The beginning of ZPOC
By Mark Stefanowicz Studio Art Director
Shaun Nivens is the true creator and inspiration of this ZPOC tale. He would often bring up a couple of games he was interested in making while we would be at lunch. One of them was ZPOC, Shaun wanted to bring the Dwarf Fortress inspired sim genre to the zombie apocalypse – something that seemed like such a natural fit but had yet to be done. He’d been bouncing the idea around with different teams over the years (since 2009) – but hadn’t found a chance to get a group together that were passionate for the style or genre. The recent successes of games such as Rimworld and Prison Architect had finally begun to open up more conversations about the sim niche and the audiences that were interested in these types of games.
Even with the more recent examples in the market, frankly I still could not see the image in my head so honestly I dismissed it as an artist.
When we formed Lost Boys Interactive in 2016 we were wondering what type of game to make. I told Shaun we should make his ZPOC game. I still did not have a visual direction but we decided to go for it.
When I work on a project or a painting I have to be able to see it in my head first, then I can execute on it. In this case I thought of the environment and the people that live in this world. What do they do everyday? What do they smell? Eat? How do they survive? After all it is an Apocalypse game. This was the very first look dev we did for ZPOC. Once we evaluated the production costs and time it would take to create this we decided to go in a different direction.
We did some digging around for some assets to try and get the game and a visual look done faster. Do we really need to go in a realistic style to create a good Zombie Apocalypse game? What if we went with Cartoon, Blocky or 2D? So we needed to set a goal for the look
The goal of this image was to try and capture the look and feel of the game in one image.
1. The art style had to encompass
2. Think Walking Dead meets Minecraft
The image below is put together in Maya and was a simple render. The scene has a teddy bear and a shotgun in a kids room with a pool of blood. What happened in the room? Well, ZPOC is your story, you decide…
The second image below is a touched up version in photoshop. We painted in some god rays and haziness for mood. We also adjusted the colors and gave it an eerie warm glowing feel to it. Our first reaction to this stage was it had the simplistic, dark and moody look we were going for but it was not quite there yet.
The next image was the final look. I really amp’ed up the brightness and contrast in photoshop. Then we added in some grit and grime and paint crack overlays as well. We were able to fake bloom with some artistic trickery. Shaun and I both looked at the image and thought “That is the look for ZPOC” and we never looked back.
Welcome to the beginning of Z-BLOG
Stay tuned for the next blog to see how we created the trailer for ZPOC and other posts from our internal art, design and development team at Lost Boys Interactive while they create the game.