BBC’s nature documentaries have, in the last decade, become the go-to source not just for close-up looks at the far reaches of the world, but also for ways to make our HD and Ultra HD televisions look their absolute best.
When the team at Guerrilla Games set out to make Horizon Zero Dawn for the PlayStation 4, BBC’s documentaries were a huge inspiration for the game world, the studio’s art director revealed in an interview with Kotaku.
But if you’ve ever watched reality television of any kind, you know what we’re seeing, even in a documentary, isn’t realistic. Guerrilla knows that, too, and set out to capture what director Jan-Bart van Beek calls hyper-realism.
“It’s a form of hyper-realism that we started calling ‘BBC-realism,'” he said. “It’s all shot in perfect condition, at the perfect time of day, with exactly the right dramatic light angle, cloudscapes, and weather. There’s a lot of cinematic grading to add contrast, atmosphere, and saturation to the screen. It’s a film process that takes weeks to find those conditions and film a 10-second snippet.”
Horizon is that, but all the time.
“We wanted to give [players] a sense of being in a 24/7 version of BBC’s nature, where it is always at its most epic, most impressive. Anything less than the best look, we would simply remove.”
While parts of Horizon are indeed procedural, the team spent a ton of time tweaking the game, making sure that the fog, snow, and dust were always cinematic. A majority of the game’s landscape is was generated procedurally rather than shaped by an artist, but artists were able to go through and both create rules to change the look of areas and to place individual elements to dress up spots for cutscenes and the like – areas the player is definitely going to look at.
Horizon is one of the best-looking games around right now, and Guerrilla’s focus on hyper-realism is a huge contributor to that. I can’t think any other game that’s had as rewarding a photo mode as Horizon‘s.
Check out the source link below for the full interview.