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    CGSociety member and artist Oscar Lopez calls a cease-fire to walk us through the
    battlefields of Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

    all of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a first-person shooter
    developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision for
    Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Infinity Ward was founded in 2002 by 22 members including all the leads of the ‘Medal of Honor: Allied Assault’ team. It has since doubled in size twice in an ever-growing expansion of the studio.

    Infinity Ward artist Oscar Lopez walked CGSociety through the procedure of generating the many parts required to produce this fourth installment in the ‘Call of Duty’ video game series.

    Lopez was involved with both pipelines, (character and vehicle) within the Infinity Ward game. This gave him a fairly wide exposure to the many areas requiring attention. He describes the workflow as having five main steps: Inspiration; Design; Building; Texturing and Engine. He takes up the story.

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    When the artist crew at Infinity Ward set out on the concept stage of a game like this, it is pretty much open-slather on where they find the inspiration. “At the beginning of the project, we go out on all day photo reference trips,” describes Lopez. “For character reference, we have actors come in to the studio for photo shoots. Reference was pulled from a large number of areas.

    There isn’t one specific thing that can be pointed out as being the major inspiration for the work. We used everything from books and magazines to photos and movies. However, being able to speak with military personnel on active duty can be a huge help on any military project. Hearing their personal experience in the line of fire was always inspirational.
    ‘Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare’ is my second Call of Duty title. My favorite part of production on both games was at the end when all the work that everyone has been doing for months finally starts to come together. You see the engine finally getting the features that at one time were just scribbles and ideas. Seeing all of our hard work and dedication finally producing the original vision is amazing to experience. I feel very fortunate to be part of a team that genuinely cares about the final product.

    I feel that we don’t have a weak link in the chain, and our work speaks for itself. I personally feel that it is also good to find work by another artist that inspires you, even if that work is of a different subject. Sometimes you’ll spend days working on the same model and you’ll get bored or frustrated. It’s during those periods that it helps to have work around you that inspires you.”
    This when we spend a few days exploring different designs to submit for approval. You can try anything you want during this step. We can explore different facial features, weight, height, in fact anything. It’s ‘Blue Sky’ the whole time.
    After the design has been approved, we start to create it in 3D. This step includes modeling in Maya and creating normal maps. The time given for this step varies depending on the type of model. Some artists create the normal map before color map, while others create it afterward. It’s up to the individual to decide.
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    This is where all the photos and reference that we’ve gathered play the biggest part. All of our models are textured using real photos. These models include four textures: Color, Specular, Cosine, and Normal map. We use Photoshop, Deep Paint 3D, and ZBrush. The artists basically use anything that they feel comfortable with.
    Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare runs on a proprietary engine, and has features such as true world-dynamic lighting, HDR lighting effects, dynamic shadows and depth of field. Certain objects, such as cars, and some buildings are destructible. This makes distinguishing cover from concealment important, as meager protection with wooden fences and thin walls does not fully shield players from harm like it does in other games released around the same time.

    These measurements are calculated by the engine, as the game progresses. Bullet speed and stopping power are decreased after penetrating an object, and this decrease is calculated realistically depending on the thickness and surface of the object penetrated. The game also makes use of a dynamic physics engine, which was not implemented in previous Call of Duty titles for Windows.

    Death animations are a combination of pre-set animations and ragdoll physics. CGSociety asked about this stage of production. “After all the construction stages, we finally put the model in the engine,” Lopez describes. “This is where we do the final checking and tweaking. This can easily be one of the most time consuming parts of the process. Sometimes normal maps don’t read the way you want them to. Colors might not be balanced. Spec maps need refining. The list is endless.”

    Towards the end of the project, the Infinity Ward crew take time to go through all the assets and polish them further with a new fresh eye. “This is one of the most valuable processes I feel we have,” says Lopez. “My understanding is that not many people at other studios get that chance. We’re very lucky that our management schedules in this ‘polishing’ period in our development pipeline.”
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    The majority of artists do their modeling in Maya. The UVs are laid out either in Maya or Unfold3D depending on which tool the artist feels is best. Texturing can be done in Photoshop, Deep Paint 3D, or ZBrush. In fact each individual artist decides what combination of programs he or she would like to use. Normal maps can also be created in multiple ways, using programs like ZBrush, Mudbox and Crazy Bump. Smaller details like buttons seem to work best with the NVIDIA plugin in Photoshop. Basically, we use whatever program that helps the artists get the results they want.
    Feedback is King
    In the backwash of release, Infinity Ward’s ‘Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare’ won the Best Selling Game for 2007, on January 28, 2008. Also, the Call of Duty 4 game was voted into Top Spot on Xbox Live, ahead of Halo 3.
    Related Links
    Infinity Ward
    Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
    Autodesk Maya
    Right Hemisphere Deep Paint 3D
    Pixologic ZBrush
    Adobe Photoshop

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