Painterly approaches to video game art are nothing new, though most attempts in the past have been to simply apply painted textures to models using fairly conventional rendering techniques. In 2006, Clover Studio developed Okami, which featured a groundbreaking display of Japanese sumi-e art, and has since been the hailed as the finest achievement in bringing a classical artistic sensibility to video games. Then, in 2008, lone indie developer Eskil Steenberg, under the moniker Quel Solaar, began releasing screenshots and videos from a project called Love:
Love is a strategic MMO about defending a community from an empirical overlord. Steenberg has relied heavily on procedural generation of maps, characters, and scenarios… a world that builds itself and constantly unfolds to offer an endless number of possible environments and conflicts. All rendered in a phenomenally lush, impressionistic style.
Steenberg is an immensely talented and visionary developer who truly seems to understand that drama isn’t just conveyed by narrative alone. He states on the Love website: “You won’t be told a story, but you will get to live one.” This kind of attention to developing immersive experiences manifests itself in the art as well, foregoing minute detail and slick materials for vague and emotive impressions. What results is a far more evocative experience than much of what we’ve seen before. I’m very excited to see more on this game:
All images copyright Eskil Steenberg/Quel Solaar: