To tell a story you need a good plot, but also an art that helps convey the emotions and tone of the universe you are creating. The only way to do it well is to achieve harmony between art and narrative.

One of the things that I have most thoughts about creating Allan Poe´s Nightmare has been the of art that best matched Poe&´s stories. I must admit that the first steps we took were very wrong. Initially, we thought that a very cartoon aesthetic that could counterbalance the darkness of the stories could be interesting ... what we would be thinking about! It was bad, really bad.

First sketches of Allan Poe´s Nightmare

First sketches of Allan Poe´s Nightmare with a very cartoon style.

Then we turned it into an image that was like drawings in a notebook but quickly dismissed them. At that time we were still working on a horizontal game design. I was very concerned about the color palette and an idea was around my head: black and white. Normally we refer to a text as black on white. On that idea, we started working in gray tones and with a more adult aesthetic and away from the cartoon. It seemed to work, but Limbo's constant reference made me doubt.

Prototype of the videogame Allan Poe´s Nightmare

Prototype of the videogame with an aesthetic too 'Limbo'.

White on black

It was time to try other more radical things, so I opted for a color palette of only 4 colors. Allan Poe went into a nightmare where his whole world turned upside down, so why not change the concept and go white on black instead of black on white?

I love black and white when it is very aggressive, I am a big fan of Frank Miller and his drawings in Sim City, but also of the entire work of Batman Black & White and the illustrations that work with pure colors without gradients.

Black and White inspiration

Inspiration to work with pure colors and a more aggressive image

With all those references we started to draw again, deleting any cartoon feature and approaching a more aggressive illustration and, suddenly, everything began to fit. The stories and characters of Poe began to have life and the narrative flowed through the drawings.

It was not a simple or quick process. In the previous article, I mentioned that we spent several years developing the game and, without a doubt, art was one of the parts that cost us the most.

The art of a video game has to tell a story

My students must be tired of listening to that phrase, but I think that what makes an art really work is not that it is beautiful or well done, but that it’s a vehicle for the narrative. Art must speak, it must transport us to the world we are creating and, above all, make it credible.

The challenge of entering the universe of Edgar Allan Poe was enormous because it deserved all the effort we could do to find the way in which his stories will come alive.

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Daniel González

Daniel González

Screenwriter, video game designer and CEO of Gametopia. Creative in the advertising agency Flas Marketing and professor of write and game design in the Master of Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.

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