Feb 10, 2012

Farewell Adam Adamowicz : The Visual Mind Behind Fallout 3

Earlier today we learned that Adam Adamowicz, one of the main concept artists behind Fallout 3, Skyrim and other Bethesda titles, passed away today. It was silently announced, but I'd like to shine some light on Adam because he was an anomaly in the game industry, a veritable one-man conceptual machine, who unlike his contemporary counterparts, did a majority of his work in non digital mediums. Fallout 3 was pretty much visually designed from the ground up by one humble man who got little to no recognition, nor sought it.

For those who are unaware, I also work in the videogame industry as a concept artist and often sought inspiration from what other conceptual designers were doing in the industry. Back when Fallout 3 was released, it came with a making of DVD showcasing how the game was built from the ground up. When Adam's art pit showed up in the video, with his own hand drawn art covering every inch of space from the ground up in his cubicle I was nothing short of blown away, and filled with inspiration.

Hearing him talk about how he approached visual design changed my mindset about how I approached concept art, it had a real effect on me. Seriously, just sit back and imagine how much work it took one man to design a world as vast as Fallout 3 over the course of its development. For most artists in this industry that would seem like an impossible feat! Adam had something special going on, and was committed to the vision that everyone around him had at Bethesda.  The fact that the game industry has lost this bright mind is a major blow in my opinion, and through our little blog I hope to shed some light on an event that most gaming blogs couldn't care less about.

Please check out after the break to get a little spotlight on his legacy.

A quote from his Vault Diary, a great read for anyone interested in hearing how he approached various design challenges:

"Visualizing all of the aspects of a make believe world is quite an educational experience. On any given day I could be simultaneously learning about multiple topics, from motorcycle engines to 50’s fashion design. It’s kind of like writing and filming a National Geographic documentary film for an actual sci-fi world. For this job, I think the more you read on a wide variety of subjects, the better equipped you are to create depth and realism, especially for a fantasy setting. The fantastic that’s grounded in real world elements and then elaborated and exaggerated upon, seem to work the best, and create a solid jumping off point. This often creates fertile ground for generating additional story elements that can influence costumes, machines, and even motives for the various personalities inhabiting a made up world.

Seeing Syd Mead lecture in SF was an incredibly profound lesson on design. During the Q&A I asked him how far he went on a design to make it technically believable. His advice was ‘to design with the story in mind and stay consistent with it’. Hence I learned that the Sulacco from Aliens is essentially a massive gun in space with a big nuclear reactor at one end which beautifully fits the theme of space marines exploring a planet infested with deadly hostile aliens. That answer freed me obsessing over minutiae that diverges story-wise, and focus on the broad strokes that propel the story. The addition of ensuing consistent minutiae would give it richness."

Jump to 45 seconds in to see his part in the Fallout 3 documentary.

Just a small selection of art that he created just for Fallout 3. The quantity, and quality of work he produced was nothing short of mind blowing.

Rest in peace, Adam.
In conclusion please let your friends know, especially if they enjoyed Fallout 3, to take a minute tomorrow to honor someone who helped bring us so many hours of joy via the world he created for us. He will be missed.

Update from Awesome Robo contributor, Chris Riley: Hey guys, I just want to leave a quick note here along with RoboBrain's farewell. It makes me incredibly proud to be part of a community in which gamers can come together to celebrate the life of someone who's contributed greatly the gaming industry. You sometimes see things like this when it comes to celebrities, but rarely do you see such a huge amount of love towards a man who many of you probably never knew the name of (I know I didn't). I may or may not have teared up at a few of your comments today and it really brightens my day to see us celebrate the life of a man who in many ways, allowed us to escape reality. Thanks everyone!

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