“You’re not just a pair of hands, but also a creative presence” – Developer Interview with our Environment Artist, Robert Kneen (1/5)

Hello guys!

At Team6 we are still growing and learning on a daily base. This despite our sixteen year track record in the games industry. Starting from just a few passionate guys that followed their dream to create games, we grew into quite a big game studio over the years. As a result our focus shifted more towards work for hire projects and less towards chasing our own dreams.

Now, next to our existing fun-value, health and mobile divisions, we opened a whole new branch at our studio focused on just this: going back to our roots. This branch grants us the possibility to work on our own projects and have more creative freedom than ever before, as well as gives us more control over the quality level we want.

To make sure that our newest project lives up to today’s high gaming standards, we’ve brought industry veterans from all over the world to our design table. In a series of interviews we would like to introduce you to a few of these key people. The honor to kick off this series goes to our environment expert Robert Kneen. Since he has a history of being the lead environment artist of Forza Horizon 3 and having designed multiple neighborhoods and key art for GTA V, it is no surprise Roberts specialty is cooking up beautiful, immersive environments, solely designed to wreak high speed havoc!

Why did you decide to join Team6?
Robert:
The prospect of making a bunch of interesting cities was a key reason for joining! Plus my background is in racing games or games which heavily feature driving, which matches perfectly with this new game. Team6 also allows for a lot of genuine creative freedom on the project. You’re not just a pair of hands, but also a creative presence.

What are you working on right now?
Robert: I’m putting together one of the larger districts of the game at the moment. This is a street racing track within an upscale city with a lot of high-rise buildings.

What are you doing to make this district unique?
Robert: 
Considered the IP involved, the district I’m working on was a natural fit to broaden the scope of the game locations. I could see this environment play a role like how Rainbow Road always fits into the tracks of Mario Kart: a solid tail end track that fully tests the players cornering and drifting skills! It’s a road that requires a little more concentration, but players will love to conquer with a terrific sense of speed.

 

“It’s a road that requires a little more concentration, but players will love to conquer with a terrific sense of speed.”

 

We cannot reveal the IP just yet, but how do you keep this level of brand authenticity in your environments?
Robert: The brand we’re working with is all about adrenaline and car enthusiasm. That is why we are aiming for a great sense of speed along with ease of navigation in our districts. This game needs to be fast and exciting to deliver what fans want. To do this we used real world reference to build the environments, but also took some artistic license to make the roads and streets more welcoming to drive at high speeds most of the time. This means the roads often need to flow in a way that allows for unhindered racing and maximum visibility. The brand also focuses heavily on personalization and customization of your cars. We wanted to make the environments connect with this by going back to the essence of street racing.

What else is there in the pipeline?
Robert: This game will have many themes, ranging from urban to a more nature inspired design. Each one has a style or flavour which demands a slightly different tactic or driving style (or attitude), while also looking aesthetically different: both in tone and color.

What was your biggest challenge in designing the levels?
Robert: 
The main concern for me is not repeating the environment experience, and to make the environments feel different beyond just a palette or background swap. I like to think back to memorable games on the Nintendo 64 like Wave Race or F-Zero X where racing games had very distinct styles for each stage, while also having a sense of progression and that the player’s skills were being tested as the courses unlocked. I want to recreate that kind of great diversity.

Well, this is it for our first sneak peek. Personally, I can’t wait to race in these locations, or see something more of the game! If you feel the same, keep following us because there is a lot more coming your way. Want to keep up to speed of everything we do? Like us on Facebook,  follow us on Twitter, and visit our official website! And of course: ask us all your questions!

Stay Tuned!

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