IN FO­CUS

The art of Sun­lessSkies.

PC GAMER (UK) - - CONTENTS - By Philippa Warr

Fail­bet­ter artist Toby Cook tells us how the stu­dio cre­ates a Vic­to­rian vi­sion of outer space.

1 Light and dark

Cook uses per­spec­tive to en­hance depth: “Mak­ing fore­ground ob­jects darker and richer, and back­ground ob­jects pro­gres­sively lighter and more af­fected by at­mo­spheric haze. This also helps the player iden­tify what is on their level.”

2 Build­ing ma­te­rial

The game takes place in The High Wilder­ness – a fan­tas­ti­cal space­like lo­ca­tion set in the Vic­to­rian era. The ar­chi­tec­ture thus com­bines Vic­to­rian in­flu­ences with more con­tem­po­rary space sta­tions and rock­ets.

3 Tech bal­ance

Lo­co­mo­tives mix clas­sic, fic­tional and cur­rent tech, eg, some can use lat­eral thrusters to ma­noeu­vre “like con­tem­po­rary space ve­hi­cles”. Ad­vanced fac­tions seem more sci-fi and oth­ers are “ram­shackle con­struc­tions of iron and wood”.

4 Lay­er­ing up

“Though the back­ground is com­posed of less than ten dis­tinct lay­ers, we use ir­reg­u­lar over­lap­ping patches of fog and beams of light to make the scene feel nat­u­ral­is­tic,” says Cook of Fail­bet­ter’s use of lay­er­ing.

5 Shine a light

“The player’s head­light has mul­ti­ple func­tions. It helps the player de­ter­mine what is col­l­id­able (since col­l­id­able ter­rain will block the light), as­sists in aim­ing weaponry, and also en­hances at­mos­phere and the feel­ing of dis­cov­ery.”

6 Neg­a­tive space

“We find it’s of­ten more pow­er­ful to sug­gest rather than show ex­plic­itly,” says Cook. “We try to fill the back­ground space with gaps and hints of the world be­yond and in­vite the player to fill the blanks with their own imag­i­na­tion.”

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