Submitted by Afnan Linjawi:
Zellige: Moorish Tiles Re-Imagined in Video Games
BEACONSFIELD – NFTS Game Design and Development expected graduate Louis Torres features his game Zellige where players become tilemakers from the Andalusian era and redesign the tiles of a Moorish palace in Spain.
In an endeavor to revive the long-admired tradition of Islamic Art that has permeated many architectural and artistic designs all over the world, Louis Torres designed and developed the game Zellige as part of his graduate degree in Game Design and Development at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, UK.
Zellige (الزليج) is the name of a specific type of geometric mosaic designs found across Southern Spain and Morocco. Zellige the game, however, seeks to celebrate the traditional geometric designs found in mosaics from across the Islamic world, by offering players the freedom to create any design they wish and by giving them access to several color palettes inspired by architectural masterpieces from Spain, Morocco, Uzbekistan and beyond.
Zellige is designed with a wide group of people in mind, from artists, to meditators to historians. It offers relaxing immersion in a beautiful palace, uniquely blended with meditative creation. In many ways, it is like meditation mandalas one might draw and color in on paper. The game is designed to activate creativity and encourage the player for unguided, but purposeful, creation.
The game aims to break away from the habitual moulds of confrontation-based experiences. Zellige is both a creative and cultural experience. The game designer was keen to invoke an accurate atmosphere of the palace and the art of tilemaking.
“The seeds for Zellige were first planted when I visited Granada and its palaces as a kid with my parents. I was utterly fascinated with the elegance and vibrance of the mosaic designs that adorn the Alhambra’s walls. A few years later, having researched the art style further, I realised that the intricate and skilled work required to create these designs could make for a great game, especially if one were to lean into the physicality and tactility of this art form. It’s this artisan’s work, that of creating zellige, that I wanted to celebrate and recreate virtually in Zellige,” said Torres.
Games design has always been an extension of his love of making things. Some of his fondest memories are of when he would visit his grandfather and make wooden toys in his garage, using all the wonderful machines he’d accumulated over the years.
“My hope is people will see it as a way of getting away from the daily grind, of letting their minds wander as their eyes and hands create something new and unique to them,” said Torres.
When it came to designing the game, Torres analysed a large selection of gorgeous images of palaces and walls from the height of Andalusian Spain, analysing how the artisans achieved the unique look and feel of their tiling. Torres also delved deep into mathematical concepts of tessellation and graph theory, in order to create a design system that is both intuitive and immediate.
Zellige is one of hundreds of games featured at EGX in October in London. The exhibition serves as a launching pad for newly developed games to find its audience. Torres hopes that the early testers of the game will value its imagery and the experience of becoming tilemakers from Granada in the simulation and design game.
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