When we were first starting out with Space Quest 7, we looked at quite a few art styles, trying to find the right fit, both for what we knew how to do, and for Space Quest.
In 2001, 3D games still left much to be desired, and I wanted to avoid Space Quest regressing in visual quality. I’d seen too many games make the move to 3d because it was the cool thing to do, rather than because it made the game look any better; I wanted to avoid this mistake with SQ7. We made the decision to go with rendered 3d images to allow us to generate the required angles, but to pre-render them, to ensure we could deliver higher-quality than computers allowed at the time
Once we had made the decision to use 3d, the next question was, how do we make it look “Right”? Toon rendering was still somewhat immature, and there were a lot of dials to try to tweak when it comes to contrast, and the overall feel. For instance, should we try to make images realistically, or with a more cartoonish bent?
I have to say that Scott Mazukiewiez, the first real artist to work with us, was more patient with me than I deserved, and we did quite a few tests working out the right feel for the project.
We did the tests both inside and outside of the Mallard, since it was one of the earliest models we had finished.
Eventually we agreed on a compromise, between the overly cartoon toon-renderings, and the more realistic style. We’d use a purposefully curvy and cartoonish modeling, with a more traditional renderer.