This first draft works as the underlying structure for my world design paper. Here I examine how I would like to frame my discussion and address the influence of Himalayan architecture in games.
My main argument is that ancient architecture works to provide a mysterious narrative context to a game and is instrumental in cultivating the desire to explore and facilitate mystery.
The use of ancient architecture in games
I will begin by examining the general use of ancient architecture in games, and discuss the variety of themes, influences and ways in which ancient architecture can be used in game. This will allow us to start to compare and contrast how the use of this architecture cultivates mystery. This post has, in fact, already been written and will be edited and incorporated into my final draft. I would also like to discuss these examples in relation to Adam’s The Role of Architecture in Videogames to help build the foundation of architectural considerations when designing a game (2002). This is to lay the foundations for the functions architecture serves and how to effectively use architecture as a means of adding to the game’s narrative context.
The fascination with orientalism and the impact this has on games
I will then be discussing Edward Said’s 1977 concept of Orientalism, which sought to understand and define the western use of eastern iconography and art canons. This effect, as we move away from western art, has been a tool used by artists and writers for centuries to cultivate a sense of mysticism from the viewer. I would like to examine how we have applied this to games and the contextual function it serves. Orientalism forms a huge part of my argument and the key lens for why Himalayan architecture cultivates mystery and intrigue.
The influence of Himalayan Architecture in games
Condensing our look at Ancient architecture and the influences of Orientalism, I will then be discussing the use of Himalayan architecture and the influences that this has had on games. I will begin by looking at Journey to discuss its symbolism and reference to oriental influences (Ohannesian 2012). I will be examining Journey to help build the connection between the ancient architecture examined earlier and my case study of Far Cry 4.
Far Cry 4 and its use of Himalayan architecture
The earlier discussions will help cement my examination of Far Cry 4 and its use of architecture. Here I wish to examine in depth the game’s use of Himalayan architecture within the game’s world itself, focussing particularly on the mythical plane the player visits, Shangri-la. I would also like to discuss the use of prayer flags in Far Cry’s Shangri-La and in Journey and the spiritual significance this builds and adds to the mysticism (Clark, 2002). I will also be making reference to the developers diaries, where they have documented their experience of the Himalayas and their culture (2014). I wish to formulate this discussion around how they managed to capture the essence for the place, while not replicating it entirely. “Far Cry 4’s Kyrat isn’t a documentary, it’s an impressionist’s painting… It’s a fantasy environment to be sure, but one that at least appears genuine in its sights and sounds. Kyrat doesn’t depict the region so much as it evokes it, and overall the game does an extraordinary job creating the physical space.” (Rath, 2014).
Working with Architecture in Video games
I will then be examining actual Himalayan architecture in detail, and comparing and contrasting how homes and structures are built there and how Far Cry makes use of them (Shankar, 2006) . I will also be examining the game’s use of Himalayan sculpture and art (Brown, 2003). This section of my research will require a comprehensive greybox of my level which I plan on having ready soon. I have begun the preliminary research into this and will be examining Van Buren’s advice for effective incorporation of architecture into a game (2015). Complemented by the examination of Himalayan architecture, orientalism and ancient architecture in general, this research will direct the cohesion of these ideas and help to design my world. This will provide me a better understanding of how to incorporate this architecture into my own game.
How I am making use of this in my own project
One of the key elements that I would like to incorporate is the use of spirituality. Much like Far Cry or Journey, I do not wish to perfectly capture the exact look of Himalayan architecture, rather I want to embody its connection to orientalism, mysticism and spirituality when I build my world. I will be basing the narrative for my game around that of an Itsfine prototype called The Old Ones – a world ripped asunder by a great cataclysm and the player needs to find the pieces to bring it back together.
I will be working with the first option to make and design my own world. While I am basing my narrative on The Old Ones, I will be redesigning the world and the aesthetic. There is some basic functionality set up by the programmers previously, which I can make use of. The world will be built in Unreal Engine and I will be making use of a variety of tools including the terrain tool, world builder and speedtree, along with standard software like Maya and ZBrush.
A mystery to be solved
This will be my critical discussion on how Himalayan architecture and its influencers are used to cultivate intrigue and mystery. The key idea in these mystical spaces is that someone or something was here before and the state that these spaces are in is not how they have always been. This concept encourages discovery and intrigue, driving the player forward to know more and discover the secrets of a place. I look forward to developing this conclusion as I continue developing my world and my research.
- Adams, E (2002) Designer’s Notebook: The Role of Architecture in Videogames [Article] Gamasutra, Retreived From: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/131352/designers_notebook_the_role_of_.php
- Said, E, W. (1977) Orientalism. [3rd edition. 2003] Penguin, London, England
- Clairk, T. (2002) The Prayer Flag Tradition [Cultural Explanation] Radiant Heart Studio. Retrieved From: http://www.prayerflags.com/download/article.pdf
- Ohannesian, K. (2012) Game Designer Jenova Chen On The Art Behind His “Journey” [Interview] Retrieved from:http://www.fastcocreate.com/1680062/game-designer-jenova-chen-on-the-art-behind-his-journey
- That Game Company (2012) Journey [Video Game] Playstation
- Ubisoft Montreal (2014) Far Cry 4 [Video Game] Microsoft Windows,Linux, Playstation, Xbox
- Far Cry (2014) Far Cry 4 Vice Developer Diary [Documentary] Youtube, Retrieved From: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0G1dRoN9yI&oref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DY0G1dRoN9yI&has_verified=1
- Rath, R (2014) How Far Cry 4 Nailed the Himalayas [Critical Intel] The Escapist, Retrieved from: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/video-games/columns/criticalintel/12739-Far-Cry-4-Offers-An-Accurate-Depiction-of-the-Himalayas-and-Nepa
- Shankar, P. (2006) Understanding change in Himalayan vernacular houses [Architectural Study] CEPT University, School of Architecture, Ahmedabad. Retrieved From: http://lib.icimod.org/record/12347/files/1143.pdf
- Brown, KS. (2003) Nepalese Sculpture [Essay] Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved from http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/neps/hd_neps.htm
- Van Buren, D. (2015) Architecture in Video Games: Designing for Impact [Article] Gamasutra, Retreived From: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/DeannaVanBuren/20151012/254238/Architecture_in_Video_Games_Designing_for_Impact.php