Arkham Asylum art director talks mistakes

Develop 2010: Rocksteady's David Hego bemoans detective vision, discusses uncanny valley, gameplay decisions, and how its future game will use more of "augmented reality."


At a talk at the Brighton, UK-based Develop conference, Batman: Arkham Asylum art director David Hego said he had regrets about the powerful "detective vision" mode in Rocksteady Studios' top-rated game.

Detective mode is to be toned down for the next Batman game.
Detective mode is to be toned down for the next Batman game.

Hego joked that when he would hear about people playing through the game entirely in the brightly coloured, X-ray-like mode, he would "want to cry a little bit." The Detective Vision mode, which gave the player a major advantage but obscured the game's painstakingly unique art direction, was "very powerful," but in keeping with Batman's high-technology arsenal, said Hego.

"It was a gameplay decision to make detective vision so strong…we're going to try not to do that mistake again." Hego added that Rocksteady would "make it more like augmented reality next time," shedding some light on how detective vision might be toned down and adapted for the studio's next Batman game.

In the talk on Arkham Asylum's art direction, Hego explained the game's use of light and shadow and warm and cool lighting to direct a player's attention within an environment, as well as the stylised realism used to design the characters. He called the exaggerated features and realistic textures of the character models, especially that of the Joker, a kind of hyperrealism.

That hyperrealism, said Hego, also circumvented the issue of the uncanny valley: the spooky effect produced by characters, which are very close to photorealistic but still perceptibly artificial.

"One of the big advantages of the stylised realism was we were jumping across the uncanny valley… By making [the characters] so stylised, you can forget about uncanny valley because you accept that it's not real."

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