Your life, in Parallel.
That is what your Parallel Avatar represents. They are our ‘pfps’ but so much more. Parallel Avatars are central to our vision of the future, and that vision is many ways to play. Your Avatar will represent you not only in Parallel TCG, but in other games and online activations around the future Parallel Universe. In building Avatars there were two major considerations. First, how can these characters be made to accurately embody real people in the Parallel Universe. Second, how can these characters live and play in the future of Parallel as a franchise. Let’s start with the first question then explain the vision of the future with Avatars as our guide.
Building The Parallel World
The avatars project demanded work not just on faces and bodies, but on clothing and weapons as well. Their weapons must be technologically feasible in the universe and their clothing must fit the faction they belong to. Project co-lead Tommy Alvarez noted, "Avatars gave us the opportunity to expand upon the Parallel Universe. We were challenged to reimagine each faction's society, fashion, technology... We created hundreds of concepts, many of which didn't make it to the final collection, but are now part of the Art Direction and future of the franchise."
Visual development artist Mobo Boehme led up explorations around costume design for the Avatars project. He describes the process as follows.
“For each faction I had certain features that I wanted to keep: Kathari are lab-made, Marcolian are glorious, Augencore are a symbiosis between human and machine… All that mixed with different societal structures and great art from the card artists is what I used to create the base designs, and then I needed to adapt them in order to make them functional (technically speaking) for the project."
Despite the existing richness of art and thematic exploration for each Parallel, the Avatars project demanded we go deeper. This meant work like Mobo describes, crystallizing the themes for each faction and diving deeper into them, with a basis on what is in the existing card art, and refining smaller details around social structures in these Parallels.
Weapons are another area where Avatars pushed us to go deeper. Many weapons for each faction already existed; the iconic LAR, Earthen spears, or Augencore munitions. But to create a class of warriors for each faction there would need to be more diversity of weaponry. For each faction there would need to be more variants on long and short rifles, launchers, explosive ordinance, and a deeper exploration of the overall technology of war each faction wields.
In regards to the development of weapons for Avatars, Parallel's Art Director Oscar Mar said:
“With every weapon concept in the Parallel Avatar Program we aim to deepen the story and understanding of each faction. Drawing inspiration from our current surroundings and the artistry found in our cards, we develop the desired look and function of our weapons as they fit within our universe. Guided by the fundamental design principles, we create unique silhouettes, detailing all materials, specifications, and internal components. The characteristics of every faction are purposefully incorporated in each design. Despite their diversity, the weapons will maintain a consistent relationship with each respective Parallel.”
The extent of work done on clothing and weapon design reflects the dedication of the team in building a more rich world. The explorations undertaken here in the Avatars program will deepen the experience for users of all Parallel games and products. More richness, more diversity, more realism.
Now let’s talk about the Avatar characters themselves and the incredible detail and production process to create them.
Creating you, in Parallel
A Parallel Avatar is a curated, unique, procedurally crafted 3D model of a character from the 5 factions in the Parallel Universe (Kathari, Shroud, Augencore, Earthen, Marcolian).
These unique characters are the visual representation of your digital identity in the Parallel ecosystem. A team of 3D designers and artists with decades of experience developed unique tools with additional curation by hand in order to create the most realistic representations of real characters for each faction. Character Director, Brady Parell, said, “We knew we had the opportunity to create something really special with this project, so we drew from the knowledge of an incredibly skilled team and fussed over every single detail. If you look closely enough, you can even see peach fuzz on the faces!”
In order to build the most realistic human models possible we partnered with texturing.xyz to use their advanced vFace library. This library is composed of ultra high quality scans of real people often used in AAA games and films. This scanned facial database allowed us to operate from a base layer that is definitively realistic and human where we could then adjust traits to differentiate between the different factions. Faction differentiation can be seen in many ways, from the aforementioned costume design down to the physical traits of the Avatars themselves. Marcolian’s distinctive features like flared nostrils and red eyes, Kathari’s unique skin tones, and Earthen’s vitiligo for example. From a base that is unquestionably human, each Parallel splits off into its unique branch of evolution.
The Human Element
We’ve discussed the base layer of character creation and some of the differentiation between factions in terms of gear, clothing, and traits. But now let’s look at another important aspect of the Avatars collection: hand curation.
Just as each faction is unique, every character in the Parallel Avatar collection is unique. Each is a hand curated procedurally generated real character belonging to a distinct faction. Senior 3D artist Dani Diaz noted, “Mixing procedural systems with strong art direction is always challenging. But being able to generate charismatic characters with soul still blows my mind. And beautiful images are just the tip of the iceberg, since each one of them will be fully compatible with video game engines!"
Avatar characters are procedurally generated by an advanced character creation engine built entirely in-house by our technical-art team.
Our engine consists of multiple procedural subsystems that control every single aspect of the character. Hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, eye color, headwear, clothing, skin color, weapons… All of those features will adapt to each other dynamically to produce a unique looking and accurate character.
Hair, eyebrows, eyelashes and headwear will adapt to fit any given head shape. Clothes and body armor will dynamically fit the character’s neck and torso. Augencore’s face panels or Marcolian’s sharp cheeks are examples of Parallel specific features that are also procedurally calculated over our base realistic characters to give them flavor.
Technical Art Director and project co-lead Ruben Henares wanted to push technology to deliver at the level of quality that Parallel is known for.
“We didn’t simply want to swap pieces in and out. Our character engine is completely organic. Every feature is controlled by a procedural system that will ensure it accurately fits the underlying face and body.”
With all these systems in place for quality control there is still one system that is most important. That is hand curation. After all of the procedural pipeline creation, fine tuning of traits and features, and rating of example avatars the system was ready to create the collection. The collection, once created, received curation by hand from the Avatar team. This means that a larger than final collection was created and the best examples of different rarity tiers were hand selected to form the final public collection. As advanced as the procedural and filtering systems were, this extra hand curation ensures that the final result is as optimal as possible.
In summary, Avatars are a highly innovative mixture of procedurally generated and hand curated real people in the Parallel Universe. Extremely detailed world building and design explorations mean each character is completely unique while also reflecting the truth of the faction from whence they come. Avatars are central to our vision of the future, intended to be the human composable element of our strategy. Avatars will represent you not only in the TCG but in other worlds and experiences we may design in the future. Details regarding the manifest list for pre purchase will be circulated soon.
Ruben Henares - Technical Art Director
Tommy Alvarez - Head of 3D & Immersive Content
Oscar Mar - Art Director
Mobo Boheme - Lead Concept Artist
Jonathan Ferguson - Technical Artist
Adam Swaab - Procedural Artist
Hernan Santander - Lookdev Artist
Lluis Andreu - Lead Props Artist
Daniel Diaz - Technical Artist
Brady Parell - Character Art Director
Matt Corcoran - Lead Character Artist