Creative Futures – Production Design for Entertainment Media – Architecture as Inspiration

Architecture is obviously a fairly big part of day to day life for pretty much everybody. The buildings that we inhabit and the buildings around us serve to create an impression of our environment and, more importantly, serve a very specific purpose. This is no different within the realm of Games Design. As we look to make more realistic worlds and environments, in-game worlds start to mirror real life more gradually.

First of all, we were given an example of a text written by H.P. Lovecraft, which has served as inspiration for many people that have tried to emulate the look and feel of his universe.

“a coast-line of mingled mud, ooze, and weedy Cyclopean masonry which can be nothing less the tangible substance of earth’s supreme terror — the nightmare corpse-city of R’lyeh …loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours“.

“…hidden in green slimy vaults… In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”

– H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulu and Other Weird Stories

Many have used Lovecraft’s descriptions as influence to create monstrous, dark and dreary environments. We were given a few examples of people that have done so, which include John Coulthart, Marc Simonetti, Marc-Andre Huot, Jason R. Roberts, Eduardo Rivera and H. R. Giger.

The aim of this session was to explore how you might develop the knowledge to design buildings in scenarios you might not necessarily be familiar with. The examples that were used are as follows:

“But what if it was a medieval bakery? A fantasy world set in a dystopian future? A well established mining colony set on the red plains of Mars?

Which architects or architectural styles would you have used as reference?

– Gareth Sleightholme, Apophenia Inc.

To give us a better idea as to exactly how this might work, we were given several examples of different types of architecture and their defining styles, as well as several different architects with very different styles. One thing that I noticed as we went through all the different styles is how little I actually know about different types of buildings. To be able to know, you have to first experience. This, once again, reinforces the importance of observational drawing!

I would highly recommend reading Gareth Sleightholme’s post on this subject, as it gives the exact examples we were given in session.

After covering this, we went further into detail on “who would need to know this”. Within the field of games, it is fairly clear that Production Designers and Art Directors would need to know this stuff, as it is of paramount importance that people covering these roles would need to have at least a basic understanding of all the processes. Where it is also important however, is for Games Designers who wish to get into 3D Modelling or Concept Art, as it is increasingly more important to achieve a high level of realism in the content that you create in these fields.

As I mentioned earlier, the only way to really pick these things up is to observe as much architecture as possible and draw it. This can only develop over time, but there are plenty of means for me to be able to go out and do this within the city of Hull (Hull Urban Sketchers group etc…).

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