The Art of Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition

Among its fans, Bulletstorm is known for its over-the-top gameplay and dialog, but another thing that always comes up in any conversation about Bulletstorm is how beautiful it is. This is due, in no small part, to its Art Direction. The team at People Can Fly went to great lengths to create a world that is as nice to look at as it is hostile. When you think about it, it’s a pretty tough thing to pull off, but Bulletstorm did so quite smoothly. It perfectly rides the line between insane chaos and peaceful beauty. Ok, we admit – maybe “peaceful” isn’t the right word, but there’s a lot of beauty there nonetheless.

For the uninitiated, Bulletstorm is the story of Grayson Hunt, an assassin-turned-space- pirate who, along with his crewmate Ishi Sato, must navigate the unwelcoming surface of the planet Stygia with two goals in mind: get off the planet and take revenge on the man that put them there – their former commanding officer General Sarrano – in the process. What follows is an explosive and intense adventure that’s truly unforgettable.

As you can imagine, creating a world this rich is no small feat. Luckily, the team at People Can Fly was up to the task and set about laying the foundations that would define Bulletstorm’s visual identity. Through a host of different influences and multiple stages of refinement, the art team managed to conceive a world that has since gone on to define Bulletstorm. We wanted to know more about that process and how it relates to the upcoming release of Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition, so we caught up with Krzysztof Dolas, Art Director on Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition and twelve-year veteran of People Can Fly, and asked him to share a few insights with us.


What were the initial goals of the art team in Bulletstorm?

Back then, PCF had just become a part of Epic Games. Epic was an icon in terms of a graphical excellence, and almost every artist was influenced by their games. Our main goal was to maintain their standard of quality, while doing our own thing.

We thought that the first thing that would differentiate us would be our color palate. A world full of saturated and vibrant color — almost comic like — was the first thing that came to our minds. A dangerous sci-fi world doesn’t necessarily have to be desaturated, but also can’t feel like a children’s cartoon with cheerfully clean hues. It coupled well with one of our design principles:  that the world needs to be believable, but not hyper-realistic. The story is akin to the pulp comic book style, so we decided to use post-processing to enhance the visuals even more. Games made on Unreal Engine can tend to have a similar look due to the way they are rendered, so we wanted to push it. We wanted to create something unique that would scream that it’s a fresh new game.


What kind of mood was the team trying to convey with the art style?

We wanted Bulletstorm to make the player feel like they were taking a great “high-adventure space-opera” kind of journey through exotic and exciting locations, while fighting fantastic and unique enemies. The sci-fi theme is kept down to Earth, so to speak, to provide an oddly familiar feel for the player. The world around them is like nothing they have seen before, yet at the same time it is easy to understand (through references to the current times). We wanted to sell the story about resort planet in the state of decay; we wanted you to feel powerful and unstoppable there. Imagine being Snake Plissken (Escape From New York) and obliterating enemies in a Grindhouse film style using Neo’s (The Matrix) skillset!


What were some of primary influences in the art style of Bulletstorm?

We always balanced between a comic-like style and fairly believable places that could exist. Some areas were influenced by real places like Chalkidiki in Greece or Andalusia in Spain, but with one big goal: They had to be larger-than-life and over-the-top.  We also wanted to push gore to the limit so you’d get accustomed to it like in Grindhouse or Kill Bill. We loved the Cowboy Bebop series and Fear Agent, as well as The Chronicles of Riddick and Serenity. Also, even though we didn’t want to borrow too much from Gears of War, we did like the bulky style of its characters.


What was the art direction and iterative process like for Bulletstorm?

It was sometimes hectic. Our Art Director at the time, Andrew Poznański often said that it was a big soup of inspirations that didn’t always seem like they went together, but ended up tasting good. The end result is chaotic on the surface, but in the madness there is a glue that holds everything together and somehow compliments the whole vibe of the game.


From an art standpoint, what are you most excited for people to see in the newly reinvented Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition?

Finally, we can present players with the game in the form that we had originally envisioned it. We always had to create great art and then reverse engineer it to run on different platforms. Now with the capabilities of current hardware, we can bring it back to its original glory. We can now use the originally created high-detailed models, shaders and textures to create seamless gameplay that won’t break the immersion. Finally, we were also able to upgrade post-processing so that the game looks as we always wanted it to.

As you can see, there’s a lot to love about the art in Bulletstorm, and what’s more, that same amazing art style is on display in Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition – and at even better resolutions. Among the myriad improvements and upgrades coming with Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition on April 7th, the beautifully enhanced visuals is one of which we’re most proud!

Want to know more about Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition? Make sure to follow us on Twitter (@Bulletstorm) and Instagram (@bulletstormgame), and “Like” the Bulletstorm Facebook page for the latest news and updates!

The How, Why, and Where of Duke Nukem in Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition

Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition arrives on April 7th and, as we’ve mentioned before, there’s lots of new content to enjoy. New Echo maps, the all-new Overkill campaign mode, and the upgraded visuals are just a few of the additions that make this the definitive Bulletstorm experience. On top of all that, we’re especially excited about the Duke Nukem’s Bulletstorm Tour add-on, which is free when you pre-order! With this add-on, you’ll be able to play the full Bulletstorm campaign as Duke, complete with all-new dialogue from the voice of Duke himself, Jon St. John! We’ve asked some of the people close to the project to help us delve a bit deeper into the idea of including Duke in Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition — especially how and why it happened. As for the “where”? Well, we’ll get to that too.


Let’s start with the how — how does Duke Nukem end up in Bulletstorm? It all began with the goal of giving players something new, and rewarding players who support the game early by pre-ordering. Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition is all about delivering brand new content and upgrades, but what about those players who pre-ordered? What could we do for them? The teams at People Can Fly and Gearbox Publishing began to toss around ideas. Gearbox Publishing Brand Manager Jeff Skal remembers: “The original idea was pretty simple: what if we gave the players an awesome Duke Nukem Multiplayer skin? But then we thought, ‘Why stop there? A skin? We can do better than that!’”

The idea grew and evolved until a skin became what amounts to an enhanced campaign experience — the story of Bulletstorm viewed through the eyes of The King himself. With that, the team at People Can Fly set about creating an entirely new Bulletstorm experience. The process wasn’t easy though, and as Jeff notes, these kinds of things can be tricky:

“Once we landed on adding Duke to the game, the next challenge was figuring out how all the pieces fit together. As you might imagine, there are some unique challenges that come to the surface when you try to swap out just about any protagonist with Duke — but especially when you're throwing him into an intense, personal story like Bulletstorm's.”


The idea seems unconventional, and it is. But when we really thought about it, it made so much sense. Duke Nukem and Bulletstorm are kindred spirits after all – both are “say whatever’s on your mind, action-packed, roller coaster rides”. On top of that, Duke knows a thing or two about being in hostile situations where only his wits and a giant gun stand between him and certain annihilation. Would Duke and the Bulletstorm crew play nice and get along? Only one way to find out.

Ultimately, the whole idea was to introduce even more fun into Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition, and Jeff agrees, adding Duke is a great way to do that:

“The end result is pretty entertaining: He finds himself on this trippy journey on a weird planet, wondering why everyone keeps calling him 'Gray,' and in typical Duke fashion, can't help but try to be the hero — dropping one-liners all along the way.”


The simple answer to this question is “everywhere”. As we mentioned, Duke appears as a part of the Duke Nukem’s Bulletstorm Tour add-on, but this is more than just an add-on; this is your chance to play the Bulletstorm campaign as Duke. This means that Duke is truly everywhere, and with that all-new dialog we mentioned earlier, you can bet that there won’t be a dull moment. How happy are we to be bringing Duke Nukem to Bulletstorm? Take it from Jon St. John, the voice of Duke — “Happy isn’t even close…thrilled is more like it! It’s already one bad-ass game, and now that you can play it as Duke, it even bad-assier!” Those were our sentiments exactly, which is why Jon was tapped to record all-new dialogue that is quintessentially Duke. Jon recounts:

“I was very excited about it. In fact, after they showed me some actual gameplay and cutscenes where I heard the main character Grayson’s lines, I couldn’t wait to get into the studio and record some of those hilarious, and shall we say “colorful” lines myself!”

“Colorful” is a great way to describe Duke Nukem’s Bulletstorm Tour. Not only in terms of the dialogue, but also in the sense that playing as Duke puts a new spin on an already entertaining campaign. It’s a perfect example of why Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition is more than just a remaster — it’s a reinvention. New content, newly updated visuals, and extras like Duke Nukem’s Bulletstorm Tour prove that this is absolutely the definitive Bulletstorm experience. Visceral, no-holds- barred gameplay is back, and now you can experience it as The King!