A unique but very simplistic art style that more and more people are playing around with in today’s current game development industry is “low poly”. The term “low poly” comes from the lower count of polygons in each of the 3-D models used in the game. Not only does this make a game run really fast because the game engine does not have to render so many polygons but it also can look really cool. If you are unsure of what this looks like, no worries! I have created a few examples using Unity3D:
As you can see, nothing is nicely smoothed out. Everything has sharp edges and multiple faces make up an object. The color scheme I went with was just basic single colors to get the point across. You could easily use a more detailed texture to give more life to it but it would be going against the style to use realistic or overly detailed textures. The idea is to be simplistic but artistic. Lighting, like usual, is a very powerful tool that also needs to match the style. I went with a very basic directional light with a hint of orange to give it a sunset feel. On a smaller scale, this art style can look a little dull but in a grand scale it can be as beautiful as any other style. It is also a great way of putting a larger emphasis on creating an atmosphere for the game. With less of the player’s attention going towards the little details, low poly allows for more narrative focused games. One game that is a great example at using this art style for that purpose is Journey, a game developed by Thatgamecompany. (Yes, that’s their name. Look it up if you want to.)
This is a game that entirely focuses on it’s environment as a plot tool to inform the player of what is happening and what to do next. There is very little dialog or direction to tell the player what is going on or what has already happened. The narrative slowly unrolls itself through the environment as the player journeys across the desert. Through this and its interesting art style the player becomes very curious on what is in this vast desert and what happens when you finally get to that mountain that is always in the distance. They also use a low poly art style while putting more detail in the textures along with a simpler shader to stay away from any aspect of realism. It’s a beautiful game and if you haven’t played it, check it out!
Low poly is also really easy to make and does not require a huge amount of 3D modelling experience. Since the objects just need to roughly look like what they are suppose to be there is a lot more wiggle room than if you were trying to model something high poly. So definitely do not fear trying to make your own assets if you are interested in trying this style out! It can be a really fun style to play around with and you can make something really cool if you go all out with it.
For those interested in modeling their own low poly objects, here is a neat video from Toxicity Game Dev to get you started with trees. This tutorial uses Blender which is a free 3-D modeling and animation software. If you do not have it, download it at https://www.blender.org/.