Founders and Directors of Indigo Studios Judit Hierro and Kim Planella have told us about the studio's past, present, and future projects and explained how they use Reallusion's Character Creator & iClone to design 30's-era characters.
We are Judit Hierro and Kim Planella and we are Founders and Directors of Indigo Studios. Our background has wide experience in the audiovisual sector. From videogame design centers to film schools and a long experience in theater. Based on this artistic experience we decided to specialize in the creation and development of video games, but taking with us the best of our experience in the world of cinema and theater. It is for this reason that our games tend to have elaborate plots and a very cinematic look.
Judit Hierro and Kim Planella from Indigo Studios
We have specialized in adventure and mystery games; putting a lot of interest in the design of atmospheres, environments, and characters, which provide the player with a highly immersive experience.
Lucidus Mortem mystery game
Indigo Studios is the result of many years of experimentation. There always comes a time when as developers we see the path we would like to follow. As if you have finally found a style of work that defines and characterizes you. When this moment came for us, we decided to found Indigo Studios a couple of years ago. We believed that the time had come to move forward in the world of video games with our own identity.
As for the responsibility of the tasks, we don't make distinctions; we share our work and support each other. Barely a year ago, we have expanded the studio with the incorporation of a small group of good professionals, who work with us remotely from their country. The same goes for our voice actors. Having part of the team working remotely has the advantage that wherever the professional is from, you can count on them since the distance is not a problem. This has allowed us to create a collaborative team with great talent.
Our first project as Indigo Studios was Seven Doors, a very atmospheric game where you must get through seven doors and behind each of them there is a riddle that you must solve to continue. We are currently preparing a new revamped version with much more content and new puzzles.
We are especially proud of Charon's Staircase because it has been our first big project and we managed to combine a great story and atmosphere with a lot of mystery and some touches of terror. At this moment we are finalizing the details of the game and very soon it will be published. We are very excited about this project and we hope you all like it very much!
You can learn more about our projects by visiting our website and Twitter!
Choosing Reallusion Tools
During the development of Charon's Staircase (a game that is currently in its final stages of development), we were searching and evaluating different software options for the creation and animation of their characters and none offered what Reallusion offers as a whole. Each and every one of their programs complement our workflow perfectly.
The quality of detail that we were able to achieve when designing the characters of Charon's Staircase with Character Creator and its plugins; added to the extraordinary versatility of iClone when creating their animations, seemed amazing to us.
As a studio, the time factor is very important and this is where Reallusion makes it very easy: the ease of use, very intuitive interfaces, and great efficiency offered us spectacular results and in a short time. This allowed us to make our working hours much more productive.
Adding animation templates to the iClone timeline
The Lucidus Mortem Project
Mystery stories are one of our specialties. We believe that there is a very fertile and interesting terrain between the dark classic stories of fantastic realism and survival horror at the other extreme. With Lucidus Mortem, we place ourselves in the middle of these two concepts, creating a dark, almost gothic story, with hints of suspense and some jumpscares.
Our inspiration surely comes from the masterful literature of the nineteenth century. A time when Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes, Jane Eyre, Dracula, and other great creators of stories like R. L. Stevenson were born. A generation of writers hatched with the magnificent stories of Agatha Christie, in the early twentieth century.
Lucidus Mortem is a revision of this style of storytelling but adapted to a contemporary audience. We have tried to fill these magnificent atmospheres with freshness and a fast pace.
Lucidus Mortem game with real-time software
Lucidus Mortem mystery game
We chose the 1930s for this story because of its visual aesthetics and because it was a time of great advances in the history of science. Also for the revolution in architectural style and the feeling of being the bridge between a society that dragged past traditions and what would be the modern world as we know it now.
Luckily, when looking for inspiration it was easy for us to find fashion patterns of the time and illustrations with hairstyle and headdress designs. We tried to be as faithful to the period as possible, also in the design of cars and urban furniture.
For the design of the look of the characters, we love the process we call "going in search of them". For example, we knew that Samuel (our protagonist of Lucidus Mortem), was "hidden" somewhere in the software, it was just a matter of exploring the infinite possibilities of the CC. One day, after an exciting process, Samuel's face appeared in front of our eyes and we immediately knew it was him.
Game characters with Character Creator:
Working with Reallusion Tools
Reallusion tools are the perfect complement to our work system. We usually work with UE4 and the plug-in that links this engine with the Reallusion software is an essential tool for us. Not to mention how easy it has been for us to connect this same software to our mocap equipment.
This, together with its possibilities of character modification, its connection with programs like ZBrush or Substance, as well as its powerful skin generator and its hair creation system makes it the tool that we currently consider the most effective in the market to achieve the desired results in terms of characters.
Game character face and body animations with iClone
We start working with the character bases that CC already has or sometimes also with our own character bases. Then we make the first artistic modifications, depending on the character we are looking for. Generally, to begin with, we consider the basics: age, gender, era. Also in this step, we add the first costume proposal.
In the third step, we put our attention to what we could call the "Cultural and social definition of the character" Profession, social level, education. We also seek to reflect the character's psychology: character, personal situation, and social conditioning, desires and needs, frustrations, life experience. Here we also outline both the physique and costumes and if necessary we make the final touches to the character with ZBrush.
With these data and the personal feeling that the character transmits to us, we try to go in search of him, as a sculptor would do in front of a piece of marble of first quality.
Generating diverse characters with Character Creator
We usually transfer the characters directly from CC to iClone as we can choose to migrate them directly to our project or export them with the Unreal Engine skeleton.
There are great advantages to using iClone, as the software adapts to the way you prefer to work or even multiple ways, you can use its extensive library of movements, your preferred mocap system, or both at the same time and save the data of the whole scene or use it in real-time directly in Unreal Engine.
We, for our part, prefer to save all the animation scene data in iClone so we can always have it at hand. With some particularly difficult scenes or cinematics, we like to do a "merge actors" in Unreal and import the whole scene into iClone to work more accurately.
One part we would also like to highlight is the absolutely amazing facial movement system. We work with LIVE Face and although the results are very good sometimes you feel the need to refine some parts. iClone has a system that detects the words in the voice actor's audio and perfects the lip movements with each phoneme. It's almost magic for us!
Connecting iClone with Unreal Engine
For those aspiring developers, willing to get into indiedev, congratulations and welcome, you have arrived in a world where they will surely be very happy. But remember, this is a job that is constantly evolving where every day you have to move forward, you can not stop or rest on your laurels.
But if we want to give truly useful advice, perhaps it is to never stop working, because inspiration and imagination come from working. If you love what you do, you may one day be one of the best.