Very impressive article Jake! You are very talented.
nice article! i love seeing the breakdowns.
80.lv talked with artist Tomasz Strzalkowski and discussed the way he and his team approached the production of the amazing gothic shooter Inner Chains. Be sure to check out his amazing portfolio on Artstation.
We’re a small team from Poland. There was only a handful of us at first, but as our needs grew bigger, so did our team. Now there’s a dozen or so of us, and our experience has been shaped by working on such titles as Bulletstorm, PainKiller, Gears of War, GodFire, Dying Light, Ancient Space, Hard West, and The Witcher 3.
I myself have been in the game business for almost 15 years, and for a long time I was considering the idea of my own title. A lot of inspiration came from my own work, which is a vehicle for the exploration and observation of emotions, human life, and its darker sides. From the beginning of my career in gamedev, I dreamed of being able to find a use for my art in games. I’ve managed to gather together a crew, and toward the end of 2014 we began working on Inner Chains.
As I said, a lot of inspiration comes from my own work, some of which found its way into the game itself. The world of Inner Chains is a place where nature, over the course of millions of years, has started to resemble the technology left by the human race – a race that had also tried to adapt to its own new circumstances.
We’re trying to make all the elements of the environment consistent with how the world came to be. When creating each model, it’s important to match its style with the style of the whole game. This is one of the reasons why we created every object from scratch. Another important aspect of Inner Chains – and, I hope, an asset – is that the environment is highly interactive. In the game you’ll find many biomechanical plants that can be both helpful and harmful.
As far as modeling tools are concerned, we’re mostly using ZBrush. For texturing and map baking, Substance Painter and Designer are invaluable. We’re using Maya for UVs, and Photoshop for concept art, of course.
We wanted the cultists whom we face in Inner Chains to look both domineering and mysterious. Yet right from the start of the game we receive the first signals that they’re deceitful, two-faced. Some enemies can be defeated in special ways, but we don’t want to give away details and spoil the challenge for players. No matter what opponent you face, it’s crucial to use the environment to your advantage.
We always start with rough models. This is the stage when we set the scale of the different objects and rooms in a way that brings out their character. There are a few scenes in Inner Chains where everything looks very big for the player, which adds to the overall mood and a sense of the player’s inferiority. In order to emphasize the magnitude of these moments even more and to put them in context, a couple of times we decided to make use of characters and objects that the player has already seen elsewhere.
At first we needed to decide which weapons would fit the world of Inner Chains. We wanted them to work well with all the elements of the game’s mechanics and interaction with the environment. At the same time we created placeholder models, which allowed us to establish the correct size and look of the final objects that the player would see. Later we worked hard to create concept art on the basis on which we sculpted models. The finishing touches were added to the final textured models.