|One of the first challenges for the Midway team was to choose, create or re-create unusual and compelling environments in Hong Kong and Chicago. They wanted a player to walk in, stop and say, “Whoa! I had no idea such a place existed.” |
Stephan shows Tai-O as a good example. “This place is based on various existing slum areas and floating cities around Hong Kong,” he describes.
“Each of the existing areas is already unusual by itself but we took all of the various elements and created an exciting environment filled with flotillas of taxi boats, cargo ships, red sail junks, intricate canyons and decrepit stilt houses.”
|Another challenge was to give each place its own unique mood and color signature. “I felt that as the drama unfolded and built up, these distinctive artistic ingredients would help pace the story and enhance its emotional content,” Martiniere continues. “Another challenge was the game-play."|
"I had to be mindful of the scale and composition of these places as well as of the choice of the distinctive objects in them like great statues, exotic boats or dramatic dinosaur skeletons. These places had to be fun and exciting for massive destruction and offer great game-play.”
“What appealed to me was the idea of pushing realism to a stylistic edge. The characters were key ingredients of the game. Like in the films ‘Sin City’ and ‘Dick Tracy.’ I wanted the characters, especially the gangsters, to be larger than life,” Stephan describes.
“I wanted them to express a strong emotional and visual narrative. The use of distinct shapes, unique and exaggerated features and certain colors combined with the way all of these elements are composed on a face, body or even a group of characters creates unique identities.
I would sit down with our senior character concept artist Vince Proce and explore different looks. We pushed the process one step further by creating highly detailed concepts for each face by using and manipulating high-resolution photos from Midway’s own library. This proved to be extremely efficient.
The concept team was also able to provide and assist in gathering photo references needed for each character outfit, prop and weapon.”
“When we first started exploring ideas for various locations one of the first visuals that popped into my mind was the floating city I had visited during my time in Hong Kong,” says Stephan. “I kept a vivid memory of that place and how I felt being driven around all these flotillas in a taxi boat. “
“Another clear memory I kept was the amount of neon signs and the bamboo scaffoldings being used for construction everywhere. We found all the references in books and the Internet but having been there with visuals, sound and smell surrounding me gave a keener sense of the place. “
The environment concepts made their way to the design team first. The designers roughly built each environment in 3D to establish the scale and organization needed for game-play.
|Screen shots of the block-outs were then taken and a new pass of each concept was done. Using the initial concepts as our visual references we would paint over these “block-outs” to establish and refine the mood, light and specific materials and populate the scene with all of the necessary elements. The new concept/paint-overs and style guides then made their way to the art team where Jarod Pranno, Marc Salha, Kurt Williams, Suzana Kilic and the rest of the art team would start assembling and lighting the levels. ||Similarly, the character package would make its way to the character, rigging and animation teams. The second phase of the process was for me to work hand in hand with the Art Director, Jason Kaehler. We would supervise and assist each lead to maintain the artistic vision throughout the process.”|