9 min read
Road to the IGF: State of Play's Lume
As part of Gamasutra's Road to the IGF series, State of Play's Luke Whittaker discusses IGF's Excellence in Visual Arts nominee Lume, and how he helped craft the adventure game's unique aesthetic and concept.
And how did you develop its unique visual style? Why do you think it fit for the kind of experience/story you wanted to convey in Lume? Back when we started, it wasn't going to be a real 3D set, just designed to look 3D, a bit like Headspin: Storybook. After a few tests of what was possible, I wondered why we were faking it, and so the idea of a real paper set was born. I've always been interested in architecture too, and it seemed like a good opportunity to play around and make whatever I wanted. The distinctive wedge-shape of Granddad's house in Lume began with the idea that, if you wanted to power your house with solar panels on the roof, then surely it's best if your house is all roof. The different levels and the basement all then flowed from that idea, once we had this shape to fit everything around. Because the story, the style, and the puzzles all grew at the same time, I think things naturally seemed to fit. So, we wanted solar panels -- that gave us the shape of the roof. Then it made sense for one of the panels to need fixing -- that gave us the solar panel puzzle. The handmade aesthetic also matches the do-it-yourself nature of what Lumi's doing in the game -- making something special out of objects she finds. Other than its different aesthetic, what do you think a game with handcrafted visuals like this is able to communicate, that you wouldn't get with a more traditional look? I think it's able to communicate affection. We loved making this, and I would hope that's something which radiates from the game. And I think that, in turn, communicates that the ideas in the game are presented with honesty and care. Are there any worries at all for you with its upcoming iOS port, that its impressive visuals won't be appreciated as much on a smaller screen? We've been testing it on the iPhone today in fact, and we're incredibly pleased with the result. Somehow the smaller scale, and the fact that it's touchscreen, makes it feel even more like a model you can really play with. We're also making it for iPad2, and this will actually be in even higher resolution than the original Mac and PC game, so you'll be able to see even more detail. The game was designed originally with the iPhone and iPad in mind as well, and we planned it so the aspect ratio would match and porting would be simpler. We were just waiting for the right time for this port, and we're really pleased, it's looking even better than we'd hoped. It's also given us the chance to add extra things like additional sound effects, which work really nicely to give touchscreen feedback. Are there any lessons you took from classic or even modern/indie puzzle games, while building Lume? The game was probably originally inspired by our love for age-old puzzlers like Day of the Tentacle and Monkey Island. Recently we've loved the Professor Layton titles. We tried to bring together the best of both, so you get standalone puzzles like in Layton, but rooted in the world itself, and you still get the sense of exploration and discovery you had from those older adventure games. What's next for State of Play? Well, first off will be the iOS launch of Lume. But it's always been part of a larger story, and work on that had been going on in the background whenever we could fit it in. It's starting in earnest now, and so we'll be working on that pretty much full-time this year. The next installment will be much bigger, and we'll be able to do so much more. We're planning all sorts of things: motion control cameras, electric motors, and weather effects. It's very exciting. This is where we get to work out how to pull together all the ideas we want to see happen, and everything is kind of puzzle-solving for us. As games designers, at least if we never really get to enjoy solving the puzzles when they're done, we get the enjoyment of working out how to build them in the first place. Have you played any of the other IGF finalists? Any games you've particularly enjoyed? I love GIRP. The control method is inspired. And we're playing Joust at the Wild Rumpus night in London, really looking forward to that. And then there are those which haven't been released, which I can't wait to get my hands on, in particular Fez. What do you think of the current state of the indie scene? Creatively, there's no other industry I'd rather be in. It's really healthy, and getting better all the time from what I can see. I love that everyone supports each other We're all genuinely excited to see new and interesting things. It's not about looking for a gap in the market, as you could argue the big studios battle for. The scene's strength is that everything is different. It's an industry of ideas and interesting people. Are there any other interesting developments/experiments you've seen lately in animation in games, either from indies or bigger studios? I think in animation there's always been a love of handmade things. But the games industry, having arrived where it is driven by technology, we're only now starting to see it. The direction has always been moving towards 3D realism, and of course we're still not there yet. Walls are still mostly flat, and you still get unrealistic jaggy corners on PS3 games, which remind you it's computer generated. Of course there was the fantastic The Neverhood, all made out of plasticine, but it didn't stop the rush for the latest 3D cards. Personally I'm bored with the impersonal cleanliness of so many 3D games. I want more of a connection to what I'm supposedly connecting with. Little Big Planet was the first big budget title to do it, and everyone fell in love with it. You can love Sackboy, he's made out of something you feel you can touch. So I hope we'll see more craft in games in the future, whether they're indie titles or games from bigger studios. I'll know we've won when they crochet the next Gears of War.