Art & Design #1: The Aesthetic of Endogenesis

As you might’ve already read in the origin lore of Endogenesis, the setting that the game takes place in is that of an alien universe, nested in its own reality. Where our universe is one that moves towards entropy, the Endogenesis universe is peaceful and unchanging.

Naturally, we wanted the game’s aesthetic to reflect this very quality. The art style would need to go beyond the usual futuristic/sci-fi flavour that people were used to, since we were looking to portray a universe that is imagined to be very different from our own.

Now if you were thinking that this sounds like a tall order, you would be right!

To simplify things, I decided that the simplest way to do this was to avoid trying to explore a realistic potrayal of this very alien universe. Instead, I could imagine how the inhabitants of this universe (the spirits) would have illustrated their vision of how they perceived their surroundings — not unlike how early humans would make rudimentary cave paintings of their environments to store information. In doing so, the Endogenesis universe could actually be made to feel even more alien, since an exact representation of that reality is never seen.

With a strong starting point, I researched on the ways humans have recording observations and information across the ages, from cave paintings, vintage maps all the way to infograhics. I eventually arrived at two points of inspiration: star charts and runes.

(Left) From “A Pictorial Display of The Moon, The Planets, The Stars, Astronomical Phenomena & The Visible Universe” (1842-1891), (Right) From “Alexander Jamieson’s Celestial Atlas (1822)”

 

Star charts are maps of the night sky, and maps are one of the oldest ways of how humans have recorded the universe as observed in an informational manner. Combined with the amazing aesthetic they have that feels foreign and esoteric but mesmerizingly detailed, they were a perfect point of inspiration to start from. I then went on to build the rest of the game’s visuals.

All in all, I was really happy with the result! But in order to push the alien aesthetic even further, I also created a simple custom typeface meant for the game’s logo and headers. The idea was to make it feel like it was a partially-translated version of the written language used by the inhabitants of the Endogenesis universe.

For this, inspiration was taken from ancient hieroglyphs and runes, but only loosely as the typeface ultimately needed to be readable in English. While the initial creation of the typeface was quick, a significant amount of time was spent making adjustments to ensure that a balance between style and legibility was struck. A mono-space san-serif font was used as a base.

Developing the aesthetic for Endogenesis has been a challenging but fun process. As a graphic designer by trade, I never tire of conjuring up visual styles for products, be it a board game or a tech start-up. If you’ve been part of creating the art direction of a board game, what was your process like?

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