FATED is starting to look pretty good! We’ve really polished the art and the visual effects since the last time we shared screenshots. It’s about time you see what our game will look like when it’s ready. Here are 5 high definition screenshots.
They give but a glimpse of what you’ll experience as Ulfr the humble family man in FATED.
It’s hard to convey the wonders of a VR world in still frames but I think these shots are doing a great job.
What world are you eager to visit in Virtual Reality?
A few weeks ago, I promised to show you the end result of our animation pipeline. It kind of slipped my mind (sorry), but here it is! This short video includes the use of motion capture, “traditional” animation, facial tracking and a “look-at” system:
We are very happy with the result; it looks great in VR and the emotions really get through. The little girl featured in the clip is Lif, the daughter of the character you portrait in FATED. She has the feeling that you’re mad at her for something, but she doesn’t know what.
When I started working on this project, I had minimal experience with story-driven games. But I knew that music would be critical in order to create the emotional journey I wanted FATED to be. So I made sure we were working with one of the best Audio Directors out there: Patrick Balthrop. Patrick has more than a decade of experience creating award-winning sound for games like BioShock: Infinite; he also worked with us on Chariot, so I knew what I could expect to get from him: top-notch audio.
With Patrick on our team, I started looking for references that would help us define our musical signature. I’ve listened to over a hundred tracks and found inspiration in many of them, but I would say that the most important influence has been The Fountain’s soundtrack. I hadn’t even seen the movie the first time I listened to it, but with the music alone, I was able to feel every emotion the movie puts you through. I also really liked the fact that the soundtrack felt like one long musical piece. It rapidly became a benchmark for our musical track, and I think we’ve reached our objective.
I am very excited to share FATED’s musical theme with you today, and I really hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we do.
If you are interested in knowing more about the production of audio for VR, keep an eye on the blog, as we will shortly post an article that shares our learnings.
We are excited to see Fated come to life in a whole new way with mocap, facial animations and voice-over now coming together and breathing life into our characters. At this point, we are also trying to bring the most advanced levels to a nice playable polish – it’s the moment of truth for many of our favorite scenes! We are putting the final touches to our exteriors as well as completing decor and lighting work on some new interior scenes. The visual plan has now been adapted to the final metrics for some of these rooms, and we’ve been busy squeezing the most “oomph” out of our assets, adding more props and effects to emphasize the uniqueness and moods of this mysterious zone…
The whole team is testing the experience as we go along and giving feedback in order to make Fated the exciting and moving journey we all want it to be.
Last week, I was at Blindlight Studios in Los Angeles with our Audio Director, Patrick Balthrop, to record the voice-overs for FATED. We were amazed by the quality of both the studio staff and the actor cast. It was honestly one of my best experiences, professionally.
Blindlight works on most of the big AAA projects, from Activision Blizzard to Naughty Dog all the way to Disney Interactive Studios. It’s our first time working on such a voice-acting-heavy title, and that recording experience was almost unreal. The actors were top-notch, not only on the voice acting, but also on the emotions they were able to inject into their lines. By the end of a particularly gripping scene, one of the actresses was literally in tears …
So I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who was there for your amazing work. The game will be a hundred time better because of you!
Also, for anyone looking for great voice actors, here’s a full listing of our cast, each with one of the amazing projects on which they’ve worked (because there’s not enough space to list them all):
• David Lodge [ Destiny ]
• Cherani Leigh [ Borderlands 2 ]
• Andy Pessoa [ King’s Quest ]
• Lex Lang [ Mass Effect 2-3-4 ]
• Matthew Waterson [ World of Warcraft ]
• Laura Post [ League of Legends ]
• Michelle Sparks [ Sunset Overdrive ]
• Reagan Rundus
Reagan Rundus, the little actress who portraits our character Lif, is only 7 years old.
Here’s a sample of what we recorded in our two-day sessions with Blindlight:
During the recording session, we were also capturing the actor’s faces to track facial expressions using faceshift so we can use them in-game. We are hoping that with this technique we will get richer facial animations, and that more emotions will come through.
The next step will be to merge everything together: the body animations we recorded during the motion capture sessions, the facial animations recorded with faceshift, and the voice-overs.
This step is both exciting and nerve-wracking. I’m really looking forward to seeing our characters finally come to life, and I hope they’ll look awesome! It’s our first time using this animation pipeline, and failing here would mean a lot of more work for our animators. So, fingers crossed!
I’ll try and show you the final result, but until then if you have any questions, feel free to ask!
My name is Ève Mainguy, and I’m Lead 3D Artist on FATED.
My work is very much focused on creating the environments the players will explore. In an atmospheric and immersive Virtual Reality experience like the one we’re creating, believable environments are essential. We’ve shown a lot of exterior settings in previous posts, but a good chunk of the adventure will take place in ancient mythical ruins. These underground caves have been there for ages, and they need to look the part.
A room in the mythical ruins, work in progress.
My job consists of taking the concept pieces provided by our art director Marianne, translating them into models and textures, and integrating them in the game. We’re putting a lot of love in the overall art of FATED; even the simplest props are getting the full treatment.
Jute sacks concept art and their rendition in 3D
As a 3D artist, one of my duties involves overseeing the props to be made, and pinpointing every opportunity in which a mesh or a texture can be reused in each given area. For instance, the same mesh piece used for a sculpted column headdress can be reused on a ornate swinging blade. FATED is highly inspired by Classical Norse art, which includes a lot of intricate braided designs, so I had the opportunity to isolate these intricate interlaced patterns and reuse all of them on my props. This approach saves time while keeping the quality at the desired level.
Pictured: Time saved
Aside from environments and props, I’ve also worked on some of the characters you’ll meet in the game. We have revealed very little about the events unfolding in FATED, but the character you see below is Oswald and he is a key character in the story.
Oswald, from concept to model
That’s all for this week, folks. I hope you enjoyed this peek into the work of a 3D artist. What are your thoughts on the art direction we’re taking with FATED? What would you be excited to see or read about in our next post?
I thought I’d give you an update on what the art team of FATED is working on at the moment.
On my end, I’m looking into the visuals we are missing to convey the storyline clearly in the intro scenes. The story delves into abstract concepts like death and the area between worlds. To get a better sense of timing and emotional involvement, we need to hook up a lot of things that aren’t final, and for everything that’s missing, we are using placeholders.
At this point all research is based on what is missing or could be better in-game: a lot of the ground work is covered and we can focus on fixing weaknesses. One good example is a board I’m making which lists a number of ways to turn destroyed areas into more convincing war-stricken zones. Things like burned soil patches, dead trees, charred buildings and heaps of debris.
Most of these assets are derived from things we already have – we are trying to make the most of our limited resources. They will decorate the world and emphasize drama in some parts of the story. The characters of FATED are facing hardship and destruction, so the game world needs to reflect that. Spoiler alert: you might see some dead people.
I’m also working on some textures for new asset kits that will help us dress up the environment when we get to that point. This can only happen when level design is final and meanwhile, I find myself doing many different things; patching up holes here and there so that we have a more complete sample of the experience.
As far as the rest of the team is concerned, there is a lot of animation work going on right now. Our animators Yanick Bélanger and Isabelle Fortin are modifying motion capture files and testing out facial expressions for one of the main characters. Our 3D artist Ève Mainguy is finishing up many props and producing many of the items I’m adding when reviewing the scenes. Right now, the work is planned but more flexible than usual, as we realized we needed to re-assess progress almost daily.
I also wanted to share this piece with you. We don’t know what we’ll do with it yet but it will probably serves as a design for a T-shirt or other marketing material.
I was hoping to illustrate in a whimsical way the wonder one might feel when faced with the full blown power of Ragnarök, world-changing events on which the characters have little or no control. I felt that this strong little girl in the image was the perfect character to convey this awe, courage and vulnerability. The decorative designs around the piece are meant to bring in some Viking decorative designs and the runes are derived from actual runic texts. The image inserted in the post is actually the right size if you want to use it as a desktop wallpaper.
In FATED we want players to be immersed in the world we created. We want them to feel connected to the characters they meet. To achieve this, we’re working with various animation techniques designed to make sure that our characters move and act in a realistic way.
As we stated earlier in the blog, we’re using motion capture for the character movements. When the character hops down from the chariot in the preview, we see how smoothly she moves even though it’s a pretty complicated movement. For facial expressions, we’re using Faceshift, a markerless motion capture software.
Finally, the hair and the other items are animated manually. We’re looking into other options to give the objects a more realistic feel by simulating the physics in Maya and baking it directly on the animated models.
All three techniques are then combined in Unreal Engine 4.
What do you think? I think it’s going to look amazing!
My name is Jany. I’m the graphic designer behind the Fated logo. I’m also involved in the branding and marketing aspects of the project.
I’m really psyched about this project! As a gamer, a deep narrative experience is what I look for first in any game, so this is a dream project for me!
Today, we’re going to take a brief look at the design process for the Fated logo.
There are three primary aspects we wanted to convey through the Fated logo, so that the viewer could get a quick grasp of what the game is about.
1. The cultural setting in which the storyline is rooted.
2. The symbols that embody the Fated universe.
3. The narrative at the forefront of the experience.
Fated’s story is strongly inspired by Norse mythology. It was therefore natural to draw inspiration from Germanic culture and art for the logo’s style and shape. Classical Norse art can usually be recognized by its intricate braided and interlaced patterns, typically long “ribbons” ending in animal heads.
The Norns, three female beings who rule the destiny of all things, are an omnipresent force in the universe of Fated, and at the root of most of its narrative drive. They are often depicted as weavers intertwining the threads of fate. The logo conveys this idea through braided and interlaced lines, as well as six Norn hands, responsible for putting the events of Fated in motion.
We wanted the viewer to quickly identify Fated as a narrative-rich experience. This is why we opted for a typeface inspired by Roman capitals, typically found on Roman columns and structures. In our culture, this kind of typeface has become associated with drama, historical fiction, and epic novels. The most known and (ab)used typeface that meets these characteristic is the Trajan font. We elected to inspire ourselves from Jupiter, a typeface developed by Canada Type that is less overused but that still conveys these ideas clearly.
Below, you will find two alternative options that were considered for the title, as well as a snapshot of a portion of our visual research.
Thank you for reading! Actual documentation on graphic design in video games can be scarce, so I hope you found this post at least a bit informative.
Hi! Étienne Carrier, here. I’m the Technical Artist on FATED.
Developing graphics for VR is an awesome challenge! It’s an all new playing field with whole new constraints and rules. I’m learning new tricks every day, and through this blog I aim to share them with you.
When we started developing the graphic pipeline, it was clear that we needed a visual style that would help us reach our performance target. In VR, there’s no slacking off. If the framerate drops even for a second, you get a hefty dose of simulation sickness. It was therefore a lot more natural to go with a stylized art style that would not only help us with performance, but also look good in VR. Smooth and non-noisy texture feels great in virtual reality, and it helped the 3D stay faithful to the awesome artwork that Marianne Martin (Art Director) and Marie-Hélène Morin-Fafard (Concept Artist) created.
VIEW DISTANCE & NORMAL MAPS
Applying tricks learned while developing mobile games can turn out to be a lifesaver when you have to run at 75+ fps. The art really needs to be planned accordingly. We built our environments in a way that limits the view distance and allows the occlusion culling to work for us. Normal maps only work well for micro details or from far away. We actually want to fade details out with distance, as it tends to get noisy due to the pixels density on VR headsets. The micro details go against our soft texture style, and the distant normal maps go against the fade of details in the distance. So we decided to never use normal maps, which also helps us get more performance.
We chose Unreal Engine 4 to develop our game. We began by setting up our basic scenes, because even the default template scene was not reaching 75 fps on some PCs. We removed most of the post-process, screen space reflection, and anti-aliasing. We also used static directional lights, then built from there while profiling every step of the way.
Unreal has a great many tools to help us build our environments efficiently. Here is a video showing how we used some of these tools together. Along with Unreal’s landscape and foliage, we built a material that projects a texture on top of props like rocks to help them blend with the terrain. The blueprints allow us to dynamically create a material instance for each static mesh, so they can all have their specific settings. Using the same texture as the landscape helps to blend them seamlessly.
That’s it for now, we’ll have more tips & tricks coming up later!
FATED is a first-person movie-length narrative-adventure game in virtual reality. This immersive game with stunning visuals showcases the best that VR has to offer, proposing a strong story-driven, narrative experience that focuses on emotion over gameplay.
This project is being developed by a dedicated team within Frima.
To follow its development, stay tuned to the blog and join our community on Facebook and Twitter.