Although this book has stayed away from visual design, I would like to discuss art direction a bit, and show how some forms of visual incongruence can help create a rich world.
In Chapter 2.15, "Emotionally Complex Moments and Situations Techniques," I discussed how some forms of incongruence can help make an emotionally complex moment if the different elements were each, in their own right, emotionally resonant.
Similarly, incongruence can contribute to creating a rich world if the different visual elements are all emotionally resonant.
Take a look at the color painting on page 3. An empty canoe sits in the middle of a lake, with ripples going out from it in 360 degrees. The canoe is on fire, yet not burning. Birds fly in and out of the flames, but aren't scorched.
These images are incongruent. When incongruence like this occurs, our minds or spirits try to assemble a congruence that makes the disparate elements make sense. Yet the incongruence doesn't fit into any normal framework, so it snaps us free from those mental mechanisms that make us take reality for granted.
In trying to mentally or spiritually assemble it into an image that holds together as a unity, we're drawn into a rich world.
However, this is not only because of visual incongruence. If there had been a refrigerator in the middle of the burning canoe, and Mickey Mouse was sitting on top of it, it would be incongruent, but it wouldn't have a feeling of richness about it.
Because the incongruent items flying birds, water, fire all are quite emotionally resonant images in their own right, combining them creates a feeling of richness to the world.
Take a look at the color painting of the man assembling a towering monster on page 2. What if, hovering in the heart of the monster, we saw the image of a sad angel either trapped there or perhaps even powering the beast.
The beautiful angel would be totally incongruent with the monster, and would completely change the picture. In fact, it would add emotional depth to the image and make it rich. But this would occur only because the monster and the angel are both emotionally resonant in their own rights. Putting a big martini glass where his heart should be wouldn't create any richness, because the martini glass isn't emotionally resonant the way an angel is.
Having the Visual Incongruence Relate to Gameplay
How could we make the visual incongruence of the mechanical monster with the sad angel in its heart factor into gameplay? That trapped, sad angel is the "power source" that fuels the monster.
Let's say that the monster goes on to ravage the land. The only way to stop it is to right some great injustice (which of course involves you going into battle) an injustice that had caused the angel to be sad in the first place. Once the angel is released from its sorrow, it can finally leave the monster, and the mechanical monster will be immobilized. The angel's sorrow emotionally weakened it (the angel) and kept it trapped.
This would be an interesting way of "defeating" the monster. More importantly, however, it means that the element that created the richness the sad angel in its heart would then also factor into gameplay.
There are many other World Induction Techniques besides Rich World Techniques. Let's look at a few.