Monday, 4 October 2010

Concept: Deceiving the Eye

Trompe L'Oeil, the art of painting images so realistic that they often fool the viewer, is something I find really ingenious. Images that deceive the eye have been used in all sorts of applications. Historically it has been giving flat ceilings the appearance of great domed architecture, and creating the illusion of spaces beyond walls in homes and on stage in the form of back-drops.

These days, the technique has been adapted and brought into the digital world for use in modern 3D video games, not just in giving the illusion of texture on the walls in the environment, but also in sky-boxes to create the appearance of open but detailed space above and around the player, and in texturing the player and other characters in the game to give the 3D models details that have not actually been modelled. It is not a particularly new or innovative thing to do and is generally "the done thing".

I'd like to employ the technique of trompe l'oeil within the game in a way that forces the player to take notice of it. During the Wings of Fate project that I worked on in the second year of CGD at UWN, one of the game mechanics suggested was one in which the player would be able to travel through a painting into a mini-game.

What I had in mind for this project is to have Julian-Beever-like anamorphic trompe l'oeil images on the floors of some rooms [set within an abandoned and graffitied home, as the mystery of an abandoned place seems to be quite inviting to urban explorers within the real world] that look like holes in the floor when viewed from certain spots, showing views into strange rooms that look out of place within the context of an abandoned building.

If the player were to step on these areas in the floor, they would fall through the floor and into another room or level. Whether a player would fall through a floor or not would depend on what stage of the game they are at - at times they will be able to step on the painting, or even, are not able to pass through the painting whether they want to or not, as if it were only a painting on a floor.

They will not be given any obvious signals as to whether or not a painting would cause them to fall through, and would have to explore and test these paintings, perhaps by throwing objects found within the house onto the floor, to progress. These painting illusions could be found not only in the floors, but also in ceilings and walls, and not just in the abandoned house but also in the strange levels as the way back into the house.

The idea I want to run throughout the game is the feeling of uncertainty and things not being as they seem; to create an intriguing environment so as to invite exploration and in some cases literally offer different perspectives of the spaces, but not so unsettling and confusing that the player would give up the interaction before exploring fully.

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