A Plague Tale: Innocence tells the grim story of two siblings fighting together for survival in the darkest hours of History.
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January 15

Devblog - Art Direction



Welcome back to our devblog series! We’re unveiling a wealth of details about the making of A Plague Tale: Innocence, Asobo Studio’s upcoming adventure game releasing on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC in 2019. Today, we’re excited to share more info about the art direction of A Plague Tale: Innocence!

Let’s welcome Olivier Ponsonnet, Art Director on A Plague Tale: Innocence to discuss the creation of the game, as well as the many challenges the team had to face during development.

I’m Olivier Ponsonnet, Art Director on A Plague Tale: Innocence. I’m in charge of the game’s graphic design: the creation and development of the characters, environments, buildings, as well as the interface.


Olivier Ponsonnet, Art Director

When working on the game’s universe and atmosphere, we found more inspiration in paintings and movies than in video games. We really wanted to find something unique and special. So, we went to study some artwork of the Polish painter, Zdzisław Beksiński. We soon fell in love with his unique universe, a bit felted, foggy, and deeply dark.


Zdzisław Beksiński’s Artwork

As for movies, MacBeth was one of our main inspirations because of its peculiar graphic direction, especially how they use the mist to cut shots. That is also a technique we used to create A Plague Tale: Innocence. The shots are composed as illustrations with separated subjects in the depths of misty sketching. This allows us to create depth, and to have a graphic approach that reflects the use of the silhouettes.

This is our way to deal with one of the game’s constraints: how to use the light contrast in the gameplay. If we didn’t use the mist, if everything was black, the game would also be totally black. For example, even though there aren’t any lamps on the street, we can still see the whole figure of the city.



Another source of inspiration when developing the game was typical buildings in Bordeaux, South-West France. For me, it is odd in an interesting way to be able to find muses in our daily life. The Great Bell is an excellent example. It’s one of the oldest belfries in France and the last remnant of the old city walls that were reworked in the 15th century, but originally built in the same period as A Plague Tale: Innocence’s story background. We also took parts of the Roman ruins as our references, such as the Palais Gallien, a magnificent vestige in the city center. As for other sources, we were inspired by the typical villages in Saint-Émilion, Carcassonne, and so on.

Great Bell, Bordeaux

Our biggest challenge is the light, as it’s the most important element in the gameplay. In general, artists tend to use the light as a tool to create their artwork. However, it’s almost opposite for A Plague Tale: Innocence. So, we played with colors and lights a lot when developing the game: the gameplay lights are warm, while the setting ones are cool. It allows us to categorize the lights in a certain way: at night, the moon illuminates the path in blue, whereas the torch does it in yellow.

We also used another technique from Macbeth, which allows us to personify the black plague as if the air was dense, impure, and corrupted by the disease. That is to say, this actually plays a double role: it not only allows us to cut our shots, but also supports the game’s atmosphere by emphasizing its heavy and unhealthy side.



Sometimes, it’s just our own interpretation. However, we’ve tried our best to stick to the medieval settings to make the game consistent to its narrative part.

See you soon for more making-of information and anecdotes about the creative process behind A Plague Tale: Innocence!

A Plague Tale: Innocence releases in 2019 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.


https://store.steampowered.com/app/752590/A_Plague_Tale_Innocence/
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December 27, 2018

Devblog – The Rats (Part 3)



Welcome back to our devblog series! We’re unveiling a wealth of details and info about the making of A Plague Tale: Innocence, Asobo Studio’s upcoming adventure game coming 2019 to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Today, we’re excited to share more info about a “protagonist” that you can’t miss in our game: the rats!

Let’s welcome lead gameplay programmer Cyril Doillon to cover the creation of the rats in A Plague Tale: Innocence, as well as the many challenges the team had to face during development.

The Technical Challenges of a Swarm

Our initial objective was to display the maximum number of rats while having a good technical optimisation for the game. The trick is to display as much detail as possible for the rats closest to the player, while decreasing that level of detail the further away they are. It’s a huge challenge of optimisation.



The hundred closest rats to the player are as “demanding” (requiring processor power) as the two thousands behind. We have four levels of details:

  • The fully animated and detailed rats very close to the player
  • The next one hundred rats slightly less detailed
  • A third layer of rats sharing the same animation loop, further away
  • A last layer for the rats in the background, who are a non animated mesh

We use multi-threading at its maximum to have all of that running smoothly. Several cores in the processor are working at the same time, additionally to the AI.

Lead Gameplay Programmer Cyril Doillon

Regarding the light and its impact on the rats, we can’t manage each rat individually if we want them to react to the characters moving with a light source. We merge as much as possible the calculations of the rats for their movement and reaction to light. They all share a basic behaviour, giving us this fluid “horde” effect while still maintaining good performance.

That’s how we manage to have 5,000 visible rats in the screen. The rats behind Amicia aren’t displayed, but they’re still generated, meaning that the processor handles more than 10,000 rats at the same time.



The result feels very organic, almost as a liquid. But we didn’t design the rats as a liquid, it comes naturally from their horde behaviour. Note that scientists have noticed in the past that the movement of a crowd share some similarities with liquid behaviour, meaning it makes sense for our rats as well!

We didn’t find a lot of references to rats in video games. Existing crowd management solutions were not adapted to what we wanted to perform in A Plague Tale. Perhaps some scenes from Uncharted 3 with spiders but it was very occasional in a specific level and not as intense and grounded as we planned with our rats.



We also watched movies like The Mummy or Indiana Jones and their insects, like those in the catacombs in Venice. Generally though, there is little fictional media that achieves what we have in mind and most of our studies were focused on real life: it’s fascinating to study real rat colonies, the way they organize and how they behave all together.

We’ve also been surprised by some of the player reactions. Some get scared the first time they see the rats and stand up, others smile. We didn’t really anticipate the impact the rats could have on some players. It was really visceral.

See you soon for more behind-the-scenes information and anecdotes about the creative process behind A Plague Tale: Innocence!

A Plague Tale: Innocence releases in 2019 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.


https://store.steampowered.com/app/752590/A_Plague_Tale_Innocence/
3 comments Read more

About This Game

A Plague Tale: Innocence tells the grim story of two siblings fighting together for survival in the darkest hours of History. It sends you on an emotional journey through the 14th century France, with gameplay combining adventure, action and stealth, supported by a compelling story.

Follow the young Amicia and her little brother Hugo, who face the brutality of a ravaged world as they discover their purpose to expose a dark secret.

On the run from the Inquisition's soldiers, surrounded by unstoppable swarms of rats incarnating the Plague, Amicia and Hugo will learn to know and trust each other as they struggle for their lives against all odds.

  • An original, powerful tale following the trip of the young noble Amicia de Rune and her adorable yet smart brother Hugo
  • Survive a great, enigmatic danger in a brutal, unforgiving world. With the Black Plague appeared deadly swarms of rats, indiscriminately devouring everything in their path.
  • A seamless blend of adventure and stealth gameplay, deeply embedded in dark medieval mystery.

Mature Content Description

The developers describe the content like this:

This Game may contain content not appropriate for all ages, or may not be appropriate for viewing at work: Frequent Violence or Gore, General Mature Content

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
    • Additional Notes: To be announced soon.
    Recommended:
    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
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