Besides being one of the saddest games ever made, as well as one of the most difficult to define, Nier: Automata is beautiful. Much of this is down to concept artist Kazuma Koda who has now detailed the process of crafting the action role-player's gorgeous amusement park locale.
Via the Square Enix blog Koda says: "I tried to capture a very specific time of day in such a setting; we’re at a point when the park’s evening events are just starting to kick off, and the park’s daytime attendees are starting to head home. It adds to the atmosphere of both the location and scene. Personally, I really like this setting!"
Koda then explains that he kicked off the process by screenshotting the setting as it appeared in a very early build of the game. "From the artist's point of view, this is the most painstaking part of the whole process; we need to imagine what the final form the in-game art will take, and work towards capturing that." Here's how that looked:
Said to be "more of a copy and paste job" the second phase involves laying the setting's features out alongside one another, as the artists aim to strike the perfect composition.
Next comes lighting—both from the attractions themselves and from the dawning sky above. This is where everything starts coming together. "As long as you have the clear idea in your head," says Koda, "this was a relatively easy part of the work since the process was repetitive."
Following this, Koda says he and his team run what they have by the game’s director Yoko Taro, who suggested some reflections be removed and that more lights be introduced as well as more debris at the forefront of the shot.
And then comes the finished article. "At last, we completed the process, and this is the final version of the artwork," says Koda. "The idea is that while the image initially looks very glamorous—as the best amusement parks are—we start picking up on the smaller details, such as the debris, and you realise the entire setting has an uncomfortable eeriness to it."
Kazuma Koda's blog post can be read in full this way.