A Perspective on Perspective

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Does your game have a map of some kind? If so, you will need to think about the perspective of that map when you are having artwork commissioned. Instead of needing to go back multiple times to have artwork changed because of issues that come up, hopefully you can learn from our research, and start a step or two ahead.

What is Perspective?

For game art, perspective is "the art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point" (Google Dictionary).  Quite simply, when we look at a game component, it is the overall look of some or all of your game components.

Why is perspective important? Because it will effect the players experience of your game.

Sensory Stimulation

When we look at an object, we automatically try to make the object "fit" into the world around us. The fit does not need to be perfect for this to work, and for us to understand at a glance what is occurring. When perspective aligns to be "close enough", our brain can understand at a glance what is occurring, and continue on.

Problems are created however when the perspective is not "close enough" to be understood at a glance. Sight is closely linked to balance. When one part of the balance system in the body lags behind the rest of the balance system, a person can experience disorientation, dizziness, and vertigo. For people sitting around a table playing a game, this could simply mean the player(s) need to stare at the board longer to understand it, or feel a sense or disorientation or general wrongness (Visual vertigo: symptom assessment, spatial orientation and postural control).

Simplifying Perspective

Zombies by Twighlight Creations

Zombies by Twighlight Creations

How do you add perspective in without causing potential vertigo in your players? this depends on the components of your game.

Tiles and Cards that will be laid next to each other require a perspective that is essentially the same, regardless of component facing. This will mean that a Top-down perspective, with all the side sloping towards the center will create the best perspective for players. In the example shown here, each tile is unique, yet each one has the sloping inward perspective which makes it easy to understand at a glance.

Larger game components, such as game boards rarely require much thought on the perspective beyond "does this look good," as component induced vertigo is usually not a factor. A challenge is presented however when mixing large game components and smaller game components.

56mm tile, used as base scale.

56mm tile, used as base scale.

A perspective that looks good on multiple smaller components will look wrong when mixed with larger game components. This will create a feeling of something being "off" for the players when they look at the game. In order to compensate, you need to adjust the perspective of either the larger components, or the smaller components.

168mm tile, different aspects were scaled differently to maintain perspective.

168mm tile, different aspects were scaled differently to maintain perspective.

For us, we found a scale of 1.2-1.5:3 worked in the conversion for scale. This means that for every 3 increases or decreases in size between components, we adjusted the scale of the perspective on the components.

To illustrate, in one of our games we use 56mm square components, and 168mm square components laid next to each other. The larger components are 3X the size of the smaller components. However, if we made the scale 3X the size on the larger components, nothing would match up. We adjusted things by making the artwork on the side of the large tiles 1.5X the size of the artwork on the smaller tiles, while details on the larger tile were only 1.2X the size. This allowed players able to quickly see what was going on, but not feel things were out of perspective when side by side. 

This shows that scaling perspective is actually fairly complex. To make things look like they fit together, you have to trick the visual center into thinking they are close enough. And different aspects of a design might need to be scaled differently to make this work.

Hopefully, this information has helped you, and we look forward to seeing your next game design.