BioWare waxed artistic at the Animation Festival held at the UK's Bradford University yesterday (via Eurogamer (opens in new tab) ) as part of a discussion charting the progress of gaming art throughout the years. It's certainly come a long way from poking a couple of dots into a face-shaped blob, but BioWare Art and Animation Director Neil Thompson focused more on how both painting pixels better and the meaty Frostbite 2 engine led to the Dragon Age 3 concept art snapshot he flashed upon the screen for all of three seconds.
The blurry image's contents seemingly show a figure with an altitude superiority complex hailing a cab in the middle of The Shire, but it's probably nothing more than an rustic Orlesian landscape. Still, I squinted really hard. For glory .
Thompson extolled DICE's Frostbite engine as a catalyst for greater artistic freedoms when rendering conceptual sketches, saying, "Dragon Age was done on the proprietary Eclipse engine. I think anyone who played Dragon Age 2 would agree that engine was starting to creak a little bit by the time that was released. Obviously, Frostbite is the Battlefield engine built by DICE. It's a beautiful, beautiful engine. And what we've found is an improvement with DA3, and the artists who were really battling with the Eclipse engine have just embraced Frostbite.
"The work they're doing now is stunning. I think the screenshot I showed earlier is pretty amazing. That's unusual for pre-production. Usually you don't get to that kind of quality until a week before gold master."
We learned earlier this week that Dragon Age 3's crop-topped brother Mass Effect 3 also equips Frostbite (opens in new tab) in its Engine slot, but BioWare hasn't elaborated yet on how exactly it's utilizing the punchier pixels. For Thompson, it's a breath of fresh, lens-flared air.
"It makes my job easier because then it's all about discussing the aesthetic and what you want to achieve," he explained. "When you're a character artist or an environment artist, you're focusing on a small aspect of the greater whole of the game. As an art director, you're concerned about the whole, the frame, and everything it contains and how everything sits and the consistency. An engine like Frostbite allows you to focus more on that rather than the technological challenges of just getting the damn thing to run."