Year: 2018-2019 | Client: Bethesda/MachineGames | Technology: Id Tech 6
As a company, we started on Youngblood while transitioning out of our 'startup' stage as we delivered the project with a team of 6-7 artists. Sure not an army, but before then we were oscillating around 3-4 artists, with no disclosable company porfolio, no reputation, no visibility, so our 'jobs' mailbox wasn't exactly flooded with applicants. In fact, during Youngblood we also completed the renovation works of our new, bigger, office and moved in it.
Along with several improvements to our software-agnostic pipeline, related to the way we assemble our scenes and build our assets, this is also the project during which we consolidated our internal daily review system, automatizing the process our artists use to start every morning by gathering in front of each other's progress and exchange mutual feedback for improvement.
On Youngblood Treehouse Ninjas was in charge of the entire underground compound known in the game as the Lab-X. As usual, starting from a level design draft blockout, the skeleton of a story, and an art bible, we began breaking down the whole location and assigning jurisdictions to each of our team members, something we always strive to do to ensure the artists feel ownership on their work and can do it with pride.
An interesting development of our involvement this time was related to some extra duties on hero character props and weapons. This helped pushing our attention to ad-hoc pipelines for high importance interactable multi-part assets that have their own custom dynamics and combinability in the game. Not to mention the scrutiny on hand-held weapons in first person shooters is by definition the highest in the industry.
Unlike on Wolfenstein 2, here we got the proprietary tech on-site (Id Tech 6), which meant we took full independent ownership of our chunk of the game, implementing our work straight into the product and autonomously playtesting the builds. This is what ultimately sets Treehouse Ninjas apart from most independent service providers, making us a Co-Dev Studio, and not outsourcers.
And, as always happens, the environment art developed together with the level design, since often the ideas coming from the art/visuals affect the gameplay and vice-versa, so the daily communication between our team and the team at Machinegames was very close and frequent.
The Lab-X also included a mysterious location, placed towards the end of the map: a secret Nazi excavation site where some ancient and obscure relics were being dug out of the ground for 'energy-extraction' purposes which gave our team the chance to experiment with something stylistically opposite to the rest of the environments. And we always like to have a variety of styles in our projects.
Many assets were created and modularized for the construction of our environments on Youngblood, our team solidity and experience further consolidated and our quality bar carried on getting pushed higher, as it should always be, especially in relation to achieving world-class environment art that not only supports but empowers the gameplay and the narrative.
Thanks to the reputation and visibility gained through our previous projects, and having being able to participate as Treehouse Ninjas to some prestigious international industry events, by the end of Youngblood we were already ramping up with our new partner Cd Projekt Red on a new project titled Cyberpunk 2077.