NFL Street 2 Designer Diary #3

We learn about the environments that are being created for Electronic Arts' latest entry in the NFL Street series.

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NFL Street 2 Environmentalists

By Mike Casalino
Environment Modeler EA Tiburon

Our goal as environment artists on the NFL Street 2 team was to do more than just create a collection of cool places to play. We looked to create a synergy with the environments where every venue felt like it was part of one city and one story. This meant we'd need more environments in this game than in the original NFL Street, in addition to good teamwork to make all these fields mesh well together.

The environment team and the producers worked together closely to come up with the initial designs for the fields. We spent days on initial "pre-vis," where design concepts were refined and then approved, eventually leading to a set of 12 new environments that really work well together. Each field has a specific visual style, and each one complements the others to help the game hold together.

The environment artists on the NFL Street 2 team have worked to give each field a specific visual style.
The environment artists on the NFL Street 2 team have worked to give each field a specific visual style.

The individual fields were all constructed in stages, starting with a concept phase where the initial sketches were reviewed and signed off by the art director. Then each environment progressed to a rough-pass stage, where it began to have a unique feel and where its scale could be seen in the game engine. Once each field was in the game engine, it could be played on, and interactions with players could be fully evaluated. Finally, once each environment was at this prototype stage, it went into a rapid revision stage where it was tweaked and reevaluated numerous times before finally being approved for the game. Changes were made, literally, all the way to the end, all in an effort to make each environment feel and play "just right."

While you'd think dreaming up a unique field design would be easy, the process is an involved one.
While you'd think dreaming up a unique field design would be easy, the process is an involved one.

In NFL Street 2, we had a major new feature that affected the design of every environment: the walls. Because the new gameplay focuses so heavily on wall passes, wall jukes, and the like, we had to take this into account as we built the environments. Each field was carefully crafted so there were obstacles players could use to gain height for making leaping wall catches or for putting the moves on a defender. Still, we wanted each environment to be unique. This led to some fields having areas without such walls on one side, making this a strategic aspect for players to consider while playing. Another aspect we had to consider this year was the inclusion of a full user-controlled "replay camera." This feature lets players freeze the game after plays so they can carefully look at everything that occurred during them. Though this is awesome for players, it made our jobs much harder, because we had to look at every possible detail to make everything look just right. Of course, we're happy that everyone will get to see all the details we put in!

Walls posed new challenges to the designers, but these walls also offered new gameplay possibilities.
Walls posed new challenges to the designers, but these walls also offered new gameplay possibilities.

On top of the visual aspects of the fields themselves, we also added more crowds, more sound effects, and more animated objects in the backgrounds. These things all add to the overall look and feel of the game, and, hopefully, they help each environment feel truly unique. We also carefully crafted the lighting and texturing for each environment to reflect the look we were aiming for.

We hope everyone will like the look of NFL Street 2! We worked hard to make it look as good as it plays. We hope you enjoy it!

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jakeboudville

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very cool

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