Mood boards give a broad visual aid as to how the ambience and style of the game should be. While this fits in strongly with the animation, asset creation and level design, the information portrayed in mood boards also affects the design of the mechanics and even the genre of the game.
The mood of Turn the Lights Off is very ethereal, as stated in our second player experience goal. In this exact case, it takes the form of a balance between otherworldly and horror, with a nightmare like state that the players are thrown into. To create this ambience, a darker colour palette of blues, greys and purples has been chosen. The lighting is minimal, with the player using a torch to create a dim glow that enables them to see the path ahead. Within these gloomy colours, are splashes of red, helping to ground the player within this slightly mystical environment.
The physical boundary of the game is designed to expand and grow as the player progresses throughout the levels. It starts off as a singular room with a minimal amount of lights, however at the generator reaching a certain level a door swings open, allowing access to a new area of the map. This continues to happen until the game reaches a conclusion, both increasing and decreasing the difficulty. While this does expand the area that the player must traverse in their attempt to keep the lights off, it also increases the amount of time that it takes for the demon-like children to turn the lights back on.
Heavily related to the physical boundary is the setting of the game. Turn the Lights Off is set inside of a small American Gothic style house (see below), a style of building that already has an outdated and slightly haunted feel. The most intriguing mechanic related to the setting is that these traditionally small houses turn into a seemingly endless maze, creating confusion and intrigue for the player. The inside of this house will contain sparse furnishings matching what a person would expect to see in a house in that time period, however the doors will be heavy, metal automated pieces of machinery. This is to give the feel of being trapped within the confines of the ever expanding building, constantly being forced into new areas.
(Travel Iowa, n.d.)
The player avatar is never view by the player, only seeing a torch and the occasional hand. This is to keep elements of the game mysterious, fitting in with the ethereal ambiance. On the other end, the ‘children’ that run around turning off lights are twisted beings that keep to the shadows. The player will only glance at them occasionally when they become too bold. The most accurate description is that their visual appearance is what you would expect the spawn of a demon and a human to look like. A simple flash of the torch will momentarily scare them away, however their footsteps are a constant haunting sound. All the furnishings of the house look like they belong in a building of that era, however they have an aged appearance, including cobwebs and wear and tear marks.
The ambience of the game is very well summed up by the mood board and corresponding colour scheme, with sound being the only element of the feel not able to be summed up in an image. This is easily explained as a haunting melody of varying speeds that will change depending on player circumstances.