Chat With Art Director Dennis de Koning Transcript
Posted 13 June 2012 - 02:10 PM
I tried to fix as many typos as I could catch, enjoy! Wall of text to follow:
<[SJR]Methos:> What are your, and your team's, inspirations for the artistic vision of the maps?
<[PGI]Dennis> We want a wide variety of experience so we start with that in mind, then I develop a visual target with specific ideas. The hard part is to determine what I want and what is possible, but I prefer to be as realistic as possible with a touch of hyper-realism.
<Pilot6667> When working on the artistic design of mechs, do you take in to account total surface area/size and how this will affect the mech in gameplay terms?
<[PGI]Dennis> They MUST be relative to one another and have enough scaling cues built in to bolster their size relationships. Quite a bit of redesign must be done so no mech has too much of an advantage right out of the gate...but also must be instantly recognizable to the mech fan.
<ThatGuy> What is the "average" amount of time it takes to create and art asset (mech) or map? how long does it take to go from concept to usable asset?
<[PGI]Dennis> As far as 'art assets' go, the times are widely variable based on their complexity and scale, some take less than a day, some take two months plus. As far as the mechs go, Alex works out several roughs (about a week) then moves on to a clean-up (another week). Then it goes to Evan (modeller), he works on the hi-res for about 2 weeks, then he brings it down to a game rez model (2-3 days), at the same time, Kris work on destruction models and variant pieces, then UV, AO bake, textureing, etc. The whole process takes about 6-7 weeks, but it still depends on how many variants there are and if there can be some things that can be repurposed ie animation.
<chutche2> What other kinds of maps are being looked into?
<[PGI]Dennis> Not gonna tell, you'll have to wait and see.
<xeoncat> What was the biggest challenge in making the design look consistent?
<[PGI]Dennis> Oooh, that's a tough one... as far as maps go, realism comes first but I think it'll be lighting, something we're still perfecting... as for the mechs... the good thing is, we have one concept artist working on all of 'em, this obviously maintains consistancy. But also, I push a lot for those scaling cues I mentioned earlier ie. access ladders, hatches, tie-down cleats etc. Also, weapons have to look similar across mechs, each mech can't have custom designed weapons, it would be an exponential nightmare in design. One other thing, I insist upon functionality in the design such as the drop-down doors on the stalker which in earlier art work were just random protrusions. The mechs must look utilitarian and look cool only by chance and not by design.
<Aegis_Kleais> What is your art background (schooling, etc.)?
<[PGI]Dennis> I've been drawing and painting as well as sculpting and carving since I can remember. I started oil painting about 2 decades ago it taught me a lot about colour and tone, I had some but very little schooling in that regard. I graduated from a two year animation school in 1999 and jumped right into feature, from there I went into broadcast as almost every animator does... after 2D computer animation took a foothold, I started to dislike the process and moved toward VFX and comp. I worked on a few different shows over several seasons in the VFX arena and liked it a lot. In the meantime, I did some freelance stuff in comic book art and some live action compositing. Unfortunately the animation industry isn't as consistent as one would like so I tried for the game industry, that's where Piranha comes in. So, in a nutshell, most of my 'schooling' is in the school of hard knox, hope that answers your question.
<Chaos`^> Did you use any proprietary technology to create the 3D art, or was it all off the shelf?
<[PGI]Dennis> All off the shelf.
<Pilot1693> How difficult is it to update older mech designs from the 80's/90's/etc to make them look more "sleek" to todays standards?
<[PGI]Dennis> It doesn't hurt to have a concept artist who eats, sleeps and poops mechs, but that being said..I try to stick to a formula that works in real life (if that makes sense). I tend to refer to the comparison of a Sherman tank and an Abrams, they are both pretty much the same thing: a gun on tracks, but why does an Abrams look cooler, sleeker? Trying to do the same thing with the mechs poses a challenge, sure; but if we focus on a realistic, utilitarian walking weapon, it gets a little easier. A lot of the older design were strictly drawn to look cool and (to me) it doesn't seem that much realistic weight, balance, form & function was implemented in their designs.
<Shazear> What is 1 frustration and 1 joy with working on MWO and/or within the BattleTech universe?
<[PGI]Dennis> One frustration is knowing without a doubt that we cannot please everyone. Everyone has an opinion, and I really like that, but it's impossible to live up to all visions. I have a saying: no matter how fast you are, smart you are, good looking you are; you're always ******* off someone... so stop trying to save the world. Anyhoo..the one joy: working on the coolest, most anticipated game that's come along in the last decade, seriously, not much is cooler than walking through the design process, and eventually sitting in the cockpit & walking through a sweet-assed level, and blasting one of yooz guys to smithereeens!
<BenEEeees_VAT_GROWN_BACON> Does your hyper-realism route of designing mechs cause you to dismiss some because they look too unreal?
<[PGI]Dennis> Nothing is impossible, just more challenging. When we started our first mech, the Jenner; I had my head in my hands. Seriously, how can this thing be brought into reality, how can we make it look cool? Guess what? we did.
<BigBadVlad> What sort of in-game weather and environment effects can we expect to see in the game and to what level of detail?
<[PGI]Dennis> As much as we possibly can... believe me, I want everything, EVERYTHING! The engineers might hate me, but I can take a punch. Fog, rain, snow, extreme environmental weather phenomena, you name, I will try and do it. I believe it's a great way to make a well known map, a little more random and dynamic.
<brotherostavia> Hello Dennis, will you release a concept art book with all the stuff you're creating with your team?
<[PGI]Dennis> I have talked with Bryan about this a while back; we haven't come to a decision though, mostly cuz we have so many other priorities to tend to. That being said though, I always remind the team to create everything as if we ARE going to compile it into a book, especially Alex, this way we can be prepared and have a library of sweet-assed content for all of you to drool over. I won't make any promises though.
<[cc]pickles> How big is your art dept crew and what portion of the entire productions employees is that for a game typically?
<[PGI]Dennis> We have about 50 people here at Piranha... one tech artist, one VFX artist, four environmental artists, one mech concept artist, two mech modellers, a couple level designers and a cockpit modeller and two animators, and me. This doesn't count the front-end artists
<Psyctooth> How difficult is it to go about getting an entire group of artists to create artwork which flows and looks uniform?
<[PGI]Dennis> Hmmmm... it's all a matter of enforcing communication as far as I'm concerned. I promote communication, a lot of it. Get off your butt and walk over to a colleague and talk with your mouth, compare notes, exchange ideas, skill and knowledge/ My art team is what I like to think of as a 'dream-team', they all are extremely dedicated and motivated and have no problem passing ideas around without threat of ego or dismissal. They have no problem with taking each others work and using it to create more art or even improve upon it. I believe this lack of ego but strong ownership of the asset, the level and the game is what keeps things uniform and consistent. Not sure if that answered you question; hope so.
Posted 13 June 2012 - 02:13 PM
Thanks to DDK, PGI and IGP for this opportunity! Great chat session! VIVA LA IRC!
Posted 13 June 2012 - 02:13 PM
Posted 13 June 2012 - 02:13 PM
Posted 13 June 2012 - 02:17 PM
Posted 13 June 2012 - 02:20 PM
Posted 13 June 2012 - 02:21 PM
I was out running errands.
Wish I know what 3D modeling program you all used. Maya, or 3DS max.
Edited by Blackfire1, 13 June 2012 - 02:23 PM.
Posted 13 June 2012 - 02:24 PM
Posted 13 June 2012 - 02:33 PM
Posted 13 June 2012 - 02:42 PM
Is it possible that this Q&A session just doubled my excitement for MW:O? Yes! I think it did! Woot!
Posted 13 June 2012 - 03:01 PM
"The mechs must look utilitarian and look cool only by chance and not by design."
I'm a little upset my Urabmech redesign question didn't get answered. No one wants to talk about Urbies!
Posted 13 June 2012 - 03:06 PM
I did enjoy the Q&A session. Hope they do more of them!
Edited by FactorlanP, 13 June 2012 - 03:07 PM.
1 user(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users