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Intelligence Annex #7: Exploring the World

22/10/2015 02:25 PM

Greetings, agents!

It’s been awhile since we last invited you behind the curtain! We thought this would be a great time to check in with some of our artists and game designers to discuss how we will experience our very own New York within Tom Clancy’s The Division. We hope that you are as ready as we are, because this is too exciting not to share!

How does the lighting differ based on the time of day, or what about the various weather patterns and how you as a player are affected? What about indoor and outdoor environments? I dove behind the studio’s walls and spoke to Technical Art Director Sebastian Lindoff, Lead Environment Artist Benedikt Podlesnigg, Senior Game Designer Fredrik Thylander, and Lead Concept Artist Tom Garden to get answers to these questions. Read on to find out more!

Everyone Likes the Cold, Right?

The process of creating and building a living environment begins with an idea, a visualization of sorts, which some might even call concept art. We asked Tom, our resident expert, and he says, “The key purpose in creating environment concept art is to help visualize the key themes, mood, and structure of a playable space.”

From sunny and bright to dark and stormy, we as agents will experience the full range of weather and time of day, which naturally plays a much larger role than just a cool visual effect. Fredrik says that “when in a full storm, visibility is hindered, both for NPCs and the agent. Our worst storm conditions that can hit will affect aim assist and detection ranges for both players and NPCs.” I was also able to find out that the agents will adjust themselves in order avoid a face full of frost. However, the agents aren’t the only ones who react to weather. Based on the time of day and certain weather conditions, we will experience civilians and wildlife differently, and in some cases, not at all.

When discussing the day-night cycle with Benedikt, it became clear that there’s a significant change in visuals as the numerous lights during the night cycle were more vivid. In some cases, various light sources can draw attention to key aspects of the environment, whereas some areas will be completely blacked out. I can only imagine the interesting scenarios agents will find themselves in when we combine a blacked out area with some less than favorable weather! For Tom, this is a compelling factor in mission replay. “A mission during the day has a totally different mood than a mission during the night,” he says. We as agents must be able to adapt to our surroundings and be fully aware of how different environments alter more than just our own decision making.

A Stroll through Manhattan

Manhattan with all its nuances is hard to comprehend, let alone translate into a setting such as The Division! Delving deeper, I came to realize that the rooftops, abandoned apartment buildings, and underground passages the agents can explore are more than just visual backdrops, making them even more impressive. The art team faithfully represented the iconic size of Manhattan’s buildings within The Division, though giving life to these buildings and replicating the same feel you would get when walking around the city is no small feat.


Players will also recognize distinctive aspects of Manhattan in their gameplay. Sebastian emphasized that buildings “work as beacons, and you really feel the difference when you enter into a new neighborhood. For example, you know when you’ve entered Times Square because the buildings are generally higher and covered in advertisements, while around the hub area you get a more residential feeling.” This, combined with the variety of weather that rolls in, will help us uncover a living, breathing city that fully immerses players within the world. This is something we will experience at every turn.

The Great Outdoors… and Indoors

Who doesn’t enjoy staying in during a cold winter’s evening next to the heat from a nice warm fireplace? While it may not be the exact same situation for the agents, hiding indoors and waiting out the harsh weather may be a choice many of us end up making while waiting for favorable conditions.

Through the seamless transition from outdoor to indoor, the agents enter into an environment that is unique in its own right. Lighting and effects are unique to the indoor environment in order to develop that confined feeling of being surrounded by walls. With this intense and enclosed experience, Sebastian says, “If there is one situation that really makes the player feel the change of time and weather, it’s spending time indoors for a while, and stepping out to realize it might be night and there’s a snowy blizzard.”


We hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak peek and are even more excited to explore the rich world of The Division in our upcoming beta! Keep your eyes open, because there’s much more to come. We love hearing from you guys, so please let us know what you think on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and our official forums. We look forward to seeing you in the game.

Until next time!

—The Division Dev Team

@yannickbch – Community Developer

@natchai_ – Community Manager