Half-Life 2 Art Director Laments The Stale State Of Modern Video Games

Illustration for article titled emHalf-Life 2/em Art Director Laments The Stale State Of Modern Video Games

If there's one man who knows from originality in video games, it's Viktor Antonov. He's the man responsible for the oppressive, beautiful art design of City 17 in Valve's masterpiece Half-Life 2. One of the main reasons that I'm excited about the upcoming Dishonored is that Antonov will be art director. Just check out this gallery of the man's work. He's a true original.

But Antonov is generally unhappy with the current state of video games. In an interview at Eurogamer, he laments: "It's been a poor, poor five years for fiction in the video game industry."

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Antonov's observations mostly revolve around the fact that there are so few new ideas for games, and that so many games look the same. He sees the fact that the closest touchstone for this year's Dishonored is BioShock, a game from 2007 that doesn't actually have all that much in common with Dishonored, as cause for concern.

"I'm not a harsh critic of games," Antonov insisted. "I'm extremely happy of where technology has gone. But artists and art directors should make their own life a little bit harder by pushing management to take more artistic risks, and use the technology to a better, higher level. That's what I've been doing and suffering by - I've been spending as much time creating, as convincing the people who are financing games how important it is.

"We were always waiting for the next generation of great worlds or great graphics. Well, great graphics came; the worlds that came with these graphics are not up to the level of the graphics.

"Graphics used to be an excuse 10 years ago, that we can't make great worlds. Right now, we have a lot of New Yorks, we have a lot of war games. Please everybody," he pleaded, "let's do more science-fiction and more crazy worlds out there."

Antonov advises that developers stop trying to make games that are all things at once. "Now a game is trying to pack too many games - narration, music, contemplation, shooting - that they lose the experience." Instead, he suggests, developers should make more specialized games that pick one thing to do and do it well.

Read the rest of the article, which talks in-depth about the process behind Dishonored's city of Dunwall, at Eurogamer.

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"It's been a poor, poor five years for fiction in the video game industry" [Eurogamer]

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DISCUSSION

First, not every video game needs to be pushing the boundaries of 'art', there are gamers out there that appreciate games more for sheer gameplay. Take Portal, this was a game made up mostly of walls and spikes and such, a simple puzzle game, and yet was fantastic. People flocked to that game not because it took art into new and interesting directions, but for the simple fact of how the Portal gun worked. And this probably goes for most of the games he thinks aren't artsy enough. People play the likes of Battlefield or CoD and the rest because they find them really fun to play. And do we crap on movies if many of them are set in normal everyday settings instead of being on the likes of Mars or Middle-Earth?

But if Antonov thinks developers could be doing better, then by all means, why doesn't he himself make games that do things better? We loved Half-Life 2, it was great, but that was 8 years ago. Here we have a man that is in a position to put his money where his mouth is.