Production design has become critical as film, game design, and VR converge into a new art form. And with Agile development, it is more important than ever to establish the visual style, key interactions, and internal logic in a VR world as early as possible. My vision for Life Hutch VR is a photorealistic and immersive experience that transports the user into the world created by Harlan Ellison. As I compiled visual references that resonated with me, I knew I needed a production designer who understands games and is grounded in the design aesthetic of science fiction. Fortunately, I have been a friend and colleague with a wonderful designer since my early days at Viacom. I was introduced to Mark Bloom on my very first day, when a pile of his storyboards was dropped on my desk and I was told to build it. Since then, we have designed games, websites and TV applications together and developed a way of communicating that often occurs when artists work together. Mark is also a cinephile like me and we are able to speak the same language, reeling off obscure references to seemingly random films, video games and other ephemera.
Together Mark and I are defining how Life Hutch VR will work and what it will look like. We started with my creative brief:
Life Hutch VR is about man's will to survive. The experience must feel dire and desperate. The story is set at the end of the twenty-second century and is a world that is more modern than the present, but with technology that has an obvious lineage to what we have today. The major advances are space travel, beam weapons and robotics. The Kyben war has gone on for years and has been a drain on earth, so the environments and equipment will look worn and well used. Limited resources has lead to a philosophy of upgrading and repairing things rather than replacing them, so colors and materials are often mismatched on things and it is common to see newer components bolted onto older equipment or retrofitted upgrades. The world of Life Hutch VR is gritty and utilitarian. Nothing is superfluous in this world where humanity is fighting for survival. The overall look of the experience is photorealistic with an emphasis on cinematic lighting.
Mark has challenged me to rework the story and game script several times until we pieced together an exciting new version of this classic story that is engaging and fun without straying from my original vision. I think users will be captivated by the barren lava planet we have envisioned and be fearful of our robot ELLIS. We will be finalizing the interior of the life hutch and the cockpit of Captain Terrence's ship over the next few weeks. Stay tuned...
Stunning marker comp designs rendered by Mark Bloom in the early days.
Mark is a true artist who moves easily from sketching to photoshop, 3D and mosaics.
You can see more about him and his work here: