Train2Game News: L.A. Noire production designer Simon Wood to host BAFTA masterclass

L.A. Noire Cole Phelps Train2Game blog image

L.A. Noire production designer Simon Wood is hosting a BAFTA masterclass at the end of this month, giving you the chance to learn about game design, art & animation and more from the BAFTA-nominated former Rockstar man.

He’ll also be discussing his role on projects including The Getaway and L.A. Noire in what would be a very interesting event for Train2Game students to attend.

Simon started as an Industrial designer before crossing over into films and working on The Phantom Menace, Tomorrow Never Dies and Thunderbirds. He then settled in as the Production Designer at Sony Europe (PlayStation) on The Getaway series.”

“Haven spoken extensively at conferences around the world, Simon will be describing his role on projects and then discussing ‘good art’, ‘good design’ and the creative processes as a whole.” reads the statement from BAFTA.

BAFTA Masterclass: Multiplatform Production Design with LA Noire BAFTA-Nominee Simon Wood takes place from 19:00 on Tuesday 31st July at The Hospital Club in central London. For more information, and to buy tickets, visit the BAFTA website.

There’s more about L.A. Noire and its impressive motion-captured facial animation here on The Train2Game Blog, while be sure to keep reading for the latest from BAFTA.

Will you be attending the production design masterclass?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

BAFTA’s public events and online resources bring you closer to the creative talent behind your favourite games, films, and TV shows. Find out more at www.bafta.org/newsletter,www.facebook.com/bafta or twitter.com/baftagames

Train2Game news: L.A. Noire development took 7 years because it was “too big” says creator Brendan McNamara

L.A. Noire Cole Phelps Train2Game blog imageTrain2Game students will know that game development can take a significant amount of time, but even in this industry, L.A. Noire’s seven year development cycle was extensive. (Though only half as long as that of Duke Nukem Forever…)

Why was this? Well, partly because of the impressive Motionscan facial animation, and also because L.A. Noire creator Brendan McNamara believes his film noire title, published by Rockstar, was “too big”

“One [thing] is the size, it’s a huge game – probably too big. The map’s massive, and so that’s probably my fault. We had to build a new process to do that” he told OPM

“We were a brand-new studio – we had brand-new tools, new technology. We have tools that allow you to build cities now, but we had to build that kind of stuff and make it work. Everything from the road network, where all the trolley cars go, all the cables connecting automatically to all of the buildings…”

McNamara revealed that at least 18 months of L.A. Noire’s development was dedicated to research.

“The tech was pretty extensive, including MotionScan. I’d say the first year and a half – [maybe] even longer – was just research.” he said

“Newspaper research, guys going over to LA and doing research on the buildings, taking photos, getting all the resources together… We were quite a small studio – 16 people or something – and we had to have all this material so we could start building stuff.” McNamara concluded

Facial animation was a huge part of L.A. Noire, however, in an interview with the Train2Game blog last November, Brink Lead Writer Ed Stern told us it isn’t something that’s needed in order to enjoy video games.

As previously reported by the Train2Game blog, L.A. Noire broke records to take No.1 in the UK charts when it was released last year.

For more on L.A. Noire, see previous posts on The Train2Game Blog.

So Train2Game, what do you make of McNamara’s comments? Is it possible for a game to be too big? What lessons do you thinkcan be learned from the development of L.A. Noire?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: OPM]

Train2Game Animators get excited: Assassin’s Creed: Revelations tech could surpass that of L.A. Noire

Train2Game students will be familiar with the impressive facial Art & Animation of L.A. Noire, with many wondering if it could be beaten in future.

Well, the facial animation of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations could surpass that later this year, thanks to the Mocam technique used to capture footage.

“One of the elements that’s really interesting about Mocam is that, while  it creates a lot of high-fidelity character expression and movement, the actor doesn’t need to look like the character he’s playing.” Assassin’s Creed: Revelations Lead Game Designer Alexandre Breault told Now Gamer.

“It’s a system that’s able to interpolate the facial movements of one person and apply them to any model. That gives us a lot of flexibility with our actors.” He added.

That means the in-game character doesn’t have to look like the actor who plays them, useful for Assassin’s Creed: Revelations which features a number of historical characters.

Another way the motion capture used for Assassin’s Creed: Revelations could beat that of L.A. Noire is that it incorporates the entire body. Team Bondi’s method, while very impressive, only captured the face of the actor or actress.

“They’re also able to act with their whole body, as the system isn’t just limited to the head” explained Breault.

“ Mocam doesn’t create a clash between facial expression and body movement – it’s all integrated. It allows realistic facial expression, but not at the cost of actor expression as normal mo-cap does.”

It certainly sounds impressive, much like the fact the Train2Game blog reported earlier this year that the Ubisoft team behind Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is over 200 people strong.

And while it isn’t being used to capture facial animation, Uncharted 3 is also using advanced motion capture techniques.

So Train2Game, could Revelations surpass the tech of L.A. Noire? Would it improve the game? Is motion capture the way forward?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Now Gamer]

Train2Game students could see L.A. Noire tech in Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V could feature the extremely impressive facial art & animation techniques originally used in L.A. Noire. (Train2Game students can remind themselves about the motion capture here on the Train2Game blog)

That’s according to  Team Bondi co-founder Brendan McNamara in an interview with PSM3.

“Yeah, I think they’re looking at it for every game. As much as LA Noire is a huge game, Grand Theft Auto is incredibly huge, so you’ve got all the problems of how big the cast would be and how many lines would you have to record and all that kind of stuff.

“Obviously we’d like them to, and they’re more than welcome to use MotionScan, but if they decide it’s not right for that and want to use it for another game, then that’s fine too.

“I think it brings a level of humanity to the experience that means people will – in the first few minutes – start relating to the characters on screen. They don’t have to make that decision about ‘whether I like this guy’ or ‘do I actually believe them? – but they can make all the like or dislike decisions based on the actor’s performance.

“Rockstar will make those decisions. They generally make the right decisions in terms of what they do for their games.”

The prospect of motion capture in Grand Theft Auto V is no doubt an intriguing prospect, both to Train2Game Art & Animation students, and everyone else.

There has been no official announcement regarding Grand Theft Auto V, but increasing rumours suggest that we’ll glimpses of it in the not too distant future.

Indeed, as previously reported by the Train2Game blog, analysts believe Grand Theft Auto V will arrive next year.

So Train2Game, do you think GTA V could benefit from motion capture? Do you believe it’ll be in the game?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source:  Develop Online]

UK Charts: L.A. Noire top for third week running

L.A. Noire, which as the Train2Game blog previously reported became the UK’s fastest selling new IP, is once again top of the UK Charts as compiled by UKIE.

The Rockstar published title from Team Bondi holds No.1 after a quiet week for new releases. Lego Pirates of the Caribbean rises one place and takes it’s third No.2 in the four weeks since release, while Dirt 3 drops one in its second week on sale.

Former No.1 – as reported by the Train2Game blog – Zumba Fitness holds No.4 while fellow former No.1 Brink is also a non-mover at No.5. There’s also no change for Wii Sports Resort at No.6.

Chart regulars Call of Duty: Black Ops and FIFA 11 switch positions in No.7 and No.8 respectively.  As reported by the Train2Game blog, Activision’s next Call of Duty title – Modern Warfare 3 – will be coming later this year.

Another former chart topper in the form of Portal 2 moves up three to No.9, while The Sims 3: Generations is the highest new entry this week at No. 10. The only other new entry this week is Hunted: The Demon’s Forge from independent game developer Inxile which debuts at No. 14.

The UKIE Gfk Chart-Track All Formats Top 10 for the week ending 4th June 2011 is therefore as follows:

1. LA Noire (Rockstar)
2. LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean (Disney)
3. Dirt 3 (Codemasters)
4. Zumba Fitness (505 Games)
5. Brink (Bethesda)
6. Wii Sports Resort (Nintendo)
7. Call of Duty: Black Ops (Activision)
8. FIFA 11 (EA)
9. Portal 2 (EA)
10. The Sims 3: Generations (EA)

Big name releases this week include infamous 2, Red Faction: Armageddon, and…Duke Nukem Forever. Much more information about each of these is available on the Train2Game blog.

Infamous 2 is set to feature User Generated Content, find out how this could be a massive benefit for Train2Game students here on the blog.

Last week, the Train2Game blog featured an in-depth interview with Red Faction: Armageddon Lead Level Designer Jameson Durall. Subjects covered included Game Design, game development and how to get into the games industry.

And last month, the Train2Game blog got a massive insight into the long, long development of Duke Nukem Forever, thanks to the BAFTA Q&A event with Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford.

So Train2Game, which title do you believe will be No.1 next week? Which one of the new releases will you be going for? Or could L.A. Noire hold them all off?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum

UK Charts: L.A. Noire stays top

Last week, the Train2Game blog reported that L.A. Noire became the fastest selling new IP, taking top spot in the UK Charts. The Train2Game blog can confirm that the impressively animated title remains at No.1 for the second week in a row.

And as previously reported by the Train2Game blog, Team Bondi believe their impressive Art & Animation tech not only can complete with film, but also has uses outside the game industry.

Dirt 3 takes No. 2 in its debut week, with almost two thirds of sales on the Xbox 360. The remainder of the top 5 is filled with familiar names, with LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean dropping one spot to No.3, while three time No.1 Zumba Fitness holds onto No.4.

Another former No.1 – as reported by the Train2Game blog – in the form of Brink is No.5 after falling two places.

Wii Sports Result re-enters the top ten at No.6 thanks to price promotions on the Nintendo Wii bundle hardware, while FIFA 11 moves up one to No.7 in its 35th week in the charts.

Call of Duty: Black Ops rises two to No.8 in the week the Train2Game blog revealed that Modern Warfare 3 was officially revealed by Activision.  Crysis 2 drops three places to no.9 while the top ten is completed by Mario Kart Wii thanks to the new Wii Bundle that included the game.

The UKIE Gfk Chart-Track All Formats Top 10 for the week ending 28th May 2011 is therefore as follows:

1.    L.A. Noire (Rockstar)
2.    Dirt 3 (Codemasters)
3.    LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean (Disney)
4.    Zumba Fitness (505 Games
5.    Brink (Bethesda)
6.    Wii Sports Resort (Nintendo)
7.    FIFA 11 (EA)
8.    Call of Duty: Black Ops (Activision)
9.    Crysis 2 (EA)
10.    Mario Kart Wii (Nintendo)

The coming week looks slow for releases, with Hunted: The Demon’s Forge arguably the only big title to hit the shelves.

So Train2Game, is it a well deserved second No.1 for L.A. Noire? Will it hold onto the title for a third week? Or could Dirt 3 pip it to the post? Or will something else take top spot?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: UKIE Games Charts©, compiled by GfK Chart-Track]

L.A. Noire tech can ‘compete with film’ and be used outside games industry!

L.A. Noire developers Team Bondi believe their impressive facial Art & Animation techniques (Which if you haven’t seen, you can here on the Train2Game blog) can aid Game Designers in competing with Hollywood.

“The beauty of it for games specifically is it will now allow us to compete head-on with film and TV in terms of storytelling.” Team Bondi founder Brendan McNamara told BBC Newsbeat.

“If you take all the strengths of what’s great about a video game and you take all the strengths of what’s great about cinema and film you can get this amazing new product and what that means is video games become the pre-eminent entertainment form for the 21st century,” he said.

McNamara’s comments are similar those he’s previously made – as reported by the Train2Game blog – in that it’ll soon be hard to differentiate between games, films, and TV.

The L.A. Noire Director added that the MotionScan technology has even attracted interest from the industries outside of entertainment and gaming.

“We’ve had all sorts of approaches from different people wanting to use it for medicine and for security and people like law enforcement wanting it for lying simulators to show operatives how to read faces”

Back inside the industry, Valve are also ‘keeping an eye on’ the impressive Art & Animation technology.

As reported by the Train2Game blog, L.A. Noire became the fastest ever selling original IP in the UK, taking No.1 in the charts in the process.

So Train2Game, can games compete with TV when it comes to storytelling? Do any of you Game Designers have big plans? And is it positive for the industry that in-game tech is interesting those outside it?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Souce: BBC Newsbeat via Develop Online]

UK Charts: L.A. Noire breaks records to take No.1

The Train2Game blog has dedicated many of its pages to the game’s impressive Art & Animation techniques, but sales show that L.A. Noire may be more than just a visually impressive game; it’s taken top spot in the UK Charts in a  record breaking debut week.

It’s become the fastest ever selling new video game IP in the UK; a promising sign to Train2Game students that you don’t have to be developing a sequel to a successful franchise for the game to be a hit.

58% of L.A. Noire sales were for the Xbox 360, showing that the 3 discs the Train2Game blog reported the game comes on wasn’t an issue for gamers.

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean remains at No.2, while last week’s chart topper – as reported by the Train2Game blog – Brink, drops to No.3 in its second week on sale.  Zumba Fitness drops one spot to No.4, while PC exclusive title The Witcher 2: The Assassins of Kings takes No. 5 in its first week.

The high chart position of The Witcher 2 is arguably yet more evidence that the PC is far from dead, but rather provides an excellent opportunity for Train2Game students to develop games.

The rest of the top ten is filled by familiar titles; Crysis 2 moves up three to No. 6, Portal 2 drops three to No.7, FIFA 11 remains at No.8,  Mortal Kombat drops three to No.9, while Call of Duty: Black Ops slips five to No. 10.

The UKIE Gfk Chart-Track All Formats Top 10 for the week ending 20th May 2011 is therefore as follows:

1. LA Noire (Rockstar)
2. LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean (Disney)
3. Brink (Bethesda)
4. Zumba Fitness (505 Games)
5. The Witcher 2 (Namco Bandai)
6. Crysis 2 (EA)
7. Portal 2 (Valve)
8. FIFA 11 (EA)
9. Mortal Kombat (Warner)
10. Call of Duty: Black Ops (Activision)

Releases in the upcoming week include Dirt 3 and Dead or Alive: Dimensions for the 3DS.

Have you played L.A. Noire yet? Does it deserve to be the record for the fastest selling new IP? Is its success good for the games industry? And what are your thoughts on PC exclusive The Witcher 2?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: UKIE Games Charts©, compiled by GfK Chart-Track]

L.A. Noire’s animation so advanced it almost came on six discs

L.A. Noire screen

Earlier this month, the Train2Game blog reported that L.A. Noire’s Art & Animation technology is so advanced, that the Xbox 360 version of the game comes on three discs. (If you’ve not seen the facial Art & Animation in action, see it elsewhere on the Train2Game blog)

Now, Team Bondi has revealed that L.A. Noire could have needed as many as six discs if not for “miraculous compression”

“We’ve always been called stupidly ambitious,” L.A. Noire Director Brendan McNamara told GameSpot . “Along with Rockstar we make very big games.”

“It took a lot of effort to get down to three discs – I think we were on four or five or six at one point – and to get it onto one Blu-ray [for the PlayStation 3 version]. We’re pretty pleased that we got it down to that in the end”

“It’s the biggest map that we’ve done and that Rockstar have done, so there’s a lot of detail in there, and also a lot of actor’s performances – 21 hours worth,” he added.”

As the Train2Game blog reported last week, McNamara believes that Game Designers are realising that video games can be about human drama. He also believes that the MotionScan Art & Animation technique will make it hard to differentiate between game, film and television in future.

Earlier this week, the Train2Game blog revealed that Valve are keeping a close eye on L.A. Noire’s Art & Animation tech.

Of course, L.A. Noire isn’t just about tech, and you can find out more about the Game Design in this Train2Game blog post.

L.A. Noire is released in the UK on Friday.

So Train2Game, is the fact the game could have been on six discs testament to how impressive it is? And will you be playing on Friday? If so, which console will you purchase L.A. Noire for?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: GameSpot via OXM]

Valve ‘keeping an eye on’ L.A. Noire Art & Animation tech

L.A. Noire

By now, it’s likely that most Train2Game blog readers have seen the impressive facial Art & Animation techniques used in L.A. Noire.  (If not you can see it here on the Train2Game blog)

While Valve are impressed by the motion captured used in L.A. Noire,  they’re unsure if it’d work with the particular style of “reactive” Game Design they’ve used to create the likes of Half-Life 2 and Portal 2.

As reported by the Train2Game blog, the Art & Animation techniques of L.A. Noire are so advanced, the Xbox 360 version of the title comes on three discs.

“It’s impressive technically, for sure,” said 3D graphics man Jason Mitchell told Develop in an extensive feature on Valve

“And I think it’s an important inflection point in the continuum of ever-increasing fidelity in game characters… There are pros and cons to that LA Noire approach, and we’re keeping our eyes on that piece of tech, but it’s not clear how we would integrate it.”

“I guess I’m not really familiar with the performance characteristics of that technology, on the playback side. One of my first impressions was the incredible high-fidelity of it… But the system is based on a playback of a performance, which can go against how we like to think about characters interacting with our players.”

“We like our performances to be far more reactive to what the player does, and not to something pre-acted on a sound stage. It’s not completely obvious how this tech would integrate into our work.

“But since I haven’t played that game, I’m not incredibly familiar with that technology. It’s super interesting, regardless. I’m sure it’s something people will be referring to for years to come on the history of interactive facial tech.”

Train2Game students can read a hugely in-depth feature that goes behind the scenes at Valve at Develop Online.

Last week, the Train2Game blog reported that Rockstar believe the structure of L.A. Noire as a whole will be revolutionary for the games industry.

On the other hand, Quantic Dreams David Cage believes that L.A. Noire’s Art & Animation provides an ‘interesting dead end’ as reported by the Train2Game blog last month.

L.A. Noire is released here in the UK on Friday.

Where do you stand on L.A. Noire? Could it used to produce the “reactive” games Valve do? Is it the future of the industry? Or do you agree with David Cage in that it’s a dead end?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: CVG via Develop Online]