Welcome to our periodic spotlight feature where we take a look at the concept art and design of a game or film. The intent here is to get the creative juices flowing, remind people what's out there and what's being done, and to not lose sight of the quality of professional work. We can also discuss what works and maybe what doesn't, what you dig, or what you DONT dig.
Game: Project Offset www.projectoffset.com/
Release Date: TBA
Company: Intel/Offset Software www.projectoffset.com/
Lead Concept Artist: Anthony Francisco ubermonster.blogspot.com/
Art Director: Khang Le www.khangle.net/
BOY, you gonna NEED new pants after THIS one! WHAT you are about to see is, simply put: something MAGICAL. If the JOB of the concept artist is to 1) INSPIRE the team and 2) provide the orthographic blueprints for the pipeline, then whoever is working for Khang Le and Anthony Francisco must have EXPLODED with MOTIVATION into red splatter on the walls... may they rest in peace.
Project Offset is the name of a game/graphics engine developed by a couple of guys out of a basement in California. Led by Sam McGrath, the Offset Engine architect, the team's graphics engine was producing, not only equivalent, but BETTER visuals than what Xbox could offer at the time.
Naturally, this small and incredibly talented team was picked up by Intel and now reside in a proper developer's workspace. It is because of its small nature that few people are aware of its existence - but I've been eyeing Offset's progress for years. Every time I look at this work, I remember why I got into art.
In the early days, the engine itself was their main focus, but now that it has matured into a proper functioning game engine they have moved on to the playable campaign content. The game itself is intended to be a medieval FPS in a massive Lord of the Rings scale universe - complete with dragons, wizards, crossbows, swords, meteors, warring civilizations, spirits, vast alien landscapes, and rich extensive lore.
The two lead artists, who essentially do ALL of the 2D art, are absolutely bitchin' draftsmen. Khang Le is primarily responsible for the colour, mood, and environment concept designs while Anthony Francisco handles the characters and creatures. Their job, as the website states, is to focuses all of their energy to "bring the Project Offset visual bar to the highest possible standard." And God knows.. that bar is set high.
This concept art is decidedly more refined than the loose speed paints we saw from Mass Effect - nearly stepping on the toes of matte painting in some cases. Every single artwork associated with this project WREAKS of colour, scale, mood, GRANDEUR, and entertainment value. Everything they do seems FRESH - which is by no means an easy task, given just how many times worlds like this have already been explored and created. And yet, somehow, they make it new again.
To say that video games have come a long way is an understatement. Your dreams CAN and DO become reality.
Khang Le has a brilliant eye for composition, lighting, texture, and space. There is a real sense of verisimilitude (the appearance or semblance of truth; likelihood; probability) in the environment, atmosphere, mood, and architecture of these paintings.
I believe in this world; I believe it exists somewhere, somewhen. His painting style can be described as off-Mullins - most evident in his quicker pieces like this one below.
Magically, each loose brush stroke transforms into a perfect tent, statue, or banner. I will make the assumption that he starts with broad strokes, laying in the primary shapes, blocking in value (with consideration for background, middleground, foreground), and then fiddling with the textures and details last.
On the character/creature side of things, Anthony Francisco seems to work purely digital - keeping the human body parts very simple and then putting a lot of love into the outfit. His beasts are familiar, yet foreign.
The elves shown here don't look particularly unique, almost in the same vein visually as Guild Wars, but the creatures are really kick ass. Again, because this is a medieval universe we get to deal with more primitive weapons, armour, and clothing. So we have an abundance of straps, rings, piercings, chainmail, plating, leather, laces, shoulder pads, and bracers.
And what true-to-fantasy medieval world is complete without dragons, ogres, alien creature mounts, and... steam engine blimps? That's what makes a world unique - bend the rules, break the stereotype!
One of the things that really comes out in this work is love. You can tell that Anthony and Khang put a lot of heart into this - I can FEEL the fun they had doing it.. just jamming out ideas and collaborating. They haven't lost sight of the fact that it is their JOB to go to work, paint and draw bad ass monsters all day, and get paid to do it. That's what its all about, man! Being creative, bouncing concepts around.
This is basically ALL of the concept work that you can find on the internet so far - there were a couple more that I have but I just wanted to give you a taste of the awesome sauce. There are some really fantastic VIDEOS of gameplay - two of them in particular are a MUST SEE. You have to see this game in motion. So browse this stuff at your leisure. Project Offset is still in development - no word on a release date. All I know is, if the game looks HALF as good as this concept work, it will be absolutely gorgeous. Definetly need some new pants now..