For Golden Week we have a week long special on the goldest game (in terms of color palette) from Square Enix. Jonathan Jacques Belletete, Art Director on Deus Ex: Human Revolution, had a candid chat with Siliconera about Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the third game, which is actually a prequel to Deus Ex.
Jonathan Jacques Belletete, Art Director: It’s amazing how Visual Works, the CGI studio of Square Enix, and Goldtooth, a Vancouver studio, put together the teaser, the storyboard and the story. They worked very closely with Square Enix, directing and respecting the stuff we needed. But, the work the two studios did representing our visuals is just amazing. They are right on target. Obviously, the game feels just like the teaser in-game.
And yeah, it’s Square Enix, and as a huge fan, they are the best in CGI. They are always the top of the top. They have specific techniques that they do that I wanted, like the hair. If you look at Adam’s hair, yeah it’s Final Fantasy hair. I’m not going to deny it. I’m going to tell you, that’s what I wanted. I’m like don’t try to do any other types of hair. You are the best at it, it’s stylized, and that’s what I want Adam to have. The haircut is the haircut he has in the game, it’s the haircut we designed. So be it, man.
The stylization of the face in the teaser is pretty much we designed. It’s pretty much what is in the game and what Adam has been looking like for quite awhile. I think Square Enix added a little touch of their thing, but we were also within that kind of edgy, kind of choppy-choppy anatomy. That is very nice and clean. It looks very critical, but it’s not totally photorealistic. It was just a really good match to begin with.
Why did you step back and go for more of stylized look instead of photorealistic characters?
It’s a subject that’s a bit cliché nowadays. Like, it’s been spoken about a lot, like in the past years there was that whole uncanny valley thing and everything. But, it is still something I strongly believe in. I gave a talk two years ago at the MIGS, the Montreal International Game Summit, just about that. I’m a strong believe that you need to reduce the information in your artificial character’s faces to be able to concentrate on the message. If the message are the emotions, that’s what you want to see.
If you have too much information that are all into trying to do that photorealism stuff, and don’t get me wrong some of what those guys do, the work, the artistic and technical work, behind Heavy Rain is insane. Some of this stuff I have no idea how they did it. I’m in total awe. But, at the end of the day, to me, that’s noise in front of trying to read the character’s facial expressions and who they are because it gets very, kind of, uncomfortable of how they act. Sometimes it works really, really well. If you look at Uncharted 2 where they have really good facial expressions and everything, even it has a bit of stylization in their character. It’s not that uber, uber photorealism stuff and I find it works a little better.
In that theory, by reducing the information you boost the message, we decided to try to make our characters a little more stylized and a little more simplified, in terms of anatomy. And very credible, the way the game works, without getting into details, sometimes you really have to try read character’s emotions and stuff like that to base their choices on that. I think it works rather well. Like everything, it’s not perfect. Some characters look better than others. I’m going to be honest, it’s like any game. Also, I think it makes the world more complete because everything is based on those parameters and that’s something I’m driving for.
We talked about the gold and black palette plus fancy Renaissance inspired costumes in Deus Ex: Human Revolution yesterday. Tomorrow is the last day and the focus is all on Adam, the protagonist.