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The Kid Asks About A Typeface

Bastion is a game that feels a little torn between time periods. On one hand, the game is a veritable shrine to the roleplaying and adventure games of the 16 and 8-bit eras. The isometric camera view, the varied level design, the strict adherence to playing in two-dimensions, and the cohesiveness of its unique “western-punk” fantasy aesthetic all recall a myriad of the best moments from best games of the early 1990s. On the other, the game benefits from things that only exist in the current generation: online distribution, the relative ease and availability of developing games on a small budget (with a small team cramped inside a single house), and most importantly the advent of high-definition graphics.

It’s this last current-gen advantage that really enables the world of Bastion to come alive and be realized to an extent that its pixellated forefathers could only infer and hint toward. With Bastion , the ability to include high-resolution textures and art assets allowed its creators to really imbue the world with a rich history and meaning. As I’ve noted in previous articles, I’m a big proponent of world-building. The practice of fleshing out the virtual universe of a game (or games) with information that taken alone may seem trivial or irrelevant, but collected together into a package of sight and sound really inform both the game and the gamer and provides a richer experience.

The weaPons of wipEout (Part 2)

For most games, three years is a pretty standard development cycle, especially when developing for a new generation of hardware. In the 3 years between the release of Wip3out and Wipeout Fusion however, a lot changed in gaming and for the series itself. From the Fall of 1999 to the late-Winter of 2002 (Wipeout Fusion‘s European release) the PlayStation 2, Gamecube, and Xbox all had their launch, and the Dreamcast lived most of its retail life and then died.

For the Wipeout franchise, a similar level of change took place. The Designer’s Republic, largely responsible for the look of the franchise since its inception were no longer attached to the series. Instead another UK-based design firm, Good Technology, was brought on to design the look for Wipeout Fusion. Sometime after the release of Wip3out Psygnosis’ was merged into Sony Computer Entertainment of Europe proper (they had been owned by the company since 1993) and their named changed to SCE Studio Liverpool to fit a more unified corporate naming scheme.

The weaPons of wipEout (Part 1)

If this blog had an anatomy, the Wipeout series would be without question the spine; the one unifying thing behind its entire purpose. A great deal of what appeals to me from a design perspective both inside and out of videogames stems from the earliest entries in the series. Luckily, the Wipeout franchise remains home to some of the sharpest graphic and visual art direction in the industry.

As is with many games today, and has been a sort of “unwritten rule” when it comes to graphic design, some of the most impressive and dramatic concepts come from Europe. Although the ubiquity and globalization of the internet has proved that great art of any kind can come from anywhere, in the early to mid 1990s Europe was the place for the newest in electronic music, visionary design, and latest trends for the 18-24 demographic that Sony targeted with the original PlayStation.

No small wonder that Wipeout, designed by Livperpool-based (that’s in Europe) Psygnosis studios, was a launch title for the PlayStation’s European release in September of 1995. Wipeout marked the first non-Japanese developed game for the console, and quickly became a hit in several territories garnering high-scores in reviews and appealing to an older, more sophisticated gaming crowd.

Great Logos for Science

Unlike books, music, or even film, I often treat the virtual spaces that games carve out in the world as though they exist unto themselves, in a vacuum free from outside influence and/or knowledge; alien artifacts churned out of some unknowable machine. This perspective does not gel well with the fact that I am also constantly searching for and interested the origins of things; searches which often take me several leaps away from the thing that piqued my interest.

As I’ve grown older and thus my mind expanded I really appreciate being reminded that an artist exists behind the art. Valve is a developer who regularly sets off these little reminders for me. As I’ve discussed previously, their attention and dedication to crafting mechanically solid as well as visually interesting and informed games is almost unlike any other currently active developer. Portal 2 is but the most recent example of their amazing talent at art direction.

Tu Vuò Fà L’Helghan (Part 1)

THE ONE ABOUT THE HELGHAN ALPHABET.

Outlandish Adventures

THE ONE ABOUT OUTLAND’S VISUAL STYLE.

Millions dead; posters ruined.

The one about the posters in Halo: Reach.

Typefacial Recognition (#3) – Harmonix

THE ONE ABOUT ITC AVANT GARDE, THE ROCK BAND FONT.

Meanwhile, at Namco…

The one about Namco’s corporate identity of Fall 2010.

On the Brink of Great Design

The one about promo posters for Brink.

Typefacial Recognition (#2) – Wii/Wii Fit

The one about Continuum, the Wii and Wii Fit typeface.