Post news RSS DevLog: Pop-Up Book Cinematics

Let me tell you a bit about the cinematics for BattleJuice Alchemist, the process of making them.

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Hey folks,

we won an Emerging Talent Award sponsored by AMD at the the World Trailer Awards last Sunday! I'm really happy and proud about this great mention.

Technically the award was for our latest gameplay trailer, which I realize is quite outdated, but I'll get to updating it once we are feature complete. But the jury said that while awarding the gameplay trailer, it was our cinematic trailer that first caught their attention and they really liked it. It has been around for a while, but I never really talked about it in a devlog, so let's catch up on that!

First of all, this cinematic serves double duty as both our cinematic trailer and as the intro cinematic for Act 1. There will be three more of these: two in between acts and one at the end of the game.

What I am probably most asked about is the voice acting. Our narrator is the incredible Dave LaChance, who also voiced our latest gameplay trailer. When searching for a talent, I got dozens of audition recordings, which I hadn't expected. Dave's was the one that I instantly fell in love with. It turned out that on top of that he is super professional and the most pleasant person to work with. So I'm really glad I got to work with him and will again in the future.

The second aspect of the cinematic that people seem to like a lot is the pop-up book.

The reasoning behind the concept was a quite pragmatic one. It allowed me to rehash in-game assets but present them in a unique and interesting way. When revising the cinematic, our illustrator Patrick helped me out with polishing the textures of the pop-up book pages. This was also an essential step for us to give Patrick a chance get familiar with the general visual style. Patrick can now create illustrations in the same style out of thin air and does not necessarily need an in-game 3d asset to base his illustration on, which means in the future we can be more creative with the scenes shown on the pop-up pages.

On a technical note, I am animating and rendering the cinematics in 3dsMax. It has been my to-go-to 3D tool for 20 years, so it is just the fastest for me to work with. The downside of this workflow is that of the total 650 MB of the packaged game as it is right now, 150 MB are taken up by the one video file for the intro cinematic alone. While this is not terrible and I expect the full game to still be less than 3 GB, we could save 600 MB by animating in the Unreal Engine sequencer and not include video files. Additionally, it would be the more flexible workflow regarding localization and making changes overall. When starting work on the next cinematic, I'll definitely give this alternative workflow a shot.

That's it for today. Thanks for reading and enjoy your weekend!


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