Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Game Research: Dark Souls

Dark Souls is a 2011 action/role-playing video game released for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 notorious for its high game difficulty and unforgiving 'grinding' gameplay. I fell in love with the game almost immediately after being propelled into a series of 15th century style environments, being pitted against enormous and dangerous monsters and dying repeatedly (but ever so slightly getting further with every death).

The atmosphere of Dark Souls is what makes the game so unique. With it's minimal story, non-speaking main character and ethereal, detached soundtrack the game experience created is one of complete loneliness and solidarity. My first few punishing hours of play through of the game left me feeling as though myself and my character were the only humans left in the game world, creating a horrendous sense of isolation and making the game feel like much more of a challenge. Of course, there are other characters you meet along the way, but their characterisation is so void of personality that you can never be quite sure what their true intentions are. All of these things come together perfectly to create a game world that is incredibly rich in tension.

The game world sees you traverse a large number of areas based in a medieval fantasy setting much like 15th century Europe. Enormous cathedrals, crumbling castles, crypts, caverns and catacombs all based within Gothic architectural design can be explored with knights roaming the hallways ready to slay you on sight. There is a distinct ominous feeling surrounding these environments, the sense of grandeur and scale helps to remind you of how insignificant you are within the game, which only helps to add to the tension that the game has already built up.

Dark Souls is a huge source of inspiration for my work for this pre-production module. The atmosphere and sense of scale represented in the game speaks directly to the work I love to create already, specifically my work in environmental concept art. I feel that the mix of architecture within the game is something I would like to implement within my own game project, interpreting the atmosphere of the game into my own vision and melding it with the other ideas I have. As the name suggests, the dark nature of the game is so unique that I feel that taking the ideas from Dark Souls and implementing them into a fighting game would lead to a really interesting design dynamic. In addition to this the medieval character design is something I would like to draw from too. By using ideas of armour and weaponry from this game I would love to experiment with incorporating them into a much more stylised and fantasy driven design that would be more suited within the fighting game genre.

From this I will continue my research by looking more in-depth into 15th century history, architecture and Gothic design that I would like to implement into the concept art for this pre-production module. In addition to this I will begin my research into other fighting game titles that I find inspirational, looking into the different ways in which characters and levels are designed and finding out what new and interesting ideas my concept art could lead to. 

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