The first themes we focused on were creation and birth. We wanted to show the beauty of conception and the trauma of being born. This was the prologue and starting point and it was an idea we were very excited about. The challenge for me was to create a world that wouldn’t be too literal and that relied on association rather than observation. Since the experience is for VR and audio-driven, I also needed to do a lot of research designing concept art for 3D VR spaces and think about how the visuals would be connected to sound.
I started looking for other games that fall into the same category as Remembering, like exploration games and audiovisual experiences. The ones that stood out were Soundself, Panoramical and Shape of the World. Soundself is a euphoric experience that you explore by using your voice. In Panoramical, you manipulate the look, sound, and feel of mesmerizing landscapes. Shape of the World is an exploration game where the world grows around you.
The developers of these games make it very clear that they want the player to be immersed in an unique and creative world where you make your own experience and where playing is the reward, not winning. Visually these games have a stylized look, with simple geometrical shapes, silhouettes and color splashes.
I also looked for illustrations and photos online that came close to what art style we envisioned. Here are some screenshots of inspirational images we found via Pinterest.
Looking at these images it was obvious I was drawn to using a layered look. I was thinking of fabrics like silk and chiffon, or a thin layer of skin, film or veil over objects or surfaces. Other associations I had were underwater creatures and corals, polyps, cells and molecules, growth and decay, cradling, fragility and strength.
Based on these ideas and inspirations I made the first sketches of shapes for our environment. I designed these shapes intuitively without thinking too much about what they might represent.
Since I already set up a style for the first rendition of Remembering in 2013 I had something to go on when I started to design concept art in vector in Illustrator. Some of the plant and tree shapes worked really well in a game space, especially with subtle gradients.
I did however want to use more bold and bright color accents instead of pastel colors. This turned out to be both an artistic and technical choice, since light colors and backgrounds don't work very well in VR.
I chose a dark purple and red with bright pink and white accents. This was one of the first color schemes that popped up. I mostly choose colors organically and grow attached to them. When the style is more established I design different color pallets and possibilities.
Antoni Gaudí’s use of organic shapes and geometrical forms of nature came to mind when I started making designs for the womb.
This sketch I then turned into vector art.
The difficult part about designing minimal worlds is how much abstraction to use without it becoming too unrecognizable or detached. Abstraction is something I use a lot in my art. It ensures that a viewer or player can interpret a lot themselves, they can associate and it opens the mind to imagine more and focus on the things that matter.
I was looking for a way to design abstract and organic shapes that would make the player feel warm and would evoke curiosity. I tried to accomplish that by creating layers in my art and soft shapes and gradients. I felt the player should be welcomed with a relaxed and calm environment. Especially since players need to get used to floating through a 3D space in VR.
Another challenge is to ensure there is unison and that the world is consistent and believable. We don’t use a horizon in Remembering, so a lot of things will be floating around and won’t have any base or ground. We will have some ways to put objects on a floor, for instance inside the womb and when using a lot of fog.
~ Liselore Goedhart