3D Adventure Games (ENG)

(29/07/2014)


The creative team at Silverback Studios, a small, independent game studio in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has turned their passion for creating fantasy-laden games into an award-winning reality with their Empress of the Deep series. The casual adventure game, which currently includes two parts – The Darkest Secret and Song of the Blue Whale – immerses players in an exotic world of hidden objects, puzzles, mini games and more.

Dreamed up by Silverback founders Willie Stevenson and his wife Colleen Shannahan, and created almost entirely in MAXON’s CINEMA 4D, the Empress series chronicles the journey of Anna, a young woman who wakes up from a coma in an undersea temple and must escape and regain her memory.

Puzzles are one of the most popular aspects of the games, which are user-friendly with challenges akin to Saturday morning crossword puzzles. In search of relics and unique objects, Anna travels through lush worlds under the sea and on shore. Non-violent and available in several languages for Mac, iPad and PC, millions of the Empress games have been sold worldwide.

Both Empress 1 and 2 have been recognized for having storylines that hold players’ interest. But it is the artwork that has really helped get the game noticed. Visually stunning, with hints of both fantasy and mythology, Empress of the Deep: The Darkest Secret earned Silverback the Best Art and Character Design honors in The Great Game Awards in 2011.

 
 
 

“It’s nice for a little studio like us to win against the big guys,” says Stevenson, Silverback’s creative director, who says each game includes about 150 shots, with each taking anywhere from three days to two weeks to create, depending on complexity. Though the images used in Silverback’s hidden-object games are primarily stills, they do include some animated elements such as opening doors.

Stevenson’s first concern when creating the game was artwork. He didn’t want the standard 2D fare of the genre, so he decided to go with 3D instead. After struggling with the learning curve of moving to 3D and trying different software, Silverback’s artists opted to stick with CINEMA 4D. “Because it’s so easy for artists to immerse themselves in,” says Stevenson, who taught Tom Cooper, head of the studio’s 3D department, how to use CINEMA 4D when he joined the creative team three years ago at the age of 18. The ease of camera movement is one of the things Cooper and Stevenson appreciate most about the software. “It’s far more versatile to work in 3D than 2D,” says Stevenson, “I really like the way you can quickly create sprawling vistas.”

Creating such lush scenes requires a lot of models, and Silverback creates most of the objects in game scenes themselves. However, they do use some stock models for things like trees. In order to make extremely complex scenes without creating unmanageable file sizes, artists often used XRefs (extended reference) for objects of all sizes from plants to castles and hot-air balloons.

Silverbacks Website: www.silverbackgames.com

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