Ahoy! (I did it again I’m sorry).
Yesterday, we spoke about how Anne Bonny was designed from a gameplay perspective. Today we’re going to look at the visual side of things. Art Director Simon Loche is here to shed some light on the sailor’s origin.
I would say Anne Bonny is a pretty special warrior because she was already a part of the lineup in previous iterations of the game. It was a different concept, different gameplay, a very different art style. We never wanted to get rid of her because she was an excellent character. But she went through various transformations. She was very juvenile and cheeky before she ended up where she is today. It’s more of an evolution than something we specifically invented for Breakaway.
To me, pirates are amazing characters because they represent freedom. In history, they were building a society out of their own society. They were sailing the unknown seas. They were outside of society but creating a micro-society. That’s something that has always deeply interested me.
Keywords that we used to define Anne Bonny were freedom and adventure. We thought, maybe the jacket she wears is one she stole during a raid. Maybe the rifle she uses is a prized possession from the colonies. Pirates are always these over-the-top characters. They’ve been depicted like this in many movies, you know, with huge hats and giant feathers, jacket strewn with gold and so forth. So we wanted Anne Bonny to follow suit.
Anne Bonny was supposed to be a master of arms, so we imagined that she would hide weapons in her wardrobe. We eventually opted for a cleaner approached, for the sake of both gameplay and art design.
In previous iterations, her first set of weapons consisted of a rifle, a pistol and a cannon. But the more we played this warrior, the more we felt like she should be a sniper, a ranged character. We didn’t feel the necessity to keep the pistols. But! We kept the cannon because it’s such a fun moment when she uses her Hull Buster, this bada-boom moment, and it works really well for a pirate. It’s amusing to me that she pulls the cannon out of nowhere. Where does she hide this huge weapon? Is she carrying it with her the whole time? I think it’s just a fun, awesome thing to do in a game like Breakaway.
We wanted to root the character in mythology, and Anne Bonny was this famous, Irish pirate. She was born into a wealthy family, but she just wasn’t satisfied with her life until she was a pirate. We’ve seen this character in movies and video games. We wanted a free, adventurous, and deadly woman. Visually, we use darker colors to represent that in game. Her jacket is mostly black, there are explosive motifs in her abilities. Just like with Spartacus and visualized courage, we had to find ways to symbolically represent deadliness with the visual design of the character.
And one of the deadliest Buildables in the game is the Ballista. When we were designing the Ballista, we wanted a Buildable that focused on one warrior. We messed around with a multi-target Ballista, but we found it was more interesting to make it a single-target Buildable. We first started toying with the idea of a crossbow for her Buildable. But a crossbow is very two dimensional, and we wanted something that was readable at any angle.
Anne Bonny is a very jumpy character. Even one of her Buildables is the Trampoline. She has this attitude when she’s moving, and she usually stays out of combat while still being in the fight, you know? It’s difficult to translate freedom directly to a visual concept, such as a jacket or hat. I think at least her animation set and the Trampoline really speaks to the freedom in the way she moves. Like Chris mentioned yesterday, she’s about verticality. We saw an amazing move by Godspeed that showcases this perfectly.
It’s difficult to judge if a concept is going to work in game until it’s actually in the build. Fortunately – or unfortunately – we have to commit and test it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t work, we try again. For example, if we didn’t have the visual impact we were hoping for, or it didn’t jibe with our vision, then we have to iterate. And these changes can happen at any time in the production process. Pre-production, production, and even warriors that were fully produced can go through adjustments. There is a moment where we need to stop and say, okay, that’s enough. As artists, we are never satisfied. We always want to improve.