BLOGCAST

We had an awesome time last week seeing many of you at San Diego Comic-Con. Whether we played Chaos Squad with you on the showfloor or in the Xbox Lounge, revealed brand-new content to you at our SDCC Panel, or caught you in line to buy Mondo’s Sunset Overdrive poster (their first-ever videogame print), it was fantastic to hear about how excited you are for the game.

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If you missed our panel, and the coverage of it on Polygon, we focused a lot on Character Customization at San Diego Comic-Con. Polygon announced a contest where you can design an outfit for the game that we will make after we ship to be in post-launch DLC! The prize is a trip to Insomniac for a one-day apprenticeship with us. Check it out and submit your entry here.

If you need some inspiration, Polygon also interviewed Lead Character Artist Gavin Goulden (who we interviewed on this blog last week!) about the customization in the game. You can read that piece here.

And finally we released a BRAND NEW video showing off tons of new customization. Check out some of our favorite customization pieces from the game and see LOTS of new gameplay footage.

That’s all for now, it was great to see you at Comic-Con this week. And be sure to stay tuned to Sunset TV for some footage!

Whose lovely voice will bring your Sunset Overdrive hero to life? Find out in this week’s Sunset TV! Plus, see the prettiness of our collaboration with Mondo and check out some fan-art sent in by YOU! Well, maybe not you specifically. But, you know what I mean. If you don’t – just send us your own-fan art and then maybe future episode descriptions will apply specifically to you. Sound good? Good. Love ya.

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Be sure to send your questions or comments to sunsettv@insomniacgames.com to join in on the fun!

Greetings all! You may recall in our art stream last week that Dave was working on the concepts for the cat character/powerup. For those that didn’t see, the cat is a character that you can pick up and carry around, and she will jump onto NPCs and knock them out of the way for you. But, like most cats, she doesn’t like to be carried for too long. I wanted to share the finished results with you:

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I used the concepts to swap out my temp designer art for the new cat (and put in a very temp tail animation), you can check it out in action here:

As for other updates, things are chugging along. Lillian is working on game flow connectivity, basically making sure all the pieces are hooked up for all the menus and level transitions and whatnot. I’m working on levels, tuning mechanics, thinking about balance, and figuring out cuts. On the sound front, every day we get a new batch of sounds from Alex. Stop by the stream Friday and I’ll be sure to show them off!.

This week’s stream will be a little different, as I will be going through the evolution of the Construct 2 prototype to show how the design changed over time. We’ll also be needing your help this Friday, because we are going to name the bull once and for all, and we want YOUR input! Now that you’ve gotten to know a little more about the project and our bull, we want your suggestions and to take part in the discussion. So join us on Friday at 2pm PST on the Insomniac Twitch Channel! If you follow the channel you will get a notification when we go live. See you then :D

- Lisa (@Wertle)

Follow @SlowDownBull on Twitter

As we continue towards this Fall, we wanted to spotlight various members of the Sunset Overdrive team with some questions you hopefully haven’t seen answered elsewhere. Get to know the Sunset Overdrive team. This week we talk to Lead Character Artist Gavin Goulden.

gavingHow has your past work experience influenced your work on Sunset Overdrive?

I’ve been given a lot of great opportunities in my career and try to apply lessons that I have learned from those past experiences to my current situation.  In the past, I was the Lead Character Artist on Bioshock Infinite, this role prepared me for better team management, finishing a giant project as a lead, creating modular character systems, really learning about smarter design choices, and let me play a bigger role in the art direction of enemy characters, fashion sense, and overall consistency throughout the game.  Before that, I played a big part in the character customization system for Dead Rising 2, which obviously I am still carrying with me today.  I am a huge character customization nerd, it’s a thing I’ve always been interested in from a professional standpoint and as a gamer, I like dressing up my in game character as much as I like building the system for how to do it.  I think that job really taught me a lot in how to build a working clothing system, and  the expectations of variety in such an open world game.  Plus, in general, my personal artistic “flavor” matches pretty closely to what the creative and art directors like, and wanted to push for in Sunset Overdrive, which makes it a dream project in many ways for me.

How would you describe the character’s style in Sunset Overdrive?

It’s the end of the world, and you can do whatever you want.  The laws don’t apply to you anymore, the rules you had to follow are gone, and you can be who you want to be.  You really have a new lease on life and have gone from a nobody in a dead end job to the protagonist of a video game.  This gives us a lot of room to play with, and justify, fashion sense.  We’ve grabbed a bunch of different references (anime, Tank Girl, Gorillaz, Iggy Pop, etc.) and have tried to tailor outfits that would loosely fit these archetypes that were once popular, and allow the players to mix and match.  We also have many different costume elements that are just plain fun to have, wouldn’t make sense to be wearing walking down the streets of LA (well…it depends where you go, I guess) that mix well with the palette of normal fashion options.  So, you can easily have a track jacket, fur vest, pair of jeans, cowboy boots, and a WW2 pilots helmet – they all mix and play well together.

How many different customization combination option do you gather are in Sunset Overdrive?

Well, I could look at my Excel sheet, do some quick math, and give you an exact answer – but – I’m just going to say the amount of possible combinations is easily in the thousands or more.  We wanted to take the element of choice in a  different direction with Sunset Overdrive.  Rather than just slapping color changes onto an asset, we wanted to feel like you were opening your closet and picking out your favorite shirt.  Each option is hand crafter and given purpose, and are specific.  Though, that being said, there are many, MANY different pieces to pick and choose from to take you anywhere on the scale from boring business man to a super hero from space.

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About how long does it take you to make a character from scratch?

Starting from scratch, most character artists are looking at about 2 – 3 weeks of work, give or take some time depending on how difficult the character is.  This breaks down to about a few days of creating a base mesh, a week of sculpting, a few days of creating a low poly model and unwrapping, then creating textures.  Once the model is finished, we hand it over to our rigging team and get the character moving in game.  If there are any obvious issues we missed during it’s creation, the model gets kicked back and we do any necessary fixes.  Generally, we are in constant communication with the department before and after us, though, to minimize bouncing models back and forth.  Luckily, after a while you have a system in place where you can grab different elements of a model and reuse it in your new character.  So, for example, there’s no point in recreating cargo shorts if you already have cargo pants.  Not only does this save a ton of time during production, but it also helps keep our look and style consistent throughout the game, since many things will come from the same root.

What is your philosophy before creating a new vanity item?

Obviously, the first question we need to ask is “Will It Work”?  New pieces need to fit in the system that we have set up before we can really dive into it.  But that doesn’t sound fun.  We need to always be player facing and questioning if this new piece of vanity will add to the experience of players, and that the new article of clothing will add to the enjoyment of the game.  Rather than trying to create every possible type of shirt, we want to hit with heavier punches, and leave each item feeling totally different than the last.  Looking at the vanity items we have as a whole, we need to ask “Would this be fun to wear?”

Can it be difficult to generate new ideas? How do you get over that?

Thankfully, I have a whole team of people that have great ideas.  Jacinda (Chew, Art Director) is the driving force for our high level style, we have a team of concept artists that bring a lot of different outfit styles to the modelers, and my direct team are all very creative and can generate ideas for items that we need.  Mostly, that takes care of a lot of the pressure, and it’s not hard to ask those around you “How can I make this better?”  Left alone, though, I would always go back to our references – the main pieces that inspired our game.  There are so many possible things to gather influence from, comic books, movies, runway fashion, music videos, etc.  I am also becoming a bit a fashion nerd, not that I’m fashionable by any means, but I find myself looking at people on the street and seeing what they decided to wear that morning, how different materials give a desired effect, what works and what doesn’t, what is common and what isn’t, etc.  When it comes to thinking of a new idea for clothing, we are literally surrounded by inspiration.

What is your favorite vanity item in the game? Would you ever wear it in public?

There are so many to choose from and, as the team lead, I see everything come through and get to play with different combinations on a daily basis.  I want to break the rules and give you a top 3.  The first one, of course, is the Luchador assets we have.  Given the right combination you can become a high flying, suplex machine, running through Sunset City.  Second is our Fizzie loadout (available to players in the Day One Edition of Sunset Overdrive) where you get to dress as Fizzie stage performer from Horror Night, you get an awesome garage jacket, Fizzie themed pants and a glorious Fizzie helmet.  Finally, we have a “Wasteland” themed jacket that has you fully decked out for anything that comes your way – this piece is a big technical achievement for us as it involves so many parts giving secondary motion to the character – chains, straps, sleeping bags, backpacks, it’s basically the kitchen sink asset.

You can reskin any game with Sunset Overdrive art. What game is it?

My knee jerk reaction to any question like this is to just say Doom or Xcom because they’re my favorite games of all time.  But, I can’t imagine Doom in a brightly colored world, where you slay demons while wearing a kangaroo head cod piece.  I really like all types of games, but it’s tough because Sunset Overdrive is a very unique creature – not many things look like it, and the tone that we set, the attitude that we have, hasn’t really been done before.  Thinking about it, I would say Fable.  I’ve always really liked the game, and I think it would work well in a world like our own. Rather than chasing chickens through Albion, you would be chasing them through Sunset City.

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Other interviews with Game Director Drew Murray, Creative Director Marcus Smith and Art Director Jacinda Chew.

We’re bringing Sunset Overdrive to International Comic-Con in San Diego with Xbox this week. We’re really excited to see those of you there, and give you one of the first-ever public opportunities to play Sunset Overdrive! We also have a panel, autograph signings, giveaways and much much more.

And for all the details on the Xbox Presence at Comic-Con, check out their event site here.

Play the Game
Sunset Overdrive is PLAYABLE on the showfloor in the Xbox booth (booth #100). Swing by while you’re on the floor to check out the game. Or if you want to see and play Sunset Overdrive as well as all of the great games coming to Xbox One, head over with your SDCC badge to the Xbox Lounge at the Manchester Grand Hyatt (1 Market Place, Seasport Ballroom, 2nd Floor) where over two dozen games will be there to check out!

Panel
We’re throwing a panel at Comic-Con on Thursday evening. Swing by to hear directly from members of the team about the game all about player customization. We’re going to show brand new footage and customizations here, as well as never-before-seen concept art. The official description is below, but you won’t want to miss it.

The Fusion of Art and Style in Sunset Overdrive
Thursday, July 24, 5:00PM – 6:00PM, Room 5AB

Join Xbox Live’s Major Nelson to get an inside look into the inspiration behind the vibrant and off-the-wall style of Sunset Overdrive, a new open-world action game coming exclusively to the Xbox One this fall. Audience members will be the first to see new Sunset Overdrive content illustrating the creative freedom the game offers players. Hear directly from Insomniac Games’s Drew Murray and Marcus Smith (Game and Creative Director, respectively) along with art directorJacinda Chew and lead character artist Gavin Goulden.

Mondo x Sunset Overdrive
Last week, we announced our collaboration with Mondo, the Austin-based gallery and art collective, to create their first-ever poster for a video game.  The screen-printed poster was created by UK-based artist Matt Taylor, and is a limited edition run being sold exclusively at SDCC. Mondo will be putting the poster on sale at some point during the convention (Booth #835). To find out when it goes on sale, follow them on Twitter at @Mondonews (helpful hint, turn on mobile notifications for Mondo during SDCC so you get texts when they tweet about something being on sale!).

We also have some copies of the print to give away as well!  If you think you’re good at Sunset Overdrive, you should be the first to play Chaos Squad in the Xbox Lounge every morning when it opens. The top scorer in each of the first few games of each day will be rewarded with a beautiful copy of the poster (but you can only win once!). Also follow @SunsetOverdrive on twitter, as well for more details on giveaways and maybe even a chance to win from home!

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Autograph Signing – Friday July 25th, 1pm-2pm, Xbox Lounge Main Stage
On Friday, we’ll also be having an autograph signing in the Xbox Lounge with Creative Director Marcus Smith, Community Lead James Stevenson, and Sunset TV Host and Community Manager Brandon Winfrey (among other Insomniacs!). Bring your Insomniac swag to get signed. We may even have some swag for folks in line to get signed if you didn’t have any! So be sure to come by the Xbox Lounge in the Manchester Grand Hyatt (1 Market Place, Seasport Ballroom, 2nd Floor).

Giveaways
We have new Sunset Overdrive t-shirts, some lithograph posters of the box art and some other goodies to give away as well. Generally speaking we’ll give those away at the Xbox Lounge (Manchester Grand Hyatt) at random times throughout the event to people who play the game. Want to know when? Stay tuned to @SunsetOverdrive‘s twitter for announcements about t-shirts being available at the lounge.

Oh yeah, Xbox has an awesome custom Sunset Overdrive Xbox One that will be given away as well. For details on how to play, check out the Xbox Comic Con page.

 

Whew. That is probably all. There’s a lot going on, and it’s our biggest presence at Comic-Con ever. We’re looking forward to seeing you there, playing the game with you at the booth and Xbox Lounge, and seeing you at our panel and screening. Be sure to follow @SunsetOverdrive on twitter for all the latest from the show as it happens!

This week on Sunset TV we showcase some new footage of Sunset City, go over its size, and cover the game’s quick select weapon feature. Plus, get some info on Sunset Overdrive at SDCC 2014, where you can play the game! If you aren’t going – that’s a bummer. I would have given you a high-five. Oh, well.

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Be sure to send your questions or comments to sunsettv@insomniacgames.com to join in on the fun!

Ahoy ahoy humans! You may recall that last week during our programming stream we were trying out a specific attack behavior for the bullcatcher. The goal was to give players a window of escape just before she pounces, to make the bullcatcher a little more manageable for new players. We’ve done more iteration on that and hopefully can show you the changes on Friday. This Friday’s stream will be Dave doing more art, so aspiring artists stop on by at 2pm PST! You can follow our twitch channel to get notified about when we go live.

Solving Sneaky Design Problems

Some of you asked about some of my other findings during my week of “new player playtesting,” and one of them was a very tricky problem with how players mentally map the buttons and the rotation of the bull. You steer the bull clockwise and counterclockwise using both mouse buttons or either trigger on a controller. Most people learn this fairly well, but we were noticing that the mental mapping would sometimes break down in stressful situations (like when the bullcatcher is on your tail) and specifically after bouncing off a wall many people would turn left when they’d intended to turn right, or vice versa.

To narrow down the problem point and figure out how to solve it, we made a UI widget that explicitly shows which button will turn him which direction wherever he’s orienting. This helped me look at the problem case a little more clearly while watching people play.

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As you can see in the images below, the mapping breakdown would happen when people hit a wall at a very severe angle, because when the bull exits the bounce, the left/right button association is the exact opposite of what it was when he entered (notice how the blue and red halves are swapped). When in a high stress moment, it’s easy to see how a player could get confused and hit the wrong button, often turning themselves straight into danger.

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One idea we’re trying is shifting when the pause on the bounce happens. Currently you ram into a wall and there’s a beat before you reflect off. We’re going to try shifting the pause to the moment when the bull has already reoriented, so players could use that beat to remap which direction they will turn when they hit a button. Thematically, it’ll be something like the bull rams the wall and then has a moment after he bounces off where he gets to his feet before running again.

Here’s the mouse-drawn designer sketch I used to propose the idea to my team.

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Will this solution work? Only playtesting will tell!

Leftover Questions

Here’s a few questions that were leftover from last Friday’s stream.

Mattdwny: have you considered overlaying dischordant music with the regular music based on stress?

From Alex: Not yet! The sound itself is indicative of stress and it might be a little too much if the sound AND music got stressful. You don’t know until you try, though!

Vx967: Maybe a question for later, but: any chance of integrating an external audio engine, such as FMod or Wwise?

From Alex: I have no plans to yet since the game’s audio needs are pretty simple at the moment. But we may need to sometime! It would just take a bit of work to get it integrated seamlessly.

Omgwtfdenny: How do you balance creative and ambitious ideas with resource restraints? Where do you start cutting down?

We have to be very careful about this since it’s such a small team and since it was important to us to be nimble and get something out into the world (relatively) quickly. I’m constantly weighing ideas against the scope we’re working with, and often I think “what problem is this idea trying to solve? Could we solve the same problem in a different way that is within scope? Is the best way to solve the problem to cut out the thing that is causing it?” It’s never an easy balancing act, but I feel like constraints are what forces us to be our most creative selves, so I welcome them.

We’ve got a lot of great stuff happening at San Diego Comic-Con this year, but one of the items we’re really excited about was collaborating with our friends at Mondo to release their first ever screenprint based on a videogame.  Entertainment Weekly has the exclusive reveal of the poster which will be on sale at some point during Comic-Con at booth 835 (for more details on on-sale, keep your eyes peeled to Mondo’s twitter). We’ll also have some giveaways around the show as well, you’ll want to keep up with our blog and the Sunset Overdrive twitter on that front.

We collaborated with Mondo for their first ever video-game print. Celebrating Sunset Overdrive, the print was created by UK-Based Matt Taylor, and will be sold at San Diego Comic Con.

Sunset Overdrive by Matt Taylor, on sale at Mondo’s booth during SDCC

The poster was created by UK-Based artist Matt Taylor. We’re big fans of Matt’s work,and it was really cool to see his take on the world of Sunset Overdrive. For your first look at the poster and thoughts from Matt himself, Mondo’s Justin Ishmael, and our own Drew Murray and James Stevenson, check out the exclusive reveal at EW.com

If you want to see detail photos for the print check out the below:

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If you aren’t familiar with Mondo, it’s an Austin, TX-based gallery that releases limited edition screenprinted posters based on classic and contemporary film (and TV), as well as other cool stuff like apparel, vinyl movie soundtracks, and VHS-rereleases. They’ve had a ton of amazing posters over the years, which you can check out in their archive.

We hope you like the artwork, and there’s much more happening at San Diego Comic-Con this year, with playable Sunset Overdrive on the showfloor and at the Xbox Lounge, as well as a panel with brand-new content from the game on Thursday evening, giveaways and much more. Stay tuned to the blog for the full breakdown of activities and events soon!

As we continue towards this Fall, we wanted to spotlight various members of the Sunset Overdrive team with some questions you hopefully haven’t seen answered elsewhere. Get to know the Sunset Overdrive team. This week we talk to Art Director Jacinda Chew.

jacindacHow did you come to be an Art Director at Insomniac Games?

I started here as an environment modeler back in 2003 and worked my way to art director.

What were the major influences for the art style of Sunset Overdrive?

I looked at a ton of reference when we were researching the game. I looked at Havana and Shinjuku when we were building the environment. I looked at Phil Hale, Jamie Hewlett, and Jean Paul Gaultier when we were designing the characters and fashion. The Scott Pilgrim movie is a huge influence for our FX. There is an irreverence or attitude that I liked about each of these artists and architectural styles.

How long did it take to find the “style?”

I think it took almost two years to get some solid target renders. If you’re wondering why it took so long, it’s because it was a game that started as a huge pile of disparate ideas that I spent two years distilling into an art style. One of our biggest challenges was figuring out the building style. Since the buildings are closely tied to the game traversal, we had to work hand-in-hand with Design to make buildings that were traversal-friendly so it was an organic process. We probably rebuilt the original prototype city eleven times as we re-adjusted our metrics and building designs to meet the needs of gameplay. The character style went through some iteration as well. I wanted to design characters who were believable as underdogs, but also aspirational and capable of performing our parkour moves. There is remarkably little concept art for this game because so many things were dependent on the modelers working collaboratively with design and creative.

Why all the color?

Sunset Overdrive is all about fun in the end times and I wanted to reflect that in the art style. I was inspired by some colorful buildings in Havana and I loved how the peeling paint and plaster would often reveal other colors underneath. This eventually made it into our game as brushstrokes that are splashed onto the asphalt, buildings, and even clothes. Not only did I want the world to be a happy place full of vibrant color, but a place where you didn’t have to follow any rules. This is why we didn’t bother to paint within the lines. It’s controlled chaos.

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If an animation studio made a movie out of Sunset Overdrive – who would you want it to be and why?

Actually, I’d want Edgar Wright to direct the Sunset movie because the irreverence and humor in his movies would fit really well with our game.

Do you have a guide when it comes to what vanity to put in the game for character customization?

I find a lot of vanity systems to be rather limiting because there are a lot of options, but most games don’t really spend a lot of time considering the design of each individual piece. I want you to be able to be who you want to be, but I also want you to look cool.  I’m really interested in fashion and wanted to design clothes that people would actually want to wear in real life.  I tried to pick a wide range of garments that would appeal to as wide an audience as possible. The Insomniacs were the ultimate guinea pigs because we would drop new vanity items on a weekly basis and see what people would gravitate towards. It was really gratifying to see even the most conservative players creating outlandish costumes. Sure, you have the option to wear blue jeans and a t-shirt, but why would you want to?

You can be one of the character we showed off in the E3 Chas Squad demo. Who do you choose?

I’d be Bunny Girl all the way.

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Other interviews with Game Director Drew Murray and Creative Director Marcus Smith.

Ahoy ahoy, humans! Lisa here. Thanks again for everyone who stopped by last week’s dev stream. If you missed it and want to see some audio work and art streaming, you can watch the highlights on our twitch page, here: http://www.twitch.tv/insomniacgames/profile

We’ll be back to our normal Friday 2pm PDT schedule this week. Lillian will be doing a programming stream, so if you have interest in programming in C# in Unity, be sure to stop by! She will be coding the Bull Catcher and we will show off some more gameplay.

Name Changes

As I mentioned on the first stream, often circumstances show up in game development where you have to change the names of things for a variety of reasons. Normally players don’t see any of that and just get the final name when the game is released. But the purpose of this project is to show you all the behind the scenes madness, so here’s your first taste! Pretty quickly after we announced the project, we found out that we won’t be able to use the name “Axel” for the bull, so our beloved bull has gone back to being nameless. Don’t worry, though, we will name him together, but to help you should all get to know him first (so be sure to come by the streams!)

Playtesting

This week I’m off traveling to visit family, which is the perfect opportunity to observe fresh new playtesters for Slow Down, Bull. Most of our playtesters so far have been other Insomniacs. While there are many wonderful insights to be had from other developers playtesting your games, it’s also very important to get people to try it who don’t have a developer background, or even a typical gaming background. In this week’s stream I’ll discuss my findings.

Fan Art

We got our first piece of fan art for Slow Down, Bull! Check out Mattias’s rendering of our beloved bull hero:

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Check out more variants and wallpaper sizes here: Flickr Album

Construct 2

Last week I had some people ask about the original Construct 2 prototype for the game and how I approached various things. We have a Game Jams group here at Insomniac where we occasionally get together and teach one another new toolsets, and I gave one for Construct 2 that was recorded for some of our North Carolina members. I’ve uploaded the video if anyone wants to watch the session (about an hour long). It covers some basic overviews for beginners and also a handful of features that I found were really helpful but not necessarily intuitive from tutorials. You can see how I did some of the events and things for the Slow Down, Bull prototype.

See you all in the stream on Friday!
-Lisa