Thought I'd share this brilliant in-depth article on how visual development of a game is tackled and the challenges faced in translating the "vision" of the games visual setting into the final product. Featuring art and concept designs from talented CB vet artists Joe Pearson and Charles Zembillas. Read the full article on Mike MGarcia's blog here: Visual Development for Crash Nitro Kart
When visual style is one of the distinguishing features of a game, it is important to recognize that an ad hoc approach is not a sure way to execute a strong visual direction. There are less than a handful of cases where such an approach has worked and usually there is a strong vision to begin with that helps guide the direction. The typical game development approach involves floundering around in hopes that a direction will magically appear; this naïveté can be the death of an original project and is easily remedied. If you know where to look, and know how to plan, resources are available that can help jumpstart the creative process and actually save production time.
As the scope of game projects attempt to match the entertainment value of feature film productions, game companies are specializing, adding new departments that mimic film production models, adopting a more disciplined approach to pre-production. This approach is not just necessary for monster budget games, but also for competitive more moderately budgeted games and game companies will look to feature film animation professionals and CG film professionals to help answer the call.
Using Crash Nitro Kart released for the Game Cube, Playstation 2, XBOX and GameBoy Advance, as an example of an approach to visual development, this article highlights some of the challenges faced and processes used by visualization teams at Vicarious Visions in Troy, NY and Animation Academy in Burbank, CA to bring a game vision into focus for a cartoon-style racer.