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FALLOUT 3 Artist

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_19 March 2009, by Glynn Smith_

Please can you tell us a little about yourself and your role and responsibilities as world artist at Bethesda Softworks?

My name is Rashad Redic and I've been at Bethesda for about two years now. I'm an environment artist, and that responsibility includes not only the architecture, props and other various physical structures of the world, but also any non character animations, lighting, landscaping and sometimes level layout where art is concerned.

For the size of games we do, we're a fairly small company so multitasking is a big part of our responsibility. Day-to-day work can vary widely, depending on priorities. Some days see me building architecture and props, some days I could be lighting, other days could see me just playing our game to give feedback to our designers as they iterate on gameplay.

What was the most challenging part of your work during the Fallout 3 development period?

I think the most challenging part of our work is living up to the expectations people have of a Bethesda game. Our worlds are huge and detailed, our dev team could be considered small for the size of game we do, and there's a lot of work involved in providing the variety of unique handcrafted experiences. Nothing about Fallout is procedurally generated; every rock, tree and item in the wasteland was placed by hand, so if there's anything challenging about the process it's getting all that stuff in there and polished to an expected degree.

In what ways did you take Fallout 3's day/night cycle into consideration, so that your work looked consistently good in all the various light models and times of day?

We use these full screen image processes similar to how film is tinted to color grade our environments, and we actually spent a lot of time tweaking the day and night cycles along with these image processes to give us the look we wanted. In our editor you can scrub through the different times of day and see how the color shifts affect the art, and we were very mindful of our color palette and art style throughout that process.

What projects have you worked on, prior to Fallout 3?

I have worked on Godfather, Tony Hawk, and Gretzky NHL.

What's the most disappointing thing you've come to find about the games industry?

I wish the industry in general were more stable than it is. You always hear these numbers about year-over-year-end growth and being "bigger than Hollywood", yet if you've worked in the industry for a few years, I can almost guarantee you know someone who was laid off in the last six months. I hate how projects balloon past the point of employee retention to meet deadlines and the prospects of a stable, rewarding environment go out the door. Job stability and how often and how long a company goes into crunch time are two things worth exploring when discussing employment with anybody in our industry.

How much input did you have on the design and style of your work on Fallout 3?

Lots! This freedom is one of my favorite parts of the job. We are usually given high level aesthetic goals, but how we interpret those is usually up to us. Throughout the wasteland of Fallout, you'll come across a lot of these corrugated metal and wooden shacks (Republic of Dave and Evergreen Mills are two examples where these are used). When I got the task, it was to more or less come up with a few multipurpose shacks that fit into the current style and looked different enough from the shacks that make up the Megaton settlement. How they turned out was pretty much my design decisions, with some technical considerations for how NPC's may use them. With few exceptions, most all the architecture and props I built are my design choices, and of course any revisions and the final OK are given by the art lead.

Lighting is another example where I'm pretty much left to make the decisions. There are some design principles of course like making sure the main paths are appropriately lit, and maybe using light to call attention to things, but I'm pretty much deciding the mood of most dungeons, while honoring the intent of the original level design. Some of those dungeons I lit were Dunwich, Our Lady of Hope, Statesman Hotel, Evergreen Mills, and the Mechanist lair, among many others.

Giving that you've worked on a game based in a post-apocalyptic nuclear fallout, blasted-to-bits world, where did you find the best references for both your concepts and your texture source?

I love gathering reference, it's kind of like having a blank slate, and as you see all these cool and interesting things, a plan starts to come together. I don't think I have any one place I'd consider a favorite for references or texture sources, I've been building a database of refs, textures and inspirations going back to college, now numbering about 350,000 images.

What's your least favourite stage in your game art workflow and what do you do to battle through them?

This would probably be the general bug fixing that comes along with any production, and the iterative process of tweaking that has you going back and forth between Photoshop, the editor and Max.

What's your favourite game of all time and why?

Most of those games I mentioned are single player games, and there's a strong narrative element to most of those. I loved games like 'Grim Fandango' (and other early Lucas Arts games), that create some sort of union between the player and the story where an NPC is more than just a vessel of information and the player has a chance to affect and be affected by the story arcs of other characters.

It's something so hard to get right in games, because we as an industry still haven't figured out how to consistently distil a story down to properly paced elements with the near mathematical formulas that movies are created by in terms of when and how often things should happen, so when a game comes along and gets close it's something that's exciting. 'Call of Duty 4' was the last single player game I played where I thought the narrative and pacing were pretty rewarding.

Who're the people you look to for inspiration and motivation?

Inspiration and motivation certainly starts at work, there are plenty of talented people there to be inspired by. I also love looking at the AAA titles from other publishers and picking apart how they do stuff. I also routinely visit the sites and and a handful of art blogs to keep the creative juices flowing.

A time old forum question that keeps cropping up every couple of months is the old issue of personal teaching versus academic training. Where do you stand with this time old struggle and can you highlight a few of your related experiences?

They are both useful but if you are motivated enough for personal teaching I promise you'll get further into the industry. I think academic training is a good introduction to software, techniques and the various disciplines in the game industry, but most of the really awesome things I've picked up have come from my desire to learn. I started in the industry as QA, but when I lost that job, I sat at home on unemployment, and created some incredible images in that time. I certainly picked up some skills and knowledge that I would have never picked up at school, but school helped me hone in on exactly what I wanted to do.

What would be a dream project for you to work on?

An open world set during the zombie apocalypse. Basically, 'Left 4 Dead' as a single player RPG narrative with Bethesda's scale of world and things to explore and do. This needs to happen like yesterday.

Where do you see game technology going in the future, in relation to game art?

The current consoles can already push a lot of polygons, and most problems I have visually with games pretty much comes down to texture and lighting issues, especially with how specularity in games is rendered, often completely betraying the materials and making everything look similar or wet.

I feel like production sizes for the next console generations will probably grow, but not by much and that we're probably poised to see a big jump in shader and lighting models to achieve the visual fidelity you'd expect out of the next consoles without the massive overhead of a much larger staff.

I'd hope ambient occlusion and parallax mapping solutions become the norm, and shaders will help diversify the appearance of materials like wood, metals, and stone.

Related links:

Bethseda Games

Fallout 3

Rashad Redic's site


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    Give me the Bethesda animator. I would like to chat with him about his... "work".
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    > **Posted by Logan Dougall**

    > > **Posted by Dr.iCe**
    > > great article! :D

    > > but 2009? an old article you had from your archives?
    > still working on moving articles stored away in the wikis to their new home here :D

    ah, nice nice :)

    had not read this one, great read. It's always good to get an insight from someone else in into the Industry you're working to get in
    Common sense is not so common
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    > **Posted by Dr.iCe**

    > great article! :D

    > but 2009? an old article you had from your archives?

    still working on moving articles stored away in the wikis to their new home here :D
    ÜberStylers {...} ~/clubs/1947
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    great article! :D

    but 2009? an old article you had from your archives?
    Common sense is not so common


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