We continue to take a look at this mammoth of an franchise with Battlefield 3 – What? Did you think we had forgotten about this? Incase you have and are in need of a refresher you can check out all of the articles in our Art of Battlefield series by clicking here.
You should most definitely check out our recent interview with Patrick O’Keefe about the Art of Battlefield Hardline too!
With a few awards from the BAFTA Game Awards and accolades from the likes of Develop Awards and the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences and over 60+ awards from press and gaming conventions Battlefield 3 had secured its place as a valiant return to the franchise.
It was the beginning of something new for many gamers. There was a resurgence of olde with veteran players taking up the game but also a whole squadron of new recruits too.
Many still yearn for DICE to return to Battlefield 3 and bring it forward to the next generation of platforms, many wish it to remain in the past as a nostalgic memory of the ever evolving franchise and many still actually continue to play it!
BATTLEFIELD 3 INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT SAMMELIN
Escape The Level: Thank you for providing a bit of commentary for us on Battlefield 3’s article, Robert. Would you like to introduce yourself and provide a bit of background on your career?
Robert Sammelin: I’m a Senior Concept Artist at DICE and have been there for nine years. I started my video game career working on three games at Avalanche Studios. Before that I did everything from teaching,
IT consulting to driving the Stockholm subway…
I’m self-taught and worked freelance illustration gigs while supporting myself with odd jobs.
ETL: What’s the one thing you think is least known about working as a concept artist for games?
RS: Here at DICE we’re among the first on a project and the last to leave – doing initial pitch concepts, to discovery ones, throughout years of production all the way to the marketing assets like key art, logos, and various expansion pack art.
ETL: Do you visit other games for inspiration in your art or books, shows, etc.?
RS: Personally I prefer looking outside of games to avoid the derivative path we all risk heading down. I take lots of inspiration from films, comics, music and books – for instance, the movie ‘The Third Man’, the music of Bill Callahan and fashion photography of DuPreez/ThorntonJones has had a much greater impact on my work for BF4 than any of our competitors’ titles or war movie has.
ETL: Why is Concept Art important?
RS: It helps visualise and concrete ideas. When done right, it challenges preconceptions, makes people excited and presents possibilities – a crucial part of creativity.
ETL: Do you feel that there is a benefit to sharing the concept art that you do within the video gaming industry?
RS: I have mixed feelings about the whole world of concept artistry, as it relates to game production.
On one hand it’s interesting to see the visual development through concepts, but on the other, knowing that 90% of my own work on our titles are pure production concepts, often ‘ugly’ pieces that does the job right…
I see an increasing amount of people and their portfolios reflecting the idea that it’s all about extreme visual quality. It’s not – great concept art starts with the idea. The execution is important, but it should always come second.
ETL: What is the driving force behind the art style chosen for the Battlefield 3 key art?
RS: Style! My goal was to build from what we did for BFBC2 and make that our ‘Swoosh’, our Batman – it can (and will) look different between titles, but you’ll always recognise it as Battlefield.
ETL: Can you walk us through the process on how you would come about creating concept art, how long would it usually take, are there many revisions, individuals involved?
RS: It’s almost different every time, but in general it starts with a problem needing a solution. We need to visualise or convey something. We sit and talk about it with a designer, art director, or whoever needs the help and then do quick sketches, talk about those before painting something.
At DICE we rarely spend a lot of time on concepts – conveying the idea or feeling is key, so many concepts are, from start to finish, less than a day’s work.
ETL: Above we are seeing a piece which was released as a limited lithograph, called Abandoned Factory. Did any aspect of this make it into the game or was it a mood/atmosphere piece?
RS: It was a pure mood piece for what became that factory level in the Close Quarters expansion pack, made by Pierre Hanna and I. We often bounce a piece between us are the rest of the concept team, and collaborate to avoid getting too noodly or lost in details, getting fresh perspective and always having the big picture in mind.
ETL: Back to Karkand was more or less a passion project at DICE it would seem, what was the driving force behind deciding to re-imagine these iconic maps? Was it tough for you to do so within concept art?
RS: Realising what we could accomplish with the engine itself and the graphics was quite natural as we revisited older fan and dev favourites. Our goal was to avoid changing a lot but enhance the greatness.
ETL: Noshahr was without a doubt one of the most popular maps that folks had taken away from Battlefield 3 – Any thoughts on the work above?
RS: Haha. That was one of those levels that just worked so well in design that we didn’t do more than a few idea sketches!
ETL: Well – it’s a wrap for our look at the Art of Battlefield 3!
We would like to take a moment to thank Robert Sammelin for taking the time out of his busy schedule to create this interview with us here at Escape The Level, if you would like to check out more work by Robert over the years please do jump on over to his portfolio!