We had the fantastic opportunity and pleasure of delivering our art production expertise to the nDreams team for their mind-bending PS VR2 title, Synapse.
A brutal first-person VR shooter, players combine firepower and telekinetic powers to survive and pass through multiple surreal, changing, and hostile mindscapes. This was the first chance we’d had to work on a PS VR2 title and nDreams did not let us down with their incredible art style and aesthetic.
Setting the Scene for Art Production Services in Synapse
As a VR project, we had extra considerations for performance and optimisation. VR titles are a constant balancing act between optimization and the visual fidelity of the assets created. VR projects are far more demanding in terms of optimisation than any non-VR contemporary titles on PC or consoles. This comes down to the requirements for stable and consistent FPS which might be a little frustrating as a standard player but in a VR title, stuttering FPS can cause terrible motion sickness or render the game completely unplayable. We’re no strangers to this careful act in ensuring high-quality results with as few polygons as possible.
As a militaristic, looping shooter, our team quickly got to grips with the unique and surreal setting. Our goal and task was to create multiple 3D assets for the environment, weapons, and various types of active items. We also had the opportunity to create some scenes and UI elements to correspond with some of the active items! We had to deliver these pieces from concept to creation so our team consisted of a producer, an art lead, a concept artist, and several 3D artists to take the pieces to completion. It’s rare to enjoy the creative freedom of taking assets from their earliest concept to the final low-poly models delivered. We truly enjoyed the opportunity to contribute our art production expertise to this game which has been praised for its visual style!
The Surreal Tone and Style of Synapse
With modern gaming trends, the world of Synapse was a refreshing change of pace. Not only for embracing a weird and wonderful surreal landscape but also for the aesthetic and style at which these landscapes were approached.
The dark and gloomy grey tones, the black and white aesthetic with bright accents in colour, it was a hugely enjoyable change for our team. The enjoyment was double for our team as it was also a fresh challenge! Texture and shape suddenly became even more prominent as a visual device. Colour was no longer something we could freely play with. As is often said, limitations boost creativity and our team were happy to engage with this challenge!
Ringtail Studios’ Pipeline for Synapse’s Art Production
Almost all of the final assets and scenes we delivered were created by our own concept artist. Which meant a smooth connection in the process of art development. On the Synapse side of things, the art director gave comprehensive feedback throughout which helped our work to perfectly match their needs.
From concept art, we started with around 10 nails or small sketches. Then these were narrowed down to 4 or 5 far more detailed concept sketches. From there, one would be chosen to progress. It would be transformed by our 3D artists using the standard pipeline as well. High poly work, low poly for optimisation and textures baked on to give it both high quality and high performance in-game. Texturing followed this stage and our concept artist also took on art lead to create any necessary skill icons.