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Old 03-19-2012, 03:08 PM   #1
Deodorant
 
 
 
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Totalitarian Pixel Police: Dissecting the style of TF2

Hello. I'm about to embark on a giant rant about the TF2 art style. Hopefully it can be the basis of intelligent discussion. If not, I'll at least get the satisfaction of having an opinion on the internet. But first, replies to three inevitable comments:

Quote:
TL;DR
You don't think long posts are worth the effort to read. Cool. No one is forcing you to read, you don't have to announce your resignation.
Quote:
If it is part of TF2 then it is part of the style.
Technically, maybe. But you know as well as I do that the game was originally designed around a specific style, and a lot of items that have been added since clash with it.
Quote:
Dude, it's all subjective anyways.
Partially, yes. What I'm writing is my opinion, but I believe it's relatively well founded. I'll be writing it as though it were the objective truth because writing with a bunch of disclaimers is really bothersome, but I'm open to discussion.



Well then, shall we begin?
Team Fortress 2 is a silly, cartoonish game. Contrary to what many people think, this does not mean that everything that is silly and cartoonish is appropriate for TF2. The game is barely ever silly purely for silliness' sake.
Take the Towering Pillar of Hats, for example. It's an extraordinarily silly thing to have on one's head, but it has a sort of reasoning behind it; If wearing a hat is elegant, wearing three hats must be thrice as elegant. It's a clever display of stupidity, and fits the game perfectly.
Now, take a Pink as Hell Max's Severed Head. It's equally silly, but the only reasoning behind it is 'I want to draw attention to my TF2 richness and enrage preteen homophobics'. It has nothing to do with the in-game setting or the mindsets of the mercs, and therefore breaks the style and immersion.


Furthermore, TF2 is basically rooted in reality. There are breaks from it for the sake of comedy and convenience, but almost all all of them can be interpreted as the simplemindedness of the mercs as elevated to physical law. The process of buildings and repairing machines is much simpler than it is in real life for the convenience of both the players and the developers. This simplified mechanic, however, is designed in a way that would make sense to one of the mercs; Tools are used to fix machines. Therefore, hitting a machine with a tool must fix it.
Similarly, it makes perfect sense that the heavy weapons guy walks around with a vehicle-sized machine gun that would normally be too heavy for a person to carry, but it wouldn't make sense for him to wield such a gun designed as an electrical whisk. If EzMeow read that and felt offended, I apologize. It's still a great model and texture. Here, have a mustache.
You might point out that the Spy uses some unrealistically advanced tools. However, all of them are of the type one could find in espionage movies from the time in which the game takes place.


Which neatly brings me to my final point: The Grordbort weapons don't fit the style.
I guess most of us agree that the Deus Ex items break the style, but the Grordbort weapons are more controversial. They're retro-futuristic, after all. That means they should fit, right?
Of course not, you silly hypothetical person.
Firstly, they are retrofuturistic steampunk. This means that only part of the style has anything to do with the 50s/60s. The rest is a modern reimagining of victorian-age technology, which is unfitting on two levels. The Grordbort items that got into TF2 are admittedly a lot less steampunky than most of the stuff on the Grordbort site, but there are definitely remnants of the aesthetic. The engravings on the Righteous Bison, the stock of the Phlogistinator, the external piping on all of the weapons, the gratuitous gauges on the Phlogistinator and Righteous Bison, etc.
Secondly, the retro-futurism of the Grordbort weapons isn't the same thing as the futurism of the time. Grordbort weapon designers take a modern approach to speculative weapon design and then wrap it in a retro art deco aesthetic. Basically, they make Mass Effect weapons of 50s car parts. Genuine old science fiction weapon designers tended to take existing weapons (usually handguns), simplify them, add a coat of gold paint and some ill advised streamlining, and end up with something endearingly stupid-looking. Compare this and this with this and this and you'll hopefully understand what I mean.



Welp, that's my five cents on the topic. Let the profanity commence.

Last edited by Deodorant: 03-21-2012 at 02:46 AM.
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Old 03-19-2012, 03:11 PM   #2
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Dude, it's all subjective anyways.

...


Great thread, I can smell the 5-starses. Now I'm gonna spend my evening analyzing why each of the classes do what they do and use what they use. THANKS BUDDEH
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Old 03-19-2012, 03:15 PM   #3
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Concerning the Pink Bunny Ears, could one argue a similar degree of irony that could be applied to the Hat Totem Pole?
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Old 03-19-2012, 03:17 PM   #4
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Indeed, I believe that your idea has proposed that I concur, and thus you win.
In all honestly the TF2 art style might not seem that important to most, but it really sets the game apart from other shooters. I think that I wouldn't be playing TF2 right now if it wasn't for the goofy art style, lovable characters, and the unique ways to kill people. Anyways a good read and 5 starred.
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Old 03-19-2012, 03:27 PM   #5
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I think we must see the TF2 world as a place where 9, completely mentally-ill in every way possible mercenaries can do whethever the hell they want. Yes, even wearing pink bunny heads.

"The more your art direction can use well-understood visual representations, the less work you have to do to explain your game elements" - Andrea Wicklund

This quote basically defines the TF2 artstyle. TF2 has been always a circus of human brutal slaughter.
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Old 03-19-2012, 03:28 PM   #6
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I'll agree that the Grordbort sets don't match the style, but since they were sent in game via rockets from another dimension, I'm willing to let that slide if the weapons add more variety to the game.
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Old 03-19-2012, 03:31 PM   #7
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Honestly, what bugs me most is not even the Machina with its ludicrous number of polys... it's the frickin' laser weapons; not how the weapons themselves look, per se, but the projectiles that mess up my view of pretty much everything. Let me not even get into how insanely spammable the Pomson is and jsut say that its projectiles need to be fixed... though I'd prefer they be redone outright.
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Old 03-19-2012, 03:37 PM   #8
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A lot of this I personally agree with but I did not agree with the Grordbort weapons. True, yeah they may not look 100% geniune weapons you look like you would find in 50s/60s sci-fi flick, more so something you would expect from a 70s or 80s sci-fi movie.

Quote:
Genuine old science fiction weapon designers tended to take existing weapons (usually handguns), simplify them, add a coat of gold paint and some ill advised streamlining, and end up with something endearingly stupid-looking.
I believe this point is true, I can't really imagine a majority of sci-fi movies going all out with a budget in mind. But I assume that the Grordburg weapons was to raise the question IF studios at the time had the money for fancy props they would probably look like this. But even then that wouldn't fit. They would be more fitting in a 70s or 80s movie in my opinion.

But assuming we never had Grordburg weapons in the game at all, and we wanted sci-fi weapons. The only thing we would be allowed to put in the game that didn't break the "style" of it would be a lazer pistol of some sort. And even then it probably wouldn't make it in, who the heck wants scouts spamming a lazer pistol all over the place? Yes I am aware WETA is making a lazer pistol for the scout but I have my doubts at times.

I am also surprised you didn't bring up the Dr. Dapper Topper in your post, usually people like to point out that the hat seems to break the "style" of the game despite the history of the hat itself.
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Old 03-19-2012, 03:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deodorant View Post
Hello. I'm about to embark on a giant rant about the TF2 art style. Hopefully it can be the basis of intelligent discussion. If not, I'll at least get the satisfaction of having an opinion on the internet. But first, replies to three inevitable comments:

You don't think long posts are worth the effort to read. Cool. No one is forcing you to read, you don't have to announce your resignation.
Technically, maybe. But you know as well as I do that the game was originally designed around a specific style, and a lot of items that have been added since clash with it.
Partially, yes. What I'm writing is my opinion, but I believe it's relatively well founded. I'll be writing it as though it were the objective truth because writing with a bunch of disclaimers is really bothersome, but I'm open to discussion.



Well then, shall we begin?
Team Fortress 2 is a silly, cartoonish game. Contrary to what many people think, this does not mean that everything that is silly and cartoonish is appropriate for TF2. The game is barely ever silly purely for silliness' sake.
Take the Towering Pillar of Hats, for example. It's an extraordinarily silly thing to have on one's head, but it has a sort of reasoning behind it; If wearing a hat is elegant, wearing three hats must be thrice as elegant. It's a clever display of stupidity, and fits the game perfectly.
Now, take a Pink as Hell Max's Severed Head. It's equally silly, but the only reasoning behind it is 'I want to draw attention to my TF2 richness and enrage preteen homophobics'. It has nothing to do with the in-game setting or the mindsets of the mercs, and therefore breaks the style and immersion.


Furthermore, TF2 is basically rooted in reality. There are breaks from it for the sake of comedy and convenience, but almost all all of them can be interpreted as the simplemindedness of the mercs as elevated to physical law. The process of buildings and repairing machines is much simpler than it is in real life for the convenience of both the players and the developers. This simplified mechanic, however, is designed in a way that would make sense to one of the mercs; Tools are used to fix machines. Therefore, hitting a machine with a tool must fix it.
Similarly, it makes perfect sense that the heavy weapons guy walks around with a vehicle-sized machine gun that would normally be too heavy for a person to carry, but it wouldn't make sense for him to wield such a gun designed as an electrical whisk. If EzMeow read that and felt offended, I apologize. It's still a great model and texture. Here, have a mustache.
You might point out that the Spy uses some unrealistically advanced tools. However, all of them are of the type one could find in espionage movies from the time in which the game takes place.


Which neatly brings me to the final point: The Grordbort weapons don't fit the style.
I guess most of us agree that the Deus Ex items break the style, but the Grordbort weapons are more controversial. They're retro-futuristic, after all. That means they should fit, right?
Of course not, you silly hypothetical person.
Firstly, they are retrofuturistic steampunk. This means that only part of the style has anything to do with the 50s/60s. The rest is a modern reimagining of victorian-age technology, which is unfitting on two levels.
Secondly, the retro-futurism of the Grordbort weapons isn't the same thing as the futurism of the time. Grordbort weapon designers take a modern approach to speculative weapon design and then wrap it in a retro art deco aesthetic. Basically, they make Mass Effect weapons of 50s car parts. Genuine old science fiction weapon designers tended to take existing weapons (usually handguns), simplify them, add a coat of gold paint and some ill advised streamlining, and end up with something endearingly stupid-looking. Compare this with this and you'll hopefully understand what I mean.



Welp, that's my five cents on the topic. Let the profanity commence.
i disagree, i mean i dont even see steampunk influences in the Grordbort weapons, there arent robotic steam hands or steam machineguns or something like that (but now that i think of it, its kind of cool), there is a lack of mechanical exhibitionism which is very common in steampunk contraptions, these are rayguns just like the ones people from the 60s thought we'd have by 2000

one could argue "well the rest of the futuristic contraptions in TF2, like the invisibility watch, the sentry and the teleporter dont follow that same retro futuristic style"

sure thats a good point, however Grordbort weapons also make use of technology superior to those weapons, along the lines of Death rays, therefore it would only make sense to apply a far more futuristic approach to those guns, this is of course as viewed by the people from the 60s


and they come from an alternate dimension so shut up

Last edited by NuclearKangaroo: 03-19-2012 at 03:47 PM.
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Old 03-19-2012, 03:47 PM   #10
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Good point, 518. The Gordborot weapons are intentionally breaking the artstyle.
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Old 03-19-2012, 03:59 PM   #11
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Valve could have at least made an agreement with WETA to make the weps fit more.
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Old 03-19-2012, 04:04 PM   #12
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Blame Australium. And Merasmus.

Bam, the entirety of TF2 explained.
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Old 03-19-2012, 04:22 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScampSixteen View Post
Valve could have at least made an agreement with WETA to make the weps fit more.
TF2, for a long time now, acted as a promotional platform for many things, including the WETA Workshop.

All weapons available in TF" can also be bought as real-life replicas on WETA's website. It wouldn't make much sense to "make the art style fit more" when the idea behind adding such an item in the game in the first place was promotion.
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Old 03-19-2012, 04:32 PM   #14
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Woah woah woah. Hold up a second here. When you said "whisk" I was envisioning an enbiggened representation of something pulled straight from Martha Stewart's kitchen. That weapon actually looks like a weapon and completely fits the artstyle. Sorry, but at least to me, your well-founded opinion is now null. No amount of moustaches will resolve this.
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Old 03-19-2012, 04:33 PM   #15
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You know, fellas....
you can keep arguing that the WETA Workshop weapons don't fit the artstyle, but at the end of the day, they fit perfectly with it. I just think that SPUF is projecting their hatred of these new and fun weapons by saying they shouldn't belong in the game.

Besides, if you dare to argue, "But there were no lasers before this!", you haven't played Gravel Pit yet.
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