Plus, Other Ocean digs up design docs and describes updating Sir Dan for PS4.
Merry citizens of Gallowmere,
Tis the season of comfort, joy and second chances! I bring you the jolly news that the MediEvil Short-Lived Demo is being resurrected at PlayStation Store today with additional content! Get your hands on this free download to claim the Sir Dan’s Helmet item, traverse the Graveyard and Hilltop Mausoleum and fight your way to the Stained Glass Demon. Are you up to restoring some cheer to the kingdom this holiday?
And in the spirit of our 25th anniversary, the development team at Other Ocean has provided us with an in-depth look at how they meticulously updated Sir Dan’s model for the PlayStation 4. Please take a look, and share the spirit of Sir Dan this holiday season!
Nick Bruty, Art Director (Other Ocean)
Sir Daniel’s look is so central to the game that if we didn’t get it exactly right it wouldn’t feel like Medievil at all. With the original PS1 model being so lo-res we knew we needed to add much more detail and shape. It was going to be a whole new Dan but had to feel exactly like the old Dan.
We knew it would take many iterations to get it right so we made sure to give Dan as much production time as possible with our only deadline being the first video release for marketing, about midway through production.
However, the process wasn’t as grueling as we thought. The concept artists had already been at work on many areas of the game and we had really dialed in the style. But there was one thing that bothered us from the original. Dan had surprisingly short arms. He got away with it more being so lo-res but now it just looked wrong. We made some adjustments, so that they were more proportional to Dan’s lanky legs. This felt right and the animation looked better for it.
It was a great feeling to read the first feedback on Dan’s new look. Seeing fans put up comparisons between the old and new. Everyone seemed to really feel we kept the spirit of Dan and enjoyed the new additions. What really brought Dan to life was the extra polygons and bones in Dan’s skull, allowing our animators to get far more expression from Sir Dan’s bony face.
Alyssa Fernandez, Concept Art (Secret 6)
When we started our redesigns of Dan, our first steps were to definitely go back and learn as much as we can about his story and the original creator’s intentions. We wanted to keep true to his iconic look and silhouette.
Dan’s armor pieces were concepted to highly consider function — allowing Dan’s mannerisms, quirks (skeleton in armor!), and attacks to be animated fluidly while still being grounded in design.
Dan’s skull underwent many iterations, referencing designs from the past MediEvil games — striking a balance between the grit of the PS1, to the humorous and modernized shapes from Resurrection.
Joel Codorniz, Rigging (Secret 6)
Dan is a very unique character to rig, since he is basically a skeleton that wears armor. We had a number of revisions just to get the feeling right on his armor, and his face. Dan doesn’t have a jaw like other characters so we had to do different experiments and testing. We did the approach of separating the bone and armor, so that we can be flexible in capturing his goofy personality and showcasing the weight of his armor.
Jem Bernaldez, 3D Modeling (Secret 6)
For Dan’s materials, we initially started with something more “pristine and clean” with his armor, given he is the “hero” of the story. As we developed a deeper understanding for Dan, we shifted to a more tattered look and feel to his armor, but decided to keep his skull a bit cleaner, to support his iconic look.
Julie Almoneda, 3D Modeling (Secret 6)
We made sure to model and sculpt Sir Dan as close to the concept art provided as possible. Especially his skull since it had to support a lot of stylized emotions. So we provided enough polygon density to carry the various emotions, but also balanced it with optimization so the model would render clean inside the engine.
We had to constantly think between the physics of a hard skeleton/skull of a human body paired with the animated,cartoony and goofy skull of Sir Dan. To be able to support complex animations and expressions, we added controls in almost every part of his body including the parts of his armor for the supporting body language.
Justin Rosenthal-Kambic, Animation (Other Ocean)
Looking back to the limitations of the PS1 era in the late 90’s, the original team at SCE Cambridge Studio did an admirable job with the barest of bones to give Dan a few quirks that conveyed just enough of his personality.
When it came time to build our rig and animate Sir Dan ourselves, we explored and expanded upon those broad-strokes of the original and developed a facial rig that gave us the flexibility to serve both our in-game and cinematic needs. Thanks to a much increased poly count, (60 vs 1,734) and far more joint support, we were able to create a wide variety of emotions to flesh out our interpretation of who Dan was and how he should act in his unique resurrected situation. I was particularly excited to set up the ability to squash/stretch Dan’s skull which helped in exaggerating some of his more emotional actions, most notably when he tears off his arm or when he munches on that chicken drumstick.
Emily Chen, Animation (Other Ocean)
There were a lot of moments where you can see what the original game wanted to do, but couldn’t convey because of limitations. Discussing these scenes with our cinematic artist was especially fun because we got the chance to make the shots clearer and yet we still stayed true to the original content. It was especially fun to play around with Dan’s facial expressions even without a jaw to work with.
Overall, the complexity of our rig gave us the ability to max out his poses. For example, separating his head from his neck or stretch out his body for exaggerated poses.
Norm Badillo, Art Production (Other Ocean)
With the advancements in technology and the power of the PS4, bringing Sir Dan up to modern standards and expectations took a lot of thought and care from the team to make it happen.
The process from investigation, concept, experimentation, collaboration, and animation resulted into the embodiment of something special for the fans and the franchise. All the pieces together took Sir Dan to the next level and is definitely something we are all very proud of.
From all of us on the development team, thank you very much to all of our wonderful MediEvil fans out there – your support has been invaluable, and we hope we met your expectations with our latest MediEvil adventure.