Of all the things we would never make a developer Justify in fifteen seconds, it would be Valve's art direction for Team Fortress 2. The retro, phong shaded design is quirky and fun, and not to mention gorgeous to the eyes. But developer Robin Walker's explanation of the art style is interesting nonetheless, especially since the look is so disparate from what was originally imagined.
The earliest version of TF2 that you guys never got to play was this ultra-realistic... it looked a lot like Counter-Strike to a large degree. We wanted to do all these things, but realism fought us every step of the way. In a realistic game it's hard to justify why everything isn't just a bullet or an explosive, because at the end of the day, that's what kills people in the real world...
So the point I was trying to make was that we spent some time squirming under this art direction that we'd chosen too early. Later, when we started thinking about humour, we had a lot of fun with being free. We realised we could do that thing that we'd joked it would be fun to do. Well guess what? Now we can do it. Let's do it!
Let's see, art direction that provides genuinely funny humor that supports gameplay? Yes! Let's do it!
We're off to slip on a banana peel and dream about TF2. RPS Team Fortress 2 Interview - Part 2 [rock, paper, shotgun]