Sonic Runners Adventure: Gameloft Uses Substance for Mobile Games
Thanks for your time and for having us! My name is Alyona, I’m a Game Producer at Gameloft and I currently work on Sonic Runners Adventure, but I’ve also made my mark on projects like Asphalt Nitro, Despicable Me, and Six Guns.
Sonic Runners Adventure
Sonic Runners Adventure is, as the name implies, a one-tap runner game infused with plenty of adventure. We made it in the format of a side-scroller. You can check it out right now, as it’s available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
We’re happy that we got a chance to work with SEGA on this remake of the original Sonic Runners created by the Sonic Team, while adding exciting new twists to the experience. We were able to create a uniquely accessible and balanced game, while meeting our own high expectations, as the whole Sonic Runners Adventure team are big fans of the series.
One of the major challenges for us was recreating Sonic’s famous speed, while still making the game accessible and enjoyable. To that end, we used lots of tricks, including the auto-camera which moves away from the player’s character as he or she speeds up, which widens the range of view and gives the player more time to react to obstacles.
Another challenge was maintaining the beauty of the Sonic the Hedgehog universe, including the 4 most iconic locations, all in a small build that anyone can download and play. And that challenge was met with the help of the Substance Engine.
The 3D Team
The Sonic Runners Adventure 3D team is made up of four artists, but not all of them were on the project the entire time. Depending on the phase of the project, it varied from one to four members.
It was an experienced team, as most of them had worked on other projects inside Gameloft. So when we set our goals for the game, we already knew we were going to need Substance Designer, 3ds Max and Gameloft’s internal tool set.
Our Use of Substance
As a team, we found out about Substance Designer in 2014, and had already used it on a few previous games we’ve made, including Asphalt Nitro.
One of the most challenging tasks for the 3D team was creating textures that don’t take up a lot of memory, but that can be used in several capacities throughout the game. This optimizes the overall weight of the files without a loss of visual quality. And that’s exactly what we used Substance Designer for.
The Challenges of Making a Mobile Game
Our goal was to create as lightweight a build as possible. So, with the help of Substance Designer we were able to create textures with a very small file size, without any unnecessary noise or patterns. This allowed us to achieve our goal of making the smallest possible build in total, despite packing loads of content in game, including 9 playable characters, 11 buddy characters, 4 locations, a bonus mode, Dr. Eggman boss battles and much more!
The Substance Engine
The Substance Engine helped us integrate and execute textures created in Substance Designer to reach not only the goal of a small build size, but shorter loading times as well.
In addition, the Substance Engine provides both iOS and Android support for x32 and x64 architecture. This allowed us to use the same textures for different platforms, saving a considerable amount of work.
3ds Max and Substance Designer Workflow
We generate bitmap textures in Substance Designer, then assign it to a material in 3D Max. If there’s any need to improve or edit the texture, updates and changes could be done in Substance Designer and later reassigned in 3ds Max.
Tips for 3D artists for Mobile Games
When you encounter a challenge, aim to create and invent new ways of overcoming it. That’s what led to a simple lifehack for us, in which we used the simplest textures you could imagine, but painted them with vertex color. This gave them a voluminous look, but still greatly minimized the file size!
Our Next Projects
We have lots of incredible games planned for your mobile devices, and Substance will certainly be a valuable tool in those endeavors.
All images courtesy of Gameloft