Up to this point, our conversations concerning Gears of War have exclusively been with Epic Games. For those who might not know the background, how does People Can Fly fit into the picture?
Kamil Kozlowski – Lead character artist at People Can Fly
The majority of Judgment was done here at PCF. Creative and artistic direction was handled on our side or rather initiated at PCF and from there transmitted to people working on the game at Epic. This was a collaborative effort involving many discussions, video conference calls and tons of emails.
The way we worked on Judgment was very fluid. PCF owned the single player campaign and multiplayer was a split between the two studios. The Epilogue was conceived by the Epic folks. Both studios also worked outside their main focus, collaborating with outsourcers or working on marketing materials. Many times we helped each other out in different situations.
In terms of visuals, all single player and some multiplayer environments were put together here in Warsaw. We re-used existing Gears assets, giving them new life in Judgment — often with new shaders or tweaked textures. We built our own assets as well but since the existing assets library was big enough (and also considering our short deadlines) we decided to recycle as much as possible.
PCF did the world design, all single player environment concepts, most of the character concepts, lighting, meshing and much more. However, we were definitely working side by side with the Epic team, at the same time both learning and creating Gears.
Could you give us brief bios for the people who are involved in this interview?
On the PCF side we have character artist Michal Przybinski, senior character artist Bartosz Bieluszko and lead character artist Kamil Kozlowski. The Epic Games side was headed up by Chris Perna.
Character artist at People Can Fly. Creating characters is my passion. Luckily, this also became my job.
Senior Character artist with eight years in the game industry.
Lead character at PCF and an artist who likes to move vertices around. Has been in the game industry since 2003 and had the opportunity to work on really cool games like The Witcher, Bulletstorm and GOW Judgment.
Director of Art, Worldwide Studios. Chris has been creating art in one form or another his entire life. He has been making games now for 17 years, of which 12 have been with Epic Games. Chris works with the teams of incredibly talented art directors, artists and animators across Epic's worldwide studios to create stunning visuals for Epic's games and technology.
How does Judgement fit within the Gears of War mythology? What challenges did that present for the art teams?
From a character art perspective we had many challenges along the way. Working on Gears is not something that happens every day in your professional life. It's like, let say you love the film, Blade Runner and somebody gives you a chance to work on a sequel. The pressure is huge and you constantly feel like millions of fans are watching every step you take. You don't want to make any mistakes with what they've come to love so much.
The most difficult thing for us was the style. Getting used to it was one thing; working within the style was much more difficult because of its complexity and well known identification. Everybody knows what characters in Gears look like. Even people who don't play games know Marcus Fenix! The internet is simply filled with Gears art and you just can't miss it. We had to be sure that whatever we put in to the game looks like it belongs in the Gears universe and in terms of quality meets all our expectations. We also wanted to beat GOW 3 and be a better looking game. That was our secret plan.
I have to say that guys at Epic — Kevin Lanning, Chris Wells, Mark Morgan, Mike Kime and of course Chris Perna — were a great source of Gears knowledge. They wrote documents on various topics, helping us understand their already established pipelines and style. They also did some cool characters for Judgment, working hard alongside PCF.
The amount of details and the overall quality bar was a hard thing to achieve. Not impossible, though! PCF was responsible for creating the hero of the game: Lt. Baird. We also created weapons, most of the Kilo squad (Loomis, Garron) and the main villain or rather the beast he rode — Shibboleth. We also did much smaller assets and textures. The big character customization task was completed mostly at PCF.