Friday, September 29, 2006

The Lure of The Shrimp Sub

Copyright 2001 Microsoft Corporation

This is the third of the four 3D concept pieces created for the Voodoo Vince green light meeting. Once again, Gary Hanna and his crew did a spectacular job. This portrays Vince in a mini-submersible shaped like a shrimp. It's funny how wonderfully clear the water is. It's like a tropical reef rather than the incredibly murky water one really finds in the bayou country. Real swamp water slooks like unfiltered apple cider, teeming with countless bugs and reptiles. But hey, zero visibility wouldn't be much fun in a game.

I mentioned the four "perfect world" pictures earlier, but I figured I'd talk about them a little more. After a year of meetings, rejections and building a demo we finally landed a deal with Microsoft. We didn't dive into production right away. There was a prototype phase first. We had six months to create a bigger, better, more detailed version of the demo, finish a first draft of the comprehensive general design doc (GDD), and initial draft of the technical design doc (TDD), and a detailed milestone list for the whole project with tasks, assignments and workflow charted out. We also needed to establish how the game would look. All this was wheeled into a conference room for the meeting. These images were brought in on 2 by 3 foot enlargements mounted on foam core (which delighted MS execs promptly snapped up).

The purpose of pictures like the one above was to allow Gary and his crew to create something that approximated how the finished game would look without bogging down the prototype itself. The theory was that we could then make the prototype visually crude and concentrate on gameplay.

That's a nice theory, but we ended up making the prototype as visually strong as we possibly could. Visual polish is a double-edged sword. Everybody says they can imagine how things will look in a rough version, but the inevitable "That's not final art, is it?" question is the bane of artists throughout human history. You just know it was said of the Lascaux bison. On the other hand, if you work too tight you can paint yourself into a corner, visually speaking. We decided to err on the side of polish. Voodoo Vince at six months looked better than a lot of finished games.

That paid off in the green light meeting, though we still had a lot of content to create before the game crossed the finish line.



CornCobMan said...

Heheheheheh. Frozen Yak.

Ultimately it was a good choice.

CornCobMan said...

Whoops wrong place. :S