Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Jak and Daxter - The Design Breakthrough

I recall in 2000 when I was developing "Project Y" which was eventually named "Jak and Daxter" there were periods where I was having difficulty in understanding the direction I was getting. It wasn't articulated well and also since I was working outside of Naughty Dog's studio without immediate contact as one would have in a face to face situation it was a challenge figuring out what they were talking about. Eventually things would fall into place and I'd be able to move on from there.

Such was the case with this example which was perhaps the biggest design breakthrough I had while on the project. I was approaching the characters as if they were going to be modeled for the original PlayStation console which required a limit of 500 polygons per character. With PlayStation 2 those parameters increased to 10,000 polygons per character. A 20 fold jump in dimensional depth of field. When I realized what this advanced system was about I was able to modify my approach by extruding more thickness and girth from the subjects I was creating. I could really get in there and sculpt each character.

This was the very beginning of designing for a full 3D aspect in video game production. You can see the difference in these drawings. The first is flat and fairly graphic without much thickness being shown in the  simple design elements. Compare that to the follow up drawing I did that adjusted for the new approach. This was the breakthrough. I use these examples in effectively teaching my students how to make the jump to designing for CG animation.

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