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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsDISCO ELYSIUM (we finished it, it's out)
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Author Topic: DISCO ELYSIUM (we finished it, it's out)  (Read 58056 times)
kinnas
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« Reply #180 on: July 14, 2017, 07:21:50 AM »

Little did I realize what a day today would be. I figured "Alright it's the end of my first week back after vacation! A Friday! Let's take it easy! Let's sneak a character concept in there!" They take me like an hour, a good fun break from the usual. So I go check out what characters are next on the list and pick out this dude by the curious name of Bird's Nest Roy

Quote
Roy, white male, about 50, tall and gaunt, pawnbroker and drug addict (though the latter is not immediately obvious). His arms, legs, and torso all seem too long, and his hands are too large – expressive hands with long fingers, but nevertheless ugly. Speaks in a quiet, husky smoker's voice. He was part of the cleanup crew after the People's Pile disaster. Has traveled extensively. Though he grew up on the coast and runs a pawnshop by the water, he doesn't like boats.

First draft. Immediately I'm reminded of a few people I know, these hippie types who've gotten older and started dressing down from their regular outlandish gear. You can see this guy having a smoke on the little lawn in front of his 16 story public housing apartment home.  An old rocker kinda dude. Add a rigid leather fanny pack as a coin purse for his clerking obligations.



-

Comments come back from the writers. It's a good start! The slim silhouette, natural almost invisible way of dress is great. Hair is a bit too wild and cool though. It's not the hair that's the Bird's Nest. Maybe let's try a lazy ponytail instead?



-

Alright getting closer. Needs some accessorizing to bring him out of that random dude place, to add some character there. Throw some lopsided shades on him. Maybe a ribbon in his hair? Some kind of memorabilia from the cleanup crew days. Maybe his old jacket? I'm not too keen on breaking his silhouette with more clothes though so I'm thinking we try out an arm band. In retrospect a silly idea.



-

Naw that's stupid. It'd much more likely be some kind of an old reflector vest he wore as part of the crew. Maybe some dog tags?



-

You know what? Dog tags are silly. Way too american. Let's try like a medallion. And man not so sure about that sweater either. Let's try like a white jacket. He's in a room with a projector that's blasting trippy LSD coloured light all over the place. I think a white jacket would work well as a canvas for the lightshow. Let's kill the glasses too since the character's partly written already and the writers would have to go back and edit some bits of text about his eyes.



-

Man but that jacket sure balloons up now, kinda kills the silhouette we had going with his guy. What if it's properly buttoned up instead?



-

You know what. Naw, nope, let's roll back. That jacket really doesn't do him justice. Alright so thinking again about the vibe the character is supposed to give off I'm leaning back on that old rocker feeling.. Let's go full out - a denim vest. Like a biker or something. An old rocker fart. Those dudes love their denim vests.



-

Pfffft nope that doesn't work at all. We've arrived at some trucker dude / metalhead IT specialist now, all he's missing is a Manowar print on his chest. You know what, fuck it, roll back. You can't push the rocker look too much or you get into stereotypes.

Upon reflection that old crew vest was pretty nice. A kind of a believable accessory. You could definitely picture a dude hanging out like that, reflector bits shining. And with the light show going on the glasses were a completely legit idea. No biggie, we'll just edit a bit of the dialogue. Yes, this works. In hindsight it's completely obvious that of all the Roys the best Roy is this Roy.

So..

Ladies and gentlemen I give you Bird's Nest Roy:



---

As an added bonus - soundtrack of the day



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nathy after dark
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« Reply #181 on: July 16, 2017, 03:34:30 PM »

Quote from: kinnas
of all the Roys the best Roy is this Roy.




Does this game feature alternate timelines?  Well, hello there!

I enjoyed seeing the iterations on that design. I totally know the feel of going back and forth so many times on a design or on writing. Gets frustrating.
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kinnas
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« Reply #182 on: July 16, 2017, 10:48:03 PM »

Oh it can get plenty frustrating. There's also a grim satisfaction in pushing through it - just grit your teeth and push through the red haze. If you can get it done without delegating it to another day it's extra nice to able to tick off a box on the list. Feels like tangible progress too: tick off all the boxes and the game is done (or so it feels).

It's almost gamifying game design having these bars and lists to check off. In a way you almost run the risk of jeapordizing the project if you get too enamoured with mechanically ticking off the boxes because of schedules and whatnot. You lose sight of the ideas and content within that they represent. You start getting superficial. But if you have to fight to have a box ticked you know your rear is secure, there is solid work there and you can safely move forward.

Or well that's what I like to think when I'm in the thick of it fighting for every inch. But I think it's a reasonable philosophy in general.
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kinnas
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« Reply #183 on: July 18, 2017, 12:06:35 AM »

I.. microblogged. I have infinite distaste for that Twitter character limit but them's the apples. Anyways I present this micropost with all the language the medium entails:

The modern graffiti is a dull and stale visual language. That's fine, it's an action piece not a picture. Kilroy w/here is yet to be bested.



Bc of its social causes tho it's important to have this expressive format in NoTruce. Have to come up with a vis that doesn't look like shit



Leaning on situationist slogans, kilroy w/here and geometry. & backsplash of paint. Imagine graf artist with a biro & can o paint in e. hand



Legible letters in the background clash with the abstraction of the art style though. A conundrum.


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jctwood
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« Reply #184 on: July 18, 2017, 12:41:40 AM »

Looks spectacular as always. I love the block colours in the graffiti which makes it more interesting than just scrawling on a wall.
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kinnas
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« Reply #185 on: July 18, 2017, 10:13:03 AM »

I'm really happy with this concept. Imagine how a crumbling really done over wall might look like with this. With so many layers of these blocks of colors overlaping. A buzzing noise of color variation. Rude messages and drawings of dicks poking out everywhere.

--

I've put in my hours for today but seeeecretly I'm putting in some more, shh don't tell anyone!





We're looking to get a build together for Gamescom in Köln. I wanna go the extra mile and replace some of these placeholders with actual character models   SmileyHand Thumbs Up Right

Anyways if anyone's around for Gamescom let me know, let's bump business cards and talk shop!
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kinnas
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« Reply #186 on: July 19, 2017, 11:19:59 PM »

The Indiegraze Interview

I gave an in depth interview to the fine folks at Indiegraze talking about No Truce With The Furies, art, game mechanics and studio ideology.
https://www.indiegraze.com/2017/07/19/interview-no-truce-with-the-furies-team/

It also features a photo of yours truly in a wifebeater and Robert flipping the bird like a bad-ass dude from the 90s Smiley Hand Thumbs Up Right


Here's a couple of quotes, the real thing is much longer:

Quote from: Indiegraze
Erik Meyer: For anyone who lived a life saturated in RPGs like Fallout, Planescape: Torment, or Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, the NTWTF trailer will spark curiosity, and the game clearly seeks to redefine and expand on earlier conventions. With a world created by Robert Kurvitz as ongoing source material and visual assets drawing on an oil painting look from Russian Realist painters, what have been the challenges in uniting these varied elements, and which parts ‘clicked’ the fastest?

NTWTF: There’s over a decade of casual, creative and professional collaboration across disciplines embedded in No Truce With The Furies. Writing lead Robert camped out in art director Aleksander’s studio for years while finishing up the novel that set the stage for the world in which the game takes place. We find the RPG a particularly suitable medium for joining the disciplines of art and literature into a seamless, coherent whole.

What’s interesting is how our major themes manifest in different disciplines. The very existence of the world of No Truce With The Furies is threatened by a phenomenon called the pale, which is as natural as the oceans or space. There are edges in this world where reality sort of ceases to exist. And they move around sometimes. Imagine living in this unnerving world – it’s a wellspring for people of character. The very structure of the universe affects psychology, bringing out eccentricities, producing people whose souls have depth. Even simpletons have at some point thought of grand things – you can’t escape those thoughts when the disintegration of the world is not merely an eschatological threat, but a physical reality.

The art reflects this state of affairs. There is a disproportionate amount of color in this world. Nothing is ever just a flat green or red. There’s depth there, the colors get fragmented and mangled into other hues. Flecks of complementary color add spark and life. The white of a plaster wall is made up of so many greens, blues, pinks and yellows. It’s not that you won’t see a white wall. The wall is white, but if you take the time to study it, you’ll find there are other colors in its structure.

Thus, in the end, it all speaks to the same whole. Take any part away, and it’s no longer No Truce With The Furies.


Quote from: Indiegraze
EM: Literary elements take center stage in NTWTF, including combat via dialogue, a thought cabinet to guide players through old mysteries and new ideas, and a keen connection to a constructed history. As you’ve added elements that bring richness to the game experience, what do you hold as your criteria? What benchmarks do different mechanics need to meet, and what kinds of hard decisions has this involved?

NTWTF: The things we have done, the mechanics we have explored, revolve around bringing fresh gameplay elements into the age-old mechanic of the dialogue. For decades the medium of games has been in a constant state of hurricane stormwinds of mechanical creativity. But, despite this fevered evolution of game design, the Dialogue as a branch of game mechanics has largely been ignored, having been thought of as “good enough” from the get-go. Imagine if FPS games today still had Wolfenstein 3d gunplay: that’s the mechanically stale state that dialogue is in. So much so that it occasionally gets attacked by gameplay-exalting, manifesto-writing designers who want to throw it out as inherently alien to video games, instead of realizing that it’s simply an underdeveloped area of game design.

We’ve taken the systems of our forefathers and tried to virtually run 20 years of video games design process in our heads, so as to arrive at a point where we feel we would be if the development of the dialogue mechanic had not been interrupted.

[...]

This rhizomatic, interdependent web of modulation is what brings the dialogues to life. We want to write dialogue that IS the game – as fun to navigate as 3d worlds, as fun to play as tactical combat and as enjoyable to read as any good book. Them’s the criteria for our systems design.

---

added bonus - working on the textures for the new model of the protagonist!

« Last Edit: July 19, 2017, 11:26:45 PM by kinnas » Logged

kinnas
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« Reply #187 on: July 21, 2017, 01:49:06 AM »

hashtag gamedev

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Greipur
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« Reply #188 on: July 23, 2017, 04:01:49 AM »

If I get the chance I'll definitely swing by and play your build during Gamescom (will be there during Respawn and Devcom as well), I'll happily pay admittance with a business card. Wink


I second the notion that one should not dismiss dialogue systems as flawed from inception but just a branch that requires more iteration. In the struggle for progress some want to do away with everything of the old, I guess it's a normal human reaction. But we tend to forget that a lot of the old stuff actually worked, and would still work if we just gave it a new context. Don't kick the giant on the shin, stand on their shoulders instead.

And making dialogues the focal point instead of a condiment to battle/looting/leveling up loop might be a good solution!
« Last Edit: July 23, 2017, 09:56:02 AM by Greipur » Logged

nathy after dark
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« Reply #189 on: July 23, 2017, 08:37:06 PM »

Dammit your earlier evisceration of modern fantasy in this thread (I don't remember which team member it was) has ruined Game of Thrones for me. I got invited to a premiere party so naturally have been trying to catch up from season 3 where I left off long ago. The show is so. damn. boring! What really stuck in my head is how in the absence of true organized society, fiction can't make relevant commentary that speaks to the audience. It's just scene after scene of mindless, senseless injustice that doesn't teach or explore a thing about the injustices that happen inside and because of real-world systems. Plus there's absolutely no relating to a cast composed of entirely noble characters.

Anyway thought you'd appreciate that you inspired disdain in another writer. Tongue

The dialogue stuff is cool too, and I should read the whole interview. I've been doing experiments in Twine, which probably will end up as the engine behind all dialogue in my adventure game. It's so flexible and fluid and fast to work with, I think more games should be leveraging it to do innovative dialogue systems especially because it's embeddable in Unity.
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kinnas
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« Reply #190 on: July 25, 2017, 11:44:48 PM »

If I get the chance I'll definitely swing by and play your build during Gamescom (will be there during Respawn and Devcom as well), I'll happily pay admittance with a business card. Wink

I second the notion that one should not dismiss dialogue systems as flawed from inception but just a branch that requires more iteration. In the struggle for progress some want to do away with everything of the old, I guess it's a normal human reaction. But we tend to forget that a lot of the old stuff actually worked, and would still work if we just gave it a new context. Don't kick the giant on the shin, stand on their shoulders instead.

And making dialogues the focal point instead of a condiment to battle/looting/leveling up loop might be a good solution!

Nice, we'll see you at Gamescom! It'll be great to connect faces to usernames. If my stint at SxSW is any indication I'll be all wrangled out by the end of it but it'll be the good kind of enervation. Coffee

Dammit your earlier evisceration of modern fantasy in this thread (I don't remember which team member it was) has ruined Game of Thrones for me. I got invited to a premiere party so naturally have been trying to catch up from season 3 where I left off long ago. The show is so. damn. boring! What really stuck in my head is how in the absence of true organized society, fiction can't make relevant commentary that speaks to the audience. It's just scene after scene of mindless, senseless injustice that doesn't teach or explore a thing about the injustices that happen inside and because of real-world systems. Plus there's absolutely no relating to a cast composed of entirely noble characters.

Anyway thought you'd appreciate that you inspired disdain in another writer. Tongue

Well on one hand as a human having to survive in this cruel world you now have one less thing to enjoy! On the other I guess "better to be a dissatisfied human than pig satisfied"  Grin


The dialogue stuff is cool too, and I should read the whole interview. I've been doing experiments in Twine, which probably will end up as the engine behind all dialogue in my adventure game. It's so flexible and fluid and fast to work with, I think more games should be leveraging it to do innovative dialogue systems especially because it's embeddable in Unity.

Twine is an interesting tool. There's like a secret hope there that it gives writers the chance to see how well their abilities translate from a traditionally linear medium to an inherently jumbled up one since you have this of the box solution to start working on game-like structures. The hope is that the literary quality of games goes up as writers can put together more relevant portfolios. As we've found out ourselves a fantastic essay writer might not be the best at rhizomatic narrative design.
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kinnas
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« Reply #191 on: July 26, 2017, 10:56:18 PM »

A recent blog post by Olga Moskvina, the latest addition to our writing team. (Look, not to brag but we totally managed to convince her to drop Princeton for a bit to come write with us)

REVACHOL DREAMING

As I stood in line to enter the SXSW Gaming Expo, nervously tugging at my wristband in anticipation of meeting some of the ZA/UM team for the first time, I had yet to wrap my mind around there being a real possibility that I would soon be moving to Estonia to write for a video game developer. Sure, I’d just driven the 2200 km of sublime landscapes that separate Los Angeles and Austin in hopes of making this possibility a reality. I really didn’t know much about video games or Estonia, though, beyond what my friend and fellow writer Quintus Andrisson had told me about his cool Estonian friends when he was putting me in touch with them a few weeks prior. What I did know was that as I was writing a test dialogue for No Truce With The Furies, I kept thinking of something Umberto Eco once said in an interview: “Before I sit down to write, I am deeply happy.”

Three months into my life in Tallinn, this is still overwhelmingly what I feel every time I take my place at my desk at the studio, even on days when inspiration falters, as is inevitable with any creative pursuit. I’ve already had a few work-related dreams, but they have been surprisingly pleasant. Just the other morning, for example, I had a dream about making a list of interesting cryptids for a dialogue with Lena (the Cryptozoologist’s wife, discussed in an earlier blog post). I don’t know if I’ll end up using any of the cryptids my dream self invented, but I was pretty stoked when I woke up.

Every now and then someone asks me what it’s like to live in Estonia, as a recent transplant from Southern California, and I never really know how to respond. It’s “a change”, but neither capricious weather patterns nor radical relocations are new to me, and I prefer not to generalize about cultural differences. After all, I’ve only been here for a few months, although I’ve already exchanged waves with the Estonian Prime Minister when he came out to admire the sunset from a balcony overlooking a viewing platform from which writer Helen Hindpere and I happened to be admiring the same sunset.

I am relishing being in a place where the beach is lined with pines, not palm trees, and where the summer is not too hot to have thoughts. I often have thoughts such as “what could I read (or play, or watch) to be a better writer for this game,” “how can I be a better person to be a better writer for this game.” Then I read broadly and distractedly, browse Steam with reckless abandon, meditate, make chai, go on riverside walks with coworkers.

I’ve been writing compulsively since grammar school, but the solitariness of this vocation has always been at odds with my general preference for thinking through everything in dialogue, making anything in collaboration. It comes as no surprise, then, that it’s the collaborative nature of our work at ZA/UM that I love most—the constant exchange of ideas, puns, stories, and chocolate-covered coffee beans, and not just among the writers, but across departments. The unique discourse community that is ZA/UM.

And, of course, the vast world of No Truce With The Furies, which I am still learning about even as I write it.

I’m so very excited for you to learn more about it too, gentle reader.



Writers at ZA/UM catching the rare Baltic sun on the studio roof
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kinnas
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« Reply #192 on: July 27, 2017, 11:09:24 PM »

VIOLENCE! Finally!



I'm actually curious what are some good ways to generate a cool smoke plume? I have little faith in particles since they generally form this smooth foggy mess with little style. Maybe if I nested a bunch of particle systems inside each other to get that clearing smoke blowing away feel?

I kinda want this gun to have a dirty musket bang feel, have it blow out way too much smoke for the size it is.

I have some ideas about maybe trying to generate the smoke in stylized 3d and rendering it into a sprite sheet. I could doctor the frames into two or three value tones for that simplified look to unify it with the art style. But that's a lot of work for a relatively small thing.

Any other ideas out there?
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« Reply #193 on: July 28, 2017, 12:19:23 AM »

Maybe use actual 3d models as smoke? Look at the Shelter games by Might&Delight, in the first game they use several lowpoly meshes that switch between themselves, they use this for water foam and fires, for example. Here's a random video.








Of course your game have a more realistic bent than the Shelter games, but I could imagine that you could make something quite expressive. Avoiding prerendering it would probably make it easier to toy around with shaders.
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kinnas
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« Reply #194 on: July 29, 2017, 01:00:54 AM »

Thanks for that! I'm not sure I could make that specifically work with No Truce but it did spark an idea about mapping a smoke trail on a strip of polygons and then animating that to twist and curl and scale to get some cool smoke motion. Might work?

-

In the mean time I've been catching up with some of the character portraits long overdue. I used to try and paint these in grayscale and then applying a gradient map on them to colorize them in a more thematically coherent way for each specific character. I wanted to do this since I tended to default to certain skin colors and that resulted in artistically removed generic portraiture. But then with the gradient mapped colors it tended to look bland and I had to go in and paint additional color on top of them anyway. These days I can sort of merge the two approaches together in my head from the get go and just paint with the actual colors themselves. I do try to do stuff like embed meaning about the characters in there with either colors or brush strokes or the shapes and splats on the background. I hope at least subconsciously this helps the player read more into the characters.

Actually there's probably a more involved blog post somewhere in there how the style of the portraits evolved over time and the different things we tried to achieve with them. Some of the very first ideas were to get a photographer to roam the streets and find characters for us and then maybe photoshop aspects of them together. This is sort of what the writers already do when they write the characters, they often find photos online to help them visually establish a character to help them get the tone and attitudes down. For painting the portraits these photos can sometimes be pretty helpful, other times they're a complete a nuisance when the writers have too specific of an idea for how a character should look like Tongue Anyways more on than some other time.


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Greipur
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« Reply #195 on: July 31, 2017, 12:13:15 AM »

Thanks for that! I'm not sure I could make that specifically work with No Truce but it did spark an idea about mapping a smoke trail on a strip of polygons and then animating that to twist and curl and scale to get some cool smoke motion. Might work?

I would enjoy seeing you try at least. Wink


Nice portraits, I like the abstract backgrounds, gives a deeper sense of them as characters.
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kinnas
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« Reply #196 on: August 01, 2017, 02:00:37 AM »

A sneak peek at a little something I'm working on right now:

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« Reply #197 on: August 01, 2017, 04:05:08 AM »

I just watched

and I must admit that I'm impressed by the sheer amount of genius  that it countains. This game seems to be everything I always wanted plus some more !

Oh, and please keep the readable French grafiti, French is trendy plus it sets nicely the sociopolitic background of the scene. Smiley

Edit: damn, I didn't intend to embark the video itself, I just wanted to link it ! I don't know how to "disembark" it :/
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kinnas
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« Reply #198 on: August 02, 2017, 09:26:41 AM »

Oh that trailer! Glad you like what you see!  

You know we made it under time pressure to get it ready for PAX East. We didn't quite get it up to the level we wanted really wanted so we didn't post it publicly anywhere.. but somebody recorded it off the stream anyway and put it up while cutting off the post-credits punchline where your partner concludes with "But we are the police.."  Giggle

You hear that lovely human doing the explanatory voiceover? That's our concept artist Kasparov - he recently gave this interview to 3dtotal:

https://www.3dtotal.com/interview/1104-interview-kaspar-tamsalu-by-3dtotal-staff-illustration-concept-art-2d-oil-painting

Some snippets:

Quote
3dt: What inspired you to get into art? Who are your favorite artists?

KT: Funnily enough I've come full circle. I mean, I always drew, I was that kid, but I only seriously wanted to get into art after I first started up my bootleg copy of Fallout. We're talking about Eastern Europe in the 90's. Games were not sold; faded CDs were smuggled into the country through Russia. As I was installing the game the digital painting by Justin Sweet was burned into my retinas forever. I realised I wanted to become a concept artist! I was nine.

Ten years later I moved move to Russia to study painting in St. Petersburg at the Repin Academy of Fine Arts. Another decade later I'm working on an isometric role playing game. My favourite artists are many, but I have to mention out Paula Rego, Pierre Bonnard, Edward Hopper, Lucian Freud, El Greco.

---

3dt: What are your experiences of working at a studio like ZA/UM?

KT: Oh boy. It is great! I worked alone for years before I came here and I think I actually went a little insane. But here everybody is insane! And they're massively talented to boot. I had to open up to both constructive criticism and collaboration. At ZA/UM we're approaching this video game design gig like it's an inter-and-multidisciplinary artwork. It incorporates writers, coders, musicians, artists and the occasional polymath. Wagner would be proud.

I usually hog all the character concepts to myself but he recently did this cool chick:

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« Reply #199 on: August 07, 2017, 04:31:05 AM »

I'm revisiting some of the backgrounds to get them up to snuff for that Gamescom. Made a couple of transition gifs for fun - from raw 3d to paintover. You can see we used to go for a pretty realistic base in the early days but these days we leave the 3d mostly untextured and I do most all of the color stuff in the paintover phase. Turns out this saves a ton of time  Durr...?



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