For my game – “The Sentinel,” I have chosen to make it a Cel-shaded RPG, aimed at Teens.
Cel-shading is a graphic style with a non-photorealistic render in 3D graphics. This style will often make the images flat, as there is less shading of colour; making it far bolder than photorealist and creating an emphasis on light and shadow to add depth.
Since Cel-shading often mimics comics or anime, games using this style is often aimed at a younger audience, as it can be seen as “childish” however that does not mean a game using this graphics style cannot be successful with an older audience.
A good example would be the “Final Fantasy series,” which has always been taken seriously by critics. Their specific graphics has now became a stable for the series, and is still unlike a lot of whats out there.
The “Final Fantasy series” now focuses a lot on the quality of their art, storyline and character development – making sure that the player is as invested as possible.
Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy X are known for their emotional impact, with two shocking deaths that really pulled on the heart strings whether the player saw it coming or not. I feel like it worked well due to general tone, build up and how likeable the characters were – things that are separate to the art style and must be thought out.
(“Final Fantasy VII, 1997. Aeris’ death.)
(‘Final Fantasy X, 2001. Tibus fading away.)
Graphic Styles That Work Well And Ones That Don’t.
Photorealistic: this style is often used in games where atmosphere and player empathy is very important, like in horror games. Its usually used to add immersion, which is probably why its not the type of graphic one things of when the topic of RPG’s come up.
This is probably because full immersion is not an important feature to an RPG, however that does not mean it would be impossible. My above example of The Final Fantasy series, or even MMO’s such as “Skyrim” have a very Photorealist look and feel to them.
The main disadvantages to using Photorealism is the Rendering time and possible lag, for loading screens or in open world games the player will expect real-time Render. It just might make the data too much for the average processor.
Pixel: This was the typical style for RPG’s before technology developed and is still used to this day, but usually only for character spites, grid games and Indie Developers.
Pixel, again was used, but only because – at the time – it was the only style that could be used. Nowadays it isn’t because one of the main features of any good RPG is the characters, something that is hard to do when working with pixels.
Abstract: Unlike Photorealistic and Pixel whIch could be applied, I don’t see how Abstract could be effectively used. This would be because Abstract is about minimalism; about taking things away until only the most basic shapes are left in order to represent objects or people.
This just wouldn’t work in an RPG where the world has to be interactive, as well as the characters.
I have chosen Teens and above for my target audience with no specified gender for my game as I want something anyone could enjoy without the restricts that would come with marketing my product to a younger audience, as I would to with the Pegi rating system dictates.
How are these styles used to attract specific audience
(PEGI Content Ratings.)
For RPG’s the rating can be from anywhere from 3+ (aimed at children, or suitable either way) or an 18+ with very explicit content, meaning they can be very versatile.
When I create a story I don’t necessarily about the audience I am writing for, and instead just try to make good content. Only after I’ve finished do I stop and think about who its suitable for.
However I do always aim at an older audience since there is less censorship required and more topics that can delved into and explored, without worrying about it either going over the player’s head or upsetting parents for inappropriate material.
Depending on how certain factors of my game play out it would either be 7+ or 12+. I haven’t specified a gender simply because (despite there being proven art styles and stories which are liked by different genders,) I feel like games can be marketed to both with little trouble.
For my genre I have chosen a Fantasy RPG which is often seen with a Cel-shaded art style as they tend to balance themselves well. I, however also wanted to do an RPG as they tend to have interesting characters and unusual storylines.
Graphics Techniques And Software Used,
There are two main, mostly simple ways to make
“Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl,” 2013, is a RPG, dungeon-mapping game, that has two modes: “Classic” (which involves custom characters and maps), with “Story” having a storyline, preset characters and cutscenes. There are also three difficulty settings to further customise the game, which include: “Picnic” (easy gameplay), “Normal” (somewhat difficult, but doesn’t require much level grinding), and Expert (very hard and needs a lot of time and work.)
The game begins (in Story Mode) with The Highlander (the Avatar, which can be named at the start) being dispatched to a town called Etria, to investigate earthquakes which had been troubling them.
From there The Highlander (a Lance user) awakes an anaemic from futuristic technology which had frozen her body and put her into a deep sleep. The Player will eventually learn her name – Frederica (“Ricky”) who turns out to be a gunslinger and how she is involved in the story.
A group of researches from the Midgard Library, Simon Yorke (a healer,) Arthur Charles (an alchemist) and Raquna Sheldon (a knight) make up the Party and continue on to solve the mystery.
(Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl Official Poster.)
The Etrian Odyssey is recognised through its anime art style, with its bright colours and cute characters, all of which have individual personalities and backstories which are learned through the cause of the game.
Through the graphics aren’t very mature, they stand out to the player; making the characters easily distinguishable from one another, and their character type.
(Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl Cutscene.)
Another positive is that all official art work released for the game and the cutscenes are of the same quality.
(Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl Skill Tree.)
The games Skill Tree was something I came back to while thinking about my own game’s Levelling System since it is clear and quite progressive.
“Fire Emblem Awakening,” 2012, game is a tactical, turn-base RPG which focuses on its multitude of characters and its epic storyline which has tones of obvious moral conflict, and real life issues such as problems with religion.
After fully customising the Player’s Avatar and starting a cutscene/ tutorial, the game opens with the Avatar (default European name: Robin) awakening in a field with the protagonist helping them up from the ground.
From there Robin is introduced to the main characters and helps the protagonist through the trails of their world, fighting dictators and war mongers, being only a few to name.
(Fire Emblem Awakening Poster.)
The Awakening art is bold and dynamic, with each of Awakening’s roughly 40+ possible characters having their own individual designs, voice actors and backstories which are learnt as the game goes on.
In fact, what I like so much about the game and what I’ve taken from it, is its complete focus on its characters and how they work through the game’s story.
With choice and relationships being possible in Awakening, there are small changes that can occur and with Permadeath being possible, the future of each unit is quite uncertain as the player can lose them completely.
(Fire Emblem Awakening Cutscene.)
The Awakening cutscene graphics are a mixture between flat Cel-shaded colours and textures, with effects and weapons standing out through the use of different techniques.
Like in my game, there will be both cel-shaded art and 3D models to enhance the player’s experience and bring out the best of both aspects.
(Fire Emblem Awakening Re-classing.)
In Awakening their re-classing system is also something I’ve taken into consideration for my game, as it increases a unit’s Stats and allows them to gain more Skills – something very useful, in a game where every character needs to be able to be as strong as possible.
“Zero Escape: Virtues Last Reward,” 2012, is a visual novel, puzzle game which introduces a host of characters, one of which is – seemingly – a college student called Sigma who, like all other of the other eight poor souls are abducted to participate in the the “Notary Game,” which isn’t so much a game as a life of death situation where the characters are pitted against each other in order to life.
The Zero Escape series boasts choice, with its (locked room) puzzles and moral dilemmas which will make the player question the “gray” area of life.
(Virtues Last Reward Official Art.)
Despite most of the characters having quite an anime, bright appearance which is darkened through the game’s colour palette and serious themes.
Its almost a complete oxymoron and while something I haven’t entirely incorporated into my game, is something I really like about the style of the game.
(Virtues Last Reward In-Game Play.)
The entire game is 3D modelled with some sort of Toon-Shader to make the characters appear more flat – helping them to stand out against their environments, something I can’t do in my own game due to the different mechanics but which made me really think about what I wanted my MOD to look like.
(Virtues Last Reward Choice Pathways.)
The different timelines that come from choosing different things is perhaps one of the most complicated things about Virtue’s Last Reward. When I first played it and got through the first chapter, only to return to the start of the game I originally thought that there something wrong with it. I didn’t realise until I continued that I was meant to make other choices then I had done.
Its the most well known mechanic of the game and made me really think about in-game decisions.
So, the ideas that really inspired me were:
- Interrogating different art styles.
- Character development.
- Player choice.
- In-game Consequences.
MYM, Issue 43 (9772049818014) “Tales of Zestiria,” page 81-82
PLAY, Issue 262 (9771358947057) “Gravity Rush 2,” page 32-33
GAMES MASTER, Issue 296 November 2015 (9770967985122) “Fire Emblem Fates,” page 28-29
PC GAMER, Issue 285 December 2015 (9771470169009) “Overdrive,” page 82-83
Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl
Fire Emblem Awakening
Virtue’s Last Reward