PlatinumGames at GDC 2014

Platinum Games

Filed: PlatinumGames

Hey, this is Andrew Brasher, International Coordinator. Last week I led a few of our staff to my second GDC (Game Developers Conference). I’m going to give you a run through of our GDC experience, for those who aren’t familiar with exactly everything that goes on.

Being based in Osaka, GDC is a bit of a trek for the PlatinumGames team. Our route is Osaka-Tokyo-San Francisco, and it takes more than half a day to reach our destination.

When we arrived in San Francisco, the cherry blossoms of Union Square were almost in full bloom, which was definitely a treat for a Japanese company.

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We arrived on Tuesday and had a little time to explore the city before the main conference began.

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The PlatinumGames staff takes a walk around San Francisco.

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Being an unusual sight, the trolley downtown got brought up in conversation more than a few times.

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I feel like I’ve seen this building before… where was it… Oh yeah, we blew this up with a giant microwave.

GDC gets fully underway on Wednesday morning and lasts until Friday afternoon.

It takes place in the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The events are spread across three buildings: North, South, and West.

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Here’s the North building.

The Keynote speech on Wednesday includes dozens of presentations by different people who will be speaking at GDC.

The presentations are short—under a minute I think—existing just to give a quick idea of what is available to participants.

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Sessions come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are slideshow presentations to rooms of hundreds of people,

some are round table discussions between 30-50 participants, and some are poster sessions that have data graphed out in hallways with an exhibitor nearby to answer any questions.

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We sent a team of visual artists and programmers to pick up on what GDC had to offer.

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Our Visual Artist Yoshiomi Kure (pictured on the left) on his way to the day’s next session.

We had a lot to take in the three days we were there:

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Character studies in BioShock Infinite,

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Lighting in The Last of Us,

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Design talks on Rayman Legends…

There were plenty of interesting talks providing all kinds of interesting information from some of gaming’s greats, so we kept our schedules packed every day.

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The rare times we had a moment to step out of the lecture halls, we wandered through the expo floor

to see what new announcements there were for game middle-ware. The expo was full of companies of all sizes,

ready to show off their newest developments to the crowds of visitors. Every morning there were long lines of participants waiting for the doors to open.

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Take a look at what went on inside:

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We got to see our friends at Quixel, who Platinum’s been using since their freeware days. It was exciting to see how far they’d come.

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Some of the biggest news this year, as you may have heard, was Sony announcing its new Project Morpheus, a VR gaming headset for PlayStation 4.

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For some discussion outside of current game development, The Video Game History Museum has a special exhibition on Nintendo this year.

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I can’t believe there’s an old Milton Bradley Legend of Zelda board game. I wanted this so badly after seeing it.

The days go by quick but there’s a long time left to digest all the new information. I look forward to checking out GDC next year as well!

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A Day in the Life of a Concept Artist

Platinum Games

Filed: PlatinumGames

Hey everyone, this is Liz! Here at PlatinumGames.com, we like to give our fans the occasional glimpse behind the scenes of game development.

Have you ever dreamed of being a concept artist? Learn what it’s really like in this interview with one of our artists, Cho.

Cho - main

Q: What is most important to you when working on a game?
A: I’m in charge of concept and design work for the game’s characters and enemies, so I’m always thinking about whether the users will find the characters appealing. Of course, different things appeal to different people, but I always wonder to myself, “Would I buy an action figure of this character?”, “Can the player emotionally identify with this character? Will they want to control this character?”, and “Could a player tell the character’s personality at a glance?” So I think about my characters from various different perspectives when I’m doing my design work. Other than that, I try to focus on making the game fun!

Q: Tell us an interesting experience you’ve had working on a game.
A: To make a game fun, the creators on each team need to be in the same mental space. That’s easy to say, but hard to achieve. For example, when I think a concept is interesting, sometimes the entire staff shares that feeling, but sometimes they don’t. Each individual has their own thought process, so we discuss and create, discuss and create, over and over again. Only through this cycle can we create a fun game that every single team member is satisfied with.

Q: What memory will you never forget about your work?
A: Originally I was in the character section, and I was in charge of converting character concepts into 3D. But I had always wanted to create my own original characters from scratch, so I told all my coworkers that I wanted to do character design. Also, I had been taking part in brainstorming meetings because I could do illustrations. So one day, a senior team member happened to notice one of my drawings, and I was re-assigned to do 2D character design in the artwork section! Of course I was lucky that there was an opening at that time, but I was really glad that my persistence had paid off, and I promised myself to make the best possible use of this chance.

A Day In the Life

8:00 AM Wake up
9:00 AM Commute by bicycle
9:30 AM Arrive at work

Cho commute

10:00 AM Start working on character creation
I always decide a goal for my day before starting my work. Sometimes people think that artists just sit around drawing all day, but it’s also the artists’ job to imagine the game world itself. When I do my drawing, I think in as much detail as possible about what kind of people and animals live in this world. I also get ideas from looking at reference material and talking with my coworkers.

12:30 Lunch with coworkers

1:30 PM Character drawing
In the early stages of design, I draw about 100 versions of a character. Each version takes only a minute or so – I don’t make polished-quality art at this stage. I go through the cycle of character sketching and showing my work to the director countless times. As I narrow down the number of versions to 50, 25, and 10, I create more finished illustrations.

2:00 PM Section meeting
Discussion about the game world with the art section.

Cho at work

3:00 PM Continue to refine design

4:00 PM Director check
I always have the director check my work at least once, and sometimes up to 4 or 5 times per day! I have my work checked so many times because, if the character’s design isn’t finished, other sections’ work gets slowed down. Speed is a very important quality for an artist.

5:00 PM Character approaches final version
As I improve the detail level of the drawing, I think about how it will move in 3D and how it can be animated. It takes me an average of three days to one week to brush up a character. The main character of a certain title took a year to be finished!

6:00 PM Director check

7:00 PM Return home

8:00 PM Shower and have dinner

9:00 PM Take care of kids

11:00 PM Free time
I play games in all genres, watch films and read novels and poetry, as well as reading art-related books. This time gives me more material for new character design ideas.

2:00 AM Go to bed

Well, that’s it for today! I hope you enjoyed. Tell us so and we might interview more Platinum employees in the future.

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Ruminations on Character Design

METAL GEAR RISING

Filed: Community, Games, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, PlatinumGames

Hello. My name’s Cho, I did character design in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.

I was in charge of enemy cyborg soldiers, sub-characters, boss characters, etc.

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Some enemy designs.

Up until now, the world and characters of Metal Gear have been designed by Yoji Shinkawa of Konami’s Kojima Productions. I’m sure this is something most of you already know; Shinkawa-san has a lot of fans from around the world, myself included. As a designer, the biggest challenge I faced during this project was to create characters that would belong to both the established Metal Gear Solid universe and a fast-paced action game like Rising.

As a seasoned fan, I felt I already had a decent understanding of Metal Gear, but now that I had to look at things from the eyes of a creator, I went back and played through the series one more time. My time for clearing The Boss Extreme in MGS4 was 3 hours and 2 minutes, in case you want to know.

You won’t see these characters in the actual game; they were just rough ideas that helped us decide designs.

You won’t see these characters in the actual game; they were just rough ideas that helped us decide designs.

At the start of development, we were free to throw out any ideas we thought would work well with Metal Gear Rising’s world concept. This is probably the best part of the design process; ideas really seem to just flow. It is the time where anything you hit upon that you think might be good you have to push for. After this stage, you start working on basic design layout.

For this entry, I’d like to talk about an enemy cyborg named Mistral.

Initial designs for Mistral.

Initial Mistral designs

Mistral’s initial concept came from Kenji Saito, Rising’s director: “I want tendril-like-objects to come out of this girl, and
I want her to fight with them like a whip!” In previous MG titles, most female characters follow the formula of a mysterious, alluring femme fatale with a tragic past. I wanted to design Mistral in the same mold.

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More Mistral designs.

Mistral done in a Mannequin theme.

Mistral done in a Mannequin theme.

I thought about having a cyborg-enhanced body, like Raiden, and a slightly sick-looking face would work best for her design. More than that, however, I wanted something somewhat perverse/weird, so I started rethinking her base design and tried something new.

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More Mistral tests.

Then we put about a dozen dwarf gekko arms on her that she could detach and recombine to create her main weapon. After this was approved, we finally had Mistral’s prototype. Next, we did some fine tuning by iterating on colors and cyborg parts. Personally, I wanted Mistral to be wearing a helmet, but Saito-san said he didn’t want to hide her face, so we lost it. The final design we decided on was a more “human,” sexy Mistral.

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Mistral full view.

Once we decided an overall look, we started on details. Rising is full of cyborgs and other mech-based characters that need to be carefully detailed, otherwise things fall apart in 3D-modeling.

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Mistral details.

This is the final, fully approved body shot of Mistral.

This is the final, fully approved body shot of Mistral.

So there is a glimpse into our design process for a character. While Mistral is an enemy character in Rising, she is one who bears a tragic past that players should be able to feel for. I hope you’ll like her when you play the game.

It won’t be much longer until the release!
Be sure to get your hands on it.

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Staying True to Metal Gear

METAL GEAR RISING

Filed: Community, Games, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, PlatinumGames

Hey. I’m Kenichirou Yoshimura, a former designer at PlatinumGames who recently turned freelance. I designed enemies and side characters in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.

Three days before I was about to leave Platinum to go freelance, without much left to do, I strolled over to the nearby Rising team to see if they needed any help. “I could design something small, if you wanted,” I said. Then I saw their designs – the art style could not have been further from the Metal Gear universe. Immediately, I slammed my fist on the director’s table. “You cannot put this in a Metal Gear game!” I told him. Before I knew it, my last three days at Platinum turned into over half a year.

I’ve played through the entire Metal Gear series and I share the same impressions as so many other fans – Shinkawa-san does unbelievable character and mech design. I collect all the art books like everyone else, (not to mention that I love Z.O.E., too.) so if you had told me I was going to be working on a Metal Gear game someday, I never would have believed you. Joining the team, I was as excited as I was terrified.

The first character I designed was Raiden’s rival, Sam. The director asked for “something samurai-like”, so I roughed out a few ideas.

A rough design for Sam.

A rough design for Sam

A rough design for Sam.

A rough design for Sam.

Another rough design for Sam.

Another rough design for Sam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He looks pretty naked in the first sketch here. In the second version of the sketches we’ve got him battle-ready…

The near-final rough design.

The near-final rough design.

After thinking over some different styles, we finally settled on going in the direction of that second pass. The key points to look at here are:
-Asymmetrical design. His right arm has been enhanced for faster blade drawing.
-The top of the sheath is structured like a gun from the inside out, again for enhancing blade drawing speed.

I argued with the director for a long time whether to have his base color be black with a white right arm, or be white with a black arm. I wanted the black body/white arm personally, but we opted to go with a white body/black arm to contrast with Raiden’s black color scheme, which I think was the right decision in the end.

Usually we’d be close to the final design at this stage, but to have things be true to Metal Gear, we needed to add that extra layer of detail. Once I got into it, all I can say is the detail is insane! (Every single part has it’s own specialized warnings and labels!) But even going through that process, I can’t say I was an expert on what it meant to be truly “Metal Gear.” I had to keep trying and failing, but by keeping all those Shinkawa-san artbooks close at hand, I was able to accomplish what I set out to do.

Sam's final design.

Sam’s final design.

Sam's final design - waist up.

Sam’s final design – waist up.

Sam's final weapon design.

Sam’s final weapon design.

Sam final design detail.

Sam final design detail.

Sam's weapon "saya" final design.

Sam’s weapon “saya” final design.

The sheath was designed by Platinum’s military buff, Muneyuki “Johnny” Kotegawa.

With these designs, my first priority was making sure that when a fan of Metal Gear plays Rising, they would feel they fit right alongside Shinkawa-san’s. I wanted what I designed to be deserving of the Metal Gear name.

So while Konami gave me the green light on most of my work with their initial check, next in line was always a meeting with Shinkawa-san, where he would tell me his opinion of my work directly (which, of course, scared me to death).

“You’ve set my mind at ease,” he said. I was elated.

The Metal Gear staff work hard to stay true to the Metal Gear world; PlatinumGames works hard to ensure quality gameplay. The chance to work with these two different sides of the project has taught me a lot. I’m truly honored to have been a part of this one!

All that’s left now is hoping you guys pick up the game and have a great time.
Until then… Farewell!

A picture of Sam that Shinkawa-san drew for me in an artbook during our meeting!

A picture of Sam that Shinkawa-san drew for me in an artbook during our meeting!

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Maximum Anarchy with Douglas and Max

Platinum Games

Filed: Anarchy Reigns, Community, Games, PGTV, PlatinumGames

The wraps have come off two new additions to the Anarchy Reigns cast, Maximillian Caxton and Douglas Williamsburg. Max comes ready to fight with both Positron Blades and a Tesla Blitz, representing the best that BPS has to offer, while Douglas is ready to give mutants a pounding with The Twins (AKA Romeo and Julio)!


As a special treat, here is the Japanese Launch Trailer for Max Anarchy!

To wrap up our Anarchy Reigns news, be sure to check back here tomorrow for PG Break for a sampling of “This is Madness” a brand new, original track created by Dilated Peoples for Anarchy Reigns! We will be live tomorrow at 12PM JST, 11PM EDT, 8PM PDT, and 4AM BST.

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Introducing Rin Rin, Fei Rin, and Ai Rin!

Platinum Games

Filed: Anarchy Reigns, Community, Games, PGTV, PlatinumGames

Madworld’s Rin Rin returns to Anarchy Reigns and she has brought her deadly sisters along for the ride. Check out these awesome character clips for the newest members of the Anarchy Reigns cast!

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Oinkie Juices His Way Into Anarchy Reigns

Platinum Games

Filed: Anarchy Reigns, Community, Games, PGTV, PlatinumGames

History is littered with athletes who have juiced looking to take home the proverbial bacon. In Anarchy Reigns, the juice head really just wants some bacon. Say hello to Oinkie, the newest member of the Anarchy Reigns cast.

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Garuda Transforms Into Anarchy Reigns

Platinum Games

Filed: Anarchy Reigns, Community, Games, PGTV, PlatinumGames

What happens when you don’t lose your mind, just your body? You turn into a transforming, drill-equipped robot hell-bent on total annihilation. You also get a cool name – GARUDA!

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Durga Eviscerates Anarchy Reigns

Platinum Games

Filed: Anarchy Reigns, Community, Games, PGTV, PlatinumGames

It takes a special kind of individual to attach a revolver to one’s leg. Fortunately, Anarchy Reigns has just that crazed individual – DURGA!

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Leo Joins Anarchy Reigns Cast

Platinum Games

Filed: Anarchy Reigns, Community, Games, PGTV, PlatinumGames

Here comes a new challenger! (Can we say that!?) Leo joins the Anarchy Reigns cast!

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