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August 2nd, 2016

Graphics – August 2nd, 2016

With our graphics we’re often asked ”why the retro look?” or “why didn’t you make the game a more realistic sim like Skate? Simple answer is: budget. It costs a bomb to create high end AAA graphics for consoles and the truth is we’d love to build a sim and go for that hyper realistic look. It’s funny because we actually started out as a simulation developer. Our first prototype was a simulation and our game engine is at heart, still a physics based 3D simulation.

But, as a small studio we had to make a decision early on: do we try and compete with the Activision’s, EA, or Ubi’s of the world? A: Nah. Or do we build a game that is solid visually, but with a focus on physics and gameplay? A: Well okay, yeah.

In the end the reality is that we didn’t really have a choice. A tiny studio like Bungarra simply can’t compete with high-end multi-million dollar graphics tech with the likes of EA and without the money, we knew we shouldn’t try. Choose your battles. So we needed to try a different approach. Our goal was to create a graphic set that would still look good and respect our audience, but with a focus on trying to make our notoriously difficult genre – surfing – both compelling and fun. Suffice to say this is a balancing act. Coming up with an attractive art direction, hard-core physics, in-depth gameplay as well as an effective User Interface, is no easy task. It’s not unreasonable to suggest that the psychology of limitation really did apply to us at the outset of this project and it still does today. That is, you make the best of what you have and sometimes as a result, circumstance simply forces you to become more creative.

We had to define what we internally considered be a rich visual look that could hold sway with a market awash with super high res and realistic graphics. The bottom line is that our art style had to be both nice-looking and meaningful to the surfing community. Our community. However, creating even a mildly stylized world like ours is tricky, almost trickier than creating a fully realistic world with all of those real world resources at hand. Each of the characters, environments, props and UI need concepts that are based largely on realism, but with a tiny smidge of ‘toon’ thrown into the mix to give us the effect we were after. We didn’t want to go as far the quite full-on toon look as seen in Shaun White’s Wii version, nor did we think we could achieve a look that Skate achieved on PS3 given our budget constraints – aesthetically at least, we need to land somewhere in between; a bright and clean looking game with a bit of character, minus the real-world gritty realism. With a little luck we’ll be able to evolve our visual art style again over time.