Meet Perception's Level Artists: Desiree Fernandes and Hung Nguyen
Meet Perception’s Level Artists: Desiree Fernandes and Hung Nguyen
How did you approach the art in Perception?
Desiree: The interesting thing about making the art for Perception was that we had to approach it differently than we would approach a game with a more traditional art style. Because Cassie is blind and can't see colour or light, we were able to simplify our art process and eliminate those aspects, making the process from start to finish a little faster. At the same time, we also have to pay extra attention to textural detail, because that is what she can see. We take the extra time we save not having to make colour for our objects and put that towards making the objects in the game have convincing and detailed texture.
Hung: We wanted to sell the house as its own entity, to establish it as a real thing and not just level art, so we spent a good deal of time gathering reference for local architecture, period styles and decorative themes.
We've been working off of a realistic floor-plan that we continually iterate on: everything from the passages and rooms to the wall meshes themselves so that they will feel more like real spaces.
Since game-play and the player's experience are at the fore front of our minds, I expect it could change again down the line.
What sort of assets did you create in the game?
Desiree: My job was mostly to create furniture and other objects for the game. Basically anything that isn't nailed down is what I've been working on. It's sort of like being an interior designer in a way, making sure that everything that goes into the house matches everything else and that it all flows well.
Hung: I built up modular assets for most of the structural pieces of the house and fences--walls, windows, floors, stairs as well as the front door and level construction.
I then set about building the house from all of our combined assets and working to establish the footprint of the landscape around the estate as well as the finer details of the interior.
What has been your favorite part of the process so far?
Desiree: I think my favourite part of working on Perception so far was seeing our internal drafts for the Kickstarter video. It's easy to not see the larger picture when you're in the trenches of working on individual pieces of the game, but there's something amazing about seeing everything coming together and looking like a real game. Every time I look at the Kickstarter video, I'm just so proud that I had a hand in that and that it's finally becoming real.
Hung: I've enjoyed witnessing Perception come alive, bit by bit, as features come on line or are refined. My first favorite moment was seeing the house finally take shape and being able to navigate using the fabulous FX work.
Early prototypes and iterations gave us an idea but it was something else to be able to 'play' it with certain features in and get a sense of what it would one day be.
How would you describe your personal aesthetic?
Desiree: I'm not sure I've really developed a personal aesthetic quite yet, as I'm still pretty new to the industry. I would definitely say that I lean towards a grungy and old realistic style, and also towards a cute handpainted style. So I think I've got a dual personal aesthetic so far. It would be fun to combine those two into something someday, like a creepy and cute handpainted piece. Maybe after we finish development on Perception once it's been successfully funded (hint hint).
Hung: I tend to gravitate towards sci-fi-military because that's what I like to watch but as far as art inspiration, anything goes.
After working on Bioshock Infinite I do have a fondness for different styles from the classic Beaux-Arts to Art Deco and Streamline-Moderne.
What games inspire you?
Desiree: I've always been enthralled by the idea of freedom in games. Open world games are what I always seem to turn to when I have time to play. From Ocarina of Time to Skyrim, these kinds of games have always inspired me and driven my passion of making games. At the same time, I also really love encapsulated experiences like Gone Home and The Cat Lady, where the real emphasis is on telling a story. Freedom of choice in games is almost always a great thing, but there is also something wonderful about being taken by the hand and told a beautiful story, with you helping along the way.
Hung: I don't think it'd be surprising to say Bioshock: Infinite has inspired me a lot since I learned so much from everyone while working at Irrational with the tremendous talent there and to be fair, we all continually honed our craft bringing it to light.
There are so many games that take your breath away and I'm all over the map about what games I play. Sometimes I'll be down for an online shooter where nothing but the kills count, map after map. Other times I'll enjoy being led through a well written experience, getting to know the life of the character a team toiled for years to bring to life; but if it strikes me that day I'll happily ignore the main story-line and play my own way in a sandbox game.
Currently I'm into more personal experiences, games like Life is Strange or Ghost Mode on Dishonored, where your decisions determine events or what your role is in this world. Since we as players have all the power I like to feel that what we do has some effect in shaping the experience if not conveying consequences for our actions.
What are you most excited about with Perception?
Desiree: The most exciting about Perception is the gameplay that will come out of echolocation and how that will affect how we create a horror game. The challenge of making a compelling horror game with the right difficulty balance, and with Cassie's blindness also being taken into account is something I'm really excited about tackling with the rest of the team. I'm also just really excited about furniture right now. I have a growing folder of reference images for everything a house could ever need, and then some.
Hung: At this stage in the project we have so many avenues we could explore and I am excited about things we can't tell you about yet--things that have and yet have not occurred yet in the game ;)
Seriously though I am looking forward to us establishing the different eras to give them a distinct feel from one another within our framework.
That and being chased around in the dark while this is all going on. As my colleague Desiree noted, it will be a challenge to create a compelling game with just enough terror to keep you entertained and on your toes but it is a challenge we are looking forward to.