A gamedev story told by...Art Director: Peter Gornstein Concept Artist: Frederic Lierman Senior Artist: Lars Martinsson Take a closer look to how a specific part of the concept and design process went on Ryse: Son of Rome, developed by Crytek.
Hi, my name is Peter Gornstein I am the Cinematic Director, Art Director, and co-Writer on Ryse. I’m Frederic Lierman and I was the Character Art / Concept Art manger on Ryse. My name is Lars Martinsson and I was a Senior Artist on Ryse 1, but now I’m Lead.
Well, in terms of what we expected when we looked at the Roman specter of games that was there, it’s obviously a well traveled road so what was important for us was when we came with the design for it when we came up for something that still maintained the uniqueness of Roman design, but also did something different, so that the franchise and the IP would be easily recognizable. So what we did early on was agree on the fact that we need to come up with some kind of, mix our own style, with the traditional Roman, so that it would basically stand out in compared to other IPs in the market segment. So early on we decided we want to marry-we tried different techniques-we tried baroque-and then we finally decided to merge classical roman with Art Deco, which gave it sort of a unique expression. That sort of gave a uniform throughout the whole game where the Roman presence was there it would have an expression of art deco mixed in with classical.
Haha. Well inspiration usually comes from trial and error I would say. Basically what we did is we threw a lot of different things at the wall, and whatever stuck and what we were excited about was what we want for. Like I said we tried various art techniques, art styles, experimented with them, tested them on we would do like a baroque mixed with a classical Roman column, then an art deco column, then do a classical roman column to see which stood out, which looked unique, which looked best, which most expressed you know, the concept that we were going for: the Roman empire seen through the eyes of the IP we wanted to create.
Looking at the “Rome” themed games out there, it’s obviously a well-traveled road, so what was important for us when we came up with the design was to maintain the uniqueness of Roman design, but also to do something different. That way the franchise and the IP would be easily recognizable. Early on we agreed to come up with a distinctive style of our own and mix it with a traditional Roman style, so that it would stand out from other IPs in the market and give a unique impression. We ended up merging a sort of art deco style with classical Roman imagery.
During the research period for Ryse, we had a team that went to Rome, where they photographed the historical sources, and went on a tour of famous sites to draw inspiration from them. Obviously we made a huge reference library of everything from Pompeii to Egypt to have something to pull from. We wanted to have the game firmly anchored in reality, but we wanted to take it one step further. So once we had that reference material gathered, we started to implement our own art style on top of it.
I think one important thing in Ryse is the actual actors, as they are basically the game’s characters. So when designing, let’s say Vitallion, one of the main story characters, the actor’s way of acting and the look of his face dictated the character design. We had this sort of reference point of a lion for that particular character, and that added to his demeanor and the way the actor performed. So we tried to do that as much as possible, because that was very important and added an extra layer to the character development.
Since Ryse was for a next-gen console we had so much more power to play with, which also meant we could put a lot more detail into everything. But that also multiplies the amount of work. So we had to be smarter about how to do things and how to not take forever for every task. So that was definitely a challenge. I also know that it took a while to determine how much art direction to bring in, and to define how realistic the game should be. That was also a challenge of finding the line where we wanted the actual design to land.
I think during Ryse we basically grew all our pipelines. We had pipelines that were basically good for lesser platforms and we pushed them to their limits. And then we updated, so we were basically faced with making assets for the sort of characters that had never been done before. And I think that’s something we achieved with Ryse – in my opinion we created assets and characters that were probably better than anything that had been out there so far.