What do SiN Episodes, Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, and Pirates, Vikings, and Knights 2 have in common? They're all Source engine games, which means that even though they have wildly different art styles, they somehow all look like Source engine games.
Identifying a game's engine is kind of like identifying what kind of paint was used: Even if they're very different from each other, two oil paintings both look like oil paintings, not acrylics or watercolors. The effect is easy to see via Twitter account Source Engine Aesthetics (opens in new tab), which was created by Dusk (opens in new tab) developer David Szymanski (opens in new tab). He's on a mission to collect iconic screenshots from the Source era of mods and games, as well as some general dreamscapes.
Game: Dark Messiah of Might and MagicBy: Arkane Studios pic.twitter.com/29LiykGbpoMarch 8, 2021
The shots of mainstream games are familiar, though still enjoyable to see again. And there are some surprises—Ravenholm doesn't look as memorable as I thought it would.
The mods are where there's a really fascinating diversity of ideas on display, even if what you see is mostly the same Half-Life 2 textures and models. It's in how those components are used that the creators express themselves.
Mod: Snowdrop Escape (Half-life 2)By: SDE Dev Team pic.twitter.com/qtVrWeCUWzMarch 2, 2021
A Half-life 2 map called Insurrection that @duxworth was working on back in 2007 with some friends. He unfortunately discovered girls, and the map was never finished 😛 pic.twitter.com/54NF6UHteSMarch 6, 2021
There is serious talent in some of these old maps: Have you seen the Warcelona campaign for Left 4 Dead 2, which faithfully recreates famous locations in Barcelona? I hadn't and it's amazing:
plaça espanya and montjuic from warcelona campaign for l4d2 pic.twitter.com/MON5nPOpQ1March 1, 2021
the amount of detail is incredible pic.twitter.com/R6GbPsegayMarch 1, 2021
There's an embarrassment of other fascinating discourse and imagery on the account. If you're on Twitter, you can follow @sourcepics (opens in new tab).