Unlike other ‘karaoke games’ that one might find a couple of rap tracks appended to, Rapstar was solely devoted to giving the player the best and most beloved tracks available from the top Rap and Hip Hop performers ever. DefJam gave us massive support in gaining access to both current and classic hits. Our team felt strongly about putting an emphasis on scoring the user in a more natural and meaningful way than previously seen in other games.
DefJam had significant hope to use Rapstar as a real crowdsourcing tool to find fresh talent. To this end, we packed the game full of tools for recording and editing user videos users could then upload to the game community server. Other users could view and vote on their favorites, letting the talented rise to the top – all before the rise of streaming and Let’s Plays.
I worked with my lead, 4mm’s creative team, & Def Jam’s team to craft a videogame-ready design based on their combined visions. The visual design went through many iterations and several distinct themes. At least 3 fully approved & working in-engine 3D UI designs were created and implemented during the project due to evolutions in creative focus. Originally hired as a 3D Art intern, my lead quickly learned he could lean on my secondary skillsets in graphic design, FX, animation, technical art, UI/UX. The experience and focus I showed during this project led him to put the training & oversight of our new intern in my hands as well.
As the player shifts through the in-game menu, the camera shifts through different parts of the abstracted city. Envisioned to be a crystalline NYC that would react & light up around the player, this effect took quite a bit of technical work to achieve.
I borrowed TRI’s FX Lead & primary materials expert to design the shaders that would achieve this. Learning a great deal about our internal material systems during this process allowed me to continue to manage those tasks as his focus shifted back to TRI’s other projects, such as Ghostbusters.
This example of quick learning plus my reputation as a problem solver led directly to being drafted into the FX department when Rapstar wrapped up & all of Terminal began work on Kinect Star Wars.