Saturday, June 19, 2010

GeoComp2: Sparth, by Nunuk

GeoComp2, put on by Nicolas "sparth" Bouvier: the purest manifestation of modernist architecture ever achieved in video games. No shaders, no normal maps, no photorealism. Just color, form and light -- sculpture. You want to understand how FPS levels work? Curious as to how artists achieved beauty without 100's of normal-mapped pipe models to clutter a level? Then look at these. Study them. Love them.

(PlanetQuake, or perhaps Gamespy, in a breathtaking display of stupidity, has deleted all its hosted sites -- including the original GeoComp2 pages. This is my attempt at ensuring these masterpieces aren't forgotten.)

Sparth, by Nunuk / "Sparth", was made before GeoComp2 I believe, but it still shares many similarities with Bengal's "Minima" -- it is an arena floater that eschews Quake 3's space gothic aesthetic in favor of an abstract style with bold colors and shapes.

And I fucking LOVE the stripes. I think Sparth's quoted on some forum as saying his level was inspired by the ships in Homeworld 1, which certainly seems likely. To me, the stripes also seem to evoke Islamic architecture, especially the absolutely stunning Mosque of Cordoba.

Ugggh I love stripes.

I think it's a treatment of video game architecture that borrows a lot from graphic design, a lens that's been neglected until more recently with games like Mirror's Edge or (what would've been) Arkane's The Crossing with those huge orange decals on the sides of buildings. Clean, sharp lines; beautiful. Here, the low polygon nature of the BSP brush construction actually seems like an asset, a stylistic choice rather than a technological barrier.

I don't really have much more to say, so I'll emphasize a point I've made before: in a world of Call of Honor 4's that represent the same mediocre grittiness that plagues so many of the blockbuster video game industry, these visual styles are, well, refreshing.

It's like the blue skies in Sega games. It's like a summer breeze. And it's already in the world around us -- we just have to wake up and put it in our games.