Luminous rays of hope glistens upon porcelain towers, transfixed on curves and angles that betray truth. With its fervered dance, alcoves and terraces alike are set aglow. Yet just beneath the surface lies the truth, and beauty is only skin deep. What was once true utopia, is but a shadow nipping at the heels of human greed.
My name is Alayna, and I am the Creative Director and Concept Artist working on PAMELA. Throughout this post I hope to convey a bit about the origins of the game world, and touch on some of the major themes and ideas that play a role.
A Childhood Dream
Since I can remember my imagination has been alight with thoughts of other worlds. Alternate or future realities in which things were more fantastical, more advanced. Sitting in class imagining these places eventually seeped into my dreams, where anything I could imagine became tangible, real.
When I first picked up the xbox controller and played the original Halo (at the slight dissaproval of my parents), I had found a medium that truly sang to my desires. It was like for the first time I felt I belonged, even though I was demolished easily by a pack of grunts the first time. I remember obsessively playing all the levels, being so frightened when I first met the flood, but so driven to experience everything. I dont think I ever felt the same way as when I first played that game.
From that moment on I started drawing little Master Chiefs in the edges of my notebooks, or on any paper I could find. I suppose one could say that I might not have become an artist if it wasn’t for Halo, and im not embarassed to admit it.
Since Halo I played every game I could get my hands on, soaking up any and all information about their lore and culture. The same went for movies, favorites of course being Star Wars, but also Jurassic Park and Lord of the Rings.
Every new experience fed my fascination, and the culmination of all these experiences is where I believe PAMELA started out. For years before even one piece of code was written or concept drawn, the world of Pamela and the city of Eden were already forming.
It is also immensely important to mention at this point the impact by Adam Simonar, who posted earlier. We have been together for 9 years at this point, and it is our shared love of this genre that really pushes us to create this intricate world.
So What is Pamela?
Pamela is a world set approximately 150 years in the future, using projections of humanities current path. Resource scarcity, especially that of fuels, has harboured a dramatic dichotomy as parts of society split off from continental ground. These utopias, known as Edens, functioned independantly of outside influence. Completely self reliant and sustaining, Edens were built to last forever.
One such paradise, Eden 052, is suffering from a cataclysmic event that will irreversably transform it forever. What the event seems, and what it truly is, is for the player to discover and decide.
Pursuit of Perfection –
The human species is always trying to be better; healthier, smarter, stronger, more beautiful. In the world of Eden, these ideals are pursued actively, but as shakespeare put it, “Striving to be better, we oft mar what’s well.”
Light/dark, beauty/horror, Eden is a world of contrasts. Everything has it’s parellell, even if it’s not immediately apparent.
We want PAMELA’s world to feel real; to have a culture, a history, and a future. Exploring Eden is like discovering a civilization, with it’s own motivations and thoughts.
The Characters of Pamela
When creating characters for the game it was of utmost importance that they make logical sense. Each piece of the social puzzle had to have a history, and a goal, yet also be interesting and captivating.
Eden has a multitude of factions that still eke out their lives despite the event. Many of these factions have not been revealed, and some of which you may never know about till exploring deep within the world.
Each group has factional alliances, and sometimes interfactional as well. The afflicted for example display a multitude of personalities, and may form allegiances of their own. The player will have to navigate these tendencies, and decide which factions they interact with, and how.
The one constant is Pamela herself, the angel of Eden. She will always be just an AARMs reach away, to aid or guide you in your journey. Ever changing, she will mould herself to be a reflection of the player, whether for good, or for worse.
Eden took the most time out of any concept to create, it was a whole city, a whole ecosystem. I wanted it to feel clean, idealistic, and like a place that people were actually happy to live on. The twin spires were central to the duality of the main theme, so were present from a very early point. The sails were also a huge factor, as they are the main source of clean energy for the residents of the floating city.
In the end many references were taken from sailboats and cruise ships, but also from iconic architects such as Zaha Hadid. Eden is still evolving, and will probably not be complete untill the very last room is placed in the last building. This grand vision can be a challenge to live up to, as I’m sure Adam, our level designer, can attest to.
From the very beginning we didn’t want normal weapons. Guns seem so outdated in a society that is all but bereft of strife. We also geekily enjoy the idea of blasting someone with your fist, not unlike a superhero. In this way, the AARM was born, a modular weapon/tech mount that would allow for deep customization that was very visible. It can be difficult to visually portray character progression in a first person perspective, so the AARM becomes somewhat of an avatar for the player to customize and improve.
The AARM went through hundreds of iterations before arriving at its current state, and was the subject of much debate early on. With its current form I am positive that we will see many exciting combinations of uses that will allow for unique playstyles for every player.
Tackling the GUI, we always knew we wanted it to be integrated into the world, like all our other systems. This was no simple task, especially with the decision to include full body awareness. The curvature of the arm also caused difficulties, as it was hard to read if it followed too closely, and too awkward if it didn’t follow at all.
In the end it was just a vast amount of trial and error that led us to our current UI, as with most art related endeavours. It will most likely still evolve somewhat as well, but the foundations are decidedly laid.
If I was to give any advice on creating an in game UI such as this, don’t give up! Even a brick wall can crumble if you bash your head against it enough times.
Into the Future
Pamela still has a great many things to be designed, and many wonderfully realized things that haven’t even been shown. I hope the world of Eden will be a great place to escape to, just as it has been for me to imagine it and relay it into the gaming medium.
Thank you for joining me this week, and make sure you tune in next Friday for Mathew’s post where he will be talking all about modelling, texturing, and finalizing props for Pamela in…
Dev Blog 6 – The Assembly Line
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