Interior Design and Environment Art: Mastering Space, Mastering Place

Interior Design and Environment Art: Mastering Space, Mastering Place



hello hey hi oh it's on it's early – real early on Friday I'm really super glad you guys could make it it is early it is a Friday you're probably tired understandably but you made it you did it you're wonderful thank you so I wanted to talk today about interior design and games mastering space and mastering place I'm Dan Cox this was an awesome portrait done for me by one of my co-workers at capybara games where I work now I'm working on below and prior to this I was working at Ubisoft Toronto working on Splinter Cell blacklist and a secret game as well a bunch of other studios for most of my career as well dealing with three-dimensional games and moving around fully 3d spaces but for a lot of my career the vast majority of it I've been teaching at Seneca College teaching environment art this has been an incredibly fulfilling experience for me it's taught me a lot about what people do and how they might create spaces my students would create the competent capable work but I couldn't quite understand why consistently a lot of times they'd start with something bad it wouldn't work it would be ugly but we would be able to wrangle into something powerful and quite of a high quality but I couldn't understand why during much of this time I was watching interior design shows with my wife these were really really interesting because they would start to talk about the things that I couldn't articulate in class to my students so I thought well there must be something here so I did to talk about it last year I also talked about what interior design can teach us about environment art you can watch this on the GDC bulb and a lot of this talk was about the fact that we should look to this field to start getting some ideas and it glossed over some ideas of what that might be and some of those to cover today because we're gonna be talking about them a little bit more or that of contrast and repetition so I want to cover them a little bit contrast is the idea that we draw out contrast from one element from the space around it either through color shape value or anything along those lines to emphasize it we can also do the opposite reducing the contrast of an element by its just by changing the color of the wall behind it to de-emphasize those elements we can also use contrast to Britt to bring out any of the kind of important parts of the room such as the table or chairs or the functional pieces we can use contrast in detail contrast and pattern contrast in rhythm of lines or just the shapes of the objects themselves now repetition is incredibly useful for us as well this is something that interior designers use a lot so we're seeing in these images is a repetition of color much of these colors are being drawn from specific parts of the room and repeated throughout that gives us a through-line that makes many disparate elements still work even if we have shapes that are different a consistent through line of either an animal shape in general or the ceramic or the white elements gives us that through line so that even though the shapes don't work these things still go together we can even have spaces with a ton of different smaller repeating elements within so a space might not necessarily look immediately appealing but it still works but the problem with last year's talk was it actually happened to be a little bit too short and so this year I kind of wanted to do something a little bit more in depth something that really concretely deals with some of the techniques that interior design deals with and in doing some of this research I started to find that there was one thing that kind of surprised me I thought interior design was useful last year but this time around with a little bit more research I started to find that environment artists must understand interior design they absolutely have to the fact of the matter is if we don't understand interior design it's like character artists not understanding anatomy for interior design that's very much our kind of anatomy study it's the bare bones basics fundamental understanding that we need to build off of because otherwise we're at the whims of taste or experience and both of those can be very difficult to come by and are not easy to teach either we have to just trust in our instincts and if you don't have them then you're in a bit of trouble and if you don't have a ton of experience in dealing with this already you don't have a lot to build off of so that is where interior design comes in it's got that fundamental understanding that we can start from to build off of but why should we study interior design why not games why not movies why not concept art well the fact is if we study movies or concept art or just illustration we're primarily dealing with two-dimensional compositions interior design immediately deals with the space around you and everything that's perceivable within that space in all directions which is not what movies deal with they're not concerned with it they shouldn't be but for us we are but why not study games well the problem is although games can be incredibly incredibly beautiful and incredibly well done it's like looking to anime for trying to get an added understanding you're already building off of somebody's either simplified or exaggerated understanding of what Anatomy or interior design might be and so you're building off of not the best foundation so the main thing that we need to keep in mind is that when we start with a good foundation we can elevate our craft and create something that builds off of something solid however that does not apply to other kinds of games if you're making something like Kentucky route zero or a game that primarily deals with two-dimensional compositions you really do not need to spend a lot of time focusing on interior design it's not the same craft it's a different setup you are dealing with the rule of thirds and other compositional elements however if you're doing something like Bioshock or any kind of game where the player has a free moving camera that is where it's most important for us to really focus on interior design because they deal with the things that we deal with what are those things these are our interior design principles which is that of order enrichment and expression order is bringing chaos away and in in putting some kind of order and some arrangement to specific elements when we're making games we're composing spaces full of many disparate kind of elements and we need to arrange them in such a way that a person can understand where they're situated in space and Richmond is the idea of elevating the core experience of being inside of a space making it enriched making it elevated and interesting at a very very core level totally separate from narrative which is expression expression is the suggestion of the mood within a space it's the suggestion of the tone or the story or your personal narrative towards that space but none of these principles exist in isolation all of these must connect together they cannot be detached you can't have a room that is purely order which is just bare bones basic that doesn't express something about the people that live there none of these things can be detached from each other in any way shape or form they're always connected the breakdown of these ideas is that order deals with orientation and spatial definition enrichment deals with complexity manipulation of form and expression deals with communication and narrative first we'll talk about order order order deals with the arrangement and position of elements in space so as to increase our sense of understanding within that place we deal with complex spaces all the time made up of many different kinds of elements and when placed together the user should be able to understand where they are which can give them a feeling of ease that's powerful for us if we don't arrange things people can get lost and lose all sense of orientation interior design really focuses on the idea of orientation but how do they do that well one first then you deal with pattern but not patterns like these oftentimes when we think of interior design we may think of interior design dealing with patterns like literally like damask and paisley and like all these other fancy patterns but that's not what I'm talking about today the kinds of patterns I'm talking about our perceptible patterns within space the pattern in this scene in both of these areas is a pattern of color a reuse of color that we can perceive and see that there's that concurrent pattern the pattern here is that of ceramic white animal that's a perceivable pattern that we have there's also a hierarchy of pattern most noticeable patterns and then less noticeable the first being rectilinear elements in these scenes and then that of rich red carpet areas with smaller patterns build within that of pastel blues or cool colors in the background separate hierarchy of different types of patterns that we can perceive that can help some of our orientation within a space but what is orientation when we walk into a room or a set of rooms we're always taking in mental images of each part separately and then our brains try to put them all back together afterwards where we gain a sense of orientation for where we were and then where we might end up next when we see these we create small mental images of each area but it becomes tricky to necessarily put them all together and if we can't do that we can lose all sense of orientation we can combine become very disoriented and totally freaked out so how do we create a sense of orientation quickly and easily well interior designs already dealt with some of this through some studies and you can deal with identity structure and meaning to implement a sense of orientation within spaces identity is the idea that you create a an iconic element that people can easily remember and come back to so when they imagine a space they know where it might be situated because they can easily recall what was there structure is the pattern within those spaces it's the repetition of certain elements that we can perceive that are easily memorable in this case the arrangement of the buildings their closeness together and the size of each kind of unit that you can see that's the perceptible pattern here rather than the building's themselves meaning is your personal meaning towards that space something that you're remembering about it because it means something to you so it's easier to recall a space because you're able to remember specific parts about it because they're meaningful to you so how does that work for this when we see each part it's hard to understand how that hole might look how the entirety of it might be however if we have identity in that we can get a much quicker idea of what the rest of these things might be and how those other details might relate the structure starts to tell us more about that space and give us something to call and meaning is frankly if you were hugging a tiger you would remember each little part of one because that's what this was it was a small part of this kind of tiger and now we're able to see the whole of it and with those identical identifiable pieces we're able to recall what this whole thing might be but how do we define space when we're dealing with orientation and order well first we need to deal with enclosure things that exist around us because we are dealing with interior design you can think of enclosure like your emotions your body and your spirit as water and the enclosure is like a glass when we have enclosure around us such as floors and a wall we have an enclosure behind us our emotions will flow out in front of us in all directions this is better than having nothing and can at least give us some sort of safety within a space if we have a hallway kind of situation two walls on both sides of us our emotions are pushed backwards and forwards and if we have two walls to the corner of us we can grade it we can get a greater sense of ease because we're able to push ourselves back towards that corner and have a little bit more inclusion that we would normally have with enclosure we start to deal with spatial definition spatial definition in its most literal sense is literal space walls floors ceiling things that fully block off one space from another let's look at imp lot actually applying some literal space into a situation and see how we get orientation from it we have a fully symmetrical space right now in all directions everything is the same and as we start to move through this space we can see every direction is the exact same when we pass through one hallway and look in both directions we see the same exact thing as we round a corner the same thing again we can start to really lose orientation here if we're not paying close attention you can vote it can become really easy to start wondering if we already pass this hallway have we been here before I can barely remember are we north south east west well let's go to the center what do we see now where the hell are we that starts to become a huge problem for us in fact Silent Hill is Petey teaser game actually used this lack of orientation that repetition through a space where you don't know how many times you've gone through it to scare the crap out of you if we want to increase orientation we need to create perceptible patterns so in this situation we actually have specific noticeable angles and details that always change so you can always orient yourselves when you always see a certain set of doors with a certain perceivable pattern it becomes very easy to understand where you are in space each section is slightly different from the others which allows you to always understand where you are in this case a little bit heavy-handed and the scene is very very simple so we're able to perceive the patterns very quickly and easily because there's very little distracting us from them but each area slightly different however this is literal space walls and floors what else can we deal with we can deal with that of implied space implied space is the suggestion of one space from another in this case we have the literal space the encompassing box we also have these two spaces within one is defined by the dropped ceiling and the next is defined by the lack of that dropped ceiling the ways we can imply space in something like this is that we first deal with our literal space and we can compartmentalize this into smaller spots one by changing the pattern of a floor arranging elements within a group even light fixtures above create a perceived spacial definition on the ground below we can also define that space through dropping the level of the floor and all of those things will go together to create discrete elements of a larger space which allows us to stand the larger area in a much easier way for each of these scenes there's implied spaces within that allows us to break down what the larger space is and have a better sense of understanding where each part might be and how they relate to each other so for example the large tree elements in here in the first image break up the room into about three different larger spaces the tables and chairs also define another smaller set of space this is good for us because like enclosure it allows us to feel a little bit more comfortable in individual pockets and all of this can be done without lighting a lot of times in games a lot of environment arts can really heavily focus on lighting as being the way that we move people through space or give them a sense of orientation or tell them where to go and that's just one tool that interior designers use they actually very rarely use it for leaving a person through a space it's just there to enliven the experience to recap when we're thinking of order we want to think of orientation which involves identity structure and meaning and then we can think about spatial definition with it which is both literal and implied in practice the things we want to do is look at scenes watch through these and start to ask questions about how order exists how are they creating orientation here how are they creating identity identifiable structures that are easy to remember what kind of structure what repeating pattern are we seeing in this space for us to be able to understand where we are what's the spatial definition where are we seeing literal space being defined and where are we seeing implied space being defined the carpets for example are another form of implied space they separate the room we have literal spaces implied spaces to create orientation we have a number of elements in here which have a specific identity to them which allows us to know which floor were on the structure also slightly changes but is a less perceptible pattern the meaning for the space for us is if you've been playing through the game you're going to remember your interactions in this area we start moving to these other floors notice how they create order by changing the identity of certain areas the color schemes are a form of identity as well by asking ourselves these questions as we move through spaces we give ourselves a foundation for which we understand how we might use some of these techniques next we can talk about enrichment enrichment is elevating the experience in a space making it more interesting for you just either on a movement kind of basis or all from just a visual field kind of standpoint enrichment is just about the experience of looking at something and having that be elevated from the norm that we might be used to it also deals with the ideas of approachability visually we like scenes that have a lot of complexity in them that's just a number of studies that have interior design that interior design has done and so we've got a scale of complexity on the base here and a scale of how much somebody might like something what they found was as a scene gets more complex in our visual field people start to like it more however it starts to taper off at a certain point and if the scene starts to get too complex people start to like it less and want to approach it significantly less which means right in the middle we have this area of optimum complexity so if a space is too boring and simple you don't necessarily want to dive in and go there however if the space is too complex you also don't want to either what they found was the spaces that people appreciated the most or naturalistic spaces where we can see perceptible patterns and repetition of elements because our eyes love to break down scenes and visual areas into smaller component parts and actually do some work but they don't want to do too much so what kind of techniques can we use to increase approachability when dealing with complexity well we deal with the techniques of complexity coherence legibility and mystery complexity is that we do like to see complexity in our visual field we like to see things that we can break down and comp compartmentalize and do work with animals love to break a breakdown patterns and the more times that we're able to do that the more space can be interesting within that threshold but the thing is we need to balance that threshold how do we do that without just having like a medium complexity world all the time well we can use legibility legibility is our ability to break down a space into those component parts it's when we can break down specific elements and understand how to chunk out test base a lack of legibility means that we can't really understand what's going on and even though the space may not be necessarily that complex we can't tell what's going on and it becomes less approachable however if you increase legibility in a space you can still have significant amounts of complexity within it lots of little details but a lack of legibility with those same details starts to become a problem next we can talk about coherence which is our appreciation for patterns within space and perceiving those patterns so in this area we've got straight lines with an angular element built in that's repeated through the chairs and all the different types of areas in the back as well where you get straight lines and a little bit of an angle in this scene as well we have this really really interesting ceiling piece with a really cool pattern but it doesn't really fit with everything else except if you notice the railings have a double line that double line also repeats itself through the ceiling and it's almost the exact same distance apart creating that coherence that make some of this actually work together mystery is the idea that we want to investigate spaces that we want to move into them the more you present something that somebody might want to investigate further the more enriched that space can be and the more somebody might want to investigate it anytime that that kind of happens a space becomes a little bit more mysterious a little bit more interesting to explore my favorite example of that is with Dark Souls if you're in the dark root Basin if you're aware of it way off in the distance there's these tenderly things moving off in the distance and you're wondering what the hell it is you're scared but you really want to know what it is and it's a frigging Hydra which is unpleasant once you get there but all of that leads to that mystery and leads you to want to investigate further even when in Dark Souls it's not a great idea to do that which leads us to an Universal enrichment the fact is if enrichment kind of deals with the ideas of approachability then we can have a universal form of enrichment it doesn't need to just deal with interior design it can deal with anything we can have enrichment that is detached from narrative from other kinds of expression in that space and have things and techniques that we can use in almost any scenario to enrich it so for example the manipulation or enclosing space by default this room is a perfect example of it our walls are straight and our floors are flat and the ceiling is also flat as well this is what we're used to so it is not an enriched space because it's just the default for us if we start to move those things manipulate that enclosing space it become it can become a more enriching area to be within something that's unexpected and can be something that we can enjoy being within some examples of that can be really really interesting enriching spaces for us we don't always have to use it it doesn't have to be extreme but it is there for us to use we can also have the manipulation of that enclosing space over a broader area not just the walls and floors on a small area but actually over the entirety of a space these concentric circles conforming to our walls give us something to work with for our enclosing space this area is enriched in a small way because this changes our experience of the norm we have to move through curved areas where we wouldn't normally do that and it just makes for something that is slightly enriched when we know how to slightly enrich something we can start to use more exaggerated versions of it to get a greater impact and the fact is this is more than useable on just interior design ideas Caves are already manipulated in closing surfaces all those spaces have all those kinds of angles to them they're changed in this exact same way and so these kinds of patterns are something that we already appreciate in other kinds of spaces so you can use these kind of techniques in any scenario we also think about surface articulation in a lot of situations we might have a flat surface which is relatively simple but if we start to add pattern to it something that's perceivable then the space starts to become a little bit more interesting as long as the patterns not too repetitive if the pattern is incredibly repetitive it's not that interesting for us to break down however if we start to change that pattern a little bit and start to make the pattern slightly less perceptible or change it up even a bit more that can be something that's really enriching it gives our eyes more things to work with if the pattern starts have become imperceptible that can start to lead to a lack of legibility or coherence which makes it somewhat less approachable somewhat less not necessarily enriched but a little bit more confusing if we start to make that pattern more perceptible again then you can start to have something that works we can use these kinds of surface articulations to lead the player through a space to lead them through an area to break up certain areas so that a hallway doesn't look like it becomes too long and those are really really powerful for us patterns and our surface and tribulation can be just flat on the wall just paint it on or they can actually have a relief to them a thickness and a shape and all of these kind of things can move you through a space and just elevate the experience of being in their surface articulation can exist as well on non man-made patterns things that are just a little bit more naturalistic or normal these are all forms of surface articulation whether they're intended or not they still create the same impact for us as users next we can think about spatial composition if we don't compose our elements in space they become very confusing and we can't make sense of why they're there and what they're doing if we compose them in space it becomes a little bit easier for us to make sense of them this increases their legibility total chaos becomes really difficult to deal with however if we create that order to it the space becomes more legible if we have a ton of chairs and tables all just scattered throughout a space it certainly has complexity but very very very little legibility if we don't balance those things then we lose some of the enrichment that we might get out of these moving through this space is an enriching experience because we kind of have to move around but we start to lose all sense of what's happening and we could utilize this much better however if we create too much order to this the space is not necessarily all that enriched it's composed certainly but is not necessarily that interesting for us to move through our enrichment can happen on more than the visual field it can also happen on the movement field as we move through a space differently just by rearranging the composition of these elements our movement path has been changed this becomes a small slight subtle enrichment to what we had before by just spatially composing our elements differently we can also change up the pattern between two areas our spatial compositions can suggest two distinct areas with multiple movement schemes built within in each area you have to move through the space slightly different but the composition of these elements also lets us feel at ease because we can compartmentalize ourselves into smaller parts when we see a scene that has no spatial composition it can become kind of disorienting and somewhat scary and free freaky to be with it but if each area gives us a spot that we can kind of relax within then we can feel a little bit more at ease moving through it and around it novelty is the idea that we want something that's going to stand out from everything else that's the easiest form of enrichment and one that we use the ton and are really good at novelty is just having something that's impactful and interesting and just quite a bit different from everything else it's enriching because when you see it you're just excited and it's awesome the problem is if we use too much novelty at too high of an intensity all the time it can become difficult for a user to notice every time that we did it so the problem is is we start to have much novelty we're going to have to use really exaggerated forms of novelty for somebody to spot it because we have to go so far in that direction if we think of novelty like a value scale going from black to white white being the highest form of novelty and black being another extremely high form of novelty if we just have black and white with no gradients in between things can become difficult to understand on the whole if we look at this image and imagine it like the experience of being in an entire game from beginning to end each little part of it is black white tons of novelty in each little section if we don't control that value scale that intensity of our novelty it's hard to understand what our whole experience was how to remember each little part because everything is identifiable because everything is memorable nothing is memorable if we control that a little bit better we can start to understand what the entirety of that experience might be because each part has a little bit more value change to it one of the best examples I can think of for this is the Stanley parable each area that you're going through kind of repeats itself a lot but little parts change and you start to notice that novelty incredibly quickly because there's very little else happening so every time something changes that novelty is incredibly usable and incredibly memorable we can also think about tension tension is this feeling that as we move through a space if the space starts to enclose around us a little bit more that's an enriching experience it's something interesting for us we need to release that tension and we can increase or release it in many different kinds of ways either gradually or roughly a great example of this is through the recent uncharted videos where as he moves to this cave the tension starts being increased as he walks through more caves the tension starts increasing a little bit more and then a little bit more so the maximum kind of intensity that we can get for some of this tension and then that release of tension creates a really enriching experience so to recap when we think about enrichment we can think about the ideas of approachability complexity legibility coherence and mystery our spacial compositions are manipulation of enclosing space surface articulation novelty and tension all of these things are incredibly useful for us to deal with for enriching a space and enriching the experience for a user inside of it it's important for us to ask ourselves these questions when we see a space when we look at an area how is it creating a Richmond how is it dealing with balancing the complexity of the scene what about the legibility where are you seeing a repetition of certain patterns that go together to create that coherence what are the spatial compositions that we're seeing here to break things apart what about tension and the release of that tension how are they dealing with the manipulation of enclosing space are they using it are they not using it do they need to balancing each of those things is incredibly valuable for us what are they doing for surface articulation are they doing anything for it is it necessary how are they creating novelty each room in these spaces actually has a form of novelty whether really strong or relatively subtle that novelty may not exist between all two like many other rooms between the entire world but each space feels slightly different the novelty here also comes from that blue light in this area gives us something different to deal with when we look at this back area we have a sense of mystery we want to investigate it because it's quite a bit different from the other areas and it starts to be something that's worthwhile to explore there's complexity in these spaces but balanced with legibility and coherence all of these things are useful for us to ask ourselves about when we deal with the space we can understand the simpler ideas of how we might use those techniques glass we can talk about expression express is how we deal with the mood or tone or narrative of a space so we're dealing with expression it's what we're telling the user the broad ideas of a space it's our communication with the user and their ability to maybe understand what that communication is we're actually really good at expression interior design is probably the least effective in telling us stuff about expression because that's what we generally focus on we're always telling stories in spaces that's actually really what we're good at but there are interesting things that expression deals with an interior design that I found helpful it's less of a technique specifically and more of a mindset when dealing with a space and that's the ideas of world expression inhabited expression and symbolism so when we're thinking about world expression the techniques that we want to specifically think about is that of historical and cultural historical is what we're dealing with the history of a space told to it's visuals what time period was this place built within what was the era around that and how does that space express that history each of these kinds of places expresses its history through the details within it's certainly enriched and it has order again we can't disconnect those things but when we're thinking about historical expression we're just thinking about what the history is and how to express that for portal to the dilapidated sense of space here suggests something about the history especially if you've played portal 1 you start to get a good sense of how history is being expressed within this space the inclusion of 1920s kind of propaganda and shapes and details in Columbia really suggests something about the history of this space and how it relates fictional spaces all still have their own inherent history that can be expressed we can also think about cultural expression whenever we're expressing a type of culture in a space you're using symbols things like that to suggest or express a specific type of culture there it can also be really heavy-handed and maybe even really tacky but it is still a form of expression you're expressing a type of culture there for Colombia that's the expression of really heavy-handed Americana and religious figures or in some cases being really stereotypical and cliche to kind of emphasize the certain tones that that group might be having in terms of how they perceive other kinds of cultures we can think about inhabitant expression and by habitants I mean anybody that lives inside of a space or exists within it either temporarily or otherwise the inhabitant may have built the space that they're within or they may just simply be squatting the identity of them is going to help us understand how to deal with what they might be expressing within that space the techniques that we can use within that are that of attitude and their sophistication and their self presentation of those ideas attitude can be how friendly or unfriendly the inhabitants may be and their expression of those things within they can be something that they've either built to suggest that kind of attitude and expressing that or something that they've simply placed on the walls themselves all of these kinds of things are a form of inhabitant expression when you go through that space you understand who these people might be and what their friendliness or attitude might be it can also be a sense of their humor or any kind of thing that tells you something about who they are who they think they are and maybe who they want to be their sophistication suggests their appreciation for taste and aesthetics sophistication in terms of how we relate that through the inhabitant expression is how we make sure that they have a clear sense of how much they appreciate the aesthetic somewhere making sure that they have a high-quality sense of taste or that they maybe don't and aren't concerned with those kinds of things then all of this is going to be modified by the self presentation of those people how much they want you to see that kind of presentation of sophistication or attitude in one situation to express their attitude they may just let things be on the walls and tons of graffiti everywhere to suggest the kind of attitude and their appreciation of sophistication or they may clean some of that stuff up the same kind of space but simplified somewhat because they don't want to express too much of that attitude we can also think about symbolism that of either the feeling of ascending and descending or admittance and refusal symbolism is something that's incredibly valuable for us and is still very often used in interior design it's that broader communication of story and a universal human experience for users this is incredibly useful for us because we can suggest broad ideas rather than always just small ones it's very easy for a player to miss these things because symbolism is always very important for their cultural experience for their personal experience some users will not see that symbolism or will not recognize it but to have it there is still incredibly powerful for us the ideas of ascending and descending when you move up through a space there's a suggestion of like sort of a heavenly movement which can still be modified again based on a person's personal experience or cultural experiences we can utilize these things again in portal to where you just send and you fall and you lose something of yourself these kinds of broader symbolism creates a narrative that's somewhat separate from the obvious explicit narrative the ideas of remittance and refusal is that when you want somebody to come into a space you can show them that you can symbolize that through open doors showing lots of light into that space to make sure that somebody feels like they are very much welcome or doing the opposite creating that sense that somebody is not allowed into that space symbolizing those things and suggesting that through our expression but how do we do this in practice well Mad Men is a great example in an office in this kind of space this is also enriched and there's order and all those kinds of things but for expression we're specifically getting an idea of what the history of this place is because we can see how these things look and what kind of time period they express also there's clear cultural expression here because we can recognize how that relates to the culture that this place existed with it also inhabit an expression an office with a ton of booze in it suggest something about the inhabitants there whether it's already placed in advance or only occasionally placed just based on where they're working or what they're doing but how does this relate to expression and how can we separate them in a clear and easy way well when we think of expression versus enrichment one of the best places that you can look to to understand how those pieces might differ is to go to an interior design show that deals with a place where they need to sell a house because in many of those situations people are trying to make sure that they remove their personal expression their identity within that space and create a space that's purely enriched and just visually pleasing to move within the first example here has a ton of expression within it but somebody may not want to buy that so they want these simplified space one space is not necessarily ugly or bad it is simply too identifiable for the expression of the person within and the next space is again not necessarily better per se but it is focusing on a lack of identity within that space to recap when we're thinking about expression we want to think about world expression and we want to ask ourselves about the questions within that space what is its historical relevance and what is it expressing about the culture there what about the inhabitant expression what's their attitude and what's their sophistication and how are they presenting that we can also think about the symbolism of this space and what that's suggesting either through the ascending and descending or the admittance and refusal when we see these these kinds of images we can ask ourselves these kinds of questions about how they're being expressed and we can also then think about how that's being changed in a space like this how are they presenting their his story their their world history or their culture are they doing that how much what's their attitude and how much are they presenting that so the question is should we start hiring interior designers no no absolutely not the fact is a lot of interior designers are not necessarily interested in games that's rather obvious they want to make real spaces spaces that actual humans literally walk through and move through they don't necessarily want to make games and some of them aren't good because we're not actually interested in interior designers we're interested in interior design instead you should read a book in fact most of the information that I got for this talk came from this book interior designs always really interested me this is a university-level interior design textbook and it's probably one of the best sources of information I've seen talking about techniques that I'd never heard anybody talk about before which was incredibly powerful I've seen these things and no doubt many of you here have already thought about these techniques themselves but I've not necessarily seen it articulated and all of that comes from this book because interior design can give us so many so many useful things this book it's fantastic however it's also really dry it is really boring because it's very very technical which is fantastic for giving us a foundation of understanding for how we create and manipulate space to increase somebody's appreciation of it but what about exteriors well Czech architecture look into the core ideas of how people build spaces City Planning is also fantastic for this as well actually diving into these different areas is equally as relevant if you're City space anything like like watchdogs or any kind of like GTA type scenario city planning exploration is incredibly powerful otherwise we have to bash our heads against the same problems over and over again and then we would bring somebody new on it's harder for us to explain those things in a clear and coherent way or to just give them a book and have them watch it themselves but with all these rules I gotta break them they're very useful for us to give ourselves a foundational understanding of what we're working with but we always need to break rules we always need to change what we're doing to ensure that we're not just sticking with static ideas but instead expanding on them breaking them to see the result but if we don't start with rules we don't know what we're breaking to recap we want to think about order and enrichment and expression order being how we create orientation and spatial definition how we set someone within a space and keep them from being confused and lost enrichment dealing with approachability spatial composition and closing surfaces surface articulation novelty and tension these things can elevate the experience of being inside of a space can make it just a little bit more interesting to dive into regardless of what our content itself might be an expression deal with that of the world's expression its inhabitants and their symbolism and every time we look at these things we can relay these questions back to our so yeah that's fun we can relay these things back to ourselves through questions coming back to the scene keeping in mind all of these ideas what kind of orientation is being created how are they dealing with spatial definition how are they separating different areas down there through the elements within what kind of space is implied and what's fully defined what's the expression that you're seeing in here you can tell something about the people here and how is it creating tension as we move through this what's the feeling of tension that you're getting from it is it positive negative how are they releasing it how are they using surface articulation novelty to increase our sense of orientation how are they manipulating the enclosing surfaces through something like that staircase each area here is relatively novel it's separating out every floor and each space says something about the inhabitants as well we can always start to get an idea of who these people are through that expression each area in this has a form of enrichment order and expression in it the mystery that's created within each area and the novelty that's created here and this base is full of expression built on top of everything else when we ask ourselves about what methods were seeing them use here we can gain a better sense of understanding what we're doing when we understand these things we can master space so we can master place thank you and so given the time I think we've got totally time for questions if anybody has any questions cool so I'm ma yeah glad you mentioned the HGTV thinks it's kind of guilty pleasure am i right yeah so I can relate to someone are there any other kind of shows you spotted on there that you'd suggest like one do additional research or anything like that specific totally yeah last year my talk kind of really heavily deals with HGTV in a very overt way the two that are really really useful that I found are Sarah 101 is a really good one as an interior design show that covers some of these topics and pure design the thing I find useful is having some of this fundamental understanding and some of these other details you can start to see how they apply those techniques without necessarily referencing them within all the spaces that they're working with I find them incredibly useful to check out this is like real like core really bare-bones first level kind of understandings and to see how people use those ideas to me always really useful yeah are there any spaces like that you can think of like in the world that like I could look up that would be that you think really embody all of these fantastic interior designs in terms of like games or like real world spaces that you think are very good at you know expression and orientation and things like that it's a really good question and I can't think of a specific example for it a lot of times that's why I try to break these things down into questions so that when I'm seeing something it's mostly about even just your own experience within a space walking through it and try to remember where was I a minute ago and when you experience that in a space simply being aware of these things can be helpful because you can see oh I remember where I was and now that I think about it it's because they had like a specific interesting picture on a wall and sometimes that creates that identity and that structure those are the best things I can suggest I would look up some of ideally some of the best interior designers even just look up a Wikipedia's pretty good for it too okay for checking out I think Frank Gehry is a fantastic fantastic unbelievably good interior designer and he creates some pretty unbelievable spaces okay that are probably one of the best spots to start with okay Frank Gehry he's a a Frank Gehry okay yeah he he also the book as well also talks a lot about very specific interior designers excellent talk thank you thank you yeah hi um to what extent does the way a player is going to move through a space influence the way they're gonna do interior design something about something like mist what you're stepping through a space in a very static fashion versus a more fluid more modern sort of game totally I think with something like mist we really are more dealing with specific somewhat more static compositions it could certainly still deal with a lot of interior design for sure but I feel like that one almost becomes a little bit more of an in-between where you really want to focus on static compositions and two-dimensional composition and then also inform it a little bit with how you define space and how you deal with that because that can start to help how you might move through space especially if the camera is in any of those situations if it does pan and move that's where it's most useful if it's the static compositions for a lot of adventure games then I wouldn't bother okay because two-dimensional composition there is more important and more powerful yeah all right thank you Thanks I am a Libra Nader I'm the lead artists on Timbo yog so I'm doing the sprites and the environment design Thanks and it's a procedurally generated map and going into it it was kind of like oh well you know this orientation is kind of the factor so we don't really need to worry about it but we actually found that carbonyl compartmentalization was really crucial to the game and just designing little spaces that are then procedurally introduced will reinforce that sense of orientation so even if you're working on something that's procedurally generated I think that all of these concepts are really really valuable to put in your game also I totally agree great thank you um I'm a level designer game designer and arguably like designers should have this kind of background as well yes how as an environment artist when you have all of these interior design fundamentals built into you and you're working with the level designer who's largely responsible for blocking it out how do you guys come to terms with so in situations like that if if you have an understanding of some of these techniques then you really have to collaborate closely with your designers it is it's it's the worst kind of situation to have a level artists and a level designer not not work together that that can really things up and break things because there's they're so linked order is probably one of the techniques that deals most with interior design and I was level design either and if they don't have an understanding of that information which is understandable a lot of level designers don't a lot of level artists don't a lot of people don't unless they're an interior design or unless they've like I said have a ton of really good taste or experience and so if those people don't work together you're going to have a significant amount of order to a space at best but then enrichment and expression have to be done by a separate process and they're not separate processes and so a lot of it just has to be a matter of really trying to talk and as much as possible educate your designers on these things because even though at the beginning of this I said environment us must understand this I also and many other level designers have agreed with me on this that they need to understand that as well because it's it's critical hi I don't know if it's an old question but in some ways I've played I noticed that some environments seem like too wide or too height or the height of doors don't correlate with you with the wideness of the rooms and I don't know if that's something that it's it's intentional or that it's a lack of interior design my suggestion will be when when you're seeing something like that is acknowledging your within it and seeing okay well if it is too high or if it feels too high how does that relate to some of the other techniques like what kind of enclosure are we getting out of this space so for example this room is really really tall is that what kind of experience are we getting within that space does that height create something that's interesting for us each of us are going to feel differently about it but to address and ask those questions about it I think are the most useful thing that you can do because even though we've got like rules and techniques and specific ideas it doesn't necessarily make this entirely not subjective we just gain a little bit more objectivity but that's it it's still crazy subjective so if you experience that this place feels too tall then try to break down some of the other techniques and think about like how are they dealing with enclosure does the space feel too tall simply because I'm really small in it or that the spatial composition of the elements within feel really big in comparison to that yeah that's how you can start to like break down your feelings within that space so that you don't necessarily have to resort to cliches of just going well the space should be smaller because maybe it should maybe this room is great as tall as it is because we get these big things yeah exactly maybe that's where that starts to work but me up here looking that way it just looks too tall okay thank you Thanks hi I'm Luke Anderson Double Down casino online I wanted to ask you about the kind of nexus between three decomposition and two decomposition as it pertains to user interface or a HUD mmm you know when the environment kind of blurs out the HUD comes up now you're in a 2d experience yeah and that transition I well I think that kind of acted like having that transition is useful valuable I'm not very good with UI I'm actually pretty terrible with it so I wouldn't want to dive into that too much and pretend like I know because I don't but especially in those kind of situations since since the camera is not actually moving through or changing where that that element is a lot of times I feel like yeah you want to focus on two-dimensional composition because that's what's most effective for that whereas for interior design it really it really is about moving through a space and that's where that connection is every time that that connection is not there I feel like interior design is is you know it has techniques that are neat but the relevance starts to just drop off it's still cool it's still interesting but it's not directly applicable and that's where I think you can start focusing on other kinds of techniques and other fields to draw that information from like graphic design and stuff like that cool did I answer that question yeah bit broad no it was a broad question so that's that's great plaguing um what suggestions you have for building interesting spaces when you kind of have like a limited asset list or like pattern lists like if you're building off like a texture page you may only have like two you know carpet patterns you only may have like one couch type so how do you suggest building spaces with interest when you do have alimentation I mean oftentimes those limitations can be useful but then you start to try to I would I would suggest probably resorting to things like without knowing more information about the space try to resort to certain things like because you can't really deal with surface articulation in the same way if you can't add more assets but maybe dealing with how you manipulate that enclosing surface creating curves where you can't normally in fact interior design is very good for dealing with limitations because they've always got limitations of budgets and materials so if they want like a really like sexy cool surface that costs something that costs a lot more than a boring uninteresting surface so they're really good with limitations and I would suggest dealing with perceptible patterns within that space okay so the assets themselves would normally create more novelty but since you have that limited palette of assets you have a limited palette of novelty of objects and so you just try to rearrange them in different patterns in different areas so that you're getting at least some form of coherence and legibility and creating little movement paths that people can work through maybe it's not necessarily visually enriching and and expressive that way but it might be at least enriching to move through thank you thanks and is that so one thing I was wondering you know going back to like the question on hey how do we communicate with people who may not have the same information as you know you're expressing here you know often you're talking about a space with you know a big group of people let's say you're viewing a level do you have any like tips on how to communicate fundamental issues you see like with interior design to people that may not understand why you know order is important in a scene you know so if you're making a busy street you know you're like okay let's throw in a bunch of stuff how many assets can we fit in the street to make it look like a busy street obviously that can affect you know the things we're talking about today again I think the only I'm actually realizing this will have to be the last question because I just looked at the time I think when it comes to that when it comes to education all I can think to do is to just keep talking about it that's kind of why I wanted to this talk because I found it was interesting and useful and and would hopefully help people and I think that's all that you can really do is is implement it show it and talk about the techniques that you using there's a lot of really specific terms in here and I kind of wanted to keep them because for us that gives us a vocabulary to work with when we're talking about spaces so when we stay consistent with some of that language we can understand that when we're pointing to something and going hey this scene it's interesting but it's kind of lacking coherence as long as we can repeat that thing if something goes what are you talking about coherence you can oh well this is what I'm talking about and you can keep that kind of like clear line of language so that people can understand what the criticism means so that we don't rely on can make it more detail because I know I've done that a lot of times so keeping some of that language consistent and explaining what each part might mean when you're talking about it can be hugely helpful I find thank you thank you guys for showing up it's pretty early you

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26 thoughts on “Interior Design and Environment Art: Mastering Space, Mastering Place

  1. I wasn't looking for this video, but it came up in my search…   How is "space" created in Space Games   Does space take up memory or is it simply the distance between to physical objects within the game?   I have this game in my head, and I'm trying to solve these problems in my head, rationally, before it even gets to the development stage; I do not think will happen, but it brings me happiness.   (See Below Please for my thoughts on the video)

    The more complex the scene, means more shadows going between these spaces, and that creates a heavy load…   What strikes me the most, is that the most high definition games that focus on immersive surroundings, leave very little room for anything else.   You can have a low end graphics game, that does a little of everything, but I think the key is finding a balance between a feature rich game, that is immersive, while at the same time, not as taxing on the system running it!  

    The Unity Engine, and asset flipping, isn't helping the gaming industry, but rather hurting it.   The gaming industry seems so dead now; I'm almost 48, and I've been a gamer all my life, and I know what passion is, and it is very rare now in the gaming industry.   These new comers to the industry seem to be going with what's easy, because they lack the experience, training, and most importantly, the DRIVE, or PASSION, to produce a game that doesn't sit in Early Access stagnating for the next 6 to 7 years.  They even moderate their own game hubs, banning people left and right who speak negatively on the products they release.    Goverment no longer protects the People, but receive their paychecks from corporations, …why do you think we pay their taxes?   Because it would be embarrassing to pay taxes to a Government YOU control!

    Create a game for $$$, you will fail!   Create a game from the heart, the money will follow, but very few people understand this, that passion is the key to success, in that if you create a game YOU want to play, that magnetism will carry over to other people.    All you have to do to defeat the current monopolies (Ubisoft, Rockstar, Electronic Arts, Sony, Bohemia Interactive) is to create a GOOD game, and don't put yourself into a position to be blackmailed.   The gaming industry has become more than just about entertainment, but a form of Trojan horse in which political, and social ideologies are passed to the gamers.   We play games to escape from reality…, this system of credit and debt that THEY have created; They whom think they know what's best for us, and what's better for themselves… …We play to escape, not because we miss reality and want games that are more realistic!   Take these Mil-Sim's, what a joke…  If you want to feel something real, join the military, then you can feel the bullet ripping through your flesh, and have a reason for the foul language that comes out of kids mouths as they're playing a military game.

    I confronted a kid, and you know what his response was to his foul language?   What he said amo0unted to, he's playing a game in which people are dying in brutal ways, and foul language is to be expected!   Now I say, no one has ever died from a mouse and keyboard unless you hit them over the head with it!

  2. That question at the end – why thing like doors may be out of proportion to the character and the room: especially on old games this was to compensate for issues with camera controls and with low resolution displays (e.g. CRT TVs).

  3. One of the best GDC talks ever. Very organized, and I love that he showed practical game examples that applied the interior design principles that he discussed.

  4. I have been working on interior designs and I want to work on environment designs as well so working on interior designs will it help in working on environment designs or it can help me start working on environment designs??

  5. Here's the Link to the Talk mentioned at 1:42 on the GDCVault –
    What Modern Interior Design Teaches Us About Environment Art:
    https://www.gdcvault.com/play/1020421/What-Modern-Interior-Design-Teaches

  6. Probably one of the best GDC talks as a lot of them are a bit pants. I'd watch this again – and again. Very good.

  7. The art style of that one game reminds of Team fortress 2 or some parts of portal 2 but on steroids graphically.

  8. Just make a game that is fun. Smoke a joint and let yourself go. Forget all this pattern examination, breaking up space, spatial, perception, cognitive, neuropsychophysiological analysis of the human interaction between brain body, spirit and emotion. Goddamnit. Make a game that is fun, and it will all fall into place. Chill and just pop some tabs and let your ideas run riot. It's called a game, because it is a game, ironic since the industry is taking itself so goddamned seriously. Really, you are trying to find a template, plug in formula to dazzle and distract people into ignoring the deficit of content, in order to not have to bear the burden of having to come up with good ideas and FUN GAMES TO PLAY.

  9. thank you for this! I am an interior design student (almost graduate) moving towards gaming and movie industry and the information covered are very helpful showing that what i learnt can be a great advantage!

  10. I'm an interior design student I was hoping to transition into the gaming industry since games is a massive part of my life. I was thinking of how to apply my skills and in this video I learned couple of ways to do so.

  11. I'm not very clear on the difference between 'Enrichment' and ' Universal Enrichment', would someone like to try and clearly explain this? Thanks

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