Hello, everyone I’m Sutorcen! I’m very happy to be able to tell you all about how we at Hotgates do location scouting. This helps us to create unique locations for you to explore and enjoy. Location scouting is something we consider very important here at Hotgates. Join us, as we explore ancient Greek Ruins and caves around the world.
A game world has many locations, especially if you are developing a 3D action adventure game. Finding inspiration for creating unique locations can come from various sources. One such source is the internet, since it’s instantly accessible. Google search and Pinterest are already full of locations fictional and real. There we can research locations that are worth discussing with the rest of the team. We have found many interesting locations like the Batu caves in Malaysia or the Skocjan Caves in Slovenia, which by the way look like a scene from Lord of The Rings.
The importance of location scouting
A process used very often by game developers is location scouting. Developers either travel to the locations themselves, take pictures, talk to the locals about local lore or they visit locations using google earth. Location scouting has become easier thanks to advances in technology. The most memorable location scouting was the one Rockstar did in Los Angeles for Grand Theft Auto V. Their teams organised field research trips with tour guides and architectural historians. Once there they captured around 250,000 photographs and many hours of video footage.
Another source of inspiration is of course the various concept artists we work with and their imagination. They do their own research but it always helps when we present them with some research of our own. Last but not least we draw inspiration from historical and architectural books, comics, anime, movies or other games.
“Location scouting is a vital process in the pre-production stage of filmmaking and commercial photography. Once scriptwriters, producers or directors have decided what general kind of scenery they require for the various parts of their work that is shot outside of the studio, the search for a suitable place or location outside the studio begins.” – Wikipedia
Fortunately for us we are making video games so we don’t have to shoot anything on location. But, as an indie developer we don’t have the resources to hire a crew to scout locations for us. So what do we do? The obvious answer is we scout them ourselves. Most phones have a decent point and shoot camera, plus we have some hobbyists photographers among us, not to mention a change of scenery is rarely a bad idea.
Hotgates’ field trip
After getting into game development, I catch myself doing a bit of location scouting everywhere I go. I often imagine real life locations and items being a part of one of our games. The whole team took a field trip for some R&R to an ancient temple of Hera known as the Heraion of Perachora and while much of the structures that once stood there are gone, the place, a bay surrounded by hills, is ideal to just sit there and imagine stories unfolding. It was a warm, sunny November day, you could just wear a T-shirt and bask in the sun. We were enjoying the day away from the office when our creative director pointed out that this bay is inspiring. Well you can guess the rest, we took our phones and cameras out and started taking pictures from every angle.
We might end up not using the site at all in our game. Some elements will surely inspire us to create a memorable location for you to explore or even create assets. If we do use it though we will show how real life locations turned into in-game assets. Until then have fun and keep playing games.