The graphics of adventure games: an illustrated guide

The website Adventure Gamers is publishing a series of articles written by Ben Chandler, the graphic artist behind several games like Technobabylon, Shardlight and two games of the Blackwell series.

Many adventure games, both classic ones and modern ones, are analyzed and cited to explain how the designers used graphics to convey a mood and which techniques were used to achieve specific effects.

Every article is dedicated to a topic and the latest article of the series, published just a few days ago, is about “Other Dimensions”, meaning any kind of different reality that has been used in a story: dreams, fantasies, parallel dimensions and so on. Here is the link:

A Look at Graphics: Other Dimensions

Several popular classics are cited in the article (MI2, Grim Fandango, etc.) and I would like to quote a short paragraph about “Sam & Max Hit the Road”, because I have just cited this game in another thread.

Sam & Max Hit the Road does something slightly similar – here Sam’s foray into the world of virtual reality is represented as a comical, angular vision of wonky shapes that move in odd ways. It feels like the designers were using this to poke a bit of fun at the idea of escapism in games, particularly the simplistic 3D experiences that were possible with the technology at the time. The fact that it shows Sam’s actions back in meatspace adds to the moment, with his movements, when taken out of context, being a bit more fun at the expense of virtual escapism.

I suggest reading the whole series of articles because they are really a good example of an “illustrated guide” to adventure game graphics:

  1. A Look at Graphics: Using Lighting to Convey Mood

  2. A Look at Graphics: Lighting the Way

  3. A Look at Graphics: Framing an interactive painting

  4. A Look at Graphics: Character Design in Silhouette

  5. A Look at Graphics: Details in the Distance

  6. A Look at Graphics: Other Dimensions

  7. A Look at Graphics: Establishing the Scene


Ben Chandler has published another chapter to his series about adventure game graphics.

In this one, he talks about the usage of shots that are not part of the playable “room” backgrounds but that serve just to establishing the scene and the mood.

Among, many famous shots of past adventure games, he cites one of my favorite ones, the long image that in Full Throttle is used to simulate a change of perspective, just scrolling vertically the visible part of it (click to see the full image):

There are a lot of examples of other similar scenes, especially those used at the beginning of the adventure game to introduce the player to the world.

It’s a quick reading suggested to all the fans. :slight_smile:


Also visit his blog ( and read all other articles there as well!

1 Like

There are new ones out:

  1. A Look at Graphics: Shaping Perceptions

  2. A Look at Graphics: Shapes in Composition

Thanks @LowLevel for pointing this series out. I found it very interesting.

1 Like

I can’t edit the post above so I will add links to new ones here:

  1. A Look at Graphics: In Defense of Inconsistency
1 Like

His what now? Boy, I really remember almost nothing about that game…

Did the evil Discourse complain to you about double posting, grave digging, and trying to edit old posts? :rofl: