One of the most exciting aspects about our game is that we are re-creating an entire chapter in history. Our art director, Mette, shares some of the highlights of this process:
How has creating this world been different from your past projects?
It’s been different than my usual freestyle drawing and designing. I’ve had to do way more research to ensure that what we make is as correct and true to history as possible. Making the decisions on style and design has probably been the hardest part, as there are obviously no photo references. I’m just going off of art and bits and pieces from archaeological finds.
Working in 3D was something I’d never done before, so to quote Disney: it was a whole new world. I started from scratch, learning about polygons and triangles, about meshes, materials, textures and how 3D works. Next, I started learning Unreal Engine, which is the program we use for making the game. I used the good old learning by doing, asking, digging, researching, and YouTubing method. The best way, in my opinion.
Where does the inspiration for the design come from?
We’ve looked to the big games out there – Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, Uncharted, The Last of Us, etc. The style we want is to be as “real-life” as possible and so we’ve been very focused on keeping our assets and textures at a high standard.
A lot of stuff in the game is simply vegetation and nature, so we also did a lot of research into what kind of rocks, terrain, trees, and flowers were found in Jerusalem at that time.
You’ve previously worked with film animation and character design. How has this experience been different?
In 2D you only see what you choose to draw, but in 3D you create the entire character, with all the details of outfit, skin, hair and body. The same thing applies to designing houses, equipment, furniture, inanimate objects, etc. You need to really think through the design and draw it from different angles before the 3D artist creates it.
When you animate in 3D it’s based on actual facial movement from a person, which gives so much personality to the character. Seeing my sketches turned into 3D and then turned into animated characters has been really cool. When I plan a character, I make notes on their personality and how this person would act or behave, and it’s fun trying to create that “person.”
What has been a favourite thing to work on?
Oh, tough question. I love the 3D design process, but putting it all together has to be my favourite thing. Seeing the city come to life is just incredibly fun and satisfying.
Any tips you can share about things you’ve learned in the process?
It. Takes. Time. The process of working with 3D is so detailed. It’s important to give strong feedback and be decisive at every stage. Going back and forth and being indecisive is both expensive and time consuming.
Also, you can’t do everything yourself! You have to hand over your ideas and design to the next person, which means it can turn out a bit different (and often better!) than you imagined – and that can be a scary thing. It’s important to maintain ownership of your product from start to finish, but don’t be so obsessed with your idea to the extent that you hinder other creatives from adding their touch and skills to the final product.
What are some upcoming goals and challenges you are looking forward to?
Creating the environment of the game. Making it lively and warm and homey, so that the players actually feel like people are living here – that this is a real world. It’s a fun process, but will be challenging due to the size of this game!
I’m also just really looking forward to seeing how the missions and tasks will play out in the game, and how it will be received out there with our audience.