Sunday, February 9, 2014

Corruption Guidelines

So, as we've mentioned quite a bit, our game focuses around a transition from a realistic setting to a surreal fantasy setting. That's pretty much the extent of the detail we've shared about it, and that's not because we were being secretive... it's because we didn't know.

With nothing more than an ambiguous idea about normal things being slowly replaced by very not normal things, it became clear that we needed more clarity in order to move forward with art and design.

As such, I decided to write up a guidelines document, detailing what we want to do with our weird, eclectic inspirations.

an early corruption comparison sketch

So, here's the doc (after the break):

Corruption Guidelines


“Corruption” is the term that we will be using to signify the transition from realism to surreal fantasy in the environment of Lifelike.

As the name of our corporation implies (Ethereal Eclectics), the transition will not simply be from Setting A to Setting B, but more along the lines of from Setting A to Setting B-Z.

Setting A will always be a typical office setting.

Setting B-Z could range from typical underground fantasy dungeon to alien planet to mystic temple to hell.

Dealing with Clashing

Because of the variety of corruption inspirations, we will have to find a way to connect the elements visually that transcends the contents of the set pieces. How do we make a magma chasm on the floor look like it belongs in the same room with a mossy stone statue?

I foresee three major methods for dealing with this hurdle:
  1. The first method is simply consistent color palette and lighting choices.
  2. The second is the usage of the office setting and “neutral” corruption objects as a foundation to transition between clashing elements. Using the magma chasm and mossy statue example, if we make sure that there is a certain amount of neutral space between them, they won’t clash as much.
  3. The third method is more explicit grouping of certain themes. For example, having a room that only contains set pieces that fit together thematically, or having entire themed floors (the downside to this option would be a breaking of the smooth transition that we’re going for, but it may turn out to be more effective).  


For the sake of clarity, it will be helpful to label all set pieces with their corruption level. I imagine that the best balance of practicality to effectiveness lies in a scale from 0-3. Using this scale, all objects will be marked with “C#”, where the # is the point on the corruption scale where the items fits.
C0: No corruption. An object that, while mundane or otherwise, could feasibly exist within an office setting.
C1: 10-40% corrupt. The object just has some hints of unrealistic elements.
C2: 60-80% corrupt. The object has a lot of corrupt features, but still has some ties to a realistic object.
C3: 90-100% corrupt. This item bares either only a passing resemblance to a normal object, or is completely abnormal.
Note: this does not mean that every single set piece needs a version that fits each number on the scale. Some objects may only have C0 version, some may only be C3, etc.


It’s hard to define what we’re looking for on its own, so I’ll use some examples. These examples all start with a set piece that could be seen in the first 10 floors of the building (C0), followed by a reimagining of that same set piece in several corruption levels (C1-3).

1. Desk
  • C0: office desk with a computer on one side, some papers, coffee mugs, office supplies on the other side
  • C1: office desk with a computer on one side, some papers, coffee mugs, ceremonial daggers on the other side, runes drawn on the papers
  • C2: office desk made of stone with a scrying bowl on one side, some scrolls, coffee mugs, ceremonial daggers, staplers, etc.
  • C3: sacrificial altar made out of a slab of stone, stained with blood, scrying bowl on one side, some scrolls, ceremonial daggers, an ipod dock, etc.

2. Wall with Poster

  • C0: Motivational poster of a unicorn jumping into a starry sky that reads, “Reach for the Sky!”
  • C1: Motivational poster of a unicorn jumping into a red, hazy sky that reads, “Escape the Ground!”
  • C2: Motivational poster of an armored unicorn jumping into a red, hazy sky with flames at the bottom that reads, “The Earth Will Kill You!”
  • C3: Motivational poster of a dead unicorn that reads, “It’s Too Late. You Have Failed.”

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