In the present day we’ll be going over the subject of Visible Motifs, together with a background clarification of motifs, some examples of motifs in video games and different media, and eventually a primer on find out how to design your individual memorable and helpful motifs for inclusion in your sport artwork and design.
What’s a Motif?
At its very core, a motif is a repeated sample or factor in a design. Motifs can apply to visible arts, to written and spoken tales, and music, and we’ll be flowing somewaht between the assorted mediums on this dialogue as the worth and significance of a motif is one thing constant throughout inventive mediums. Nonetheless, this class will primarily be specializing in visible motifs, as written and musical motifs are much less steadily encountered within the sport design area.
An essential floor rule to set first is Motifs aren’t Core Parts.
That is to say, in case your sport is concerning the topic of somebody attempting to place out fires within the wilderness, taking over the position of a forest firefighter in a drafting and space management sport, none of these talked about components can be a motif. These are massive components that form how the sport feels and performs at their very core, and eradicating any considered one of them would change the underlying really feel of the sport and its construction.
An instance of a motif within the instance of that sport may be a easy visible motif, similar to a repeated stylized image or form used to symbolize fireplace, or at all times exhibiting your devoted Pomeranian tagging alongside and serving to someplace within the artwork of playing cards which are helpful to gamers however exhibiting a snarling Grizzly someplace in the entire artwork of playing cards which are dangerous to the participant. You may take away all or any of those, and the sport would nonetheless operate the identical method and impart the identical broad feelings to the participant, however these motifs permit for a lot stronger participant engagement and total enchantment.
Maybe it’s a story method similar to repetition of a phrase, like “Smoke rises over the distant ridge, as you…” for the beginning of each card’s narrative taste textual content. One sport I feel does a incredible job of that is the RPG In A Depraved Age. In it, each sport or marketing campaign begins with gamers producing a form of miniature poem, at all times ending with the phrase “… in a depraved age.” That is each a callback to the title, in addition to a repeated factor that helps consciously or subconsciously set expectations for the setting and hyperlink earlier video games utilizing the identical RPG system.
It might even be a mechanical motif: possibly something associated to water at all times could be very highly effective however fleeting, whether or not it’s the quantity massive variety of short-term factors of stamina restored from a sip from a private canteen; an overhead water drop from a firefighting aircraft that clears all fireplace in a single place, however doesn’t final in the best way a dug fireplace line or cleared brush space may; or the final trickles of a stream operating dry, providing a strong fireplace barrier however just for just a few scant turns. One instance I might level to is the Tiny Epic sequence’ use of a number of totally different token markers on the identical numerical monitor for his or her varied video games. It permits for monitoring quite a few useful resource values with a minimal use of items and really economical use of area.
Dialogue Query: Determine a motif in a sport or one other piece of media for every of the next varieties of motifs (they don’t all must be the identical piece of media): visible/design, mechanical, auditory (leitmotif), and narrative.
The Worth of Robust Motifs
Robust, well-designed and applied motifs have quite a lot of distinct benefits that make them fascinating to implement in a sport:
They make your sport extra memorable
They might help differentiate your sport from related video games out there
They’ll act as ‘calling playing cards’ on your sport, a sport sequence, or perhaps a complete firm or style
They might help scale back the data complexity a participant must course of
They are often remodeled and altered to suit different makes use of (extra on that beneath)
For the primary level on memorability, a visible motif might help a sport stand out in your thoughts if it has robust motifs and powerful visible model. Within the case of Scythe, a part of the sport’s memorability was the distinct, large oil portray robots from Jakub Rozalski, which confirmed up throughout a variety of arts as a recurring motif. Whereas the sport’s mechanics might have remained the identical if the robots had been solely depicted on the duvet or the participant boards, by having them recur throughout a variety of artwork items it helps reinforce the dieselpunk theme of the sport.
As for differentiating your sport, an excellent instance of this may be Cranium. The underlying sport mechanics aren’t particularly novel, and certain might be present in different video games and even in sport utilizing a conventional poker deck. Nonetheless, the intensely detailed and distinct visible model of the playing cards helps make it stand out from different, related video games, as few if any video games have the form of tattoo-style hyper-detailed and complex artwork model they used.
One other instance of utilizing artwork model as a visible motif can be the Drei Magier Ugly Animals sequence of card video games. The video games on this sequence have a particular artwork model to enrich the easy nature of the cardboard mechanics, and helps present relatedness within the sport household regardless of the a number of video games not sharing any mechanics or narrative connections.
Lastly, the discount of card complexity can usually be seen with the usage of iconic symbols which are distinctive to a sport system. This can be a little bit of a fuzzier space for what makes a logo a motif, somewhat than purely utilitarian, however rule of thumb is that if the design is distinctive sufficient for use exterior of its authentic context and but nonetheless clearly evoke the sport it got here from within the eyes of a viewer. An excellent instance of this may be the symbols for the 5 colours of magic in Magic the Gathering, as they each operate as useful symbols in-game, in addition to having the ability to seem on any variety of branded official and unofficial merchandise items. Compared, the symbols from the playing cards in Race for the Galaxy or 7 Wonders are doubtless not distinctive and memorable sufficient, or used extensively sufficient, to develop into memorable in the identical style. Heavy, repeated use of a visually distinct image is the important thing to remodeling a mere image into one that may operate as your sport’s motif.
Dialogue Query: What’s the very best motif you may recall from a sport you’ve performed a minimum of 5 years in the past? Why was it so memorable?
Reworking a Motif
A key use of a motif is its capability for use in several contexts, with totally different small adjustments, so as to add extra that means to no matter it’s utilized to. Youtuber Sideways has an excellent instance of how this may be seen in musical motifs:
One other instance of find out how to modify a motif to create fast participant recognition can be for most of the weapons within the miniatures sport Warhammer 40K. In it, the ‘Las’ weapons are usually efficient towards armored autos and all share a definite cut-off muzzle form of the weapons, whereas the plasma weapons are usually efficient towards armored foot troops and share a definite muzzle and ribbed barrel. Because of this, at a look, a participant might inform whether or not the Executioner or Annihilator variations of the identical tank is prone to be simpler towards autos or towards armored floor troops.
This identical idea will be utilized to visible or storytelling motifs. Utilizing our earlier wilderness firefighting sport motif concepts, the abstracted image for fireplace might be utilized in a white or blue in a sport growth or sequel to symbolize howling and harmful winds. In doing so, we develop the that means of the motif from representing simply fireplace, to representing an environmental and overarching hazard. Equally, the artwork of the aiding Pomeranian or threatening bear might be abstracted barely to be small, spherical, pastel-colored shapes within the decrease a part of the artwork are helpful or nonthreatening to the participant, whereas bigger, darker shapes within the higher half of the artwork are harmful to the participant.
On this method, we are able to apply the idea to one thing like a grove of small nutritious mushrooms or a misplaced lantern as helpful gadgets, when making use of these visible motifs to them, whereas a tall, darkish and angular home or a rising smokecloud within the distance are each evoking the danger-indicating motif. It might even be decreased in complexity to one thing so simple as utilizing primarily round shapes for helpful interactions, and sq. or rectangular shapes for dangerous ones. This abstraction might permit for depicting two interactions with townspeople or different firefighters nearly as good or dangerous, by depicting the people in primarily spherical or primarily angled kinds.
Needless to say you aren’t required to change your motifs, however that doing so can really strengthen them and make them much more consciously or unconsciously noticeable. Don’t be afraid to experiment with them and push the boundaries a bit. In any case, within the worst case state of affairs motifs can be stripped out of the sport with out harming the underling mechanics or theme of it.
Dialogue Query: Consider a sport you’ve performed lately with a number of robust motifs. Are you able to consider a technique to additional summary the motif with out lowering its impression? What about reworking it’s presentation in a big method as an alternative?
The Dangers of Weak Motifs
In fact, use of motifs aren’t with out their downsides. That you must be conscious that gamers will choose up on motifs, and that any related motifs should be made clearly distinct. The Shut Up & Sit Down crew point out this as a difficulty with the sport Captains of the Gulf, a fishing sport the place gamers are captains of fishing boats.
In it at round 19:45, they point out that particular actions gamers can take are marked on the board with a definite rope border. On the identical time, that rope border is used on different objects that aren’t particular actions in any respect, which simply causes confusion as an alternative of streamlining gameplay for gamers.
One other problem is creating a powerful design or factor, however utilizing it too occasionally for it to essentially make a powerful impression, or utilizing a design or factor that strongly clashes with different components of your motifs. One criticism of the cardboard sport Keyforge is that it options Space-51-style inexperienced aliens alongside factions of extra conventional fantasy components, one thing that may create a dissonance within the minds of potential gamers. Whereas the general visible design and magnificence of their playing cards and paintings assist from preserving this from feeling too jarring, it’s one thing that may develop into notably worse with out the assistance of a unified artwork and graphics design model.
Lastly, remember that whereas many motifs could also be distinctive sufficient to be legally protected with logos and copyrights, a poorly-defined or generic motif might not get pleasure from the identical safety. An excellent instance of that is the Video games Workshop vs. Chapterhouse Studios lawsuit, which noticed Video games Workshop trying to defend their pretty easy shoulderpad design as legally distinctive and protectable.
Dialogue Query: What motif have you ever seen in a sport that had robust potential, however was applied poorly? What was holding it again from being a profitable motif?
Methods to Design a Motif
Right here’s just a few pointers on find out how to design a powerful and memorable motif:
Take into consideration what you need your motif for use for: will it’s primarily for storytelling or so as to add environment to the sport, or is it designed to assist participant’s have a better time studying and having fun with the sport?
Simplify your design, then simplify it once more. Lower it right down to the naked minimal wanted to evoke the specified feeling in your gamers.
Is it distinctive? Examine it to different related designs and motifs in each your sport, in addition to the sport business as an entire and different media as properly. Does it stand out, or can it’s simply confused for one more picture or design?
Is it in a position for use in all kinds of settings in your sport and in associated media? Might a small change to the design permit it for use in additional settings?
Is it clear sufficient to be simply recognized if it’s within the type of a watermark? What a couple of black-and-white picture? How about if it’s represented in a really totally different medium, similar to graffiti-style or cyberpunk neon?
Earlier than including one other motif to a design that already has a motif, are they distinct from one-another? Is the impression, prominence, or visibility of both motif negatively impacted by the opposite?
Dialogue Query: What may be one other level to think about making certain you do proper (or avoiding doing if potential) when designing and implementing a motif?
Thanks for coming. Subsequent session we’ll be going over the significance of Accessibility in your visible and bodily sport design, in addition to artwork and theme picks. Till then, look over your individual visible designs and plans on your video games, and think about the way you may be capable to add a putting motif to considered one of them!
Artwork in Gaming 101 Homework
Choose a sport revealed within the final three years. Record a few of the finest and worst motifs you may spot within the design, and provides a quick reason these motifs work properly or poorly.
Then, repeat the motif evaluation for a sport that was revealed a minimum of thirty years in the past. What are the very best and worst motifs of that sport, and why?
Due (optionally!) as a remark beneath by the beginning of subsequent class!
(Header picture from 463259. Lantern flowers from ulleo. Corn by WikiImages. Jetty by 12019. Desk by Free-Photographs. All photographs from Pixabay)