Dialect Effect is a language-learning VR game focused on culturally immersing the player through historically accurate environments, voice interaction mechanics, and humor-filled characters. This was a 7 month project worked on by a team of about 25 people working closely with the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) as a business client.
I worked as the Lead Environment Artist in both the pre-production and production phases of this project.
Pre-Production responsibilities included: organizing the team following AGILE methodology, defining artists’ technical budgets constrained for VR, building the environment art pipeline, developing the art style, and contributing to game ideation and conceptualization. During this time, I led a small team of artists in creating a tech study to discover the technical/visual constraints of VR in terms of shader complexity, FX, lighting, and polycount. What we learned here influenced every aspect of the pipeline for artists. For example, we had a limited palette of texture/textures sizes, limited freedom in Post-Processing and FX complexity, and limited number of lights due to the highly dynamic scene.
Production responsibilities include: worldbuilding Artist, lighting & establishing mood/atmosphere, level layout and level design of the Apothecary, architecture modeling, and modeling blockout models. During this time, I continued to lead and organize the environment art team alongside being the main worldbuilding and level layout artist. The process for level layout, modeling, and setdressing the level was highly iterative due to constant checking scale, play area, room space, and other variables that are in play due to VR. At times we would drop framerate and have to scale back our FX, lighting, or shader complexity and thus we heavily used simple colors to help lead the player’s eye and highlight key interactive objects.
Part of the project included creating tools to simplify continued development on the IP. I was responsible for creating tools and pipelines for the art team and thus I created spline mesh tools, helped develop a procedural stylized material pipeline from Substance to UE4’s material system, and created simple modular architecture assets. In the process, we iterated upon original concepts and ideas to exemplify the strengths of VR while keeping VR budgets in check.