First game up is Remember Me, a recent game by DONTNOD Entertainment. For their first game together as a studio, the result is incredible. While critics mainly attacked the linearity and dull combat (which I thought was actually pretty fresh and interesting), none of them criticized the graphics and art direction, which I personally believe is second to very few (Mirror's Edge is gonna hold best art direction for me for a long time). The game is probably the most beautiful game I've ever played, and the attention to detail is astounding. The reason it looks so gorgeous is not only because of the incredibly talented concept and game artists (go buy the artbook now, its amazing), but also the technical artists and the tweaked UDK Engine. DONTNOD used Physically Based Rendering (PBR), or Global Illumination, and as far as I know I think its one of the first, if not the first, to use it in a commercial game (could be completely wrong on this). Sébastien Lagarde did a fantastic article on this (below), that explains how they went about using it for Remember Me, and even though there's a lot I don't fully understand, its a great read about how their team works and how they used PBR to their best ability. While I don't intend to use PBR for my FMP (mainly because I don't have an engine that supports it at my disposal), it is something I should be taking note of, as PBR is going to become commonplace in games sooner or later, because of the graphical advances it offers.
Alongside this great use of PBR, the game fully utilizes a whole range of dynamic elements, something I want to be very evident in my FMP; smoke and steam, birds flying about, moving air conditioners, etc. I'm now going to dump a load of screenshots I took earlier that I feel are relevant to the sort of level of detail and contrasts in space that I want to create. The lighting & shadows are also occasionally similar to what I want to aim for. Obviously I won't be able to fully imitate the sheer level of detail and realism DONTNOD achieved, but I'm still going to try my hardest to do it anyway!
The mix of shops, adverts and history in this area is probably the most inspiring point in the game for me, as it does a fantastic job of making the city truly feel alive. This is only helped even more by the PBR.
I took this one as it shows how DONTNOD openly sealed off certain areas, allowing you to see further on, creating the illusion that the playable area is far larger than it actually is.
Interesting to note here that the hose in the lower right seems to have a teal coloured texture underneath. I thought this was a clever way of making it look like more assets if they flipped it and placed it elsewhere, but I saw a blue hose later on that was a completely different model, so I'm not sure what their intentions were here.
This shot nicely shows off the multiple assets used to break up the otherwise rectangular geometry, and dynamic elements such as the AC unit and smoke from it.
When I begin properly concepting, I may include interior sections similar to this, with shops and large glass roofs, which could create some nice dappled lighting.
A nice shot demonstrating the use of LODs and 3D objects used alongside matte painting (something I don't think I will need considering the packed, yet vertical nature of my city).
These last two shots are taken from the next level, portraying the slums of Paris. While this grim and grungy style is not what I am aiming for, the imperfect building shapes and the way they are just built on top of each other is similar to the DIY style I want for certain areas of my city.
So that's the end of this post, I can now also refer back to this blog post to re-inspire myself, but not too much as I want to be more inspired by actual real-world locations as this would benefit me more, but the way DONTNOD has crafted such a believable futuristic Paris is something I am hugely inspired by for this FMP, hence this blog post (the screenshots really don't do the game justice, seeing all the dynamic elements and realtime reflections is equally as impressive as the design).