In one of today's main Gamasutra features, Perpetual Entertainment's Ian Pieragostini describes some of the pre-production visual development work for his company's forthcoming Star Trek Online
MMO, and explains why and how it is helpful to determine the visual look of a game before you begin production on it.
In the introduction, Pieragostini suggests:
"Visual look development is the process of nailing down the visual look of a game and how it can be realized in the game engine. The goal is to answer the question: What is your game going to look like and how are you going to do it? By the end, you should have an in-game demo showing your environment at near shippable quality.
Keep the area small. If there are multiple environments, develop one at a time. Choose the most important environments first.
This article describes the process using a case study: Star Trek Online."
You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject
, including more on Perpetual's attempts to accurately prototype the look for a noted visual universe (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature).