An AMA with Automaton Lead Artist Stuart Bugg
- Will Maveriks have "Battlefield" type lens flare and God Rays which is more than often an obstruction to player when traversing an area facing towards the sun?
- Will Maveriks have any kind of filtering such as vignette, chromatic aberration or a colour hue to set the "mood" of the environment?
- Is it easy to identify factions on the field by their apparel even with cosmetic customization or picking up vanity items from dead players?
- Have you looked at the character customization in Ring of Elysium?
- Will you update your artstation profile with gameplay or more concept screenshots?
"Regarding lens flares and vignettes, etc: To compete visually with the big games out on the market, there are some typical candidates when it comes to adding post-processing effects. For me personally, I'm all for them if they are handled well and add to the visual experience/identity. In truth, we finalised our overall final look - that won't come until we've playtested it a lot more. Theres nothing worse than being in a great gun fight only to turn into the blazing sun with the lens flare of the gods beaming directly into eyes....................and then you slump to the floor dead!
Our day/night cycle is something I'm very aware of that may cause issues with both sun positioning/blindness and base darkness levels at night.
Regarding factions: Good question. It's one of the potential issues that we're working through. For example, if you belong to one faction and then swap all you clothing for a different faction, would that mean you wouldn't be able to be visually identified as belonging to your own faction? I mentioned personality earlier, and we're exploring how we could overcome this with the use of animation - so factions have an identifiable animation set. (Our animators will now hate me!)
As for Ring of Elysium: We've looked at so many games regarding how they've approached and visually handled customising characters. We also very lucky to have colleagues who have work on complex customisation systems previously.
Ha! being stalked online :) Yes, everything I add to my artstation is a piece that has already been posted somewhere else online, so they'll be no surprises to find! But rest assured, I have a lot of work ready to add......."
- I remember hearing somewhere that we will be able to make our own weapon skins. Is this true or will it be limited to the ones you produce?
"For now all weapon skins will be limited to the ones we produce. However, it's really important to me that we embrace our community and make what you want. In the future, we will be sharing concepts for skins with you, so that you're able to choose/vote for your favourites. It's easy for me to choose what I think is a good look for a skin, but someone else may hate it! That's another reason, just like our characters, I shouldn't dictate really what you want your character or weapon to look like. For me as Lead, as long as all clothing/weapons/skins are tonally correct that's a great place to start."
- How deep is the character customization? Just clothes/armor and weapon skins? Or will we also be able to modify our features such as face, hair, body type, etc.?
"The customisation of the characters is very comprehensive. All clothing/armour etc is being considered as being a swappable component. Although we've taken a lot of time to refine and fine tune our initial outfits, nothing should stop a player from being able to look however they want. Mavericks as a game name is very apt - we want players to be Mavericks and make their character, by definition, whatever they want it to be/look like!
Heads are different for now, though. We will be supplying a lot of already pre-made head designs, so these will have no customisations."
- What are the inspirations or personal(including the art team members and input from game directors and others) aspirations so to speak, for the art direction/tone of the game? do you consider it important/how do you think the art constitute/infuse into/complement a pvp game and pvp modes where people primarily fight each other to death, preoccupied with minute gameplay mechanics and, as opposed to more relaxed playstyles in pve games where you can take a breather at times(as game wants you to as well) to gander at the scenary/landscapes(also that those single player games kinda bank on movie like experiences and benchmark level graphics as selling points), since it goes without saying that your game is specially capable to reach similar level if not better, for also a superior pvp setting thanks to the revolutionary tech like spatialOS etc. Also I'd really like to express my gratitude and anticipation for those grand vistas teased in the website introduction of the different map geological areas coming to fruition! Thank you very much!
"Firstly, thank you for the compliment on the grand vistas. The team here are really working flat out to make Mavericks a real visual spectacle! It's a long question and I think the best way to answer this is to say how we all at Automaton work. We have a very flat management hierarchy. We don't have an overall art director telling us what to do or what to make. We are all passionate gamers, and we make sure everyone here has a voice. Also, the diversity of games people play or have worked on in the past means that we have a rich talent pool to art or design anything that PVP/PVE/MMO can throw at us. Whilst working with so many creative people it would be foolish of me to just blindly ignore amazing ideas because I hadn't thought of them! To give you an example: I might start off the visual direction for an element or idea, but I'll then embrace the team and get their collective thoughts. Its a very 'free' way of working and also empowers everyone here. Mavericks is very much a collective vision."
- Can you tell us where you’re at with the fifth faction (neutral / Capital Forces) and, if they’re still in the game, what their role and lore is for the game?
- When designing the landscape of the Isle of Dern, what impacts on gameplay have you been aiming for (eg lots of cover, sniping opportunities, flanking and deceptive tactic opportunities, or other gameplay features)?
- Is the fact that ‘Isle of Dern’ is an anagram for ‘Drone Flies’ more than pure coincidence?
"Our fifth faction is still in the game and is just as important as the others. In fact, the fifth faction is a little more complex than the others to visually deliver. For the Lore to work well they need a look that is tonally correct. That is something that we have worked on a while ago, but, just like the factions that we have already released, I'd like to revisit them and make sure they suit our game world and narrative.
To answer this question better, its probably easier to say why we chose its overall basic thematic. The Isle of Dern is really, for us, based in northern Britain (primarily west Scotland) and in particular the Isle of Skye. These are, and will always be, our base direction first ports of call when gathering reference. Why this area?, simply because its a stunningly beautiful place that has a landscape that offers a massive amount of scope for a huge variety of gameplay. Dense forests, open moorland, mountain ranges, huge vistas, tight spaces. These with our constantly changing time of day offers an almost endless supply of ideas that aid both art and design.
Unfortunately, just a pure coincidence. Nice find, though!"
- Which programs do you guys use for 3D modelling etc? Are you going to add any fan made stuff?
"The characters and environment teams are using 3DS Max. Animation are using Maya. Connor (concept art) uses nearly everything he can lay his hands on! Regarding fan made stuff: If a member of the community posted or shared an amazing visual idea, then go for it! In all seriousness, I constantly look through channels, be it Reddit/Discord/forums, and if a great idea pops up that causes us to pause and think, that's fantastic."
- What is the biggest road block, or slowdown that you or your team has encountered so far?
"The biggest visual burden/hurdle so far has been rocks! (The perennial developer headache item!)
Because we are really trying to get Mavericks to visually push boundaries, and embracing tech - such as photogrammetry - getting rocks to look right is a challenge. Even if you look at some of the great games released over the past 2/3 years, most rocks just look hand sculpted or just ugly. It's also worth mentioning that all media released so far, from screenshots to our E3 trailer, is genuinely grabbed straight from CryEngine. From memory, the only Photoshop retouching was done last year on the original two screenshots (the explosions were added)."
What are the ''limitations'' or ''rules'' you are using for the themes in general: Clothing, environment etc...
I notice a slight sci-fi vibe going on but it looks somewhat grounded as well with existing weapon models from the real world. Is there such a thing as too much sci-fi in Mavericks? Is there such a thing as ''Too realistic''?
Is there some balance to strike?
"The only real limitations and rules per se for clothing is really down to being constrained to proportions. We have to make sure that items on a character can be customised. Visually, they must fit within our Mavericks universe and, for me, they must have a high degree of personality. That's also been one of the major directional buzzwords I've used with Connor, our concept Artist. As Mavericks is set 30 years in the future, that has allowed us a little piece of 'future time'. That means we're able to embellish our characters and environments with some very cool, but not too unbelievable, future tech ideas. It's is one of our core pillars that Mavericks seems believable. Realism is great to a point, and is something we do embrace too, but as it's a game, if an incredible idea comes up I'll happily ditch realism and just keep it in the realms of believable!"
- Ghillie suits or other types of camouflage?
We did have some concepts of ghillie suits at one point a long time ago, but it's not on the cards right now. It's all about visual balance. If we were to release certain clothing items that were to make you almost invisible, you'd have to balance it with other negative attributes. We don't have any plans for that style of clothing at the present.