There’s a lot of good that comes along with a new generation of consoles, but the benefits don’t come without a ton of work behind the scenes. Building game assets – character models, textures, and technology – for a current gen game is hard enough on its own. Rebuilding a character you already have to take advantage of the technology while still retaining the core elements of what make that character unique, though, sounds even tougher.
At last weekend’s PlayStation Experience, a tiny segment of the team at Naughty Dog held a panel entitled Modeling Nathan Drake: Bringing an Iconic Character to PS4.
In the panel, the part of the team that focuses on building the characters in the game went over what it took to take Uncharted‘s Nathan Drake into the present generation. The team starts with the concept artist, Ashley Swidowski, and goes step by step through the process. Colin Thomas, the character artist, talks about how his process changed as the PlayStation 4’s power allowed the team to generate more aspects of the character dynamically. Some elements aren’t baked into the character, while others are baked into different parts. Things get more technical when shader artist Yibing Jiang talks about her role in, really, the entire character in determining the way light will interact with his clothing, skin, eyes, hair, and other elements.
We also get a peek at some of those dynamic elements I mentioned before – if Drake gets wet, for example, water will seep out into his clothes naturally. His hair will wilt when it gets wet and lie in the direction the water poured.
While elements like this don’t change the way the game plays, they help with the way the game feels overall, helping Naughty Dog more fully convey that Hollywood Movie tone they’re going for with Uncharted.
The video is just over an hour long, so it’s not a quick one, but definitely worth the time for anyone interested in the work that goes into building a game.