The low-fi sci-fi of Alien: Isolation

2 min read

Pong 2 was amazing in the future

You know you’re watching a low budget sci-fi flick when the computers are big, and the hair is even more massive. Some of these flicks haven’t stood the test of time, whereas as some have used the technology of their era to create a signature look. And Alien Isolation is looking to the original Alien film for some MS-DOS inspiration.

“Ridley Scott’s original Alien movie presented a really grounded view of the future. This wasn’t holograms and touchscreens. It’s chunky and analogue push-button technology, this is a world of CRT not LCD,” creative lead Al Hope says in the latest developer diary which details why the game features cutting edge 1970s technology that looks like it was stolen from Geoff’s house.

“Early in development, our artists studied the work of Ron Cobb, who was one of the original concept artists on the film and the goal was that if we could understand his process, we would be able to expand on that universe, while still remaining faithful to the original source, UI lead Jon McKellan explained.

The first objective was to strip back the UI as much as possible. For the onscreen elements that we do have, we looked at a lot of options to try and recreate the softness and fuzziness that the technology of the seventies presented.

The technique that we found most effective, was actually to take gameplay footage and UI elements and record it onto VHS tape and play them back through an old portable television and on its way we’d distort the cables and stamp on the tape and generally destroy equipment in the process.

Once we got that back into the game, we found that it didn’t just look authentic, it was authentic.

This SABC approach won’t just impact on the games visuals either. It’ll target the gameplay as well, with your equipment being authentically low-fi as well. “This low-fi sci-fi approach doesn’t just inform the visuals, it also has a bigger effect on how we design the gameplay,” designer Gary Napper explained.

If you take the motion tracker for example, it’s big, it’s heavy, you can’t hold it at the same time as a weapon. All it does is tell you the movement of an object on a 2D plane and even then, only on a small cone in front of you.

Groovy. The game is out later this year, because in space no one can hear you rewind a VHS tape.

Last Updated: April 17, 2014

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