Scavengers is a world of storms and mutations | Interview with Midwinter Entertainment

Scavengers is a world of storms and mutations | Interview with Midwinter Entertainment

Scavengers is a project that we have observed from different angles, both trying it with hand and discovering the background. The title of Midwinter Entertainment, a new independent studio created by industry veterans who have worked on the likes of Halo and Gears of War, is a bit of the sum of different influences of the sector and the trends of the moment. Survival, multiplayer, post-apocalyptic scenario: these are just some of the ingredients that the team has combined for a sort of competition to extract sensitive data on an Earth ravaged by mutations and crazy weather conditions. PvE and PvP come together in an original and well-established formula, which really made us have fun when we tried its first version.

Today, however, we ask ourselves some questions about what it takes to create such a world . If the type of game and the gameplay have a structure based on a series of data including the tendency and the desire to propose an original formula, on the other side of the fence we need a strong idea from a conceptual, artistic point of view. Only in this way can a post-apocalyptic world truly take shape and turn into something original, intrigue the player enough to make that environment seem both familiar and so new as to encourage continuous exploration. We talked about it with Daryl Anselmo, co-founder of Midwinter Entertainment and Director of the Art and User Experience of Scavengers.

Interview with Daryl Anselmo

First of all, thank you for taking more time afterwards our latest interview. Speaking of what we discussed in it, we have already discussed a bit about what were the inspirations for Scavengers. However, at what stage did you exactly find the right artistic concept (setting and visual direction) for your game?

Daryl Anselmo: It actually came very early, precisely in our pre-production phase. I had commissioned a series of conceptual images that explored the idea of ​​a futuristic setting with a harsh and winter climate, an idea with which we accompanied our pitch. While the game has nonetheless evolved throughout its natural development cycle, that "beautiful wasteland in the ice" has remained largely the same.

Creating a post-apocalyptic world is definitely a challenge today. 'today as there are so many clichés and key elements repeated almost always from job to job. What's the ace in the hole for Scavengers when it comes to its world design? And how do you think the art direction of your game can help communicate its uniqueness?

Daryl Anselmo: This is a very important element for us - being able to present a world that is unique, distinct and at the same time familiar enough for the players to be immediately understandable, as well as being able to relate to it. and "immerse yourself". We focused on our winter setting and the dynamic weather system as our central visual elements. In Scavengers, a dangerous snow storm breaks through the map over the course of gameplay. At the same time, small stray storms affect players' movement, visibility and body temperature, but can also be used as an advantage by more skilled players.

As we discovered during our test run with Scavengers, the your world is full of monsters and enemies of all kinds. When you create a threat to the player, and mutations from outer space, what is the essential principle behind the design you propose for creatures? Do you create monsters with a gameplay-oriented approach or is the gameplay design-oriented?

Daryl Anselmo: Scavengers is a gameplay-driven production, and all of our enemies have started their creation process as block-playable prototypes whenever possible. Whether they are an Outlander, Scourge, or any other threat populating the map, we test each prototype unit many times in group matches to understand their visual perception, uniqueness and difficulty before promoting each of them to production. Then, we refine the visual concept and create the 3D models, animations, effects and sounds that then form the character's identity. Some units are small and fast productions that have simple objectives, while others are more complex beasts that need more machining to be perfect.

Apart from mutants and bandits, the biggest threat in Scavengers is frost and the apocalyptic time. When you created these particular weather conditions on the verge of survival, did you have any particular inspirations in mind? Maybe movies like The Day After Tomorrow or games from your studio staff's previous jobs?

Daryl Anselmo: Of course, we have studied several movies and TV shows to understand the requirements that help make a weather condition look like kinematics. Documentaries are often a good genre to study because they help deconstruct the subject into specific scientific elements that allow us to understand which parts are most important to convey to the player and which, instead, to exaggerate, shorten or omit. Many of us are snowboarding enthusiasts, including myself. Luckily I never ended up in a situation where my life was in danger, but I've been snowboarding in really tough conditions over the years, so I guess some of that life experience of mine went into the final product. br>
Back to the heroes and survivors: you have many characters who will try to survive the impossible conditions of Scavengers. What were the goals in creating your cast and what feeling did you want them to give to the players?

Daryl Anselmo: Uniqueness and variety are the most important elements for the design of the heroes of Scavengers. We are committed to giving each Explorer their own unique shapes, silhouettes, specific weapons and abilities that can be instantly recognized on the battlefield. All the Explorers are equipped with futuristic and colorful equipment in order to adapt to the cold, in particular we pay close attention to the view behind the character. As a third-person game, it's important that our characters can arouse visual interest and appeal even when viewed from behind, as players will (hopefully) spend a lot of time with them from that point of view!

Thanks to our test, we already know that Scavengers is very unique and that it differs greatly from other “shooter with heroes” titles. That said, projects like Apex Legends, Overwatch and even Fortnite, in some ways, show us how this particular type of titles can be a great opportunity for greater cultural representation and inclusive design. How much do you think this concept applies to Scavengers and what does it mean from a creative freedom point of view?

Daryl Anselmo: Diversity and cultural representation are very important to Scavengers. We are always looking for opportunities to collaborate with character designers and visual designs from all over the world and the way we have built Midwinter Entertainment allows us to do it without problems. We are also a constantly self-critical group and remain open to feedback, so if we are creating a certain detail wrong we take it to heart and correct it where possible. I would argue that this approach goes well beyond the visual sector and extends to character stories, writing, dubbing and vocal performances.

Finally, before we leave, let's take a moment to look at the technology of Scavengers. When you create natural elements related to the human sphere it is something easy to create, perhaps drawing a lot of inspiration from the real world. But when you try to create a technology of the future, it's really a different kettle of fish. What was your approach to Scavengers and where is the balance between a more futuristic design and "makeshift" equipment?

Daryl Anselmo: Many of the game's futuristic elements use a visual language we developed for Salient Corp (one of the game's corporations). It is a very rigid and angular aesthetic, very close to Hopeless Diamond, which we used for the first time for the Keepers. That brought us a number of great feedback and suggestions, so we extended it to some weapons, items, and on the landing ship. The interior of Sanctuary (the ship on the main menu) has an older and more rustic treatment, as if it had been made in the last generation and had not been fully serviced. The recovered objects, on the other hand, have a show feeling of antiquities, but set in the near future. We wanted the search for scrap components to be like a treasure hunt, so these items have more careful uses, a nicer patina, and are generally based on familiar objects of our day.

Scavengers doesn't have a date yet release, although it is expected on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Follow him on Steam to stay up to date with the latest news and trial periods.

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