• Mark Hannafin

Visual art of Game Design #2

Part 1 of Red Dead Redemption II

Words to describe Red Dead Redemption II? Big, in-depth, interactive, stylish. There is sooooo much stuff in this game and so many small details it is hard not to love it. Beautiful scenery, active wildlife, busy towns and more as the world of this game is extensive; and because of its large size some elements are overlooked but it is these small details that make the game feel the way it does.

Much of what a game is can be represented by the cover. It should communicate the mood of the game, what role the player may be taking on and the world the player is stepping into. The cover for Red Dead Redemption II is bold, aggressive and explains visually what someone might expect. The protagonist Arthur Morgan is stylishly coloured in, is aiming a revolver out in the direction of the viewer and his rugged mean looking face, cowboy hat and gun belt indicates both the time frame for the game and the type of game, a violent first person shooter. Underneath him, silhouettes of men on horseback holding guns and charging into battle again illustrates the nature of the game. It is full of excitement and danger, which the world of the Wild West was notorious for. Displaying its importance by popping from the page is the white logo of Red Dead Redemption. The text is set in bold slab serif font that looks almost painted on and weathered over time, and each letter is capitalised to emphasise the boldness of the text. Behind the logo the black background is littered with red stars indicating that the setting of the game is the USA. All of this information in taken in by the eye and instantly understood by the brain.

With so many points to talk about, I have taken it upon myself to examine the graphic design elements of Red Dead and hopefully indicate how well the designers of this game recreated the Wild Western world. Firstly, let’s talk about the introductory clip. Presented with a black screen, our senses are alerted by the sounds of a gun being unloaded followed by what appears to be shotgun shells dropped into a gun barrel, which is then cocked back to show us the bottom of the shells. Then appearing to shoot the bullets from the gun and leaving just the Rockstar logo in red upon the black screen with the sound of the gunshot echoing through the air. Watch the video here: https://youtu.be/_wWxO7pJjk0. Being shot from a gun in the first few seconds of opening the game certainly creates excitement and sets the theme for the game. Shooting things is what the game is all about and everyone, and I mean everyone in this game has a gun. Maybe that will be Trump’s next great idea to solve gun crimes: give everyone in the nation a gun.

After an explosive start to the game we are then brought to a main menu. Our screen is split in sections with the logo for Red Dead Redemption II atop and underneath a picturesque scene shows a part of the world that you as the player currently inhabits. This image changes as you make your way through the game. The options are simple and clearly displayed on the bottom left hand corner screen. When entering into the story mode we are met with a loading screen of images showing parts of the world that can be explored. The images first appear as though over exposed but fade into a beige image reminiscent of the old photos taken in the Eighteen Hundreds. This is done intentionally as though the viewer is the photographer and can see the image being formed upon the page.

All of these elements are put forth before we even start playing the game and this in turn sets the tone for the rest of the gameplay. Horse riding, open landscapes, old Western style towns and Saloons is what is expected and from the cover to the loading screen we are subtly given hints as to the style, feel and theme of the game world about to be explored.

I hope you have enjoyed the short walk through of Red Dead Redemption II. In the next blog we will look closer at the other menus and small aspects of the game that make it feel like we are stepping back in time. Thanks for reading.