Battlefield Heroes- Nailing the Look

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Ben, a Senior Producer on Battlefield Heroesâ„¢, tells us about the visual style of the upcoming game and whatnot.
Hello Heroes, Ben Cousins here again, Senior Producer on Battlefield Heroes™. As I mentioned in my first entry, rather than tell you where we are now with the development of the game, I’m using this blog to tell the story of how we made Battlefield Heroes, starting at the very beginning. Last time, I talked about how the project began at DICE - my work with Lead Designer James Salt on creating the high concept for the game. The next important stage of development is to set the visual style or ‘Art Direction’ for the game. The best person to create your art direction is of course an Art Director… Gustav Tilleby has been at DICE for many years now, having created art on Midtown Madness 3, Battlefield Vietnam, Battlefield 2, Special Forces, Battlefield Modern Combat, Battlefield 2142 and Northern Strike — quite a resume. As the Art Director, it’s his job to create and enforce the visual style for every aspect of the user experience, from the website to the menus and the game itself, right down to individual elements like crates or blades of grass. A good Art Director has a sense of the overall ‘big picture’ but also the attention to detail required to keep tabs every element of the artwork, no matter how small. When approaching Gustav about the visual style for Battlefield Heroes there were a few things that I had in mind: 1. We need to differentiate Battlefield Heroes from our very successful current games — Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 2142 2. Battlefield Heroes absolutely isn’t Battlefield 3, so we need to reinforce that fact with our visual style 3. This is a game about creating, customizing and leveling up your own unique over-the-top war hero 4. We want to clearly communicate the fact that this game is about FUN 5. Our graphics need to look awesome on a high-end PC, but still look good on a low-end laptop Since Sean Decker (the Battlefield Franchise Executive Producer) had mentioned the idea of war heroes in our first meeting, I had been thinking about the Commando comic books I used to read as a child. These comics were full of over-the-top heroes doing amazing super-human deeds, and they had simple comic-book art-style. I also spoke to Lars Gustavsson, the DICE studio Creative Director, and he mentioned to me an idea he had while working on Battlefield 1942 – he imagined a ‘toon’ Battlefield game, where a direct hit with a tank shell would just leave a pair of smoking boots on the ground. DICE’s games have a long history of stylized graphics, with Codename Eagle’s cartoon characters, the bright fun colors of Midtown Madness 3, and Battlefield 1942’s style which was influenced by the very same WWII comics I’d read as a boy. Given these directions, I set Gustav to work. Gustav started creating character visualizations for feedback. The first set of images were something like a WWII version of the British cartoon pop band Gorillaz – extremely cool looking but I felt a little too left-field and childish looking. Eventually we settled on something which had a direct link back to ‘Red’ the hero in the ‘pre-Battlefield’ game, Codename Eagle. Once we had the characters nailed we started thinking about settings - Gustav was keen to move away from the dark, gritty, somewhat depressing feel of modern shooters and he and the team’s concept artist, Robert Sammelin began to work on images of idyllic Mediterranean environments with blue waves lapping up against white beaches framed by towering, impossible cliffs. As Gustav and his team worked on this art style in the early phases of the project, we knew that there was a chance we could be compared to the small but well known group of PC shooters that have separated themselves from the standard realistic style with a cartoon look – most notably Monolith’s No One Lives Forever, Ubisoft’s XIII and Valve’s Team Fortress 2. We decide we would ignore the possibility of these comparisons and go with the style we believed in as a team — a style that fulfilled all the objectives I have detailed above. After all, the alternative would have meant that Battlefield Heroes was yet another realistic WW2-style shooter. How original would that have been? Next time — character classes and the 3rd person issue…
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