August 2, 2007
There are two new games coming out that look extraordinarily beautiful to me, based on their screenshots and video footage. Interestingly, in both cases, the developers have gone out of their way to make their visuals resemble pre-digital media forms: grainy, streaking, analog video art, and physical arts-and-crafts dioramas, respectively.
The standout item from the aforementioned IndieCade collection at E3 is (the premiere?) of The Night Journey, by celebrated video artist Bill Viola (I’m a big fan) and the USC EA Game Innovation Lab, in this effort led by Tracy Fullerton. Also see the description at USC’s site. Watch game footage at the IndieCade page. Haunting! (Viola has experimented with interactivity before, with Tree of Knowledge.)
Second is the stunning, much anticipated Little Big Planet, for which new in-game footage was recently released. For my money (and I might just have to purchase a PS3 so I can play!) it has the best art direction for a game I’ve ever seen, and the gameplay itself looks fabulous. Watch the trailer here, see more screenshots here.
Are these so beautiful because we’re nostalgic for the pre-digital days of yore? Or because it’s a pleasurable contrast to see older forms lovingly recreated in newer media? Or because those older forms are more mature, familiar and comfortable to us?
Or maybe it’s just that the craftspeople in these works simply did a damn good job.