It’s always difficult to design the future – look at how dated early episodes of Star Trek looks today, despite being set many years from now. Jonathan-Jacques Belletête, art director on Deus Ex: Human Revolution, faces this problem on a daily basis, and over the past few years has developed techniques on how to get around it.
Chatting to X360A, Belletête discusses sitting down with modern-day architects and discovering what they have planned, studying interior decoration and city planning and not paying too much attention to Blade Runner or other video games.
“It seems like in the video game industry, we’re really kind of circular and the industry itself is kind of its own reference, which I think is a really bad thing because we’re just spinning in circles. You want to make a new game, before you start you look at other games. And I do look at other games, but it’s the last thing I’m going to do. I like to look at all sorts of things, like go to crazy art shows and even operas, I’ll buy all sort of crazy books and whatever to see what artists out there are doing, get inspired by that and then funnel it down into the medium…”
Blade Runner is set in 2019, just eight years away. Human Revolution is nearly twice as far in the future, in 2027 – a date that seemed even more distant when the game was first thought up back in 2006. The game has the difficult task of redefining one of the best-defined versions of the future seen in a video game.
Belletête explains that the now-distinctive black and gold colour scheme was a deliberate choice that evolved through the game’s development and is now part of an aesthetic considered “cyber-renaissance”.
To find out more about the design decisions, including everything from the buildings to the fascinating real-world technology behind Adam Jensen’s mindblowing augmentations, check out the rest of the interview. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is due out in August.