One of the first comments we received was on the art style. The color-corrected realism, we were rightly told, was too ambitious for the time we had. Luke took the idea of silhouettes we already had and ran with it. He proposed a direction closer to that of Limbo or Frank Miller. We totally agreed and this served as further inspiration a little later. We now approached the environments as 3 layers: background, mid-ground and foreground. Each would progressively lighter as you went back. Scale would vary as well, and when all these cells were placed in a 3D space with a perspective camera it gave a parallax effect, further strengthening the visual look.
A first test pass on the new art style would also accidentally lead to the final look of the environment. Abstract shapes, not neccesarily straight, recycled, flipped, and rotated resulted in an eerie and slightly surreal look. Some bloom around the silhouetted shapes and fog passing between them would further enforce the mood. The strip for “The City” environments was that first pass. As always, the title is one of many we were testing by just placing them on the boards. This one in particular is a direct reference to one of our primary inspirations: We’re Alive – A Story of Survival. Below are some of the texture cells I would breakdown from the environment concept art. At the very bottom is the silhouette foreground that exists right in front of the game plane.
We adjusted our process and pipeline by deciding to also create a library of props that we could sprinkle throughout the environments to give them more character. Some example of these are below such as the fire hydrant, the electrical pylon, and the telephone post. In a later update I’ll show how it all came together!