Interview with David Sursely from FXVille
Interview with David Sursely of FXVille
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I have been an artist in the industry since 2007. Starting out as an Environment and Technical Artist with Zombie Studios, I am now a VFX Artist with FXVille in Seattle, WA. In my off time I play a lot of video games while also trying to make some of my own. I enjoy playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends and walking my dog, Indiana.
How did you get into the FX field?
The FX artist at the studio I was with at the time left to pursue other options. I had taken the time to learn pretty much everything I could about the Unreal engine, so I was the only one that knew how to make any FX. This shifted my job title from Environment Artist to Technical Artist at that studio, and then I was offered a position with FXVille. The promise of getting to work with leading veterans in the field of real-time VFX was too much to pass up. So I changed positions again and have been learning from them ever since.
Tell us about some of the projects you worked on.
I worked as an Environment and Technical Artist at Zombie Studios. While there I worked on:
· Blacklight Retribution - A free-to-play FPS released for PC and PS4. I did a lot of environment art and lighting work, as well as some FX and design work.
· Daylight - A first person horror game released for PC and PS4. This as one of the first ever titles released that used Unreal 4. Zombie Studios had a very good relationship with Epic, so we had our hands on the engine pretty early. For this title, I worked on design, scripting, and FX.
While working with FXVille, I have worked on State of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition developed by Undead Labs. This game was originally released for the XBOX 360 in 2013. For the re-release they wanted to improve the visuals to better use the power of the XBOX One. So I was tasked with remaking most of the FX in the game as well as creating new FX to fill areas and events that their previous limitations would not allow.
What games inspire you?
I'm not sure how to answer this. Different games inspire me for different reasons. The list would be too long. But for just visual FX overall I would have to go with Infamous: Second Son. What they did with particle work in that game was masterful.
How would you describe your approach when you start a project?
I try to get a clear idea of what needs to be represented by the effects I am being asked to make. Gameplay and design need to come first. FX should support and augment the design of the game and send a message to the player about what is happening. I attempt to gather as much information about the design of the game as I can, and then come up with a few clear concepts or aspects that support that design.
How did you come up with the effects for Perception?
The idea of representing sound visually was an interesting problem. There were some aspects presented in the design doc for Perception that I gravitated towards. The first was the idea of Schlieren Photography, a method of capturing the flow of fluids and the results of shock waves in the air. The other was that the sounds needed to be stopped by objects and walls in the environment. This lead me to using lights to represent the sound in the world. The ability to set the brightness, radius, and use the shadows cast from the lights filled all the rolls I needed. I then used everything I could in the Unreal Engine toolbox to make those lights look how I wanted. I used light functions, particle effects, and post process effects to mold them into the look you see in the game.
Tell us a bit about FXVille.
FXVille is home to some of the best VFX Artists in the industry with a huge library of shipped titles. We strive to help a game reach its full potential by becoming an integral part of any team we work with. We don't just create FX and hope for the best. We become co-developers and see a project through from pre-production to ship date. Working with the talented people at FXVille makes me a better artist everyday, and having the chance to work on different projects gives me the experience needed to be the best game developer I can be. Being a part of FXVille gives me the chance to work on titles like Perception, something I wouldn't be able to do working at almost any other studio in the industry.