Winter Gold SNES Game

About the project

From 1994 to 1996 I worked as a graphics artist at Funcom, the largest game developer in Norway. I was hired as lead artist on the game Winter Gold. The game was made for the SNES console (Super Famicom) from Nintendo. The SNES wasn't really made for 3D vector graphics, but Argonaut had developed an extra chip called the SuperFX that we put into the game cartridge. The game backgrounds and video were converted into vector graphics, very much the same way that some Flash vector video is done today. Thanks to the wonders of modern emulation technology, I have managed to get some screengrabs from the game.

All the sports stuff was animated in 3D. The end results looked so good, people who saw it thought they were converted from video - and not animated in 3D. They don't look that impressive today, and I doubt they'll fool anyone now. The graphics were done in 3D Studio Dos on standard PCs, but the characters and the horizon images were done using Alias Poweranimator on SGI a workstation. Nintendo provided the kick-ass hardware and software, which cost a staggering $50.000 at the time.

We wanted to avoid the on-rails gameplay you usually end up with when making games that play over video backgrounds (such as Rebel Assault). We came up with an inventive track-system that made it possible to construct an infinite number of courses out of eight different parts. All we did was to have some similar frames on each sequence, so that we could use that as a transition into a new part of the track.

It was really tough marrying the characters into the stylized backgrounds, but it doesn't look that strange when it all starts moving. It even looks kind of trendy today, with the recent boom of minimalistic and retro-styled 3D.

Additional artwork by Dennis Hansen and Daniel Staver .

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