Developer Diary #2 – by Sean Ekanayake

Developer Diary #2 – by Sean Ekanayake

Character & Presentation Artist

February 10, 2003

This is Sean Ekanayake, and I’m the character and presentation system artist on Enter the Matrix.  My duties include modeling, texturing and skinning characters; designing the look of the game menus; and general art support.

We are only weeks away from submitting our game to Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.  It’s an exciting time at the studio with everyone working around the clock to get as much as they can into Enter The Matrix.  The number of different characters is close to 70, and I have three more to model and texture. Both Niobe and Ghost have five different costumes throughout gameplay and the game’s full-motion video (FMV) segments.

Almost all of the main characters are based on real actors from The Matrix Reloaded and/or Revolutions. To capture their likeness in the game, we had everyone cyber-scanned. Each head alone consisted of 360,000 polygons before its conversion to a multi-resolution Bezier patch model that can be imported into the game engine. To get accurate high resolution textures maps, the actors were digitally photographed in costume on location. Shiny has had an unprecedented amount of access to the sets and with the people associated with the films.  This access has allowed us to create more realistic and believable characters.

Just last night, the new sniper mode graphics made it into the game, and it looks deadly, especially since bone collision was implemented.  The AI characters respond with proper animated reactions depending on direction of the bullet and its impact area.  The animation team is working hard finalizing the fighting styles and detailed movements of each character. The whole game UI is pretty much all there, minus a couple of weapon icons that still have to go in. It’s really inspiring to see how all the pieces are fitting together to make a complete game.

I’m amazed at the quality of the FMV sequences that were delivered to us from the Wachowski brothers. What’s more amazing is that the sequences complement gameplay and the real-time cutscenes without seeming like an afterthought.  I’ll be implementing the last of the FMVs into the game over the next couple of weeks.  There’s about an hour of FMV that the film crew shot just for the game to complement the Matrix movie sequels.  There are some interesting surprises for fans of the Matrix universe.

The real-time cutscenes, dubbed “cineractives,” are coming along nicely. This is where we really get to show off the high resolution characters, vehicles, weapons and particles at their best.  After the characters are done, I’ll be helping with lighting and general art needed to make the cineractives shine.  The sentinels are coming alive, thanks to a couple of VFX guys from the films’ effect group that have jumped on board.

There’s so much to do and so little time, but that’s always the case.  I’m pretty happy with where we are currently and where we are heading with our deadlines.  I’m thankful for my girlfriend, Beth, for putting up with my crazy hours.  We’re almost there, babe!

2003 is the year of the Matrix!

– Sean