It might sound less artistic than painting a world, but shooting for reality isn’t boring for Advanced Warfare’s creative team. “I get really excited about hitting reality, because it’s like, ‘Oh my God we’re doing it,’” art director Joe Salud says.
Call Of Duty’s switch to physically based rendering places it alongside Ryse and Star
Citizen in embracing a new kind of art that some believe is the future standard of triple-A game visuals.
“[In our game], that’s the physical material, that’s the actual surface,” he says. “Our shaders, our base textures: they all had to be physically based. Our lighting had to be physical, and then we had to bring in [high dynamic range]. And since we’ve captured everything in HDR, we can ramp the exposure up and down, and it behaves just like a camera would in the movies.
“Reality is your baseline here, but that doesn’t mean reality is what you’re putting onscreen. You can still be stylised with it and you can still present a heightened reality. When you’re distanced from something, whether it’s a controller or movie theatre, you need more impact. Reality alone isn’t enough. You need to enhance the world, make it jump off the screen somewhere. The other part that gives me [a sense of] expression is our design – designing the characters, the weapons, the vehicles. That’s our thing, and I feel our team is really good at that.”
Developing future technologies and talking with special forces led Salud’s team to invent solutions to real-world problems, such as the ‘3D Printer Gun’, which is designed to manufacture ammunition on the fly from lightweight canisters of liquid metal. But the bulk of artistic development time and effort was invested in the game’s signature EXO suits.
“We had hundreds and hundreds of iterations,” Salud says. “We think about how it articulates, moves and functions. It took like a year just to design it, because everybody is a critic [and we needed different generations]. When it first starts out, it’s going to be bulkier. It has a whole fictional history [attached].
“The art is not necessarily on the granularity of the actual material, but in the design of what we’re actually making. We’ve become like guys who design chairs… We’re not making the leather any more, but we’re still designing everything about the chair. That’s actually where the real art is.”