During pre-production we decided that we wanted to create a unique look for DESOLATION. Due to the real-world appeal we wanted to achieve, we felt that the design should be grounded in reality.
I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of film miniatures. The incredible model work on early films has always given me a sense of wonder. I’m the guy who watches the hours of features on the Bonus DVD.
Working in a post apocalyptic world gives us SO many incredible opportunities to work with miniatures. It starts with an idea. These can be as simple as a scribble on a napkin or a more complex 3d recreations of the scene we’re going to create. These concepts then allow us make educated decisions about what we need to create and the final locations we’re going to put our model in. Once we have an area fleshed out it’s off to the model shop!
Model kits are combined in unconventional ways in a ‘kit bash’ fashion. Paint is then applied with an airbrush, including additional details and weathering. We also include a destructive phase – that involves matches and a hammer (you’d want to see this!) – and then more paint.
How exciting it is for us that we get to use actual locations in South Africa for our game? The locations could be as simple as an interesting construction site, or a pristine beach. The human brain has a difficult time distinguishing the scale of an object if there is nothing familiar to compare it to. Knowing this rock could become a building sized boulder, and a sand eroded cliff can become a mountain range.
While BEAUTIFUL DESOLATION is only seen from an isometric angle, the model is scanned in 360 degrees giving us even further freedom when putting the scene together.
All of these photos are taken into our software which then outputs a dense 3D model and texture generated from the photographs.
This ship (above) and its surroundings have over 10 million polygons! To put that into perspective, a normal AAA game character will have around 40 000 polygons.
Once this has been set up, additional details to provide the needed scale are added. Grass, water, and other natural elements are placed, and any story elements are integrated into the scenes. From there it gets painted over and taken into Unity where another detail pass of 3D objects, particles, and finally lighting through the use of normal mapping ties it all together.
Every image contains a piece of Africa – a moment that we have captured forever.