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EA and DICE have decided to show off a whole bunch of concept art for Star Wars Battlefront II, offering a peek behind the curtain into the game's early development. Whether you're a fan of the game's art or just interested in how these kinds of projects move from idea to game, there's a lot to be gleaned from the details provided.
Over on the Battlefront II blog, a recent post is offering visitors a look at about a dozen large pieces of concept art for the game. As noted in the post, these pieces of art are basically where the game's design began. Artists came up with concepts for the various locations, enemies, machines, etc. that would populate Battlefront II, which helped guide design decisions and the final look of the game moving forward.
It can be easy to forget that these big AAA games are the result of an untold number of hours being put in by large teams of dedicated men and women. We play a game, have fun, and then move on to the next game without giving much thought to how these things are actually made.
That's what makes DICE's recent visual tour so appealing. As noted in the post, players only get to see how all of that work comes together in the end. The original designs, which are some of the earliest steps in the process, are frequently unsung heroes of game development.
The blog post notes that these pieces of concept art can be considered the "first draft" of the game. For Battlefront II, it's explained that the goal was not to just try and match the look and feel of the Star Wars films but to figure out how to tell parts of the story with visuals alone. Take the image below as an example, titled "First Order forces on Jakku." In this image, we see a couple of First Order troopers hiding in the shadows, waiting to get the drop on the playable characters in the background. Those characters are standing in the middle of a sun-drenched crash site that has been converted to a camp or outpost of sorts. This one image alone sets the mood for a visit to Jakku in Battlefront II. It tells the design team that the world should be harsh and sunny, but maybe disarmingly subdued. The player needs to know that, at any moment, the First Order could show up and ruin their time in the sun.
The blog post actually serves as a condensed yet comprehensive guide for how concept art is utilized in game development, moving from rough pencil drawings to the various types of artwork necessary to build the game world in a project like Battlefront II. The image below, for instance, is "A birds-eye view of the space dock in Mos Eisley." This kind of art helps give the team a better idea of the exact layout and scale of a location, which comes in handy with everything from final design to creating a flow for gameplay through the level.
Battlefront II is in the midst of its second year of continued content drops, all free of charge. The game may have had a rocky start, but it's certainly evolved well over the past 12 months. And thanks to artwork like this, we get a better understanding of how that evolution first began, back before things like since-removed microtransactions or flawed reward loops were part of the conversation. So in a way, this also serves as a nice reminder that, separate of the business end of things, games are the result of a lot of talented people trying to work together to make something they're passionate about.