Art Direction and Style Concept
By Joe Nickolls, Line Producer
One of my first tasks upon taking over the FIFA STREET team was to breathe some new life into the project. Part of that plan was to transition the game from current generation consoles into next generation consoles. The first thing we wanted to do was make sure that the look of the game reflected the type of game we were making, and this meant changing the look of both the players and the environments. The first mistake people make when thinking about next gen consoles is that it’s “all about graphics”. The power of these new consoles gives us much more than that. More memory and engine power gives us things like quicker rendering for environments that feel alive, animations that run more smoothly and A.I. that can react to more situations than ever before. This all translates into how the game looks and plays.
FIFA Street 3 is an arcade football game, so the moves and tricks need to reflect that. While FIFA Street has real football fundamentals and A.I., many of the moves are “over the top”, especially in “GameBreaker” mode. When you’re in that mode it’s not uncommon to see cartwheels and flips over opposing players, and moves that are derived from martial arts and parkour. The reason we took the art in the direction we did is because it would look out of place having photorealistic players doing crazy over the top moves. That’s why our character art style falls under a more “heroic” stylized look than photo-realism. We immerse you into our art style so our gameplay and animations feel right at home in the game.
Our art team got to work quickly on looking at as many different treatments of the players as possible. The one directive for the art team was “You can do anything you want, but the players must be treated with respect and fairness.”Our caricatured style emphasizes the player’s natural characteristics, but doesn’t make them look “goofy. If anything, our art style makes them more recognizable than ever!
With that intent, we came up with a number of revisions on the players. First they were too big, then too small, then they were too cartoony and then too realistic. We finally settled on an art style that captures the athleticism of the players yet keeps them recognizable from a distance. And all of that plays into the style of game we’ve made.
When you go up for a bicycle kick with someone like Peter Crouch, the thing you’ll notice is the long legs flying through the air. Run up against someone like Wayne Rooney, and you can see from his stature that he’s not going let you get by easily.
Longer legs, broader shoulders, it all adds up to emphasize players natural characteristics. And when people see the faces of our players. I’m sure they’ll love the look. Each player really looks like their real-life counterpart, only in a stylized way. We’ve also emphasized the body shape and height of the players, so there’s no doubt who you are when you’re dribbling the ball down the pitch, the rooftop park, the shipyard docks, or any of our other exotic locations.
Speaking of environments, we’ve done the same treatment with the environments. Stylized players MUST play in a stylized world, or they’ll look out of place. And it goes a lot further than just geometry. Texture, lighting and shading all play significant roles in our game. If you’re playing in our Eastern European riverside level, it should feel like it’s in Eastern Europe. If you’re playing a match on our Oil Rig in the Atlantic at dusk, it should feel that way.
Reflecting water, blowing sand, palm trees and neon skyscrapers all cast different light effects and we have captured those different treatments in all our levels.
FIFA STREET 3 is the most stylized sports game we’ve ever made. There are places to play our game that you wouldn’t naturally expect. While we hit the “staples” with places like Samba, our South American level in a parking lot, we also play at the beach and on a roof deck in the Mediterranean. We have authentic sounds of each place we play as well that adds to the flavor of each venue.
It was important to us that if you were to walk by a kiosk or store window that was playing FIFA 08 and FIFA STREET 3 side by side, you would know at a glance that FIFA STREET 3 was a different experience. And thanks to a stylized look for both players and environments, you will.