Published on Thursday, 28 June 2012
Sanzaru Games recently completed production of ‘Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time’, the fourth
game in the Sly Cooper stealth video game franchise, using Luxology modo for modelling,
sculpting and animation.
|The series, made for Playstation, was originally developed by Sucker Punch Productions for the first three games, and was then passed on to Sanzaru in California while Sucker Punch continued other projects. Sanzaru remastered the series into HD for the Playstation 3 on one disc.|
|Taking control of a long running series for a new game meant meeting fans’ expectations as well as venturing into new adventures and looks to keep their interest. Because Sanzaru had already been working on the Sly Collection, the character team, led by Senior Character Artist John Hayes, used this experience as reference to develop their own in-house concepts. Their 3D assets are all original and the artists didn’t need to use any pre-existing material.|
|The game, set in a world of anthropomorphic animals, follows from the end of ‘Sly 3: Honour Among Thieves’. Sly is a raccoon from a long line of master thieves, who reunites his gang to locate and recover the ‘Thievius Raccoonus’, a history of the Cooper family line that has been lost in time.
For 3D modelling, rendering, and sculpting of the detailed character designs, the team used Luxology modo. John explained that modo is good for working on a game project of this type because the characters have a tendency to evolve over the life of a project. “modo is made for these shifts. Because everything you need is in one space, you can mould working game assets when you know what you want and then quickly visualize new ideas if you change your mind,” John said.
|To update the franchise’s classic formula, he used the application’s integrated Pixar Sub-D modelling functions to refine the primary characters like Sly, Rioichi and Carmelita Fox. The Subdivision Surface modelling in modo allowed him to sculpt and smooth the details that became the distinguishing marks for each character model. After modelling, their looks and visual traits were enhanced further through 3D painting.|
|“With the 3D painting tools, I could create seamless texture maps fairly quickly,” he said, “and by combining these with a set of rendered AO and normal maps, I could bring the detail up to a level that modern game console characters are expected to have. Having all the tools we needed built into one package saved some time and effort.”
modo 601 now has a new Pose Tool for placing characters into position with point-and-click inverse kinematics controls, which means a team is no longer bound to external or self-made animation rigs. An artist can speed up the positioning process by turning a skeleton and corresponding geometry into an actor that will support saved poses. In this way, the team was able to compile a larger variety of fully rendered characters and reduce the time it took to get to an approved asset.
|Sanzaru gained another point of efficiency when the team reached the stage of navigating between their in-game assets and marketing materials. Instead of having to build another set of high-res models for marketing, the team could re-use the geometry used to generate normal and diffuse texture maps by combining the Sub-D, texture baking and rendering tools in modo. This procedure meant less extensive 2D paint-over, which is normally needed to increase the resolution of game assets enough to serve as marketing images that accurately reflect the in-game character.|
|Left: Image shows where edges were added to the low res model to help create the higher res model.
Right: Image showing the low and high res overlapping (low res in wire) and the same UV layout.
Lower image shows both low and high res side by side, with only diffuse colour map applied.
|‘Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time’ was formally announced during Sony's presentation at the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo. The game is due out in the second half of 2012 on Sony PS3 and Vita and has been nominated for several awards. www.luxology.com|