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rimworld graphics attributes
13:51 rimworld graphics are as important as the typeface on a novel
it can be better or worse but in the end I don't care except in
terms of how effectively it transmits the story into the player's
* not ugly
if it's painful to look at or it looks awful on video you're not gonna
sell that many games because it's just ugly it's actually unpleasant to
look at so we try to definitely at least reach the threshold of beauty
where you can look at it without psychic suffering
* easily identifiable
the visual characteristics have to be very easy to identify for
what they represent and this is in conflict with abstraction a little bit.
it makes it easier for new players to play or for people to watch a video
our trailer and understand what's going on
* minimal noise
making the graphics really simple reduces the noise in the image
and that reduces the cognitive load to read the image
an image with a lot of detail everywhere might be beautiful but
when you're talking about a game like rimworld with potentially hundreds
and hundreds of objects on the screen scanning through that with your eyes
and finding what matters to you becomes harder and harder the more details
are in there
* intensity hierarchy
this is one way of helping people determine visually what is important
and what is not
so it's essentially a hierarchy of what you'd call visual intensity to
draw the eye more strongly towards things that are story-relevant and let
the eye slide over things that matter less
as a simple example characters and buildings in the game have solid
black outlines but plants have dark green outlines or no outlines at all
and this means that plants tend to blend into the background slightly
you can still see them it's not difficult but the characters really pop out
so if there's a big field of trees and one character on it the character is
looks like he's in the foreground and the plants are all sort of smeared
together and it draws your eye there and the same is true of items gold food
all have black outlines plants no
* fast implementation
for rimworld I really just made graphics really really quickly skipping
over the need to worry about animation and complex graphics made it possible
to inject more story content into the game more mechanics
a lot of this stuff would be almost impossible to do if we tried to do it
anywhere near the standard that a lot of games go for with their graphics
because if the only goal is to enrich the story you cut whatever details you
need to to make the story as rich as possible
it's all about focusing on that one target of being a story generator that
works well
* leave room for interpretation
I'm going to go into this later but the basic notion is that you don't
show everything and that lets the player imagine things better but I have
a later discussion on that
which is right here
usually one would assume that in order to play or in order to enjoy some
aspect of a game the developer has to implement that aspect of the game
but it's not necessarily true
so if you consider this table
Perceived by player Not perceived by player
------------------- -----------------------
Present in game Normal Unperceived complexity
Not present in game Apophenia! Normal
in the top left and the bottom right are what you would expect
you put something in the game and people enjoy it if people read it
you don't put something in the game and nobody perceives it because it's
not there
the top right is a classic design failure wherein a designer might put
some complex beautiful number system in but player just reads it as
noise because they don't know what's going on or they don't see it
but the bottom left is what I'm really interested in
this is what I mean when I'm talking about impossible game design
something that's not present in the game but the players are perceiving
it anyways
think of how powerful this is because you don't even have to do the work
but the players are enjoying things that you never had to actually implement
and it works because the human mind is really an overactive system for
matching patterns this is why you know ancient people they would look at the
constellations in the sky and they would see beasts or chariots or people
or they saw messages from the gods in chicken guts and tea leaves
and people pattern match in a very specific way it's not random people
interpret everything that's possible as tribal interpersonal politics
so this is why religious traditions or mythologies would interpret
unknowable phenomena in the old days like weather or earthquakes with the
intentions of unseen deities
it's the weather has an intention it's not just an object
or political discussion tends to revolve around pretending countries
are people or corporations are people it's like France did this or Germany
did that
Germany is a lot of different people and it doesn't have a single intention
but we anthropomorphize it that way
and I think it's because the part of our mind that models social interactions
is super over developed because it's important to us
but it's so over developed that we thoughtlessly applied to everything
effortlessly without even realizing we're doing it
we impart emotions and intentions on things like rocks and rivers and rain
and stuffed animals and this happens of course even though these things don't
have feelings
so we can use this since the goal of rimworld is to create a story of
emotions and intentions and people are massively over interpreting
these things we can let the player's pattern-matching mind automatically and
unconsciously ascribe emotion and intention in places where it doesn't
actually exist and that's useful because stories are made of emotions and
so here are some ways to do it or some things that feed into this
phenomena which I call apophenia
one is abstracted feedback this is what I mentioned before the player can
only invent interpretations if you don't force an interpretation upon them
this is why the graphics are kept so simple in rimworld
so for example here's the situation the doctor is treating his wife's bullet
wound but it doesn't show the characters faces or their body language this
is deliberate it means that the player is free to imagine these faces in
this body language based on the situation
if we put a visual image of that body language in the player would not
be able to imagine it
so you know if the doctor and the wife like each other the player might
imagine a heartfelt moment of tension as he tries to save her and if they
dislike each other the player might imagine that they have this like get
it over with attitude or I'll let you touch me barely
and if one character likes the other but not the reverse there's all sorts
of other permutations that you could come up with
the second thing is long-term relevance you want to keep things relevant
for a long time to maximize the connections between circumstances and
interesting story events and interpretation spring from the overlapping
of different circumstances
so if you can retain over time the reasons why a character might want to
do things something why might they they want to have that intention or why
they might feel a certain way you can give people food to generate their
own interpretations
so for example this is why in rimworld I specifically designed the
random incidents to take a long time to play out wherever possible
so diseases they last a long time so does the toxic Fallot it floats down
for months half a year maybe
volcanic winter
prowling Manhunter packs of wild boars they wait outside the doors for a week
hoping you'll come out
sieges and so on and so forth
colonists remember events like family deaths or marriages or divorces they
know their relationship they know what this person did to them
failed surgeries
they remember these things for a long time so there's many ways for these
situations to overlap and connect together and knit into a story of
so for example if the doctor previously failed a surgery on his wife she
will have a memory record of that which the game will express
it says botched my surgery and makes her express dislike for him in the game
but that's pretty thin in terms of how we do it numerically with the game
but in terms of how this player can interpret a this it can be quite rich
in terms of how she might feel about this situation
if the wife needs surgery because of a wound from an animal who's still
prowling outside and food is short and the two are divorced recently but
they had a cathartic fight that they feel better about you could just pile in
the context and imagine what all these different permutations
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