ART DIRECTOR | Dev: Freeform Labs | Publisher: Starbreeze Studios | UE4 | PC VR


You are an Elemental, a caretaker of nature. When a strange cosmic storm decimates your isle, you must master new creation powers to revive its inhabitants and restore it to paradise! Summon plants to provide food for creatures, reshape the terrain to form pathways that lead creatures to shelter, destroy troublesome rubble, and fly comfortably throughout an open world.

  • Collaborated on original game idea, aesthetic, prototype, and pitch materials

  • Directed overall look and feel of the game; Created style guide/art bible/design documentation

  • Lead a 12-person team of internal and external artists; Defined deliverable specs, content references, task & schedule management, and deliverable review for concepts, 3D models, textures, and animations

  • Created concept art, including some creatures, plants, level, design motifs, and props (most concepts were created by our wonderful team)

  • Reported to Publisher (often with other lead, or team) - Communicated progress made, ongoing challenges, upcoming unknowns, current action plan, and big-picture schedule. Adapted our development communications to accommodate various producers that were brought onto the project. Delivered an approved, completed build ready for shipment.

  • Created and modified some 3D assets (most were built by our then in-house 3D artist), including poly-reduction, proportion adjustments, authoring, and collaborating on how to best build atypical assets for later rigging (like trees and creatures)

  • Created or modified stylized PBR materials using Substance Designer, Substance Painter, and UE4’s in-engine material/shader graphs; Typically worked on look-tests to define style in collaboration with the team, and then passed those as references onto our in-house 3D artist for additional texture authoring on the remaining assets; Also created materials that were used in-game (see willow leaf example)

  • Built various rigs & animations with optimization in mind: low/mid poly count, relatively conservative bone counts, and strategically-limited weights used per bone

  • Plants - Designed, built, and weighted all plant rigs and animations. Created rigs that supported a combination animation setup: a 1:1 scrub-able growth animation that was matched to the player’s arm movement, and a series of trigger-able animations for discreet moments in the growth sequence (ex: leave unfurling). This allowed the plant to look ‘natural’ at any point that the player chooses to stop the plant’s growth.

  • Implemented and refined Plant interactivity (visuals) - Authored when certain triggered animations would fire, and improved that balance (based on testing) to make the plant mechanic comfortable and rewarding for players.

  • Guardians - Designed, built, and weighted all bear rigs; modified/created animations to fit tutorial changes based on user-testing. The bear-like beings perform actions that the player is asked to imitate, which quickly teaches new players the game’s motion-based mechanics, without using text.

  • Rabbit - Designed, built, and weighted the rabbit rig and animations (blink, eat, walk, run, idle, sleep, wake, alert, pet response, hit response, bump response, joyous). A soft pet elicits a cuddly response to reward kind players, and a hard smack triggers a cowering response to guilt rough players. Depending on where the player pet the creature (head, back, tail), a unique animation is played.

  • Modified creature animations - pushed the depth/intensity of some of the delivered creature animations to improve readability.

  • Collaborated on building a custom FBX exporter for Maya with technical lead - Outlined features and built a script that could export batches of multiple range-specified animation fbxs from a single Maya file, with all resulting files following our naming conventions. This script was used successfully throughout production, and saved our team significant amounts of time while iterating on the game.

  • Implemented animations in-engine - Collaborated with AI engineer to develop and maintain state machines, blend-spaces, and visual feedback (via blueprints) for all creatures, plants, guardians, props, and some environment pieces.

  • Implemented visual feedback with UE4 Blueprints - Connected animations, particles, timelines, and other relevant logic to events provided to the art team by our programmers. The Meet Me In The Middle blog post on Freeform Labs' website provides an in-depth look at how the art and engineering teams worked in parallel, saving significant time and effort.

  • Modified and implemented particle systems - Implemented and modified magic-themed particle sets with in-house artist. Edited to better fit our aesthetic, communicate information to the player, and heavily optimized for VR.

  • Profiling & Optimization - Used the Intel Graphics Performance Analyzer suite to capture and analyze GPU costs in scenes, developed action plans with the team based on the data, modified the game’s scenes/assets/settings, and tracked the resulting improvements. This allowed us to hit our target frame-rate while retaining the dynamism of our game, and ship an experience that felt comfortable for players.

  • Created promotional materials - Illustrated posters (digital paintings), designed and ordered a large 3x6’ pull-up banner for events (Photoshop, vendor research, to-spec content), refined title and logo (graphic design), created promo images and event blurbs, put together game website via Squarespace, posted game-relevant blog posts and articles written by our team on our website, and authored newsletters for our mailing list via Mailchimp.

  • Ran play-test sessions (solo, or with team) - Minimal prompting before the game; Took notes throughout the session on what they said aloud, what they did, what they quickly understood, and what they struggled with; Interviewed the player after their play-through, including general feedback, open-ended questions, and some specific inquiries; Documented testing notes in a central digital location, reviewed findings and trends with the team, and collaborated with the team on action plans and prioritizations based on the session.

  • Showcased the game at various events, including IndieCade (2015, 2019), IndieCade Europe (2019), and VRLA - Effectively communicated the game’s premise to players, carefully sanitized all equipment used between each player, quickly fitted VR equipment to each player, and carried on personable conversations with attendees while monitoring players in-game.

Unfortunately, as of November 2023, the distributor's website (RIEDEUX) has been replaced with another entity's content, and is likely defunct.