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Development Info Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 Dev Diary #3: Neo Noir Art Style

Infinitron

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Tags: Paradox Interactive; The Chinese Room; Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2

https://www.paradoxinteractive.com/games/vampire-the-masquerade-bloodlines-2/news/neo-noir-art-style

Hello, I’m Ben Matthews. My job is Associate Art Director on Bloodlines 2.

A couple of weeks ago Sarah talked about the narrative themes of Neo-Noir and how it fits into our game and now I’m here to give you the artist’s perspective.

What is Neo-Noir?
Neo-Noir is a revival movement of Film Noir from the mid 20th century. Artists focus on modern day cities, painting them in bright neon lights and deep shadows. It’s very moody and evokes places that harbour sinister characters. Think Blade Runner or John Wick. Subversive, Dark, and Threatening, are all Neo-Noir conventions we’re focusing on for our game. VtM is all of these tones and so naturally it worked hand in hand when it came to creating the seedy underbelly of our Seattle. From Locations to Characters our vision is about showing a side of Seattle at night that goes deeper than what you see on the surface. Whether it’s dark-cornered alleyways to roam or interiors that host Machiavellian politics behind closed doors. Neo-Noir puts atmosphere and contrast at the centre of its palette and that’s something that works perfectly with our Vampire fantasy and ultimately Bloodlines 2.

The World of Shadow VS the World of Light
As an Elder thrust into a modern and unfamiliar world we’re playing on all of the visual elements of Neo-Noir to paint a picture of Seattle through the eyes of our Vampire. Contrast is very important to this visual identity in lots of different ways. A classic of Neo-Noir is light and dark. We use this to split the world into two. Vampires inhabit the dark, it’s a place you need to use for safety but dark places feel more dead because of this. The darkness becomes the place where we feel the most secure, the most in tune with the world around us.

You need to be able to see where you’re going even in the dark so that’s why we’ve used a very cold colour pallet for these places. That lets us use warm colours to add life to the rest of the world that’s lit up. Humans live in the light and because you need to maintain the Masquerade, that makes the light more dangerous for you. Whether it’s delving into the depths of Seattle's nightlife or stalking your prey for the next feed, leaving the darkness and entering the light, warm human world should be a calculated risk but one we ultimately need to take. Vampire senses are stronger than a mortal person’s so we have very a vibrant style juxtaposed between the dead Vampire world and the dangerous, energetic human world. All of these elements are accentuated in Neo-Noir’s unique use of colour and tone; the changes between light and dark have always been sudden and stark.

No Neo-Noir world would be complete without an eclectic mix of miscreants and personalities. The characters we meet throughout the game themselves have of course also taken a lot of influence from Neo-Noir aesthetics, each having their own visually striking home in Seattle creating a world of vibrancy and contrast.

Seattle by Night
It’s not a 1:1 scale replica but we’ve created our Seattle by spending a lot of time researching with Google Earth, maps and real life visits. We haven’t taken things verbatim but we have tried to capture the soul of the city and give it a Vampire Skew. The focus is on creating a world that lives in between the living world. Dark places just outside of the streets and high rises of the living world. We also looked at other American cities like New York and San Francisco. References on alleyways, pipes and fire escapes have helped us make it feel lived-in.

Snow is a big feature of the city’s look. It organically changes the shapes and feel of streets, rooftops and buildings. It fills the air around you to create a beautiful mood. Noir is famous for its rain but we love the look of how it covers everything.

Inspirations
We’re always learning about art of every type. Movies, books, fine art and even dance have given us inspiration. Neo-Noir Photography and Cinema visuals have been big influences. Whether it’s Nicolas Miller’s eerie elemental cityscapes or the visions of cultures hidden in plain sight in movies like John Wick and the works of Nicolas Winding Refn. We’ve worked hard on painting a picture of a dark, otherworldly underbelly hidden in the recesses of modern Seattle. Nicolas Miller’s work focuses a lot on the environmental atmosphere and the effect weather can have on people to make impactful images. We’re leveraging UE5’s atmospherics in the same way, creating dense scenes thick with warm glows and cold spotlights. Snow and fog play a large part of that in our Seattle helping to create layers of texture and visual storytelling.

Next Dev Diary is in two weeks! We will be talking about creating concept art.​
 

Zeriel

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Snow is a big feature of the city’s look. It organically changes the shapes and feel of streets, rooftops and buildings. It fills the air around you to create a beautiful mood. Noir is famous for its rain but we love the look of how it covers everything.

I know they said it's not the real world, but I still feel the need to mention that snow is very rare in Seattle. Some years we get none, and when we do get it it's usually only a day or two. If they wanted to strike a balance between realism and atmosphere, focusing on rain would have made more sense (obviously).

OTOH I could see this working if it's part of the worldbuilding, like how original Max Payne takes place entirely during 1 snowstorm and that mood of the world ending in a Norwegian apocalypse is highly immersive.
 

Lord of Riva

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Strap Yourselves In Pathfinder: Wrath
EDIT²: I already said it should die in the thread for september... *sigh* getting old.
 

Gromoer

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Well Refn wasn’t bad last I checked. His Valhalla movie about vikings is the best viking movie I’ve seen, albeit little arthousy. Drive is an undoubtable staple of neo noir.

John Wick though..
 
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I just ate the worst raspberries I ever had in my life. They were without any sweetness, sour as hell and just all around nasty. Posting in this thread because I was reading it while finishing them, and now feel like I won't have time to find any other before I run to repaint the toilet.
 

Rarre

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Love th fking Refn... Copenhagen Cowboy and Too Old to Die Young are two of the best shows I saw the past 15 years.
John Wick... never watched....
Hope they talk about some rpg mechanics next dev dairy...
 

Axel_am

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Hope they talk about some rpg mechanics next dev dairy...
Concept Art is up next. I want to see the future mechanics dev dairy as well.

Neo-Noir Vampire Seattle. What can go wrong, right?
Snow and neon lights sound great tho.
 

Infinitron

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Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Talking about artstyle and not a single picture? nice

bloodlines-2-dev-3-1

bloodlines-2-dev-3-2

bloodlines-2-dev-3

bloodlines-2-dev-3-5

bloodlines-2-dev-3-7
 

La vie sexuelle

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Neo-noir is sexy. That's looks cold and sterile. Not fun.

But maybe it won't be so bad after all. I guess it won't be worse than what HL cooked?
 

luj1

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Well Refn wasn’t bad last I checked. His Valhalla movie about vikings is the best viking movie I’ve seen, albeit little arthousy.

Drive is an undoubtable staple of neo noir.

The undoubtable staple of neo neor are films such as Killing of a Chinese Bookie, Bad Litenaunt, Chinatown, the work of Cassavetes, Ferrara, Brian de Palma, earlier works of Kurosawa and Goddard, but even Scorcese, Lynch, Tarantino, for the more plebeian choice

That is undoubtable

What is *very* doubtable is the quality of post-2010 neo noir, which carries in itself a comical inferiority.
 
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Gromoer

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Well Refn wasn’t bad last I checked. His Valhalla movie about vikings is the best viking movie I’ve seen, albeit little arthousy.

Drive is an undoubtable staple of neo noir.

The undoubtable staple of neo neor are films such as Killing of a Chinese Bookie, Bad Litenaunt, Chinatown, the work of Cassavetes, Ferrara, Brian de Palma, earlier works of Kurosawa and Goddard, but even Scorcese, Lynch, Tarantino, for the more plebeian choice

That is undoubtable

What is *very* doubtable is the quality of post-2010 neo noir, which carries a comical inferiority.
Yeah well I mean it depends on what we call neo noir. Stuff that you mentioned is pre-1990 (except for Tarantino Scorcese and Lynch who where prominent in post 1990 era) right? I wouldn’t doubt those are superior to what was shot post 2010, that’s for sure. I myself am a zealous fan of an old school. Drive is kind of an anomaly in this regards. Refn wasn’t related to Hollywood and he’s of Scandinavian cinema school which tends to be pretty nuts.
I would agree though that calling it a staple of neo noir is a bit of a stretch. But it’s definitely the best and very influential in the genre post 2010 given there were no competitors and very few followers (Nightcrawler e.g.) whatsoever.

Oh also Heat is 1990s noir and it’s damn great. Calling John Wick a noir is a fucking joke.
 

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