• Mark Hannafin

Visual Art of Game Design #3

Part 2 of Red Dead Redemption II Blog.

Of all the amazing things to do in Read Dead Redemption II there is one thing that is at the fore front of the game, so much so they even have a big one on the cover! You guessed it: guns. There is believed to be about 50 guns in the game from pistols to revolvers, rifles and shotguns as well horse drawn carriages sporting a machine gun. They sure knew how to pimp a ride in 1899.

With so many guns for the player use, coming up with a way to display them in the quick select menu that matched the style of the game was no doubt a challenge. As is normal in Rockstar games like Grand Theft Auto, the use of a Weapon Wheel along with the guns is brought into Red Dead in a similar way.

Bringing the weapons wheel up on the screen provides you with eight different options, four of which are guns. The wheel is reminiscent of other aspects in the game in the way it is presented to us. Black paint or ink style with white chalk like drawings on top give a sense of the time within which the game is set. Each gun is drawn differently and with great detail so the gamer can distinguish between them. In the middle, the name and statistics for each weapon is displayed. All the guns have different statistics damage is used to tell how much harm you can do to an enemy while range determines the distance at which the gun is most effective. For example, a shotgun is better used when close to a target and rifles are good for shooting objects far away. A red bar along the edge indicates which weapon is being selected for use in the game.

The font used to display the stats and number of bullets a weapon has left is a blocky serif font, reminiscent of the times. This is because type was very angular and big as the printing press was used to print and distribute large volumes of text.

As you walk through the world of Red Dead Redemption II it is amazing to notice the detail that went into making each part seem at home in the time zone. Looking at the item or satchel inventory we see this detail on a really small scale. The images below show the Satchel and the items within. If we look at the items closely we see small logos and text describing each tiny product. Look below at the top image to the right. Here we see a biscuit tin with the words “Hedley Baking Co. Assorted Biscuits” and a floral design around the edge of the tin. Likewise, the bottle labels have a text and a logo although it is too small to make it out. This attention to detail is amazing and gives the game a really authentic feel.

Other areas where we see this accurate representation of the times is in the shops and the catalogues. These catalogues are what the player uses to purchase goods and weapons. The catalogue itself is designed to match the game and capture the style of the times found in the Satchel.

The image above is the weapon catalogue found in the gun store. The book is a mess of shapes and text with a red and cream theme running throughout with more floral decorations flowing from the corners. It is titled “The Original, Wheeler, Rawson, and Co. Catalogue”. Underneath this, the text reads “The Greatest Supply House On Earth” with the “On Earth” in large bold red.

Inside, we are presented with the many weapons on offer. The layout of the booklet is very well thought out and is full of information relating to the weapon on show. Down the bottom is the stats and to the top in the right corner is the price. I laid out a few grids on top of the pages to see if I could figure out if such a technique was used to design the booklet.

The image above is very simple: the grid is laid out with the name of gun (heading) on top, the price below to the right and the gun image under this again. This lay out draws the eye from left to right which is the way most content is read. I can’t be certain that such a grid was used but it is clear that it was thought through carefully to maximise legibility. If we look below to the other image, I have laid out a Van de Graaf Canon atop, and it lines up in a very interesting way. The gun is at an angle and the value of the gun is in a similar place to before. This creates a triangular shape. The three red dots indicate the most important point of any page layout, and for the player/buyer the most important part is the gun itself and the price it is going to cost them. Whether this is intentional or not, it is still a nice coincidence and indicates that whoever in Rockstar designed this booklet they knew what they were doing.

These grids are of course not completely accurate because the images taken are only screenshots from the game and this is why they do not fit perfectly. I am no master designer, yet I can tell that the composition of this is very appealing and easy to understand. Again, there is so much detail in each page. The text isn’t just random and it is clear that the maker of this book took their time to write the description for each weapon. Such dedication needs to be recognised, and I do appreciate the work that has gone into this game and how well it comes across as a depiction of the Wild Western World. Bravo Rockstar, Bravo.

Thanks for reading. If you agree with me that the detail makes this game the way it is, then please share this blog with your friends who respect you. I know I do. (I would do a ‘winky’ face but this is a serious piece of blogging literature, can’t be doing that.) Thanks again for reading and I hope you enjoyed this blog.