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  • Breaking News

    Rime PS4: Concept

    Rime’s protagonist has changed greatly since Tequila Works first came up with the game’s concept. A painting on a studio wall shows a now-familiar island scene with one major difference: where we expect a child to be stands a burly, bearded, stony faced warrior with a sword and shield. Once the game’s themes had been settled on, the gung ho look had to go. “It made no sense to have a super-muscular bald marine as a main character,” Rubio says. “He’s just a humble kid he’s not some kind of warrior.”
     Another design was scrapped after the release of the film version of The Life Of Pi, because the look of the hero the studio was shaping bore an uncanny resemblance to Ang Lee’s rendition of Piscine Patel. And while the team refers to the young wanderer it has currently as a boy, it has tried to design him in such a way as to leave gender open to interpretation, hoping to make him or her as relatable as possible something that is much easier to do when the character is only eight.

    Yet youth can be a headache in its own way. The animators’ hard drives are filled with grainy videos showing children using gymnastic equipment to capture their mannerisms; a kid might be able to somersault off a vaulting horse, but the landing won’t be perfect, and it’s those little graceless details that help set  Rime ’s star apart from his adult peers. Then there are the more playful touches the lazy dangling of legs over the water’s edge, the cannonball into the sea designed to send you back to
    your childhood. “It’s not  Assassin’s Creed ,” Rubio says. “We’re pushing really hard to ensure you can relate to the boy in the way that he moves.”

    The team has aimed for a gender-neutral design, but refers to the protagonist as ‘the boy’ internally. The childish shout sounds male, too.

    The character has been through countless iterations. You can blame Ang Lee and Fox Pictures for these versions of the boy being scrapped

    There’s none of this full pelt running in the parts of the game we’ve seen, but new animation cycles will be introduced as you progress.
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    TEAM BUILDING EXERCISE
    Small teams can do things of staggering scale with procedural generation, but in handcrafting its world, Tequila has no such luxury. “Everything is beautiful, but more importantly everything has to make sense,” Rubio says. “We don’t want to create something that is pretty but noisy and makes people get lost. We need to be very clear, to tell the player with the environment what they can or can’t do. At the same time, it needs to feel really organic.”

    As such, architecture is modelled, but scenery is made of modules that are arranged in different orders. “We start with pretty ugly boxes everywhere, then the artists come in and dress them up.  It requires a lot of imagination.”

    Aside from Studio Ghibli, Rime’s visual inspirations all hail from countries with Mediterranean coastlines, though Rubio doesn’t think of the game as culturally Spanish, pointing out that there are 11 nationalities represented in his 20-person team. “This is a global industry, and we are trying to reach all the world. It’s not about the differences, but about what we share. Ghibli’s the perfect example: Miyazaki didn’t create movies thinking about how people in Minnesota would feel. He expresses emotions that are universal. We are all human, and we were all children. It’s one of the few things we can all agree on: ‘Hey, I was eight years old once.’ ‘Really? Me too!’”

    The environment must tell its own story.

    Crumbling structures hint at a long-gone civilisation.

    Sketches of increasingly weathered architecture.

    Even trees in Rime take hours to perfect. Rubio says: “It’s OK. Artists love trees”
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    NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND
    Audio is every bit as important in guiding the player as visual design in fact, Rubio thinks it might even be more important. Jog along the beach and the soundtrack builds to show you’re nearing something important, while the crescendo of strings that greets one completed puzzle feels like this game’s equivalent of a level-up jingle. Yet Rime’s soundscape is about much more than music. Sound designer David Garcia (left) has taken countless hours of nature recordings and is working to ensure that even the tiniest actions have sonic consequence. “There are subtle changes,” he says. “You go five metres to the left and something shifts. We want to use sound not just as a response from a physical object in the game, but as part of the gameplay to create a language with sound in the island.”

    Garcia says Studio Ghibli composer Joe Hisaishi, “a master of portraying a landscape through the eyes of a child”, has been a huge inspiration, but the game’s Japanese influence doesn't end there. Renowned Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka was a fan of Tequila Works’ previous game, XBLA zombie platformer Deadlight, and is lending a hand. He was the first person outside of the studio to see the game running. “He’s really close to the project, passionately involved and really professional,” Garcia says. “He wants to know a lot about what we’re doing, and not just with the music, but all parts of the game.”

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