The Art of Sector 13

Falcon Schematic

Well, I've been meaning to do some writing around Reactor's art process and all the things we have going on, but of course as an artist, I'd rather show than tell. I'm looking forward to posting all sorts of renders and screen shots of our latest assets in action, but I also want to open a window into how we're currently going about things, and the fantastic team of artists that is helping make it all possible. A wing of Wyverns on patrol.

Over the last few weeks, the team has been working on three classes of art assets. First and foremost is the Starfighters themselves. When we launch on kickstarter later in the month, we will have at least three fighters available, and hoping to add a fourth soon as well as the demo continues to update itself. We're very carefully selecting which fighters go in first from our more than 32 concepts and designs we hope to eventually include.

Second, we have the ACMCs. These are our first and smallest class of capital ship. ACMC stands for "Atmosphere-Capable Micro Carriers" which is important both story-wise and gameplay-wise. From a story perspective, these ships help explain the design philosophy that keeps our art grounded in an atmospheric, real-world relate-able look and feel. The fact that our fighters are designed with wings, fins and aerodynamics in mind is intentional and important both from a visual standpoint, as well as part of our visual storytelling for this universe. We will have massive carriers and capital ships, the sort of which would not make sense to see in an atmosphere except under extreme circumstances, so these ACMCs are our bridge between miles-long capital ships in orbit, and serviceable strike fighters in support of ground troops without the need to break orbit. I look forward to our fantastic writing team explaining and revealing more about these ships and their place in the universe in some upcoming posts.

The Magnarri Archangel ACMC

From a gameplay perspective, the ACMCs will play a critical role as spawn-points for games, as well as affecting gameplay directly in the future as play-able assets with turrets and flight controls of their own. We have many multiplayer modes planned around these capital ships being more than just a home-base or static arena asset. Again, look for more details in an upcoming post.

Third, we have our arena assets. These could be anything from a big asteroid serenely floating in space, on up to massive space stations or a hollowed-out moon making for the core gameplay element in an arena's theme. Each arena in Sector 13 will have a fully fleshed out story behind it, and the assets that make it up will both visually tell a story as well as provide the interactions for gameplay variety in our locations.

So, how are we doing on all this?

On the starfighter front, we have finalized an additional fighter (the Draco), started a fourth fighter (the Venom) which is currently being skinned by Alan Purdy. Shots of the Draco will be in our gallery, and soon as Alan wants to lift the curtain on the Venom, we'll put some shots of that beauty up too. To illustrate what a collaborative effort this is: all of the fighter designs are my designs, which are often then enhanced along the way by the various artists involved in bringing it to life. I designed the Draco, which was then initially modeled by James Whiteraven, additional modeling and enhancing was done by myself, and then Jim again helped by creating and refining the initial UV maps. I then painted the skin and created the shader maps, etc... The Venom followed a similar process where an initial model was mocked-up by James Whiteraven from my design, then enhanced by myself as well as Alan Purdy as part of creating the UV map, and then Alan is also creating the initial skin to hand off to me for finalizing. It may sound complicated, but it's resulted in each artist getting to add some "special sauce" along the way to make me a better artist and designer as well as ensuring that every asset has a little piece of the artists involved in it and is never just my design going through a pipeline. It has also helped ensure clean models and technical processes that we can share, learn and grow from.

Ravenous_cardIt's a similar story when it comes to the ACMCs. We have two of our initial four designs nearly done, where I designed and modeled the Scabbard and Ravenous. The Scabbard was then UV'd by Pablo Lara Gonzalez and the skinning process handled by him as well, working off of assets created for the Rapier by myself and Karl Diaz to ensure faction similarity. The Ravenous is nearly completion and was mostly skinned by myself, working off of UV maps created by James Whiteraven. A third ACMC, the Archangel, is currently being UV'd and skinned by Luis Cabrera working off of my design and model, using assets created for the Falcon by Oasim Karmieh and myself. If you can't tell, I love my role as art directior and I love what each of these guys brings to the table.

With arena assets, we have several completed and in our first arena, including several large asteroids with tunnels and other gameplay enhancements, modeled by James Whiteraven with procedural textures generated by our engine and coded by Ryan Buhr. Additional assets were modeled and UV'd by James Whiteraven (again! this guy is pretty great, isn't he?) and then skinned by myself and Ryan Buhr. Planet textures, moons, skybox textures and other additional assets were created by Daniel Haaf (who you'll be hearing more about soon in the ACMC pipeline and other areas), and our first arena is really starting to come together.

Whew, that was a lot to cover in one post. I look forward to elaborating more on all of these pieces of the puzzle, talking about the contributions of other team members (such as Karl Diaz, Ernesto Llamas, and Luis Cabrera) and I haven't even gotten to talking about our fantastic sound and music team yet! Working with this group of talented artists has been humbling, educational, and most of all, fun. We do this because we love it, and can't wait to get a fantastic game into the hands of people who share our passion for this genre.

So, I clearly need to do a lot more blogging, but if you've read this far, I appreciate it, and more is coming soon.