This week I’ll be doing things a bit differently on the blog. To give you more insight into our development process, I’ve invited one of our senior artists from Nvizzio, Steph, to write a guest blog on the method applied by the art team to go from a concept to a full in-game object. It’s a revealing behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to create coasters, rides, and other assets you’ll be interacting with. It should also give you, aspiring content creators, some inspiration to one day make your own RCTW game assets to share with the world via the Steam Workshop.
But before I hand over the reins of this week’s blog, here’s a quick update on the status of production. The whole team is working hard to finish a build of the game in preparation for Gamescom, which we’ll be showing to press next week. The art team has finished up work on more coasters and tracks – one of which will be featured in our next big “hero shot” reveal. And lastly, the community team has been busy working on our website refresh, and just yesterday launched the newly redone forums. We’ll have much more information and news on RCTW after Gamescom, so be on the lookout!
Now without further delay, here’s Steph to offer us a behind-the-scenes peek into the development work of RollerCoaster Tycoon World!
Atari Executive Producer
“Hello everyone! I’m Steph, one of the senior artists at Nvizzio and RCTW. Today I wanted to talk about Flat Rides. As you know, flat rides are the stepping stones towards a beautiful park. They are pre-built, ready-to-go attractions that most of you will use for your first park income. We want to share how those Flat Rides are made and show you how things are done here at the studio. Flat Rides offer the perfect opportunity to display our process from conception and ideation to final product. We’ll use the Twister ride as an example.
The Concept Phase
It all begins with our team of concept artists, who develop ideas from a photo reference and use that to sketch a complete piece of concept art. Before setting pen to tablet, they research real-world rides and note details like mechanisms, ride capacity, and materials. At the studio, we have documentation on the measurements of real rides from around the world, to be as close as possible to reality while keeping our unique RCT style. Once they have drawn an initial concept (in the case of the Twister this includes the cars, supports, control booth, lights, and other mechanisms) they then compare their drawing against the standard sizes of other park assets like peeps, paths, and coasters to ensure proper sizing and proportions. With that, we now have a complete concept ready for the next phase of the art pipeline. At this point, the artists meet with the rest of the team to have everything approved before we model it in 3D.
Making the 3D Model
The concept art of the Twister is now given to us 3D artists who will make a model using software such as 3DS MAX and ZBrush. As seen in the picture above, the model is completely un-textured and allows us to see it in 3D space for the first time. It’s amazing to see the transformation from 2D art to full 3D, and often times we find ourselves adding additional little details at this stage to make the asset more realistic and polished.
Next, the models must be unwrapped and baked before we can begin texturing (this is what gives everything its color and realistic feel). The artists create their textures or pulls them from an internal texture bank for things like concrete, wood, and steel materials. We use themed palettes according to each ride’s tone to ensure coherence. This is actually one of the most time-intensive parts of the process, since it’s extremely important to make sure everything looks like it’s made from actual real-world materials. It is also the stage at which we make sure our creations match the general theme, colors, sizes, and feel of the rest of the game.
During this stage, we also pull the 3D model into Unity, which allows us to see the models in the park, for the first time. Once the texture and model have been approved, it’s ready to be animated.
This process will be comparable to what we will offer with UGC, allowing you to take a file from a 3D editing program and convert it into something the game can recognize.
Where our concept artists and 3D modelers create the ride, the animators make it come to life. Already at concept stage, they start the process by researching how the ride should move and react to peeps. Their research involves watching videos of real rides and recreating the movement in 3D, and sometimes even visiting real-life themeparks to understand how the rides actually work (don’t we all wish we had this job!).
Animating starts with rigging. This is where we create a skeleton for the 3D model, allowing it to be manipulated in 3DS Max or Maya. Once a model is rigged, the animator creates the different sets of the ride’s animations that will be used by the engine.
The Final Phase – Integration
Now with the model, texture, and animations ready, the artists work with our programmers to implement the Twister ride into the game. We doublecheck everything by placing the ride in the game, cycling through the animations for one last look and then hooking it up to the UI. Our design team then sets the parameters for the ride (excitement, nausea, intensity, safety, etc) and it’s finally ready for your peeps to enjoy!
This process is repeated day in and day out to give your peeps a robust set of in-game objects to enjoy. We are working hard at the studio to really give you the tools to make your dream park! Our goal is to give you enough at the very launch of the game to ensure every park feels unique and special. We also work daily with our programming team to revise our tools to make sure they are easy to use by our future UGC community.
Come back for RCTW’s next blog to see the final in-game shot of the Twister alongside some other amazing reveals!