Danger Zone

May 2017

Three Fields Entertainment

Three Fields Entertainment

Front End & In-Game HUD Art, Design and Scripting (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC)
Pack & Marketing Art (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC)
Level Design (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC)

After we had spent a lot of time building physics-based gameplay (Dangerous Golf) and experimenting with Virtual Reality (Lethal VR) it was time for the Three Fields team to go back to the thing we’d collectively had the most experience of – making driving games packed with destruction.  In line with Three Fields’ small team, fast working ethic, rather than taking two years or more to make the ultimate driving game and place all our bets on it, the plan was to build a series of smaller driving games, each pushing the technology further and advancing towards that goal.

Each ‘crash simulation’ begins with a countdown inside the facility before the player drives into the junction and crashes their vehicle

In Danger Zone, the focus was on getting vehicle physics, crashes and destruction looking and playing great, so our creative director Alex (Ward) took inspiration from Crash Mode that he created for the Burnout series of racing games.  ‘Crash Mode’, for the uninitiated is a driving game in which you drive a car into a busy intersection and try to cause the biggest pile-up you possibly can.  By collecting pickups within the intersection you can also unlock the ability to make your wreck explode and guide it into the path of more vehicles as it is flung through the air.  Alex suggested we recreate that gameplay, setting the whole thing inside a series of modular crash test facility levels that would feature few extraneous graphics and allow our tiny team to quickly create as much pure gameplay as we could.

Having caused as much destruction as possible, the camera sweeps above the scene while stats accumulate, score graphs are plotted and medals are awarded

I spent the greater part of the project focussed on the front end and HUD presentation.  Following the ‘crash test simulation’ direction, I created a style for the game’s presentation that featured stacks of motion graphics elements.  This involved a lot of detailed animation work to create the style using the Unreal Engine’s 2D tools but the final result was very satisfying.  To achieve the look I wanted I knew the whole presentation had to feature lots of small graphs, charts and data elements that would run alongside the main interface constantly animating and updating.  But instead of simply creating meaningless cosmetic graphics to fill in the gaps around the menus, I decided to plunder the save game for actual data from the game and with a little logic and animation create bar charts, scatter graphs and scrolling readouts that told you about your game.

As with all projects, something changed midway through – after a good few weeks of working with high tech shades of blue for the entire presentation and it never quite ‘working’ with the rest of the game’s visuals I decided to experiment and switch the entire presentation over from a cold blue to a series of fiery reds and oranges which made everything feel more dangerous and sat better with Paul (Phillpot)’s test facility visuals.

The front end presentation is set against the background of a 3D test laboratory, I did my best to keep even the static menus appear alive with constant graphics and data readouts featuring information about the player’s game

In addition, later in the project, with the gameplay and tools established I helped out by animating all the intros and post-game flybys, designed a number of levels as well as creating the pack and marketing art (which, on this one was simpler for me as we decided to use a screenshot for the main image.)

Danger Zone is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC from Three Fields Entertainment.