Photoshopping the World Away

I didn’t really have too much time due to GamesCom recently but I did manage to get some work done for TRAUMA. So here is another work-in-progress update. I’m still working on minor tweaks and corrections. They become less and less important as I go so don’t be underwhelmed. It’s pretty much polish right now. I’m going to put the images after the jump so you can chose not to watch them. In some cases you might not be able to “un-see” the fact the the photos have been tampered with once you became aware of it.

Most of the work I’m doing right now involves removing some buildings, lights and other forms of infrastructure that can sometimes be seen in the distance. The 4 worlds of TRAUMA are supposed to feel isolated. So I need to remove all hints that there is a world outside of the boundaries of the levels. Here is a simple example. I had to remove the lights and billboard on the side of a road you can look down. The player can’t follow that road to the end so having some objects in the distance would communicate the wrong idea. The result is not quite perfect, it looks a little bit like a black hole now. But it’s good enough for now.

TRAUMA Under The Bridge

But the problem is I need to keep everything consistent. So once I start changing an object in one photo, I need to do the same changes on every photo that shows the same object. In this case there was a much trickier perspective on the road from a bridge.

TRAUMA On The Bridge

Here is a different level but it’s basically the same idea. You can see a big building in the distance. This time the player can actually walk down the road but the building sabotages the transition to the next photo. Hence, it needs to be removed. This one shows some of the challenges with doing such work. There is a street lamp in front of the building. There are lens flares and glow effects because of the lamp. The lamp also illuminates the foggy air in front of the building. So when I remove the building I automatically also remove all those effects. I need to re-create them afterwards.

TRAUMA Chicane Ending

This last one is from the same level. If you look to the side you can see a building behind a fence. The lights in the building are so bright the glare spills over the actual fence. Also there is a pinkish lens flare to the side. The irony is that most players will probably never see this image. It contains no actual interactive elements and it doesn’t serve a specific purpose. There are a lot of images like this in TRAUMA. They may seem pointless but I found it quite important to have some freedom of movement in the environment. I wanted the navigation to be a more prominent part of the game. The unfortunate consequence is that I need to polish even the images that players will probably skim over.

TRAUMA Chicane Sideview

I think I need to stop for today. Reviewing the images immediately makes me notice things that could be improved. At this point my goal is to get the images in a good enough state so I can start beta testing.

By the way, sorry for the small images but you will need to play the game to see them in their original size. ;)

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

7 responses to “Photoshopping the World Away”

  1. Till

    I actually like the black-hole-look. After all it’s supposed to be some kind of dream/blurry memory thing where you don’t expect to be able to see what’s behind/down the road.

    The lensflares are supposed to be/stay there?

    I like forward/slashes I guess.

    Good retouching and most people proabably won’t notice.

    1. Krystian Majewski

      Yes. The lens-flares are natural/not-photoshopped and will stay there. ;D

  2. Case

    I have to agree with till. The “black holes” make the world feel just that more surreal. BTW can’t wait for the final product, I get more enthralled with every image released.

  3. Christopher Robin

    And me makes three! I too like the “Black Hole” look. It creates a strong sense of foreboding and a “thou shalt not enter” vibe. Great work! Can’t wait to play the game!

  4. codicier

    The style reminds me a bit of some of Gregory Crewdsons work, I don’t know if you know of him but i get the same kind of vibe form looking at these and from the Trauma Trailer.
    I would be interested in seeing some of these before & after shots in a higher resolution, i used to work as a graphic designer & had to do allot of retouching of images so i’m curious to take a close look and see what tricks you have used.
    All in all can’t wait to see the finished game.

    1. Krystian Majewski

      Whow, Gregory Crewdsons? I’m flattered! Yes, I’m familiar with his work. I haven’t really used him consciously as a reference but I see the similarities.

      Of course Crewdsons is a completely different league of photography. I once read an article about how he creates his photos. He is working with an incredible large-format camera and sets everything up with an overwhelming attention to detail. Each individual motif is manufactured in something that resembles a very elaborate movie set. o_O

  5. GhostLyrics

    4. I think the black-hole effect gives it something vast, something seemingly endless. I really enjoy this picture.


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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