Conceptual Design in Bayonetta 2

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hello, my name is Mai Okura, I was the conceptual designer for Bayonetta 2. For the previous game, I was in my first year working at Platinum and in charge of its user interface (maps, menus, gauges, etc.). I remember giving then-producer now-director Hashimoto a lot of stress, so it was a bit of a surprise he let me back on his team. Those two games really mean a lot to me.

But anyway. You’re probably still stuck on the title “conceptual designer”, wondering what it means. Yeah, it’s a bit of a toughie. Games and movies as well often have several smaller parts that come together to form that game’s overall look and feel. This can include characters, enemies, environments, and UI too. It’s my job to create a style guide for all of these individual pieces and make sure they make sense when placed together.

This wasn’t my job in the first game, but I worked on UI under the conceptual designer and learned a lot about how important it is to have each of the game’s concepts working together to construct overall world design. I’m still pretty new at concept design and not doing anything that jaw-dropping at the moment, but I thought I’d try to take this blog as an opportunity to talk about what I think is really fascinating about Bayonetta 2.

There are two topics I’d like to touch on. The first one deals with the image below.

ohkura_01

As you can see, the base tones for the original Bayonetta were red and black, whereas in Bayonetta 2 they’re blue (representing Bayonetta) and gold (representing the game’s enemies). Compared to the image above it, you can tell the bottom screen gives off a much brighter, vivid impression.

What was so difficult about this was that while Bayonetta’s key color was blue, the key color for Aesir’s power was blue as well. Ultimately we resolved this issue by changing this mysterious power of Aesir’s to an emerald green, but it’s still kind of hard for players to discern, so I gave Aesir his own unique line patterns in his design to draw distinction from Bayonetta.

The second point I wanted to talk about was how much contrast changed between the two games. The first game has relatively low contrast, whereas colors in Bayonetta 2 are much brighter stand out a lot more. In the original Bayonetta, a lot of our inspiration was drawn from the classical architecture and landscape of Europe: you could see a lot of the curved lines in the works of Mucha and Gaudi, and things had an elegant Art Nouveau tone.

ohkura_02

(Top: Bayonetta/Bottom: Bayonetta 2)
In Bayonetta 2, however, there is a much stronger theme of straight lines and geometric shapes, as you can see looking at Aesir. There are also a lot more colors in this game in total; in Bayonetta and the other characters, the effects, and the UI as well. This might just be because Bayonetta 2 has more characters than the previous game. Looking at the two games side by side, I think you can admit that Bayonetta 2 has a more modern feel, whereas the first game feel’s more classic.

There’s a lot more I realize I could write… but I think I’ll stop here.

They may be the same series featuring the same main character, but there’s a lot in the world design of Bayonetta 2 that you won’t find in the original, and vice versa.

Take care!

*The official art book for Bayonetta 2, “The Eyes of Bayonetta 2”, goes on sale in Japan tomorrow! It includes concept art, 3D character models, the Hierarchy of Laguna, Lemegeton’s Guidebook, comments from the staff, and art from me! Be sure to take check it out!

Tagged: , , , , , ,

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.

001

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.

004

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.

006

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.

007

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.

008

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.

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Last Time Up

VANQUISH

Filed: Community, Games, PlatinumGames, Vanquish

Well, this is the last entry for “my blog”…

For this entry, I think I’ll let you in on something that went on behind the scenes, and that is what we originally wanted Vanquish to become.

In our original vision for Vanquish, no one was actually inside Sam’s suit. Instead, it was a remotely operated robot with three different pilots who would take turns controlling the unit from afar.

(These are character designer Makoto Tsuchibayashi’s original designs.)

The robot would change forms according to the pilot in charge, as each pilot had been specially trained in areas such as shooting, melee, or hover and snipe. This single robot was capable of being battle effective in a variety of situations. I thought we could make something interesting out of how these three different pilots interacted with each other, much like Kamen Rider Den-O. This idea died a quick death early in the project, but personally, I still think the idea has its merits.

When making a game, there are plenty of ideas like these that get rejected, but they build up and can end up finding their way back, like in a sequel for instance, so you can never say that an idea is completely out of bounds. I don’t know what I will be making next, but considering how fickle I am, it will probably end up being a game completely different from Vanquish.

Well, until we meet again, in the realm of the video game.

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Xbox 360 Premium Bayonetta Theme

Bayonetta

Filed: Bayonetta, Community, Games, PlatinumGames

(Originally posted on the Japanaese Bayo-Blog January 25, 2010)

Hello, everyone. Happy New Year. Bayonetta concept designer Ikumi Nakamura here, humping my beloved Lancer Assault Rifle along with me.

Bayonetta has been released in Europe and North America now. Everyone on staff here is enjoying seeing all your comments about the game everyday.

I wanted to talk about the Premium Theme we made for the Xbox 360.

The main point of departure for the Premium Theme was to place it in the same ballpark as the Bayonetta in-game Chapter Screen (the map screen). I started work on the theme right in the middle of the carnage that is the end of development; naturally, I was sweating bullets as I worked out the design. Originally, we created 10 “stages” that followed the story of Bayonetta for the Friends screen.

However, those of you who purchased the theme got to see 7 of the stages I designed for characters to stand on, if my memory serves me correctly.

Months prior, the world famous Hashimoto Producer had directed me to “Keep the data size down to a third of what you’re using.”

No matter how much Kamiya-san complained, we weren’t able to increase the file size. It caused problems not just for me, but also our programmer, Kenji-san. The only way we could make the limit was to cut some of the stages we created. I’d like to show you the 3 character stages that didn’t make the cut.


Cereza’s stuffed cat stage


Paradiso stage


Ithavoll Building stage

I’ve included Kamiya-san’s avatar in the pictures. I think you should be able to use them as wallpapers if you’d like.

I still have no idea why the Ithavoll Building, a crucial locale, didn’t make the cut…

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The event below is now over.)
By the way, on January 30, 2010, we will be having an official PlatinumGames party with our fans. All of the staff here are looking forward to meeting you all.
We hope to see you there!

Bye for now!

Tagged: , , , , , ,

The Weapons of Bayonetta – Special Edition

Bayonetta

Filed: Bayonetta, Community, Games, PlatinumGames

Happy New Year, everyone!
I’m the head of the PlatinumGames Weapons Development Division (No. of Employees: 1), Muneyuki “Johnny” Kotegawa here.

I’ve seen on the web lately that some fans have been creating Scarborough Fair and All 4 One models. As a member (and leader) of the PlatinumGames Weapons Development Division, I am quite pleased to see these efforts.
I decided to lend my little bit of support by preparing multi-direction and exploded views of the guns in question. Print them out, line them up, and get a taste of how much fun it must be to be Rodin himself. The charms are also included, so I suppose you may want to make these as accessories as well.

So please accept these as a token of my gratitude, and enjoy your lives as witches!

These images are also available on the PlatinumGames Flickr page.

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The World of Bayonetta – Maps and Props

Bayonetta

Filed: Bayonetta, Community, Games, PlatinumGames

top00

Hello all! I’m Ikumi Nakamura, concept designer on Bayonetta. It has been three weeks since Bayonetta was released in Japan… I bet there are many of you who have completed the game, and one of the things I’ve seen quite a bit of are comments referring to Bayonetta as “middle aged.” (LOL) Considering she is a witch who has been living for hundreds and hundreds of years, I think she has transcended middle age; however, these days I’m just happy that it seems people are into an attractive older woman like Bayonetta.

For this entry, I thought I’d bring you up to speed on some of the prop design in the game. First of all, in Bayonetta, there are certain treasure boxes that can show up at certain points in the game. However, one of Kamiya-san’s hallmarks is to make these treasure boxes engaging by giving them a sense of a bit more backstory and relevance… I think.

宝箱詳細

This treasure box was designed to actually have been a witch’s grave, but as they were persecuted by the Sages, the Sages placed a blessed counterweight on top of the grave to seal them. Over time, the remains of the witch inside actually became an item. By destroying the counterweight, Bayonetta is able to release the soul of witch within, and gain her strength in the form of the item. Pretty engaging, huh?

These small items get destroyed immediately, or are only on screen for a split-second, but they are still satisfying to design, and I get excited designing them.

イザヴェル運搬車

This troop transport shows up in one of the cutscenes where Luka gets the scare of his life. It’s kind of a bold design, and I really like it, but I think it is only on screen for like less than 10 seconds. I also remember another part of the world that I was really particular about – the chapter start screen.

チャプター00

The idea here is that it is a certain child’s room, and the kid is playing with a board-game-piece-like Bayonetta doll on top of a map. As you clear each chapter, objects appear on the map. These are based on the same models that actually appear in the stages, but one of our cute, bespectacled background designers, Sata, turned the models into toys for me, so when they show up on the map, they have a really good feel to them. So the question then remains, whose hand is it playing with these toys!?

チャプター人形ベヨ

This is a “tumbler doll” designed to look like Bayonetta.

I really hope they make it into a real toy…

I think that, starting with the design of the map and extending to things like the background on the menus, designing with “old cartooon” style gives the World of Bayonetta an extra bit of depth. When I made these designs, it was towards the end of development and I didn’t really have much time, so I combined the various parts that I would busily draw by hand together in Photoshop. I also drew Rodin’s Trinity of Realities in the same manner.

map00

武器画面BG調整用

I think that I removed the nipples in the one that actually appears in the game. One of the big wigs here told me to lose the nipples.

“It’s art!” I replied incoherently.

The whole sad affair came to be known as the “Nipple Rebellion.”

This about wraps it up, but there is still more Bayonetta news to report soon. There is some Bayonetta content for Xbox Live, wallpapers, and a comprehensive art book, etc. on their way to Japan that we are working hard on, so look forward to more news soon.

Now to answer a few questions that came in for me:

Storm! asks:

Is there a sexy, cute angel like the one in the ‘Team Little Angels’ logo within the game itself?

That would be Joy’s role in the game, wouldn’t it? Hehe.

When I saw the designs for the Moon of Mahaa-Kalaa, it was so cool I just couldn’t get enough.

When I see a gas mask, a balaclava, or an RPG-7, they are so cool I can’t get enough.

Osakajin asks:

There is a SWAT team in Bayonetta? LOL

They aren’t a SWAT team, but there are Ithavoll military forces in the game.

Mikami Fan asks:

Is there any way I can get that Little Angels T-Shirt?

If you can use a time machine back to San Diego Comic Con 2009 you should be able to get your hands on one.

Well, that it for now! Until next time!

(NOTE: Higher resolution versions of the concept art in this post can be found on the PlatinumGames Inc. Flickr Page)

Tagged: , , , , , , , ,