Naresh Hirani In The Getaway we set a video game crime thriller in 40sq km of photo-realistic London. The story is told through missions that allow the player to drive and run freely through the city. It was a massive gamble. Trying to capture the essence of a city, making it cinematic, and making it into a game hadn’t been done before.
Ravinder S Ruprai We couldn’t recreate every single building – it was logistically impossible – so we divided the map up into six distinct visual areas. Our main objective was to get the flavour of each neighbourhood.
nh We sent people down to places to get that essence – the aspect of the streets, what kind of street furniture you see there, how wide the streets are, how much chewing gum is on the ground.
rr The lampposts were different, the bins were different. Westminster street furniture is black, Southwark’s is a lot more scraggy. There’s a lot more chewing gum on certain streets. The main thing we found out was just how dirty the place is, even around the major landmarks that get cleaned every day.
nh It’s very easy for computer graphics to look pristine and clean. It’s a big challenge to keep the layers of grime and decay without looking just black. We took down the edges to give a sense of being worn in.
rr Not having straight walls adds that little more character and suggestion that this building has been here for a hundred years and that it’s been through a war.
nh The most interesting parts we’ve found are not the clean parts. The interesting parts are the dirty parts, the back of Leicester Square. Not the tourist side but the alleyway behind there. It’s where you meet the interesting people, it’s where the little pub is. It’s a city with a lot of facets, so it’s a great inspiration for the stories we want to tell. We had to pick key landmarks, some tourist ones, others that people who lived in London wouldn’t know about, like Old Street roundabout, that would move it beyond Mary Poppins. Soho is our densest set of streets. It evokes the stories we want to tell, that crime world of seedy clubs and dodgy dealings.
rr We kept the traffic reasonable – no buses – and increased the number of pedestrians so it would feel dense without being constricted. We used tricks like ensuring the profiles of buildings were correct, the way they looked against the sky. It compensates for the wider streets, giving a sense of density – the little signs and aerials and roofs and bits hanging off.
nh The demo we made for the PlayStation 3 is a test of what new hardware can do. It’s a recreation of Piccadilly, an experiment with how we can reflect the character of the place, the people and their animations, the way traffic moves, the reflections off buildings, the difference between polished sandstone and glass and metal. It was about understanding all those materials and how they make a rich scene.
rr This is where we’re hoping to get in people from other industries.
nh The power of the new consoles is reaching new levels, so that it’s becoming more relevant to talk to people from visual effects and film. So it’s become very relevant to be here.
rr Soho is the creative hub, particularly for doing any kind of graphics work – postproduction, film, print production. The best people are here.