The Art of Horizon Chase 2Horizon Chase 2 is Out Now on Apple Arcade. This new game in the series invites you to race around the world featuring online multiplayer for all game modes
Let me tell you a secret: It’s all about colors and landscapes.
Hi, my name is Danilo Freitas and I’m a Concept Artist at Aquiris, working specifically on the Horizon Chase 2 project. To be honest, this is my first experience with the gaming industry, so it was hard for me to find a way to start this article. My main struggle was: “what does a Horizon Chase player want to know about our art direction?” Well, let’s start from the beginning.
And then there was Florida
The first map from our World Tour is Florida (United States). It seems obvious to state that, but when we started making Florida there was no asset to use. We had to make from the ground every single aspect of the map: the palm trees, the lampposts, the clouds, the grass… everything.
All we had was the track and an empty map around. If you pay attention to our Florida concepts above, you might see that everything around the track is a sketchy version of what would become our first assets. My professional background is in illustration and coloring comic books. When I joined the company and delivered the first colored concepts our Art Director said to me “That’s it! Horizon Chase 2 is all about the colors”.All we had was the track and an empty map around. If you pay attention to our Florida concepts above, you might see that everything around the track is a sketchy version of what would become our first assets. My professional background is in illustration and coloring comic books. When I joined the company and delivered the first colored concepts our Art Director said to me “That’s it! Horizon Chase 2 is all about the colors”.
Our main direction when it comes to giving the Horizon Chase franchise style to our new maps is to keep the colors alive. Our games don’t have the pretension to be realistic, so having vivid colors with this cartoonish style is our way to provide a pleasant experience without creating any expectations about real textures.
Looking back to the Florida production, we have learned a lot from it. It’s not sustainable for us to produce every single asset for every single track. After Florida, we learned how to make a bigger study of each country and how to create assets that can be used on different cities and tracks from the same region.
Landscapes of our World Tour
Our main progression mode is called “World Tour” for a reason. We invite our players to know these countries from our perspective. So this is the main reason why we bring regions that are not always the first choice of a regular tourist. Everyone in Brazil knows Fernando de Noronha, São Paulo, and the Amazon forest, but these are not the first tourism options for foreigners, and these places are rarely represented in games. The same thing applies to San Francisco: when you think about a US city for a racing game, it’s not a city that pops into everyone’s mind. So it’s cool that we can actually bring fresh new stuff for our community at the same time we are keeping it real to the world.
Keeping this tourism aspect in mind, one thing we always try to do when bringing a real city to our game is adding real-life elements. Our goal is to do it in a way that people from those cities would recognize right away and have a sense of representativity. Of course, all additions should add aesthetic value to the game silhouette. The statue of Porto Alegre is a good example of it: very important for the local citizens and a great fit for our overall landscape.
Things that remained on our horizon
It’s hard to move on from a successful project and start a new one. It’s harder when the new project is actually a sequence of our success. Here we understand how high is the bar set by Horizon Chase Turbo, leading us to several questions about what should be kept and what should be new in another franchise game.
For this reason, Horizon Chase 2 was built as a totally different game. There actually is a 3D map generated by the Level Design team and if we could see a race from a “God” perspective, we would see the cars moving around through the place. This is very different from our experience with Horizon Chase Turbo and this means that our Art team has the duty of adding the assets to this map, forming the landscape we want our players to see.
However, being 3D does not mean we want to be realistic - as I mentioned before. So we kept the still illustrated horizon and we made sure that our storyboard had the perfect mix of 3D assets with 2D illustrations background.
Enjoy the journey
Finally, I would like to share with our community how we approach our game. Maybe by sharing it, you will have a much better experience when playing it again. The secret here is that our main goal as an Art Team is to provide breathtaking landscapes.
When we get a new empty 3D map, we make a long research on the region we will add and we decide how each key point of the track will look like. This is what we call a “storyboard” - a sequence of scenes and views so beautiful and culturally accurate that creates the desire in our players to slow their cars down and just enjoy the view.
Horizon Chase has the nostalgic arcade race design with the visual identity of a tour to a new place. We create unique moments by combining the challenge of a car race with the beauty of a postal card. I hope our community is having as much fun playing the game as we do by making it!