Redwood PS3/360 (2007)

In summer 2006 I was asked, along with Kuju's technical director (Sean Murray) to try and turn some new organic body damage technology that the company had developed for PS3 into a viable game idea. The ideas was to then turn this idea into a demo to pitch to publishers in Spring 2007. The result was a project called "Redwood Falls". Click here to see the original tech demo.

Redwood was an innovative survival horror, FPS title for (PS3/360). This is a game that blends the hard core, immersive game play found in FPS titles with the story depth and psychological elements found in survival horror titles.
Aided by the new game mechanics of infection from a virus that gave its victims regenerative powers. A complex contextual enemy AI that featured elements such as a fear of fire which when coupled to an environment that obeyed real life laws of flammability and destructibility, opened up a load of possibilities.
Infection control through the use of fire as a de contaminant, interactive cinematic sequences, mutating creatures and a full streaming world were also planned.

My roles in this project were varied, Sean and I were the driving force and while titled with Art Director, I often worked as Designer and Producer.
The project team started with a small group of us batting around ideas until November 2006 when we put together a team of 8 people.
Our plan being to develop an art and tech demo for February 2008 and then expand this with key game play elements for April's GDC Show. A 2 stage development.

Technology was a driving factor in this project in that Kuju didn't have a "next gen" engine at that time so another goal of the project was to pioneer Kuju's next gen technology and pipeline. We investigated several engine/tool solutions, balancing ease of use with flexibility. In the end we opted for Unreal Engine 3, mainly because while difficult to modify code side, it's superb artist and design tools would suit the rapid prototyping needed to get the demo done.

The goal was clear, develop the concept while simultaneously learning a new engine and coming up with a demo and pitch strategy for GDC all in 4 months.
I think its a real credit to the team that we got everything we set out to do done. We worked crazy hours and put in a lot of extra effort because this project was a real labor of love. You don't get many opportunities to design a game from scratch!

Rip 'o' Matic: To present the story concept behind the game in an easy way that we could get across without having to read through it or rapidly explain it in the pitch meetings, I decided to use a "Rip'o'Matic" this is basically taking footage from films, games and other media to piece together a video that sells the story and concept like a film or game trailer for a finished production.

Art Style: The core idea behind the art style for this title is to create an immersive, atmospheric and believable world. The art style is not so much photo realistic as hyper real, it looks realistic but the world and character proportions take on a larger than life presence. The Hollywood effect.

I wanted the game to be set in a location that is atmospheric, isolating and is primarily dark so we can play with light, the number one tool in any horror game/movie and maximise the visual effect of fire.
I didn't want to go with the norm, Jail, Space station, dungeons etc....all been done before.
I proposed that the game is set in Alaska during the 30 days of night phenomenon. The lighting, weather and blizzard effects playing prominent parts in getting the over all feel right. There is only one other horror title set in this type of location and that is "The Thing" which I also work on :) there was definitely some unfinished business there for me as I was sure that 360/PS3 would be perfect for this environment.


A selection of screen shots taken from the final demo show the environment: dense woods surrounding a clearing by an ice covered lake. The images being 60-70% final art quality.
The video on page 2 shows the results of our efforts up to February 2007 (3 months in) it shows art quality and our competence with the technology, there is some basic game play in there including simple AI and the 1st pass application of the regeneration system.

The creature in the demo doesn't feature the style I was planning but in order for the programmers to get the regen tech running in the demo we had to build the creature first. This meant that little time went into its design and the conceptual rules of the IP hadn't been developed. Because of this, its a bit of a blend of many horror creatures and doesn't have it own definitive style.
The planned concept idea for the creature designs would be that they have been infected and then when injured have to take life matter from other life forms which causes them to mutate, taking on some of the prey creatures characteristics

Learn more on page 2

No portion of this website may be reproduced without expressed permission.