Discover the city of Las Vegas and find who you came for.
Will your questions be answered ?
« There are a couple of puzzle elements throughout Replicant: The Search, but on the whole it’s more about enjoying the experience. The visuals are stunning (particularly the holograms) and the Vangellis-style soundtrack really helps create an authentic feeling Blade Runner atmosphere. Highly recommended, especially if you’re a fan of the movies. »
Video by Cryptic Hybrid
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Lead, Programming, Art, Concept
* : out of 115 entries (see results).
Around 2017-2018 new year eve, a friend of mine, Valentin Serri, told me about a movie game jam. You had a week to make a game inspired from a scene from a movie. I directly thought about the movie that stood out this year for me: Blade Runner 2049 by Denis Villeneuve.
The first thing I did was to see if I could recreate the orange fog from the Las Vegas scenes. After a couple of hours, I got this result, which I was very happy with.
I talked with Valentin and Maixent Bouteiller (another friend), and we decided to make a game inspired by this movie. I asked to be the lead on the project and they agreed. Valentin was going to make the music, and Maixent would assist me a bit on the design of the game.
Two months later, in February 2018, the game jam started.
We gathered in my apartment to work on the design of the game. We already thought about what we wanted to do (this was allowed in the game jam rules). We wanted to make a first-person experience (aka. a walking simulator) where the character would wander around the dead city of Las Vegas, looking for answers. I draw many pages on paper for mapping the city and making the storyboard (that I lost now that I'm writting this).
At first, we wanted to put a scene where the player would control a raven, flying above the city, scouting from the sky for some sign of life. After getting dazzled by a flashlight, he would find the dead body of a replicant, upload his consciousness into it and start investigating on foot (we took lots of liberties from the Blade Runner lore). We didn’t want to just recreate the scene from the movie, we wanted to make something of our own. After a few seconds, the player would get flashes from his “sleeve?”/body, like holographic screenshots of the city before its destruction. Those memories would contain hidden clues on where to go next. The character’s motivation was to find someone who know about special replicants (as this one is special because he can transfer himself into different bodies). This last part is related to the movie. The story happens before the one in the movie, even though it’s not specified or really important. As we discussed this, we listened to the soundtracks from Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 to find the kind of sounds we wanted.
The day after, I started making the assets. Valentin worked on the music, and we asked Maixent from time to time what he was thinking of this and that. I started by making the raven. I was planning to finish this scene by Monday (we started the Friday night). The problem was that by Monday, it didn’t look that good, I had to model buildings for the whole city, and I didn’t know much about environment art (my main problem was where to put buildings so that the city would look good). I realized that it would take way too much time to do this, and it’s not even the meat of the game! I put this scene on the back burner and started making the main exploration scene.
Here are some screenshots of the canceled raven scene:
After making a rough block out of the level. I added some placeholder characters for the scenes. I also fell sick on the Monday which prevented me from working fast for the next three days.
I started animating the characters for each scene. This was fast as it was a single pose for each one of them. I really enjoyed this part. So much that I wanted to have each character to tell a little story. Here are some examples:
I also started sharing this as “they all tell a story” (I was quite proud of this level of detail on each scene).
I had to model about thirty buildings. As I said earlier, I didn’t knew anything about environment art. So, I looked for cyberpunk cities on the Internet, and I tried to look for inspiration for buildings. I wanted each building to be a bit unique, it was important for me because it joined the “they all tell a story” idea. It took me two days, but it was quite enjoyable. I liked seeing the city getting increasingly realistic.
I also modeled a metro and a casino. Because it was dark inside those buildings, I put an edge-detection post-processing script on the camera, that I customized a bit to make it look more in the theme (I made it black and orange, with a bit of pulsing).
While making the game, I fell in love with the music Op. 22: II. Tempo di Valse by Antonin Dvorak. It gave me the idea of a ball. To make it a bit creepier and dead, I slowed the music down and added a lot of reverb. I did the same for the music in the casino.
The end scene was important for me, this big room above the city, above the fog. It’s the only time the player can see the blue sky (well, in the beginning he was supposed to see the blue sky before entering the city, when he was a raven). We can see a very low poly version of the car from the movie (I had only an hour to model it) crashing through a window. There is only one door with some light, attracting the player. The player sees a dead body. In the story, the character is sad because he thinks that it’s the person he’s looking for. But then, he turns his head, and there’s a man standing there! CUT! (in the final version, I made this scene in fifteen minutes, just before building the application and submitting it to itch.io).
At first, we wanted to use photogrammetry to scan Valentin and put him as the man standing there. But, because of the lack of time and the fact that we used my badly lit apartment as a studio, the photogrammetry failed.
Finally, one of the most important part for me was the moment the player turns the power back on. A small part of the city finds back its lost glory. First, the metro turns back on, it’s only lights but it’s less creepy. Then, when the player gets out and sees the casino from the street, it’s lit, and the holographic screens are working (showing some -fake- ads). I worked a lot with Valentin for the music in this scene, as it was important to show hope through the sound.
In conclusion, I probably forgot to talk about some stuff, like the fact that I worked a lot on the shaders for the holograms (people and screens) or that I had to rework the fog shader to work correctly. Anyway, this was a fantastic experience for me. I loved working with other people like Valentin, as he allowed me to focus on the game, story and overall experience while I knew he would do a great job with the music part. I loved making the scenes and environment art for this game. And of course, seeing all the great feedback we got from players and other devs was fantastic! The jam results also exceeded our expectations!