Stolen Designer Diary #5

Blue52 lead artist Jolyon Myers talks about the final layer of polish he and his team have applied to Stolen as its release date closes in.

Now just a couple of weeks away from release, Stolen is a stealth action game that first caught our eye in September of last year. The game has undoubtedly come a long way since then, and in our final Stolen designer diary, lead artist Jolyon "Joe" Myers talks about some of the last-minute polishing that he and his team have been working on.

Finishing Touches

By Jolyon Myers
Lead Artist, Blue 52

As the lead artist on Stolen I've been responsible for coordinating the art team and using my experience to help schedule, fix, and make better the project in hand, in conjunction with the designers and programmers. As we are about to release the game shortly, I'll concentrate this little discussion on the finishing touches we ourselves add to the game.

Stolen's improved particle editor was a last-minute addition to the game.

Firstly, from an art point of view (and indeed the other disciplines too, to be honest), we had to spend a lot of our time fixing all the little glitches that we didn't realize we'd put in there. The usual suspects were little gaps in the background that you never thought anyone would possibly see. Game-based cameras have a knack for giving the player viewing angles you never thought were possible, such as looking up from underneath a really low table with the camera lying on the floor. It's not easy playing the game with a view like that, but testers always do it!

We always get something near the end of a project that you wish you'd had at the start. In this case, a nice particle editor came up at the last minute that bettered our old one by a fair bit. Suddenly we were banging out big bang effects left, right, and center! The main issue with these effects is that not only do you need to create a nice-looking smoke effect, but the effect needs to be placed around the entire level and a lot of other levels too. Still, it's worth it, as these little touches give the environments more life.

Coders sometimes surprise you, and not always in a dark alley with their belt undone. One of the code team asked for a small car to be made, and soon after we had a whole load of them way down below at street level while we viewed them from a ledge on the 53rd floor. It added a lot to the scene and made you feel much higher up!

The cars on the street below were implemented only recently.

Artists are always finished first during game development. If they were not, as soon as coding stopped, a lot of graphics coming afterward would simply not make it into the game! This means that at the end of development they usually have to start thinking about the next project with the knowledge that there will still be little fixes to do in various areas if more bugs do indeed turn up. From my point of view this now involves a little juggling between the art crew to get new stuff built for the new project and old stuff fixed. It's exciting though, as obviously working on the last project for a couple of years can take it out of you, and a brand-new game is always going to feel refreshing.

Leading an art team can be a real pain in the backside, but not so on Stolen. Many of the artists are relatively new to the industry, but no one would be able to tell from the quality of the results. So now with a bloody-nice-looking game under our belts, we move on to the next one!

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