2 3 2 Visual Storytelling 46. 2 4 New Media Studies 47,2 4 1 Interactivity in Digital Environment 47. 2 4 2 Immersion and Engagement 48, 3 Research Domain Visual Design Categories in Game 55. 3 1 Character Design 55,3 1 1 Face 56,3 1 2 Physique Body Type 58.
3 1 3 Gesture Pose 59,3 1 4 Costume 61,3 2 Props Design 62. 3 2 1 Weapon 62,3 2 2 Vehicle 64,3 2 3 Item 65,3 3 Environment Design 66. 3 4 Visual Effect 68, 4 Framework Aesthetics of Visual Styles in Video Games 69. 4 1 Chapter Overview 69,4 2 What is Style 70, 4 3 Medium Specificity and Visual Design Objective in Video Game 71. 4 4 The Framework of Visual Styles in Video Games 73. 4 4 1 Definitions of Formal Level and Representational Level 73. 4 4 2 The Formal Level Graphics in Video Game 75,4 4 2 1 Subcategory One Stylized Abstraction 76.
4 4 2 2 Subcategory Two Decorative Abstraction 78,4 4 2 3 Subcategory Three Sensory Abstraction 80. 4 4 2 4 Summary and Discussion 83, 4 4 3 Representational Level Graphics in Video Game 87. 4 4 3 1 Subcategory One Conventionalized Realism 88. 4 4 3 2 Subcategory Two Simplified Realism 90,4 4 3 3 Subcategory Three Distorted Realism 94. 4 4 3 4 Summary and Discussions 96,5 Visual Design Heuristics and Case Studies 99. 5 1 Overview 99,5 2 Gameplay Utility 100, 5 2 1 Case Study Design Driven by Gameplay Utility Fallout 3 101.
5 3 Narrative Utility 102,5 3 1 Story requirement driven Design 103. 5 3 1 1 Case Study Design Driven by Story Requirement Nier. Gestalt 103,5 3 2 Plausibility driven Design 105, 5 3 2 1 Case Study Design Driven by Engineering Plausibility. Halo Wars 106, 5 3 2 2 Case Study Design Lack of Logic Plausibility Magna. Carta 2 107,5 3 3 Reference driven Design 109, 5 3 3 1 Case Study Design Driven by Sign level Reference. Valkyrie Profile 110, 5 3 3 2 Case Study Design Driven by Symbol level Reference.
Bayonetta 112,5 4 Aesthetic Effect 114,5 4 1 Consistency Driven Design 115. 5 4 1 1 Case Study Consistency between Visual Salience and. Gaming Tension Super Street Fighter 4 115, 5 4 1 2 Case Study Lack of consistency between Visual Style and. Narrative Genre Valkyria Chronicles 117, 5 4 1 3 Case Study Lack of consistency of Visual Faithfulness. across all of a game s graphic Eternal Poison 118,5 4 2 Identifiability driven Design 119. 5 4 2 1 Case Study Using Visual Motif to Promote Identifiability. Little Big Planet 120, 5 4 2 2 Case Study Using Visual Language to Promote.
Identifiability Odin Sphere 121,5 5 Summary 123,6 Close Reading 125. 6 1 Introduction 125,6 2 Close Reading on Gears of War 3 126. 6 2 1 Overview 126,6 2 1 1 Story Setting 128,6 2 1 2 The Game s Mechanics 129. 6 2 1 3 Visual Design Overview 130,6 2 2 Environment Design 131. 6 2 2 1 Picture level Reference in Environment Design 131. 6 2 2 2 Sign Level Reference in Environment Design 133. 6 2 2 3 Environment Design Driven by Story Requirement 135. 6 2 3 Characters Design 136, 6 2 3 1 Faces Physiques Design Driven by Story Requirement 136.
6 2 3 2 Logic Plausibility in Costume Design 138, 6 2 3 3 Costume Design Driven by Story Requirement 142. 6 2 3 4 Costume Design Driven by Gameplay Utility 143. 6 2 3 5 Enemy Design Driven by Story Requirement 145. 6 2 3 6 Symbolic Reference in Enemy Design 147, 6 2 3 7 Unifying Visual Languages in Different Character Factions 148. 6 2 3 8 Visual Motifs used in the Visual Designs of Different. Factions 151,6 2 4 Prop Design 154, 6 2 4 1 Engineering Plausibility in Weapon Design 154. 6 2 5 Visual Effects 156, 6 2 5 1 Consistency between Gaming Tension and Visual Attraction. in Visual Effects 156, 6 3 Close Reading on Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne 158.
6 3 1 Overview 158,6 3 1 1 Story Setting 160,6 3 1 2 The Game s Mechanics 161. 6 3 1 3 Visual Design Overview 162,6 3 2 Character Design 163. 6 3 2 1 Visual Design of the Protagonist Driven by the Story. Requirement 163, 6 3 2 2 Visual Faithfulness in the Character Design 166. 6 3 2 3 Identifiability Driven Visual Design in Character Design 167. 6 3 2 4 Game Utility in the Visual Designs of Expression Gesture. Pose and Body Types of Character 168, 6 3 2 5 Reference driven Design in Character Design 170. 6 3 2 6 Visual Salience and Gaming Tension in the Character. Designs 175,6 3 3 Environment Design 176, 6 3 3 1 Picture Level Reference in Environment Design 176.
6 3 3 2 Visual Motif in Environment Design 178,7 Conclusion 179. 7 1 Overview 179,7 2 Revisiting the Research Question 180. 7 3 Research Outcome One Framework of Visual Styles in Video Game 180. 7 4 Research Outcome Two Visual Design Heuristics 182. 7 4 1 The Design Heuristic with Supporting Case Examples 182. 7 4 2 Close Reading Summary 184, 7 5 Limitation and Future Study Recommendation 188. References 189,Appendices 193,Appendix A Case Example Matrix 194. Appendix B Video Game Terminologies 195,List of Tables.
Table 2 1 Eisner s Storytelling Genres and Corresponding Visual Style 46. Table 5 1 Overview on the Writing Structure of Design Heuristics chart by author 100. Table 6 1 Close Reading Overview part1 Gears of War 3 127. Table 6 2 Close Reading Overview part2 Gears of War 3 127. Table 6 3 Close Reading Overview Part 1 Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne 158. Table 6 4 Close Reading Overview Part 2 Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne 159. Table 7 1 Design Heuristics chart by author 182, Table 7 2 Close Reading Summary Gears of War 3 185. Table 7 3 Close Reading Summary Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne 187. List of Figures, Figure 1 1 the Framework of Visual Styles in Video Games chart by author 5. Figure 1 2 Design Heuristics chart by author 5, Figure 1 3 Research Data Sample Sets Overview chart by author 8. Figure 2 1 First Steps Pablo Picasso 1943 Oil on canvas 17. Figure 2 2 Zimmerman s three levels of play chart by author 20. Figure 2 3 Cockerel Pablo Picasso 1938 charcoal on paper private collection 27. Figure 2 4 The Scream Edvard Munch 1895 lithograph 29. Figure 2 5 Zangief from Street Fighter 2 35, Figure 2 6 Paul Cezanne Still life C 1879 82 Oil on canvas private collection 38. Figure 2 7 Visual Illustration of the Uncanny Valley phenomenon 42. Figure 2 8 difference between story plot 45,Figure 2 9 The Visualization of the flow Model 49.
Figure 3 1 Nier s facial expression 57, Figure 3 2 Various comic expressions drawn by McCloud S 58. Figure 3 3 Iron Tager left Taokaka right 61,Figure 3 4 Soul Edge from Soul Calibur V 64. Figure 4 1 Outline for the framework of visual styles in video games chart by. Figure 4 2 gameplay of Muramasa The Demon Blade 77. Figure 4 3 gameplay of Valkyria Chronicles 78,Figure 4 4 gameplay of Bayonetta 79. Figure 4 5 Explosion and fireworks in Super Stardust HD 82. Figure 4 6 Gold radiant lines effect occurs at moment of punching 83. Figure 4 7 Interrelationship of the three subcategories of formal level chart by. Figure 4 8 gameplay of Child of Eden 85, Figure 4 9 cutscene of Shin Megami Tensei Nocture 86. Figure 4 10 gameplay of God of War 3 87,Figure 4 11 Character Design Nathan Drake 89.
Figure 4 12 Gameplay of Uncharted 3 90,Figure 4 13 gameplay of Fat Princess 91. Figure 4 14 Character Design the King 93, Figure 4 15 a group of elderlies in Katamari Forever 93. Figure 4 16 Boss fight in Muramasa the Demon Blade 95. Figure 4 17 Concept artwork of Alice Madness Returns 96. Figure 4 18 sub categories of representational graphics chart by author 97. Figure 5 1 Pipboy 3000A in Fallout3 102,Figure 5 2 Kain in Nier Gestalt 105. Figure 5 3 Cobra in Halo Wars 107, Figure 5 4 a compilation of female protagonists in Magna Carta 2 official. character art 108, Figure 5 5 various costume design in Valkyrie Profile 111.
Figure 5 6 designs of various Celtic stone crosses 111. Figure 5 7 Bayonetta protagonist in the gameplay 113. Figure 5 8 angels enemy creature in Bayonetta 113, Figure 5 9 normal camera top vs ultra move camera bottom 116. Figure 5 10 cutscene of Valkyria Chronicles 118, Figure 5 11 Thage from cutscene left vs official character art right 119. Figure 5 12 various Sackboy avatars in Little Big Planet 121. Figure 5 13 gameplay of Little Big Planet 121, Figure 5 14 distinctive environments in Odin Sphere 123. Figure 6 1 Rendering comparison GOW 2 top vs GOW 3 bottom 132. Figure 6 2 Halo Reach top vs GOW 3 bottom 133,Figure 6 3 Azura in Gears of War 3 134. The Style of Video Games Graphics Analyzing the Functions of Visual Styles in Storytelling and Gameplay in Video Games by Yin Wu B A New Media Arts SIAT Simon Fraser University 2008 Thesis Submitted In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology Faculty of Communication Art and Technology Yin Wu 2012

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