Linnea Harrison had already completed the original Mirror's Edge™ several times on her console when she got the PC version as well. This time around though, she was after something other than gameplay and the story of Faith. She wanted to know how the game was built.
Opening the game's files in the engine it was created in, she analyzed the building blocks of Mirror's Edge. This became an inspiration to learn about creating shaders, textures, and 3D models to create realistic environments. Now, Linnea is a Level Artist on Mirror's Edge Catalyst - and here to answer our questions.
What have you been working on today?
- I’ve been busy on how we’re guiding the Mirror’s Edge Catalyst player using color. As you know, the bright and bold colors are part of what create the iconic look of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, but they have other uses as well: we use color to help the player navigate from A to B in the city of Glass and to easily recognize what part of the city you’re in.
What else does a level artist for Mirror’s Edge Catalyst do?
- I work together with our level designers, who start out by creating a basic design for a fun, exciting part of the game. I take the structure they created and make it look and feel like the city of Glass by adding materials, props, and of course the iconic colors.
These materials and props can be things like pipes that Faith swings and climbs on, and it’s my job to make them identifiable and fit in well in all environments. Working with different materials also helps define areas of the city. The fancy areas will look glossy and exclusive while the slightly older districts will have concrete and matte materials.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is such an artistic game, what’s it like to be responsible for the looks of it?
- Luckily the original Mirror’s Edge had a very strong art direction which largely informs the style of Mirror's Edge Catalyst. This allows us as artists to create a cohesive world for the player to explore, while expanding on the depth of the first game. Since Mirror’s Edge is so different from other art styles in games these days –realistic but also heavily stylized – that allows for a lot of creativity.
I’ve always wanted to create the kind of art style you see in the city of Glass, even in personal art projects. I like focusing on lighting to bounce bright colors onto large white surfaces, creating a warm space and a unique environment.
You’ve been living in the city of Glass for over a year now. What’s your relationship to this place?
- The past year, I’ve seen how Glass has become much deeper and varied than I initially expected. There are many new challenges, like finding out how the city looks at night. We have worked a lot on how elements such as billboards, the rain, and just life in general should look. Glass is far from dead at night with all the citizens, drones, birds, trees, and so on. All this creates a lot of ambient life in the city which helps inform the design process.
What is the best part of your job?
- I would say being able to make a world come to life. That is a really cool feeling, partly due to the fact that initially you can’t quite see where you’ll end up. There are concepts and ideas, but as you start putting in props, lighting, and splashes of color to these grey blocks it all comes to life in a wonderfully weird way.
What will you do on the Mirror’s Edge Catalyst launch day?
- I will probably just throw myself into the game, and also see how the extremely skilled community takes on all the challenges. And since I know a secret or two about the city it will be fun seeing people discover new things…
Now you’re making everyone curious. What are those secrets?
- I won’t give anything away, but I have one tip for you: think vertically. There are lots of routes you can get to by climbing or falling safely, rather than just running horizontally. There will be many secrets to uncover in the city of Glass.