The majority of my work for Forged of Blood involved collaboration with the Creative Director. We brainstormed ideas on how we wanted to visually present the world.
The world of Forged of Blood is called Attiras. It is a world filled with history and change. There are multiple races living in the world, with Neshalans being the biggest populace. The story follows a young prince of pure royal blood on a quest to regain what he has lost.
Leading the art team in Forged of Blood was an exciting challenge for me, as I constantly supported them and tried to help them output their potential. Aside from Art Directing, the scope of my work also entailed discussing with the Game Design and Programming team to find out about any technical limitations we may have, and from there, developing a sustainable style for the art. I believe I have contributed, and communicated with all disciplines, ensuring that we achieve a creative vision that the studio can be proud of.
The following will show my various contributions for the game.
One of my first tasks was creating ideas for environments that exist in the world of Attiras. Our writer provided me with short stories and excerpts of the world's history and events. The studio's vision was to create a world that is not purely fantasy, but also grounded in reality. We took a lot of design inspirations from the Romans: their armors, army structure, architecture, and also their history of bloodshed. Their culture and design language were very iconic and we thought that incorporating some of their ideas into our game would enhance the credibility of our game’s story.
Here are some select images from the pre-production phase. Click on the thumbnails below to expand.
There will be moments in the game where we show key story moments through illustrations. I used old etching art as reference to help the illustrations convey old-age and beauty. To reduce the workload for our solo animator, we chose motion-graphic-style animation. We had tight deadlines and so we had find a solution that worked for the sheer amount of events in the game.
I also had to create rough animatics based on the various revisions of the early scripts. Our Animator to used the animatics I have made as reference.
One of the biggest challenges in creating maps for the game was designing around an existing layout that were purely blocks with fixed sizes. I had to find unique ways to integrate the map theme into the layout itself - balancing where to design more organically and where not to. Objects were carefully considered so that their story and usability still made sense. There was a lot of discussions with the technical team to make sure that everything was doable and would not interrupt with the gameplay system.
I have written blog posts to show the custom map creation process. You can read them here: http://forgedofblood.com/2017/02/24/environment-design-set-dressing/ and here: http://forgedofblood.com/2017/06/20/behind-map-mirlitas-ruins/.
These are designs for the other half of the game, the strategic layer. The strategic layer is an integral part of the game where players spend their time to manage the castle and plan their next moves. I had to come up with the map layout and illustrate it to a high-degree of finish as this will later become an actual in-game asset. Initially the world map was heavily influenced by old style maps with emphasis on bolder graphic design. In the end we decided to go with something more modern in order to bring it more in line with the style of our User Interface.
The castle itself was quite a task to tackle, as you can see from the notes I have written on some of the images. There were various technical challenges that came up as I went through iterations upon iterations. Ultimately, through a lot of discussion, we managed to come to a solution we were all satisfied with.
A world is not just about the environments, but also creatures. In Forged of Blood, players need hunt creatures to gather various in-game resources. This was an interesting challenge because I had to design most of the creatures before they were even associated with any gameplay. Due to this, I made sure to keep myself open and always updated to gameplay system changes that would affect the creature designs. We did not aim for something too realistic for the regular creatures, but more headed towards grounded fantasy. As for the aliens in red, they were specifically designed to be weird and otherworldly. I chose specific forms and color to show that they were not part of the world.
Click on the thumbnails to expand the images.
Human characters had to be designed in such a way that the archetypes and factions were recognizable from the tactical layer. There are different materials that the players can use to craft armors, so the designs have to strike a balance between upgradable parts and non-upgradable parts. A lot of iterations still took place after the rough models were done to keep improving the readability of the models. The character illustrations below were also done in a way that was easy for us to make variations of.
Concepts for VFX are one very small part of what I had to do. These were done as reference and to help inspire the VFX Artist.
The story of the game involved the relationship of two Princes who survived an onslaught. You will play as the younger brother and you will have to make decisions on how you want to interact with your older brother - the new King. You can follow him on his quest to rebuild the kingdom or you can oppose him and be your own King. The logo's aim were to show the connection between the two and to show the state of the world that they live in.
Below are select few of explorations done to find ideas best suited to represent the core story of the game. Each variation was made with the story of the game heavily in mind to ensure that it is subconsciously felt. Click on the thumbnails below to expand the images.
The Creative Director and I wanted to create a more minimalistic UI and less typical for a fantasy RPG. With that goal, I designed the windows to be simple, filled with subtle color gradients, with small touches of filgrees as decoration. We spent a lot of time iterating the UI elements and placements. During development, I also had to act as a middleman for the Game Designers to assist them in designing the flow of the menus.
I have written down a blog post explaining some crucial UI overhauls we had to do to improve the UX for the players. You can read more about it here: http://forgedofblood.com/2017/05/19/tactical-ui-overhaul/.
Additionally, I created mock-up animations to help the Programming team visualize how the UI will work. These were also used for discussions about technical limitations and possible difficulties.