San Rafael, Calif. -- 3D art creation and animation software from Autodesk, Inc. played an important role in Remedy Entertainment's production of their recently released video game, "Alan Wake." Compelling storytelling and atmosphere are the cornerstones of the "psychological action thriller" game. Autodesk 3ds Max , Autodesk MotionBuilder, and Autodesk Mudbox software were used to help create environments, characters, and in-game animations accentuating the eerily realistic mood and tone of the title.
The game takes a new approach to the traditional action-adventure game, introducing an unconventional hero -- suspense writer Alan Wake -- in the investigation of his wife's disappearance. It uniquely employs light as a gameplay element -- using it as a weapon against Alan's enemies, called "the Taken," as well as to denote whether or not he is in danger. As a character steps into the darkness, danger lurks, while light signals safety to the player.
"With 'Alan Wake' we were keen to build memorable characters, environments, and cinematic sequences that would not only tell the story, but also establish the right mood and tone for the game," said Sami Vanhatalo, lead technical artist, Remedy Entertainment. "Autodesk tools helped us do just that. We devised a faster and more efficient workflow that allowed our artists to create multiple iterations and add more realism to scenes."
Faster, More Interactive, and More Artistic Character Development
Remedy artists first modeled the game's characters using 3ds Max software and then brought them into Mudbox software for detailing. "The characters are all primarily humanoid, so we wanted them to look and feel organic. Mudbox was the ideal tool to help accomplish this," commented Vanhatalo. "Had we built these characters solely in a more traditional polygonal modeling package, it would have felt like more of an engineering process. With Mudbox our workflow is much more interactive and artistic."
The characters were then animated using MotionBuilder software, with a blend of motion capture and keyframe animation. For the Taken, Remedy's artists used the software to help process motion capture data and then blended it with supernatural movements that were hand animated in the application.
Dynamic Environments Enrich Gameplay Experience
Dynamic environments are an essential part of the game, as interactions with Alan's surroundings often determine outcomes in "Alan Wake". Remedy built all of the environments, vehicles, and physics-related simulations for the game using 3ds Max software.
Environments are also a key component to the moods created in the game. For example, as danger approaches, the forests darken and become more animated. The dynamic forest environments include tree branches, leaves, and terrain that react to player interactions and wind effects, were carefully constructed using complex shaders and simulations.
Looking to the Future
"Alan Wake" is the first installment of a bigger story that aims to pave the way for future game sequels. Remedy Entertainment is currently integrating the 2011 releases of 3ds Max, Mudbox, and MotionBuilder software into its pipeline.
Autodesk 3ds Max Entertainment Creation Suite
The primary Autodesk software tools used by Remedy Entertainment on "Alan Wake" are available as part of the Autodesk 3ds Max Entertainment Creation Suite, which offers 3ds Max software with both MotionBuilder and Mudbox software. 3ds Max provides a comprehensive, integrated 3D modeling, animation, rendering, and compositing solution. Mudbox helps artists sculpt highly detailed models more quickly and intuitively. MotionBuilder provides artists with a real-time animation engine for more interactive creative feedback and efficient handling of large amounts of animation data. The complementary toolsets enable artists to expand creative capacity while improving production quality and efficiency. The Autodesk suggested retail price for the Entertainment Creation Suite is US $4,995.