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Hellion's Order - Game Cinematic

Hellion's Order - Game Cinematic

An Unreal Engine 5 Game Cinematic produced by the University of Hertfordshire.

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Hellion's Order is our final year university project produced over 8 months. Taking inspiration from traditional Circassian clothing and monasteries we created a fantasy game concept with nuns fighting demons. Our final product showcases an in-game cinematic where the main character, Anahid, must sacrifice her predecessor who has become possessed.

Character Breakdown - Anahid - Orion Biddick

This character was created with the intention to design a unique take on the Christian nun habit, with considerations towards the nature of her action-heavy lifestyle along with how it would be animated for playability. Within the initial concept designing for a playable game, the character was given appropriate weapon designs such as the incense burner and the sword concept that was brought forward into the cinematic.

Character Model and Concept - Orion Biddick

Sword Model - Sam Huggett

Character Breakdown - Demon Nun - Orion Biddick

The demon nun character was based off the same proportions as the main character to save on time with rigging and modelling. Most of my time was spent on the face variations as they were the most important and striking part of the design, in comparison to Anahid whose overall silhouette was my main focus. By reusing my Marvelous Designer work I was able to create new variations on the same clothing I made for Anahid for the torn clothing on the demon nun. For the torn edges I used alpha masks in the Unreal textures to save on excess polygons and making it easier to be rigged. It was incredibly rewarding to be able to see the end result of this character with the textures, animation, and lighting to create the final impactful scene.

The cinematic chains were simulated in Unreal by Keelin Henley, and the blending texture material was created by Billy Gray.

Rigging Breakdown - Keelin Henley

Being responsible for the technical direction of the characters, I had to ensure the rigs were flexible and user-friendly for the animators. This meant we were always communicating, and I would be fixing issues and making improvements based on the animator’s feedback.

Both characters have standard bipedal rigs with IK/FK switching on the arms and legs. Because these are game-ready rigs, the stretchy limbs use the translate channel of the joints and not the scale. The facial setups are also made using ribbons and are entirely joint-based. While researching the best ways to approach facial rigging for games during the pre-production period, I also experimented with blendshapes.

Working on Hellion’s Order was a great experience and I learned more than I ever thought possible in terms of rigging, tools scripting and working as a team to bring a concept to a finished piece of work.

Mother Superior Statue - Keelin Henley

This model was originally created to be an additional character in the cinematic, however she was changed to a statue later on in production due to time constraints. As she wouldn't have had much animation or special role within the film, we agreed that it was better to reduce her to a static object.

Initial Concept by Orion Biddick

Environment Breakdown - Sophie King

The creation of this environment was driven by a fantasy atmosphere and the stunning Armenian Cathedral of Lviv, Ukraine. Designed in the playable concept to be the battle grounds for a boss fight, the environment is made from a flexible modular kit that allows for multiple arrangements of the architecture.

For the three primary materials used in the environment, I made them diverse and usable in many locations in the scene to reduce the amount of unique materials in the level. I started working on these quite early in production so I could keep adapting them and fine tuning them as needed until I had a result I was really happy with and felt impactful in the environment.

The bright reds and blues and yellows or traditional Armenian craftsmanship was what really drew me into this culture and visual style. I learned so much over the course of this project and am extremely grateful to everyone that has given feedback and helped in any way. Working with my group to produce this cinematic and seeing us all learn and improve was really exciting, creating the mysterious atmosphere was something I enjoyed immensely.

Animation Breakdown - Maria Ryfiak

Working on Hellion's Order has been trurly an enriching experience. Animating both Demon Nun and Anahid has definetely helped me improve as a 3D animator. The characters' hesitation and conflicting emotions had to be conveyed through a dramatic yet understandable body language and facial expressions. I especially enjoyed working on this emotional aspect of our film.

Our initial previs was produced using shots from films and placeholder rigs while the characters were still being developed. Religious cinematography was considered frequently within symmetrical and slow moving shots to find a balance between the level of tension we wanted to convey and staying true to the techniques used in religious films such as Ida (2013), Of Gods and Men (2010), and Doubt (2011). The lighting alterations made for the final cinematic really helped push our concept into the horror genre we were aiming for.

Overall this project has been an incredible experience that we have all thoroughly enjoyed working on, and we couldn't have had a better team to do it with!

Many thanks to our freelancers, mentors, and peers who helped us along the way.

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