Playfulness, Dioramas & Baking (Research)

Here is what I researched the last days, my takeaways and links to the original articles. Hopefully you find it helpful too!

Ian Bogost - Play Anything


I just started Ian Bogost’s book and it’s already giving me an interesting perspective on my design process. He takes a multi-disciplinary and philosophy-heavy approach to it, which is really refreshing.


  • games need limitations, limitations lead to (creative) play

  • truly understand an object/ context & find novel, gratifying ways to interact with it (introduce set of rules/ limitations, e.g. children’s game: don’t step on cracks on sidewalk)

Translating 2D art to 3D & Baking


I also wanted to read more on how different people approach transferring illustration to 3D, as I want to give my game a “childrens-book like” look. By chance this also lead me to learn more about baking and topology.



  • form visual language if wanting to recreate style (brushstrokes, shapes, etc.)

  • work from simple/big shapes to details

  • leave areas of low detail for eye to rest

  • control edge loops are used to correct normals

  • for illustrative style might consider only using color & alpha maps

Stylised Dioramas by Anya Elvidge


I really admire Anya’s work and process. She shared some really useful insights in a behind the scenes video: Stylised Dioramas. The idea of a diorama fits very well with the enclosed world of a plantpot I’m imagining, so hopefully I can make use of a lot of her best practices.


  • if you work with saturated colors, desaturate colors in areas of rest

  • bring work in engine as soon as possible

  • read book Colour & Light to get deeper understanding

  • can frame area with shadows to direct view

  • can use Ambient Occlusion to soften out cracks etc.

  • keep texture mostly in mid-values, avoid dark values

  • be sure to have consistent texel density

  • blending colors that are far away on color wheel muddies them -> use 1 color family per object/ or clearly seperate colour groups of object

Next Steps

  • continue Ian Bogost - apply learnings to game design

  • create art test with learnings of Anya

Rick HoppmannComment