Texture Artist Rogelio Olguin, who has been a part of the Naughty Dog team for over 6 years and played a pivotal creative role in The Last of Us and Uncharted series, is leaving the developer after receiving an offer from 343 Industries to work on their Halo Infinite project.
In his blog post, Olguin expressed that he was ‘thrilled’, ‘pumped’ and ‘overjoyed’ about the move and that, although he was ‘heartbroken’ to be leaving Naughty Dog, he was excited to be bringing his expertise to the ambitious new project 343 have been working on:
“[I have] Always loved the Halo universe and 343 has something special coming up. Something so special that 343 managed to rip me from the clutches of a studio I hold near and dear to my heart, Naughty Dog!”
Texture artists works closely with the art director, graphic designers and technical artists to sculpt and paint realistic textures that can be rendered onto physical game environments. Remember how it felt walking through the jungle in Uncharted 4? Or driving over the mountains of the Western Ghats in The Lost Legacy? The work of texture artists serves as a crucial factor in creating authentic, and thereby immersive, environments for players to occupy and explore.
So what does this mean for 343 Industries? This year’s E3 provided the developer with an opportunity to show off a tech-demo of their new ‘Slipspace Engine’, which will power the newest entry in the Master Chief saga, Halo Infinite.
The demo consisted of a montage of environmental shots; showcasing everything from wild desert plains, to moonlit forests, and serene sandy shores. It really was a gorgeous presentation. The demo also clearly communicated 343’s lofty ambitions for the future of the Halo franchise – ambitions so great, in fact, that they had to build new technology to achieve them.
In their press release the developer warned they had a ‘long way to go’ for the actual release, but created the engine demo so as to provide audiences with a ‘clear indication of the direction [they] are heading with’ for Halo Infinite, specifically by placing a focus on their new approach to ‘visual elements’. This is how 343’s acquisition of Olguin can be seen to add a new level of significance to the project as a whole. Halo‘s graphics have always been impressive amongst their contemporaries, certainly, but it’s obvious Halo Infinite represents a radical step forward for the developer.
Naughty Dog’s seasoned texture specialist will be working to help realise the unique art style being set forward by 343’s new art director, Sparth’s Micholas Bouvier. Together, the team will no doubt be working to create expansive and detailed environments, offering a heightened level of immersion never before seen in the Halo franchise. There has already been speculation about the possibility of open-world gameplay, or at least the generation of open-environments (similar perhaps to the Western Ghats level in Uncharted: Lost Legacy).
How precisely the developer will be employing Olguin’s talents will be interesting to see. We only saw brief screens of architecture in the tech-demo – a feature heavily associated with the Halo universe, particularly concerning the elaborate design of Covenant and Remnant technology – so perhaps Olguin’s experience helping to render the gorgeous historic ruins found throughout the Uncharted franchise will be put to good use in that respect.
Whatever their plans are, Halo Infinite sounds likes it’s going to be a huge undertaking, which is very exciting for us players. Couple this with Master Chief’s triumphant return as the game’s sole protagonist and we could be getting the definitive Halo experience we’ve been waiting for. Either way, at least we know it’s going to be bloody gorgeous…