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27th August 2019
A Return To Heli Salomaa's Wonderful GDC Lecture
[Control Launch Day Celebrations!]

Back in April of this year, a number of Remedy developers attended GDC in San Francisco to talk about the recent work that they had been doing at the studio.

Throughout the event, there were a number of lectures, panels, mixers, and previews held by the team, including a rather interesting talk which we're going to be returning to today, in celebration of Control's launch!

The talk was by Heli Salomaa (Costume Designer) and was called "Costume In Games: Integrating a Costume Designer into the Character Pipeline". In her lecture, she referenced her recent work in Control and included never before seen photographs. Her presentation was packed with exciting information, and gorgeous conceptual artwork. While we would have loved to have seen the presentation live, it was uploaded in full via the GDC Vault, including all of the artwork shown to the audience during the event.

As it was such a brilliant portfolio which dives into the game and tackles it from a side that we rarely see, I wanted to return to it today as we celebrate the launch of that very title.


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At the start of Control, Jesse walks off the street in New York and enters the FBC headquarters during a full emergency lockdown. Her style has been described as "street clothes", as she wears ankle boots, thick socks, skinny jeans, and a blue leather jacket over a black vest. Her modern look is in contrast with the world she has stepped into, full of smart-suited workers swept up in governmental work.

For the bureau's look, the studio took inspiration from government office wear, including that of NASA.

As for Remedy's heroine, Jesse's character design embraced an ordinary everyday look. Afterall the game was intentionally contrasting the new Director to the dated style. Teals, black, and greys were chosen as an important part of Jesse's wardrobe and were later also included in many of the unlockable outfits.

Getting the right initial look was essential, this would provide the audience with an idea about who Jesse is, but there was a lot of experimentation along the way to get the heroine's style just right.





Scrolling through, you probably have a good sense of flow and how certain decisions branched off; Heli's visual descriptions and layout is the perfect way to convey the costume's progression. By the end, you have a more fixed description of what Jesse would look like. There's a play between the geometric shapes which influenced a lot of FBC's look and the ordinary streetwear that would blend into New York.





Max Payne has his leather jacket, Alan Wake his tweed coat; a dark blue leather jacket was selected to be Jesse's iconic look. The piece would continue right up to the neck with a short collar which emphasises her shoulder-length red hair. The arms wouldn't be full length. instead they would be cut off just below the elbow. Buttons, straps and zips embellished the coat but also gave the impression of usability and practicality.






Live-action reference photos also helped create the finished look. While there's only a small amount of live-action footage in the game staring Courtney Hope, photographs would later be used as references for promotional artwork. These would go on to be featured on the game's box art, magazine covers, at conventions and a lot more.


In addition to creating Jesse's unique look, Heli was also involved in creating the style guide for Director Trench and Dr Casper Darling. Trench has a very classic suit-and-tie look; he's smart, refined, traditional, and no-nonsense. Darling is very different; he's eccentric and passionate about his work, and noticeably enthuastic. His style focuses more on warm layers including wool and tweed, with a traditional crisp white lab coat, and finished with a bowtie.



There is so much packed in Heli's presentation and this is only a glimpse, but I love these photos and style guides so much as they explore the intimate perspective of the characters and focuses on them as individuals rather than a character to assign attributes to.

For the full presentation and talk, please check out her lecture at the GDC Vault, HERE

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