Red Steel has got its graphics ramped up and LOOKING GOOD!Ã‚Â I have this one reserved as well as Madden 2007 so far.
Publisher Ubisoft is working overtime to deliver Wii owners a ground-up exclusive first-person shooter called Red Steel in time for the launch of Nintendo’s new generation system later this year. The developer offered gamers a first glimpse of the title in playable form at May’s Electronic Entertainment Expo. Since that time, the team working on the ambitious project has been improving both controls and visuals for the better. Red Steel’s artistic director, Stephane Bachelet, explains the process of updating the graphics in the write-up below.
Where are you with Red Steel graphically speaking?
In terms of graphics, we proceed step by step for Red Steel.
First of all, it took a few months before we decided to use Japan as the main settings. So during this period, we researched different ideas and locations and the style that could be interesting to highlight it. As we did not have any technical info at this time, it was a very open minded period: any idea could be the good one.
Then, once we decided to have the game in Japan, we started working on style and graphic intentions. Concerning the game’s graphic style, we again made tons of research. We had a clear idea of what we wanted to do. But the challenge was, how could we do it? The console was in development, so we worked on Nintendo GameCube kits and PC and made projections based on the technical specs we started receiving.
The Wii kits actually arrived one month prior E3. The E3 demo had to be delivered so quick that we could not take time to implement the whole graphic chart we developed. So, the E3 version’s graphics was a work in progress, just to be show-able, but not finished. We wanted to take time to see people play for the first time with our game, help them to handle the Wii remote and finally, let the door open to all useful changes that would be necessary for the gameplay.
Now we work on developing our complete style specific to Red Steel that will not only be a great support to the scenario and the gameplay, but also be the visual identity and signature for this new brand. We keep working a lot on the impact of the graphics and on the way the player plays as well.
Do you feel limited vs. the power of the console?
The relative power of the console set a limit, in fact. That is why we started working on a stylish realistic rendering rather than on a pure photorealism treatment, with shaders and other heavy effects. The idea is to provide eye-catching scenes that are really cool and emphasize the action of the game, rather than places that highlight impressive effect, which you do not pay any attention to in the middle of the action anyway.
Can you please tell us more about the style?
The game takes place in Japan, but Japan was not our only source of inspiration. In contrary, we wanted to focus on the experience of a US man in a foreign country and on the cultural shock of all the differences that can jump to his eyes. It was key for us to keep an occidental look. When a westerner goes to Japan, the most striking element is that there are tons of colors everywhere. A typical street in Japan is full of advertisements, flags, and neon lights. It is the same thing if you look at a magazine or inside a shop. For us, it was not interesting to render this heavy colored style as it would have been difficult for the player to rapidly identify enemies in a multi-colored background.
Therefore, we took inspiration from a completely different style where flashy colors are there, but not everywhere: 70s “films noirs” such as Straw Dogs. It was interesting for us as it is a very edgy, dark atmosphere with tons of attitudes and colors: a perfect inspiration for us. Moreover such references work perfectly with gangsters and mafia. We just adapted it to Japan and Yakuzas. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to implement it into the E3 version
So how does it look?
To give the darker ambiance we use a lot a “de-saturation” treatment above this look. By de-saturation, I mean we lower all the colors and have more colored grey in the end than real colors. In parallel, we also push the lighting system. We implement tons of flashy colourful neon lights and objects. Sometimes, they are even blurred sources of lights, which shine with bloom within the grey atmosphere.
In addition, we contrast a lot the graphics: lights are more powerful, shadows are darker.
In the end, the goal is to look old but not black and white and flashy colors add a touch of modernism. We support a lot the “films noirs” side of the game, but we adapt it our way.
Note that these contrasts between shadows and colors should also help the player to progress / to be guided through the levels. In the same idea, characters will be less desaturated in order to be more visible for more comfort.
How do you recognize Japan in the game?
You will recognize Japan because you’re an occidental person and this game is designed with Japan being seen by occidental people. So we use the typical stereotypes: geisha, ideograms, paper rice, etc.
We made two trips in Japan to make pictures and notes. We present Japan as best we can as seen by our occidental emotions and vision. At the end it is like the Kill Bill Vol. 1 movie. It is a high concentration of stereotypes about Japan that are used in a very exciting way for a westerner audience.
It seems that you also work a lot on oppositions, can you explain more?
Sure! The “oppositions” are something we worked on at all levels for the development of Red Steel. This is the hearth of the game because it is cool but also really faithful to Japan and the game concept. For instance, the story of a US guy who discovers a new Asiatic culture and the mix of modernism and traditions presented everywhere in Japan. For all westerner, Japan is the country where you have ancestral traditions and looks (Geishas, kimonos, ninjas, etc.) and at a same level, top-notch technology with all the electronic devices you can find. At a graphic level, it gives us the opportunity to build the maps around this contrast. This can be illustrated with a Dojo lost in the middle of modern buildings.
What areas and characters were the most fun to create and re-create?
It was very fun to work on the Geisha pleasure level with small streets, both traditional and untraditional. The traditional side of Japan is really interesting to develop, such as the bamboo forest. In terms of characters, all of them were fun to develop, but the fisher men and the characters from the Gun Fighting map that we will unveil later were the funniest to create. Of course, Mama San was also very cool to create and design.
What is the link between the game style vs. the story vs. the atmosphere?
All points influence and complete all points. The game is all about style and edginess. This is rendered by this specific eye-catching style, the exotic locations and the fascinating underworld of Yakuzas. Everything goes together to build a really cool and exciting experience.