Games Proposal Blog - Genshin Impact Expansion - Week 2
Updated: Nov 15, 2022
7/11/2022 - 13/11/2022 This week I want to start concepting some 2D art concepts. I have started collating some in-game screenshots and existing official concept art on my Pinterest board, and just any other sources of inspiration as well. I was able to find some official Genshin Impact concept art of previous regions below via this 'video game art library' website I found. I have noticed it is quite hard to search for official Genshin concept arts because of the differing social medias in China.
I was also able to find a recording via the GDC Vault of the game producer of Hoyoverse, Haoyu Cai, presenting and talking a bit about how Genshin Impacts executes their ideas. - Video Recording - Presentation PDF Below are some notes I complied while watching the presentation: - It is important that they create an immersive, user-friendly world.
- In one of their older games, Honkai Impact, there were no male characters. In Genshin Impact, this was one of the problems they solved in trying to achieve a more user-friendly world.
- Haoyu explains that when they create regions in the game, they try to integrate elements from various cultures in reality. He also said they have a motivation to enrich the world with diversity in different cultural styles, so that players from all around the world will find something fun and interesting. - When giving an example of Liyue, Haoyu explained that it is indeed inspired by Chinese cultures but it is important that many different people from different backgrounds can enjoy it as well with a fresh perspective. - Different iconic Chinese locations were sort of revamped into a fantasy style setting for Genshin Impact for Liyue. -Characters are one of the most imporant aspects of the game. Storytelling revolves around the characters vs being plotline based. Characters are the most desired content for the players, and is a basis for their commercialisation.
-They use handpainted shadow masks to control the lighting for the character's faces specfically. -They do not use and baked lighting in Genshin Impact, all of their lighting is dynamic and real-time. -In order for the production pipeline to go smoothly, they follow a PBR pipeline that they are then able to tweak to make it look stylised afterwards to make it look harmonious.
-As an open world game, filling the landscape is important, so they made some "hacks". For the specialised landscape materials for example, each block of terrain has an 'art per cap' of mixing 8 layers. They made customised terrain tint fuctions for the terrain material so that they can get colour variation without adding more layers to avoid repetitiveness. - They use a variety of grass models, not just one, that have randomised density, size, and orientation.
- Each grass blade has only one colour that corresponds to the colour of the terrain by default, but can be modified.
- They use Substance Painter and a low blur slope filter to stylised all of the rocks and mountains, and mix three different textures together as well. It is important that the rocks and cliffs look beautiful because the players can climb them in-game.
-Trees in Genshin use a lot of shading tricks to blend in the environment. They use a spherical normal for leaves, and weaken the specular and shadow between leaves to make it their anime style. For tree shading, they set a minimum and maximum light intensity to prevent the trees from looking too dark in moonlight.
-Dynamic cloud production: artists will draw the growth animation of the cloud's key frames. Next, they use a tool to interpolate the cloud's key frames into a gradient map and use two basic light maps and a rim highlight map to realise the 24 hour light effect. Lastly, they then use a generated map with some noise to realise the dynamic changes in the clouds in-game.
As another source of my research, I also want to keep in mind and take note of the fanbase's wishes and speculations. I feel strongly that game companies should listen to the needs and wants of their players, so as someone trying to design an upcoming region in the game, it is important to me to be able to realise how the community would view my work. With this in mind, I have been collecting interesting posts and videos from social media. It is also important to me to creatively represent different cultures and folklore appropriately and creatively in this fantasy world. Zapolyarny Palace - As pointed out by this reddit post from another player, it is said in-game by a character that 'the Tsaritsa, the current Cryo Archon and ruler of Snezhnaya, reigns' at the Zapolyarny Palace. Genshin Impact does commonly reference real-world names, either directly or changing the word up a bit as well. In many languages this also translates to "Ice Palace", or "Winter Palace".
Zapolyarny is actually a town in Russia, pictured above. From my understanding, I believe it is an industrial/mining town in the arctic. According to wikipedia, the name of the district is an adjective which literally means "beyond the Arctic Circle", due to the fact that most of the district's territory indeed lies to the north of the Arctic Circle. [source]
'The outer boundary of Zapolyarny District is identical to that of Nenets Autonomous Okrug; therefore there is no economic sector of significance to the district that is not also of equal significance to the autonomous okrug. The main economic drivers are oil and gas, although reindeer husbandry is still seen as a core part of the culture of the indigenous Nenets people'. [source]
It is also usually brought up in my research that Zapolyarny is very close to the Kola Superdeep Borehole, in which a scientific project was taken to 'attempt to drill as deeply as possible into the Earth's crust'. [source]
In terms of Genshin Impact, I find it unique and a bit odd that this real-life industrial mining town is referenced in terms of a grand palace. I think it would be challenging to translate the main and most important features of the culture behind Zapolyarny in real-life to such region in Genshin Impact. When it comes to concepting, I think I will want to keep in mind the mining and industrial roots. It might be interesting to have such a grand palace on top of a large, sprawling underground mine, as an initial idea. I would also like to think about incorporating the Pyro element that Genshin Impact has into this town to ask and answer questions - how would people incorporate the Pyro element into their daily lives of mining and keeping warm etc - surely if you had access to such power in this fantasy world, how would you use it to improve quality of life? Is it possible that the Fatui organisation also tried to undertake a similar project as the Kola Superdeep Borehole? In terms of the palace itself, in my research I came across two significant points of interest I think would be suitable to take inspiration from, being St. Basil’s Cathedral and The Winter Palace.
St Basil's Cathedral is one of the most popular cultural symbols of Russia. I definitely want to incorporate the bright and unique architecture in my concepts and worldbuilding, especially for the main city of Snezhnaya. I feel like it would fit very well into the fantasy setting of Genshin Impact as is. The "onion-shaped" domes are designed to allow snow to slide down and not accumulate on top.
Of course, since we know Zapolyarny Palace translates to Winter Palace or Ice Palace, I also wanted to research into The Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, a Elizabethan Baroque-styled palace that is symbolic in Russia's history and culture. The Winter Palace also served as the official residence of the Tsar/Tsaritsa until the fall of imperial rule.
Russian postcards of 1914 depict ‘futuristic’ Moscow in the 23rd century AD [source]
While researching, I came across this article (linked above) that collated some postcards that depicted the ideas and possibility of a futuristic Moscow. It includes 'propeller-driven street racing snowmobiles to sky-high transit network for trams'.
Relating this to Genshin Impact, as we know from my previous blog post, Snezhnaya is meant to be the most technologically advanced region of Teyvat.
Konstantin Ivanovich Gorbatov - Artist
Izbas - traditional Slavic countryside dwelling
When it comes to filling up space in the world of Genshin, there are smaller named locations of towns or villages scattered around the world, alongside the main city of each region. Since Genshin has some smaller side and 'reputation' quests alongside the main quest, I think it would be nice to have some simpler side quests based in these villages and the townspeople - maybe even a questline that requires the player to collect regional wood and rebuild parts of the town etc. I think a questline similar to this could be a lighthearted but good way to showcase lesser known parts of this culture, going back to how Haoyu said in the presentation before that it is important that 'many different people from different backgrounds can enjoy' the game.
Indigenous peoples of Siberia
Genshin Impact - Pre-existing Events Windtrace https://www.hoyolab.com/article/1922453
Genshin has numerous limited-time events in every update that give a lot of rewards to the participating player. A lot of the events revolve around different aspects of the game, and sometimes include completely new mechanics entirely, or can be focused on story. However, Windtrace is probably the most loved event amongst players. In my opinion, what makes Windtrace so successful is the kind of active multiplayer included. Genshin does have the option to join other people's worlds and have them join yours in the open-world, but there is not a lot you can actually do alongside them other than help with bosses etc. So, I think I want to take what Windtrace does so well (multiplayer + new mechanic of hide and seek) and make a similar amount of engagement event for Snezhnaya. Something I did to sort of gauge player feedback was join random people's world in Genshin and just ask a few questions (e.g; what do you wish Snezhnaya would include, what events do you hope would take place in Snezhnaya?). A surprisingly common comment from players would to be the inclusion of a sledding or skiing event. I think that it would be difficult for Genshin to actually animate every single playable character for a limited time event. I know that it is very important for Genshin to accommodate for mobile players as well, and they do base a lot of things around that requirement.
Knowing this, I think that my sledding event could just force the player to play as the playable character Sayu, which in the video above demonstrates her elemental skill in which she can roll around the open-world at fast speed compared to other characters. It is not uncommon for Genshin events to lock the players to a certain character, regardless of if they own them or not. In the current event for example, there are two characters that have 'alternative sprint' abilities, which allow them to sprint on top of water as opposed to other characters not being able to. In that event, you are in a team of 4, and have to collect a certain amount of coins in a limited time-frame. So, keeping in mind the game requirements and limitations especially for mobile, it would definitely be unrealistic and unreasonable for the developers to spend a long time working on an event that would realistically be for a few weeks, and may not show up again for another year or so. I would also need to keep in mind the controls for both PC and mobile, as previously Genshin has released a limited-time rhythm game event, which needed different controls for mobile compared to PC for accessibility and ease of use. 'On mobile, Genshin Impact players only have digital buttons for opening maps or checking weapons. Character movement is also somewhat tricker on mobile, making tight jumps and turnarounds more challenging.' - via win.gg There have been complaints from mobile users of the aimed shot mode of bow characters being too difficult to use as well, as previously there was a daily commission in Inazuma that involved hitting multiple targets using aimed shot mode, that was significantly easier to complete on PC versus mobile. So, coming back to my idea of a sledding event upon the theoretical release of Snezhnaya, I think it would be best for gameplay and performance to utilise the playable character Sayu and her elemental skill. As I am creating and designing different parts of the regional map, I think there will be many mountains and hills that could be perfect grounds for the event. As Genshin events are time-gated as well, different parts of the events do unlock everyday. I think it would be a perfect opportunity for players to get an excuse to explore different parts of the map every-day and consequently get used to the map while receiving event rewards and having fun in co-op with the new sledding mechanic. It would also be ideal for mobile players as well, as the sledding mechanic would just involve controlling the character's movement and avoiding obstacles, etc.