Guitar Hero III Developer Diary #3

This guy gets to spend lots of time with Judy Nails and Casey Lynch. Read all about it inside.

Beyond the innovative gameplay and great soundtrack, one of the hallmarks of the Guitar Hero series has been its great cast of characters. From the sexy, spunky Judy Nails to the seriously scary Lars Ümlaüt, the axe-slingers in the music game series have always had loads of personality. In this, our third developer diary for Guitar Hero III (check out parts one and two), Chris George, lead character artist with Neversoft, gives us an overview of how the art team created and updated the characters that will be rocking your socks off when GHIII hits store shelves later this year.

Bringing Out Characters

By Chris George, Neversoft

My name is Chris George, lead character artist on Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. It has been an absolute blast working on this game and with everybody involved in making it. When creating these characters, our first priority was to retain the comical look of the original Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero II while actually bringing them into the current generation of graphics. We fired some ideas back and forth and finally settled on the idea of keeping the exaggerated proportions of each character, but creating materials and textures that looked and felt realistic. We believed this gave us the best shot at creating some characters that were really impressive without sacrificing the personality and style the franchise had established.

Oh Casey. You are the girl of our dreams.

We had one character-concept artist on the team, Cameron Davis. He was responsible for the designs of every guitarist in the game, and this is where the process began. Cameron would create a few pages of thumbnail sketches for each character. Each design would be unique, yet fit within the rock style of that character. Quite often the designs were heavily influenced by real rockers that define that style. We would pick two designs for each character, one for the default outfit and an alternate that can be unlocked. The concept was then taken further, with highly detailed full-color paintings.

After the concept stage, the designs were handed over to one of the 3D character artists. There were three of us on Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock including Mike Friedrich, Jason Maynard, and I. We began each character by modeling a low-poly base mesh in 3ds Max. This mesh would be similar to the final one used in the game, though [it] was more of a base model used to sculpt with in Zbrush. In Zbrush, we would subdivide and sculpt our high-poly detail mesh. Sometimes more high-poly details were created in 3ds Max, such as jewelry and belts. Frequently, our high-poly meshes ended up being more than six million polygons.

Once the high-poly modeling was finished, we would finalize the low-poly mesh and bake out our normal maps. From there, we would texture the model using various techniques to make each surface feel as realistic as possible. Our in-game pixel shaders are extremely flexible and go a long way to helping us create a wide variety of materials. These shaders were mostly developed during Tony Hawk's Project 8, so we had the benefit of being able to jump right in and play with settings to fit Guitar Hero's art style from day one.

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. We're so glad you could attend…

When the model was done and the texturing was complete, we would create a basic skeleton that represented the character's proportions. This basic skeleton would get handed off to the animation department and a full rig based on those proportions would be generated. This gives every character in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock totally unique skeletons and proportions, which was a new experience at Neversoft. We were used to creating one skeleton and basing each character in the game off of those proportions. This method obviously gives us much more variety, and was necessary for this game since the character sizes vary greatly.

Most of the techniques I mention in this diary are industry-standard, and the production staff on the game was very organized, and it helped make our lives much easier when it came to scheduling. In the end, I feel very proud and confident of the art in our game. It was the talent and enthusiasm of the artists involved that made these characters look so great, and it was a pleasure to work with them.

Written By

Want the latest news about Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock?

Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock

Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock

Follow

Discussion

81 comments
BabyPeachPoodle
BabyPeachPoodle

This game is awesome! My dad, brother, and I rented it from 2 or 3 different places! All I can do now is see what happens when I ask for it for Christmas. I still have 8 months and, I think, 3 days to think about a Christmas list.

killerbrothers
killerbrothers

fog90: "I found out that in the game, the characters are going to Japan. So it will be good if there is one Japanese song" Yes, the characters actually go to Japan, but there isn't a Japanese song in that setlist. If you want a guitar game with Japanese songs, buy a PS1 and any of Konami's Guitar Freaks games.

smoresvscoco
smoresvscoco

i just got this game today and its great!!!

ldj_x1000
ldj_x1000

does this game have all the features of the PS3 and XB360 versions execpt of course the ability to download songs?

petervaht
petervaht

fog90, if you think lifting a plastic guitar is 'hard to lift', you should hit the gym, go outside at least once a week, go for a run. Seriously.

dr_pepper_94
dr_pepper_94

I CANT WAIT FOR THIS GAME!!!! i got one order allready. Lars is the best

FraserAlexander
FraserAlexander

each GH that comes out should come w/ all of the songs from the previous GH titiles archived.

Jaco_G4
Jaco_G4

dude this game looks so freakin awesome!!!!!!!!!

marioman50
marioman50

character design looks fine to me don't know what some of you guys are blabbering on about Oh, and sanick: how did they ruin the game exactly?, they've got a great line-up of good songs. and I still don't see what's wrong with the characters... WTF?!

sanick
sanick

WORST CHARACTER DESIGN EVER! Neversoft, i knew you'd screw up the GH series but I didn't think it'd be this bad...

dunkaroos1000
dunkaroos1000

Does anyone really care about which character is on the screen. No one that plays gh2 cares at all. Its about the gameplay. Thats why GH is going to get owned by Rock Band.

Micdude47
Micdude47

Man i just can't wait for this game and my birthday is on the day it comes out hell cool! i havent got any of the other guitar heros but i have played number 2 and i wanna get on xbox 360

AdrianWMoss
AdrianWMoss

I love that instead of putting Dimebag in the game, They just made him Axel's other outfit! now only if they have one of his guitars in game. CFH!

klasco
klasco

i think i rather paly as the girls the male models look........average

sheffield53
sheffield53

who really cares what they look like as long as we have solid songs

jbdb1345
jbdb1345

wtf did they do to them?

skateboard1587
skateboard1587

it is just me, or did johnny napalm get a lot uglier?

Numiami
Numiami

Too bad Axel lost his spiked spaulders!

FallenMatrix
FallenMatrix

Such great artwork wasted on such a stupid game. LEARN TO PLAY A REAL GUITAR!

vahid_xbox_360
vahid_xbox_360

so you guys still want some more ? yehhhhhhhh boooom booom dish dish dish dish tik tik tik

SAMUSLOVER213
SAMUSLOVER213

Axel looked better in the trailer, so I think we need to wait for the game to see what they look like. also, is it me, or is the main singer's mouth huge?? And why des Bret Micheals look like a....well, I won't go into it. At least they got slash right. Slash has the best mix of artsy/realism. And Pandora annoiyed me, everytime I used star power, I couldn't see the frest because they matched the backround!

redalertGeneral
redalertGeneral

Why does Axel steel look like a F@ggot, i mean hes pretty bad ass and everything but...he just doesnt look as raw as he did in GH 2

Zerosumgame
Zerosumgame

ppl doesn't seems to like constructive criticism, you know there is a flaw and you actively avoid fixing it, way to go.

d3r7y
d3r7y

Axel friggin' Steel baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

thebestMGer
thebestMGer

The graphics in this game have a lot of jaggies. It could use some more smoothing. I expect that the gameplay should stay similar so, in the end it won't really matter. Minor gripe, but it still gets to me.

Burns_87
Burns_87

who care about everyone else where's Izzy friggin Sparks Glam rock 4 life

shortster1
shortster1

casey lynch isnt even that hot :P pandora is hotter in gh2 :P which kinda sux that they took her out :(

coyote57
coyote57

i like most of the character designs better especially xavier stone

PhantomPhoot
PhantomPhoot

The character designs look better and more next-gen then GH2, but you can tell where artsy went a bit too far. Judy=terror. BRING BACK PANDORA!!

Metroid545
Metroid545

pretty good good but I hope that isn't everyone cause where is clive? I'd trade lars for him any day

ChucklesMginty
ChucklesMginty

Axel looks like he's smoked a few too many joints.

aaj222
aaj222

Cool. But Judy looks too evil now, and Johnny just looks too rough. lol.

AmnestyErr
AmnestyErr

"What! No Pandora!?" LOL, everyone likes to scream that, although I do miss Pandora I was hoping they'd bring Clive back!

Dunnie91
Dunnie91

hopefully pandora won't be in this one

Lightning613
Lightning613

Johnny Napalm looks a lot different. He looks a lot cooler in the second one. Axel Steel looks a million times better. Judy Nails looked cooler in the second one.

FreeBallz
FreeBallz

casey lynch: better Axel Steel: metal-er Johnny napalm: ancient judy nails: meow

Shep158
Shep158

Well in all fairness years and years of drug binges will make you look like your about to retire....

sacker63
sacker63

Okay, the lead singer looks like Bret Michaels... Lame. Judy Nails' face makes her look like a cat. Hips are nice, though. Pandora and Judy have huge boobs now, and Johnny Napalm is apparently 49.

sacker63
sacker63

yeah, i thought johnny napalm was 7-23 yr old kid who was stuck in an "80's grunge" style time-warp or something. Turns out he was 23 back in 1981. That'd make him, what, 49? WHOA, That actually looks pretty accurate!!! Also, Judy Nails looks too much like a cat..... hips are nice though.... am I creepy?

pete_merlin
pete_merlin

give me the ability to tatoo them and im happy for ever and everest

ruin131
ruin131

can we use or old guitars? i have not heard if we could or not.

PlaTiNuM24k
PlaTiNuM24k

Well they can't always look young, they look like they have aged with the time it took to make the game, good idea i think.

Luftish
Luftish

Johnny napalm doesn't look good :S