The Graphic Designers Tell It Straight (Part 3)

Posted By at 5:21 PM on Tuesday January 17, 2012

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The Offices of Team Ico

The Excellent Effects Behind an Atmosphere So Good it Felt Real

Nakano, were you involved with all of the game’s effects?

Nakano: Yes, and there was another guy as well. I got involved in development halfway through, so almost everything Ueda had done was already put together in one place. I was specifically in charge of the special effects that involved characters’ reactions, which used particles, as well as arena fog and bloom.

Kaido: “Particles” are what we call general technology used to express fluidity, such as you find in clouds. The Wander team had a variety of methods and systems at their disposal and went on to create original design tools and environments and use them to express things like gas, liquid, and smoke. They can also be applied to express light and haze.

Ueda: Bloom is the vague glow of the sky, and how it plays off the Colossus in front of you, for example.

Kaido: Aside from that, we’ve have one method for making model animations function, say, and yet another for expressing fog. By combining these, its possible to express even complex animations. In order to decide which technology to use where, members from each section would gather and discuss matters over a meeting.

The Offices of Team Ico

Were the tools you mentioned around since the development of Ico?

Ueda: Tools were generally handled in the same manner as Ico, but we completely remade them from scratch.

Nakano: Once we made the effects, we kept on simplifying things until they could be displayed on the actual game screen, so I could go so far as to say that the designers were able to do as they liked. Originally, it was conventional for the programmers to implement what we had made, but back then it was a lot of work to convey the idea of the images and movies we were preparing. In Shadow of the Colossus, we were able to omit that step. Because tools and systems were in place beforehand that allowed designers to easily and intuitively implement the image they wanted to convey, the whole operation went very smoothly.

The Offices of Team Ico

Was there anything you created that you paid special attention to?

Nakano: As with Ico, the world is really atmospheric. As you might expect, even within Ueda’s image of the game, the atmosphere was emphasized. It isn’t noticeable, but the game had that sense of atmosphere right from the start. Because there was a lot of atmosphere conveyed by things that were made prior to us working on the game, we kept them in mind and used those as a base. Considering the wide variety of games that boast very light fog and a low bloom level, I’d been wondering what would happen with a game that had even less fog and more bloom. That’s when I got involved with Shadow of the Colossus, and I was able to pour all my effort into the project.

Ueda: Most of the effect work consisted of impossible requests made right before the deadline. *laughing*

The wind, rain, and thunder effects seem like the real thing.

Nakano: The last Colossus arena had three different effects, so it was fun to create.

Niwa: The atmosphere really improved once we put the effects in. It was like “Whoa, it’s totally different!” Originally, that area had really nice weather. *laughing*

Ueda: Some people thought the end result was too dark, however.

Opening Storyboard

A storyboard for the game's opening

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