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On the Brink of Great Design

Game: Brink Release:Spring 2011 Platform: PC / 360 / PS3 Game Director: Paul Wedgwood

See what I did in the title there? Clever.

I had made a promise to myself prior to arriving at the PAX 2010 Convention to find something to focus on for Visual Attack Formation: a logo for an upcoming game, something interesting about a particular interface, a game which uses color in an interesting manner. I did not expect that “something” to be exquisitely designed posters being given away at the Bethesda booth.

Brink Promotional Posters

Utilization of concept art is already somewhat foreign to the known universe of game-related merchandise and material. Publishers are not keen to display artwork that does not appear in the final game. This is likely out of fear that consumers will not be able to easily identify their product in the retail wild as well as a myriad of other reasons that mystify myself and other appreciators of the fine art that is produced for many titles.

The posters given out by Bethesda however bucks this trend by not only utilizing concept art for Brink, but for specifically highlighting them against a soft-blue background that is being employed across much of the game’s promotional campaign. This cut-out style renders each character in an ambiguous space where the viewer can appreciate the art in a kind of vacuum. The expressions, body language, color, and technique become magnified by a lack of context and visual information.

Close-up of Brink posters

Too often I find myself saying “If it didn’t have that logo obnoxiously placed” or “If the branding information was just smaller” or “The colors are just a little heavy” when viewing some piece of game merchandise. Companies are quick to emblazon any manner of logo or branding mark on a product in order to remove ANY doubt as to who owns the artwork. These posters, which could have easily followed this trend, relegate the studio, publisher, and game’s own logo to smaller elements in the overall piece. The Brink logotype taken alone is a beautiful piece of modern typography, and as such, I would not have minded if Bethesda had chosen to more prominently feature it on these posters.

Background texture/artwork (contrast added for visibility)

I originally mistook the design element seen in the above picture as a printing error, but upon examining and seeing it on all the others as well as the Brink website I realized it was simply a subtle touch to give the background a little texture. I’m still not entirely sure I like it, but I do like that I have not really seen this technique used before (at least intentionally).

The last bit of interesting design is in how these posters are designated into two series of three posters each (I was unable to procure 2 of the 6 due to their popularity at the show, as well as the randomness with which specific posters were offered). The game features two warring factions, Security and Resistance and each poster is designated S# or R# with the numbers running 1-3 in both series. This designation is reinforced by a single character being filled the silhouetted roster seen below.

Brink posters info detail

This information is both visually intriguing (it looks as though it could be lifted straight from the game’s own UI) and somewhat cryptic, as their usage is not immediately obvious. I love this kind of truncated information it takes a real knack for information design to reduce larger concepts into easily understood imagery.

Below are the posters in their entirety:

Brink Promo posters (4 out of 6)

It is obvious these posters were crafted by someone who cared a great deal about the visual presence of Brink and has a great eye for graphic design. I wish more developers and publishers would pay this kind of attention into the graphical presentation for their games.

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Posted in Brink, Logos, Promotions, Typography
2 comments on “On the Brink of Great Design
  1. Allen says:

    Keep writing.

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