Welcome back to our devblog series! We’re unveiling a wealth of details about the making of A Plague Tale: Innocence, Asobo Studio’s upcoming adventure game releasing on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC in 2019. Today, we’re excited to share more info about the art direction of A Plague Tale: Innocence!
Let’s welcome Olivier Ponsonnet, Art Director on A Plague Tale: Innocence to discuss the creation of the game, as well as the many challenges the team had to face during development.
I’m Olivier Ponsonnet, Art Director on A Plague Tale: Innocence. I’m in charge of the game’s graphic design: the creation and development of the characters, environments, buildings, as well as the interface.
Olivier Ponsonnet, Art Director
When working on the game’s universe and atmosphere, we found more inspiration in paintings and movies than in video games. We really wanted to find something unique and special. So, we went to study some artwork of the Polish painter, Zdzisław Beksiński. We soon fell in love with his unique universe, a bit felted, foggy, and deeply dark.
Zdzisław Beksiński’s Artwork
As for movies, MacBeth was one of our main inspirations because of its peculiar graphic direction, especially how they use the mist to cut shots. That is also a technique we used to create A Plague Tale: Innocence. The shots are composed as illustrations with separated subjects in the depths of misty sketching. This allows us to create depth, and to have a graphic approach that reflects the use of the silhouettes.
This is our way to deal with one of the game’s constraints: how to use the light contrast in the gameplay. If we didn’t use the mist, if everything was black, the game would also be totally black. For example, even though there aren’t any lamps on the street, we can still see the whole figure of the city.
Another source of inspiration when developing the game was typical buildings in Bordeaux, South-West France. For me, it is odd in an interesting way to be able to find muses in our daily life. The Great Bell is an excellent example. It’s one of the oldest belfries in France and the last remnant of the old city walls that were reworked in the 15th century, but originally built in the same period as A Plague Tale: Innocence’s story background. We also took parts of the Roman ruins as our references, such as the Palais Gallien, a magnificent vestige in the city center. As for other sources, we were inspired by the typical villages in Saint-Émilion, Carcassonne, and so on.
Great Bell, Bordeaux
Our biggest challenge is the light, as it’s the most important element in the gameplay. In general, artists tend to use the light as a tool to create their artwork. However, it’s almost opposite for A Plague Tale: Innocence. So, we played with colors and lights a lot when developing the game: the gameplay lights are warm, while the setting ones are cool. It allows us to categorize the lights in a certain way: at night, the moon illuminates the path in blue, whereas the torch does it in yellow.
We also used another technique from Macbeth, which allows us to personify the black plague as if the air was dense, impure, and corrupted by the disease. That is to say, this actually plays a double role: it not only allows us to cut our shots, but also supports the game’s atmosphere by emphasizing its heavy and unhealthy side.
Sometimes, it’s just our own interpretation. However, we’ve tried our best to stick to the medieval settings to make the game consistent to its narrative part.
See you soon for more making-of information and anecdotes about the creative process behind A Plague Tale: Innocence!
A Plague Tale: Innocence releases in 2019 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.