SPOILER WARNING: Note there are spoilers for God of War Ragnarök in this video.
Join senior environment artist Aaron Contreras, senior environment artist Lina Li, senior staff level designer Jeremy War, level designer Liz Wright, lead visual effects artist Christopher Lloyd, and level design producer Carol Williams from the Santa Monica Studio team as they give a deep dive into their roles on God of War Ragnarök, and how they created one of the Nine Realms, Vanaheim, including a look at concept art, level design, the creation of the day and night cycle and how it affected the environment, and much more.
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I beg of you dear friends if you've not Yet experienced the full events of Ragnarok spoilers are coming The Vanna home is a very large realm but It was the most ambitious realm I think The studio has ever tackled we wanted to Do so much and we did so much and Somehow we pulled it off Hi my name is Aaron Contreras and I am a Senior environment artist at Santa Monica Studio my name is Selena my role On the game is a 3D environment artist My name is Jeremy war and I'm a senior Staff level designer my name is Elizabeth bright and I'm a level Designer at Santa Monica Studio hi my Name is Christopher Lloyd and I'm the Lead visual effects artist my name is Carol Williams I am the level design Producer on God of War Ragnarok as a Level design producer I help create the World that you see in the games we work Very closely with the environment Artists VFX artists lighters to really Bring the world together My role as a level designer I get to Create a lot of the really interesting And different gameplay spaces that the Player gets to play through level Designer will create the map already With some very simple environment our Job is to make it pretty and make it Real so my role as a visual effects Artist if you made a cake we would be
The frosting so we add the art on top of Other art for example kratos's blades we Do the fire on them if there's weather Snow Magic That's all visual effects And uh what it is also dangerous We didn't really see much of Anaheim in The the previous game other than that Little window in freya's house So what we did was we took that little Window and we just really expanded that And we're like we almost kind of turned That into like multiple different biomes All within one realm you know you've got The jungles you've got the Savannahs You've got these ruins you've got caves You've got kind of like swampy areas and They all kind of retain a little bit of That palette from that original window We pull a lot from Norse mythology as We're creating the different Realms but We've also added our own unique twists And inspiration to each of the Realms so The player is surprised each time they Play through with the added layer of Thimble winter in the upcoming War to Add tension and build interest as the Player plays through these different Sections Vanderheim had very little kind of Actual written mythology but in our own Kind of story we've implemented the Story of skull and hottie and kind of The idea of the Moon and the Sun and
Other characters such as freyr those Were some physical mythological elements That we could use to put into the Environment to really help tell the Player and anyone that's kind of paying Attention like okay this is Anaheim Pretty much it originated from the Concept art and the storyboards that the Artists created in terms of coming up With unique Visions for what a Anaheim Jungle could look like so pieces showing Sort of the thick jungle the the canopy From those sort of visual cues we Basically lay out the player's journey Through vanheim as it adheres to the Narrative Direction vanaheim is Extremely different than all the other Realms that we visit The Grotto Specifically or the crater where we Actually get to see that world Wait to only bind you if you let it Do what is necessary Not because it is written Anaheim is Very unique typically a level would have Like one main state where that state Sort of determines the look and how Things behave Anaheim the realm features A time of day cycle So what that means is that all areas of The low except for a small few every Area has two different states that are Fully functional and determine you know Their behavior Implementing the day night cycle kind of
Meant like okay what can we do with the Plants can we make plants animate or we Can we have a scene where you're there During the daytime then you come back Later and it's drastically different We have to make effects for the daytime And the night time so that way they read On both levels so in the daytime it's a Lot more subtle but everything still Reads well and feels natural at night we Want you know effects to kind of glow You'll notice some plants will start Having some nighttime glowing feel there Are certain foliage or plant life that Would be active different Wildlife could Be active enemies that flare mayfly are Tied to the time of day and the way that Anaheim is set up the level can Transition from one state to the other At a moment's notice and that's Particularly important once the player Gets control of the time of day later on In the game where they can pretty much Change it at their discretion it was a Very challenging under the hood to get All these parts to work correctly yeah It was a very satisfying challenge to Accomplish I don't know if you've ever been in a Jungle before but it gets pretty Disorienting So you know whether it be day or night Um you'll just get lost and that's Something that we've had to figure out
How to help players get the direction They need and again adding the layer of The day versus night made it even extra Challenging My priority other than to make things Beautiful and realistic I also focus on How to make plays memorable so it's not Feel generic or repetitive or for player To get lost easily I would let's say put A very weird shaped Rock on the side of Road and also on player passes by they Will be like ah I remember that rock or Put like massive route that comes out From a ground And that will have some impact to player What we can do to help the player is Kind of guide them through kind of Environmental storytelling we're also Thinking about what what other kind of Elements can we put in there that can Remind the player of the story or of Things that have happened or maybe or Foreshadowing things that are going to Happen if there's a enemy coming up that You've never encountered before maybe There's some bones or some footprints on The ground or scratch marks something to Kind of indicate you know something's Coming that you weren't expecting Our environment team is amazing so we Just get to Sprinkle in effects Everywhere and especially for banaheim Where it's such a new and jungly place You get to really put in cool little
Insects and different type of things in The air and I think the team really did Well at bringing that to life just in General Anaheim is just one of those Realms that people haven't seen yet so I'm just kind of excited for people to Go through there for the first time and Just explore because there's a lot in Anaheim we're here you live in a tree Not in it below it heavily Look Having worked on the previous God of War Game on freya's house and the forest and Kind of the surrounding areas I did Spend a lot of time getting to know Freya's character and on this game I did Get to spend a lot of time with her There as well so seeing her evolve from This character who is this humble kind Of secretive witch just living in the Forest very peacefully and then has her Life kind of disrupted Must be better than this oh My God In the last moments of God of War 2018 What Kratos had done to Freya by killing Her son he saved your life he robbed me Of everything we left off seeing Freya a Very angry and bitter towards Kratos Wanting Revenge We are discovering Anaheim along with Freya because she hasn't been back to The realm in a long time I feel it I Hardly recognize him I used to play hide
And seek with Freya in the crops at Harvest Time We Dance and feast until The sun rose Why did I have to come back here and be Reminded of all this we want to show Sort of the decline that the realm has Suffered in her absence you know sort of The Heartbreak that she would feel when She revisits areas that were once Vibrant that I'm now succumbed to Odin's Forces and their occupation of Anaheim You are not the one who needs to die you Know just in the environment art alone You can see this realm used to be Something much greater Freya used to be Someone much greater she used to be a Queen but that's all but forgotten now All you see are these Strewn bits of stone and metal and Everything just intertwined with the Jungle environment we want to sort of Visually tell that that story and sort Of communicate that that kind of pain That maybe she would feel on discovering You know the destruction but I think There's also a bit of like a Redemption As well in terms of her finally coming Back and trying to reclaim what was once Under her Rule and then sort of showing Some hope for the future in terms of her Starting to mount a resistance against Odin Just seeing everything put together Seeing what environments did with all
The creatures and the animals and the Plant life my proudest moment with our Game is just seeing all of it from start To finish coming to life the people that Worked so hard on it they really worked Hard to pull that world together and it Really shows in how fun it is even how Beautiful it is seeing what it became is Really amazing to me when designing a New realm we definitely take player Expectations into consideration as we Want to still surprise and Delight the Player by creating a new space that they Have not seen before but also still Maintaining the high standard of quality That we've provided to them in previous Realms it feels good to see once Everything is put together how much Impact it really has the last time I Played it it's fantastic and I think People really enjoy it foreign