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EXCL: Dante’s Inferno Artist Blog – 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

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Rich Larm, the Lead Environment Artist on the Dante’s Inferno video game, has provided Dread Central readers with an exclusive in-depth look at the process his team utilized to build out just one of the game’s numerous environments, in this case an area of Limbo. In addition, he’s given us a few sneak peeks at the other circles of hell as well: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, and last but not least, Treachery.


As an environment artist, you can’t ask for a more inspiring project than Dante’s Inferno. Adapting the poem’s epic environments into 3D was a dream project, but with the dream also came a beast of an endeavor. Our time frame for completion was about 18 months, and we had to pull it off with a new graphics engine and much of the art team residing in China. Additionally we set tough technical goals that had to be maintained on a daily basis:

  • simultaneous development on PS3 and 360
  • eliminate all load pauses with continuous memory streams
  • maintain 60 frames per second throughout the entire game
  • Sustaining 60 fps was especially difficult because everything onscreen needed to be rendered under 16.666 milliseconds per frame. 16.666 ms divided amongst animation, environments, vfx, ai …

    Fortunately our team consisted of some really great designers, artists, and engineers. Early on we were able to set up tools and work flows that allowed us to iterate quickly and keep levels optimized as we progressed. As a result we avoided costly re-work and cleanup time. In all, the travails proved rewarding, especially the effort to maintain 60 fps with its responsive gameplay.

    A. Evolution of an Environment
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    Combat and level design are the heart of Dante’s gameplay. Our mantra was “Design first and Art supports”. For environment building we used a phase process that followed on the heels of level design. Designers would build out the playable spaces in primitive forms called whiteboxes. After the essential gameplay was defined in a whitebox, it was sent to artists.

    Here’s a look at the evolution of one environment in Limbo. This is the mezzanine that overlooks the underside of Minos’ court.

    I. Designer Whitebox
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    The first step in building an environment; it contains sizing and initial camera/combat/puzzle scripting. Environment collision is created at this stage.

    II. Concept Drawing
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    Based off the whitebox, concept is created to guide environment models and textures.

    III. Models, Textures, UVs
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    The whitebox is replaced with detailed models and textures. Models are created in Maya. Texture maps are created with ZBrush, CrazyBump, and Photoshop. Lighting begins at this point.

    IV. Lighting/Color Study
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    For epic scenes that require special details another concept piece is created. The in game model is screen captured and an in depth study is painted over top in Photoshop. This painting guides lighting and vfx.

    V. Baked Lighting
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    Lighters create light rigs in Maya and bake lighting information into static models and textures (vertices and lightmaps)

    VI. Spherical Harmonics Lighting
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    These grids are invisible during gameplay but light characters and other dynamic objects.

    VII. Combined Lighting and Textures
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    An example of combining baked lighting and finished textures.

    VIII. VFX particles added
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    Particles are added to give a sense of life to the scene. Global wind volumes are placed to affect particle direction and Dante’s ribbons.

    IX. VFX final pass
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    Final vfx pass including: lut, glows, screen distortion, wind trails, vfx lights

    B. Postcards from Hell

    Here’s a look at some of the different environments.

    Surface: Cathedral
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    Limbo: Nursery
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    Limbo: Minos’ court
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    Lust: Storm
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    Lust: Cleopatra’s chamber
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    Gluttony: Intestinal wall
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    Gluttony: Mudvalley
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    Greed: Gold Shades
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    Anger: Precipice
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    Anger: Lighthouse
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    Heresy: Lava wall
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    Heresy: Flaming Crypts
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    Violence: Suicide woods
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    Violence: Burning Sands
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    Treachery: Ice Bridge
    EXCL: Dante's Inferno Artist Blog - 60 fps: The Number of the Beast

    Thanks for reading,

    Rich Larm
    Lead Environment Artist: Dante’s Inferno


    Gamers will get to go to hell in North America beginning February 9, 2010, and in Europe on February 12, 2010, for the PlayStation 3, the Xbox 360, and the PlayStation PSP.

    For more information on Dante’s Inferno, follow the team at Visceral Games on Twitter at @danteteam, and visit the game’s official site, where the team explores a new circle of hell, with new content and updates, on the ninth day of every month. Below you can watch Fraud, which was just released. Only one more to go — Treachery comes in February!

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    Freddy’s Greatest Hits Vinyl Re-issue Is a Must-Own

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    Strange Disc Records has just announced that it will be releasing “Freddy’s Greatest Hits – The Elm Street Group” on vinyl starting this Wednesday with pre-orders expected to ship in January 2018.

    Not only that but Mondo announced they will be releasing an exclusive variant pressed on “Freddy Sweater” striped vinyl. This LP from Mondo is limited to 400 and will cost you $25.

    For those who might not know, “Freddy’s Greatest Hits” was originally released in 1987. The record contains nine tracks (covers, originals, and instrumentals) with Robert Englund doing the voice of Freddy over the top.

    I don’t know about you but this has just made my list of must-own items. But I’d prefer an original copy. That said an original copy is probably hundreds of buck on eBay as opposed to this version for a mere $25 bucks. Not bad.

    You can check out the full track listing and a sample song below. Then make sure to hit us up and let us know if you’ll be snagging a copy in the comments below!

    Track Listing

    1. “Do The Freddy”
    Freddy and the Dreamers cover, as well as a parody.
    The lyrics were changed to fit Freddy Krueger persona and elements

    2. “Obsession”
    original song

    3. “Wooly Bully”
    Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs cover.
    Freddy (Robert Englund) provides the opening lyrics.

    4. “Don’t Sleep”
    original song

    5. “In The Midnight Hour”
    Wilson Pickett cover

    6. “All I Have To Do Is Dream”
    Everly Brothers cover

    7. “Dance or Else”
    original song

    8. “Down in the Broiler Room”
    original song

    9. “Elm Street Dreams”
    original song

    Pre-orders begin Wednesday, November 22.

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    That is One Gigantic Steampunk Squid…

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    Perhaps one of the greatest sci-fi adventures novels ever written, Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was a landmark book, one that was decades ahead of its time. The story follows the crew of the Nautilus, a submarine commanded by Captain Nemo, as they venture in search of a giant sea monster. It was the basis for several film adaptations and the character of Captain Nemo played a pivotal role in the graphic novel series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

    So why am I bringing this up, you ask? Because Tor Books is releasing Nemo Rising, a sequel, this Christmas! Written by C. Courtney Joyner, the story once again follows Nemo, although this book sees him a prisoner that must be pardoned by President Ulysses S. Grant in order to face an onslaught of more sea monsters.

    Normally, I wouldn’t bother you all with this, but I happen to have a soft spot in my heart for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the cover art for the book is fucking epic! I’ve always been a fan of cephalopods, and I’ve found the steampunk aesthetic to be pretty fascinating. Combine them both along with giant monsters, and you damn well better believe that I’m 100% into it! Plus, it’s wrapped itself around the Nautilus, which is already a giant vessel, so now I’m wondering just how large these mechanical monstrosities are…

    Nemo Rising will be released on hardcover from Tor Books on December 26, 2017.

    Synopsis:
    Sea monsters are sinking ships up and down the Atlantic Coast. Enraged that his Navy is helpless against this onslaught and facing a possible World War as a result, President Ulysses S. Grant is forced to ask for assistance from the notorious Captain Nemo, in Federal prison for war crimes and scheduled for execution.

    Grant returns Nemo’s submarine, the infamous Victorian Steampunk marvel Nautilus, and promises a full Presidential pardon if Nemo hunts down and destroys the source of the attacks. Accompanied by the beautiful niece of Grant’s chief advisor, Nemo sets off under the sea in search of answers. Unfortunately, the enemy may be closer than they realize…

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    Filming On Blumhouse’s Halloween Pushed to January

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    Looks like filming on Blumhouse’s upcoming sequel to John Carpenter’s Halloween from Danny McBride and David Gordon Green has been pushed back a few months.

    Not a huge deal, though. Only till January.

    Filming on Halloween (2018) was supposed to begin this October (natch) but now it seems the film still has some cast to fill out.

    The news comes to us via a South Carolina casting agency, The Island Packet, who are still seeking extras for the new film. In fact, if you are from the South Carolina area, you can be an extra in the film. Just click the link above for more details.

    I wish I lived in or around South Carolina because being in this new Halloween would be a f*cking dream come true. If you’re in the area, get on it. You owe it to the rest of us! Haha?

    How excited would you be to be an extra in this new Halloween? Let us know below!

    Blumhouse’s Halloween is directed by David Gordon Green from a script he co-wrote with Danny McBride. The film stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Judy Greer and is executive produced and scored by John Carpenter.

    Halloween (2018) hits theaters Oct. 19, 2018.

    Synopsis:

    Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode, who comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

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