Sanzaru Games brings Sly Cooper alive using modo’s Pixar Sub-D Sculpting, 3D character creation and painting tools.
Bringing a cherished game title together contains a certain level of risk and nervous tension for any game studio. They have to hit the mark on several departments, as well as bringing the known quality of a game together so die-hards will follow the brand, yet they also are required to show a noticeable upgrade and to forge new territory of their own.
Sanzaru Games has been able to cross both lately, adopting Luxology modo as their tool of choice. modo 601 is now an all-n-one 3D modeling, rendering and sculpting package that has been delivering game ready asset tools that artists have required.
“Characters have a tendency to evolve over the life of a project,” said John Hayes, Senior Character Artist at Sanzura Games. “modo is made for these shifts. Everything you need is in one space, so you can mold working game assets when you know what you want, and then quickly visualize new ideas if you change your mind. I doubt it would have been as easy if I was using another 3D program.”
The Pixar Sub-D modeling capabilities were used by Hayes to refine primary characters like Sly, Rioichi and Carmelita Fox, the Subdivision Surface modeling in modo allowed him to smooth, sculpt and hone the details that would become distinguishing marks for his subjects. After modeling, each character’s look and visual traits were embellished further through 3D painting.
“With modo's built-in 3D painting tools, I was able to create seamless texture maps fast,” noted Hayes. “When those were combined with a set of rendered AO and normal maps, I was easily able to realize the level of detail a modern game console character requires. All the tools I needed were built in, which saved me a lot of time and effort.”
Hayes was able to quickly realize pose positions with point-and-click inverse kinematics controls. The positioning process became even faster when they discovered they could turn a skeleton and its corresponding geometry into an actor that supported saved poses. This influx of new character manipulation tools in modo 601 enabled the team to amass a greater variety of gorgeously rendered characters, reducing the time it took to get to an approved asset.
Sanzaru discovered another point of efficiency when they began navigating between their in-game assets and marketing materials. Instead of having to make another set of high-res models for marketing, the team could re-use the geometries used to generate normal and diffuse texture maps by employing a combination of modo’s Sub-D, texture baking, and rendering tools. This reduced the need for the extensive 2D paint-over that commonly happens when lower-res game assists need to become high-res marketing images that accurately reflect the character in-game. “Something is going right when your test images are mistaken for finals and the renders are blowing people away,” added Hayes.
'Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time' is due out Fall 2012, exclusively on Sony PS3 and Vita. It has also already been nominated for nearly a dozen high-profile awards.