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Article - 'Establishing mood in Games' by Guest

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Aug 12, 2003

Blurb

Excellent article by the Drunken Zombie concerning adding colour to your games in order to brighten the mood up!

Body

Establishing Mood in a Game

Hey hey, the Drunken Zombie here again! Well, I shouldn’t really be saying ‘again’, considering this is my first article/tutorial dealie. And already I’ve strayed far from my point.

Anyway, as you may have noticed from the title, this article is about establishing a mood for your game. This article is geared mostly towards RPGs, as they seem to have the most mood and theme to them. I suppose you could adapt it to any game. In any case, enjoy! (Because if you don’t….)

First, what I like to do most of the time is get an idea of a setting in my mind. It seems to me that many, many RPGs are set in the medieval period. I don’t mind this, as I rather enjoy this time. However, some exceptions can be made. The Final Fantasy series is a good example of this. Many of their games are seemingly in the medieval age, but there are some technologies, like cars, guns, and whatnot.

If you don’t mind, I’ll use Final Fantasy VII as an example. Many aspects of the game are regular RPG style, ‘swords-n-sorcery’ if you will. However, lots of the game is almost modern if not futurey, such as Cloud’s motorcycle, or the fact some people have laser guns.

Now, in this example, say you were going to make a game similar to this. Seriously, SAY IT. No, I’m just kidding. Anyway, back to the point. For the industrious type areas, I would consider a green tint to the screen and maybe some fog to represent the horrible situation mankind has brought himself to. However, in the more RPG-esque areas, the small villages, etc, consider a happier tint, without the fog. This is somewhat to represent the places that the future hasn’t yet reached.

I understand this may be difficult to comprehend. I don’t blame you. As I read over it, it seems hard to understand. But give me a break; it’s my first article.

Now, continuing with our example, you will need to choose some music. Many people argue music makes the game what it is. I concur, to a certain degree. Some great games don’t have much music at all, or very little, such as Alone in the Dark or the Tomb Raider games. I would choose a dark, somber tune for the saddening areas of the industry. A happier tune would make a much better village and RPG-esque area.

Okay, most of the crap I spewed up there may have been hard to understand. You also may now consider me to be a large idiot. (I know I do.) Anyway, below this paragraph is a recap, or list if you will, of the things I did and didn’t talk about. It should help you understand much easier.



Recap - Graphics ****ST=Screen Tone, WE=Weather Effects

Area Graphics ST/WE*
World Map However You Want. However
Happy Village Bright Colors. Normal, usually no weather
Happy Inside Bright Colors. A little darker. No weather.
Regular Forest Dark Trees, Murky. Light fog, darker green
Enchanted Forest Dark Trees, Brighter. Lighter green, usually no fog
Mountain Dark Rocks. Sometimes rain/snow, but not often
Dark Castle/Tower Somber walls of gray/blue. Some fog, possible. Dark blue ST.
Normal Castle Bright golds/silvers. Screen tone of light gold, perhaps
Cavern Dark black/brown rocks. Often a little fog. Brown ST maybe
Northern village Lots of snow, usually. Almost always snow. No ST.

Recap – Music

Area Music Instrument
World Map Often something adventurous. Up to you. Any
Happy Village A cheery tune to raise the player’s spirits. Guitar/Flute
Happy Inside Usually the same as the outside. Guitar/Flute
Regular Forest Hard to say. I’ll leave it up to you. Guitar/Piano
Enchanted Forest A light tune. Lots of piano/flute. Piano/Flute
Mountain Also hard to say. Try for lots of drums. Guitar/Drums
Evil Castle/Tower Always something that’s chilling. Light Piano/Drums
Normal Castle Something royal sounding. It’s a castle. Trumpet/Flute
Cavern Something less chilling than evil castle. Light Guitar/Drums
Northern Village A tune to remind the player of ice. Uh huh. Light Piano


Now, if you have gotten this far without clicking off of GW, then I applaud you and thank you. I realize I have barely scratched the surface, but do hope that you found some sort of help from it. Thank you for the time, and please leave some comments below. Any constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated.

PS: I realize that the formatting for the chart. Sorry, but there's nothing I can do about that. If you care, you can copy and paste this into Word, and view it there in Print Layout view, but I doubt you do.
Thanks!