Creative production company We Are Royale (WAR) has shared with AWN images and videos from their recent partnership with Riot Games Music, the music division of leading game publisher Riot Games, to usher in virtual heavy metal band Pentakill’s new album III: Lost Chapter, which dropped September 8 following an epic virtual concert. The Lost Chapter concert marked the culmination of an alternate reality game (ARG) WAR produced to promote the concept album and immerse fans deeper into the lore of Pentakill leading up to the virtual concert, which invited fans to have the final say in how the Pentakill journey would conclude via interactive streaming concert platform Wave. III: Lost Chapter is available on all major digital streaming platforms.
“We wanted the Lost Chapter to be something that Pentakill fans felt was their moment,” said Toa Dunn of Riot Games Music. “The campaign experience is meant to be a unique, story-driven look into what the future of music and gaming could be. We’re excited to have great partners at We Are Royale to build such a unique activation for metal fans around the world.”
The virtual stage show, conceived by leading VFX and animation company The Mill and concert architects Stufish, was “forty-five minutes of motion-captured musical mayhem featuring Riot Games’ seven strong virtual metal band, Pentakill, playing their new concept album in real-time, captured by 40+ virtual cameras and created by over 70 world-class digital artists and creative technologists.”
The Mill handled overall direction of the concert experience and all CG – modelling, rigging and building all seven band members from scratch as well as conception and building of all environments for the performance, including stages, props, FX, lighting design, Tech Art in Unity engine, plus in-engine development and integration. You can find more details about the cutting edge technical integration and design work on The Mill’s website.
Tasked with developing a holistic visual identity for Pentakill’s return, WAR created everything from the album art for III: Lost Chapter to a host of branding and design elements, including a refreshed Pentakill logo, typography, iconography, textures, and colors commemorating the band’s first album in four years. The team also produced a series of animated videos, illustrated assets, and game elements for both the ARG and concert, immersing fans in an epic metal saga that redefines the look and feel of Pentakill for a new era.
Here’s WAR’s visceral and highly stylized animated intro piece, “Metal is Born”:
“Metal is such a visual genre, and with its long tradition of illustrated and painted album art, there was no shortage of inspiration,” says Mike Arcangeli, WAR Associate Creative Director. “But we wanted to make sure this didn’t feel like a parody of genre tropes, so we had to look outside of the music world as well. Our influences ranged from the drama captured by Baroque paintings to the epic tableaus of Gustave Dore. Then we just had to put those through the face-melting lens of metal.”
Here’s the epic “Pentakill III: Lost Chapter” pre-show and interactive album experience:
And here’s a very cool behind-the-scenes look at how it was all produced:
The socially-driven ARG campaign notably introduced League of Legends character Viego to the fictional kingdom from which Pentakill hails. When the ARG commenced, fans were invited to solve a series of riddles, puzzles, and ciphered messages from a mysterious source who would ultimately be revealed as Viego, Pentakill’s rival, who is hellbent on becoming the face of a new, disruptive sound of metal. In order to undo Viego’s machination, Riot Games called upon Pentakill’s legion of fans to determine the fate of Pentakill through the concert experience. In addition to Riot Games Music’s social channels, WAR leveraged Shazam, Siri, Google Voice, and a microsite to engage fans in the ARG experience both visually and sonically.
According to WAR Creative Director Loren Judah, the challenge was finding ways to tie all of the marketing campaign assets into the ARG for a big payoff in the end: where fans get to help Pentakill reclaim their power during a live virtual concert experience.
“Since the client was using social as the core delivery method, we had to figure out how to make an ARG that could connect with this larger Pentakill story that’s gradually unfolding through each stage of this experience,” explains Judah. “At the end of the day, we want fans to get the sense that every detail was thought of. There are so many layers that went into the game and into the album release as a whole. The ARG legitimizes this thinking. It’s not just another album; this is the future of interactive bands and Riot Games Music is at the forefront.”
“This was another amazing collaboration with the Riot Games team,” concludes Holman. “As one of the more all-encompassing projects for us, being entrusted to handle this entire campaign for them speaks volumes. This felt like a true partnership; we were constantly bringing ideas, workshopping and refining details with their team. They are highly creative people who are passionate about their product, and it was fun for us to continue pushing into the narrative space of a video game. We also have real metal fans on our team, so being able to bring our outside passions into our work was icing on the cake.”
Client: Riot Games
Design & Production Company: We Are Royale
Co-Founder/Executive Creative Director: Brien Holman
Co-Founder/Managing Director: Jennifer Lucero
Creative Director (Project Kickoff): Eric Del Greco
Creative Director (ARG): Loren Judah
Associate Creative Director: Mike Arcangeli
Executive Producer: Rhys Demery
Digital Executive Producer: Beck Henderer-Pena
Head of Production: Eric Zapakin
Senior Producer: Liz Lipka
Production Coordinator: Esther Hwang
Senior Illustrator/Designer: Mariia Menshikova
Lead Illustrator: Anthony Jones
Storyboard Artist: Frankell Baramdyka
Illustration Team: Ayran Oberto, Maxim Kostin, Frankell Baramdyka, Yaaseen Longden, Marco Espinosa, Max Steksov, Elleyce Pahang, Vladimir Matyukhin, Ilya Tulyakov, Justin Kamerer
Design Team: Angelica Baini, Elleyce Pahang, Yea Eun Jung
UI Design Team: Daniel Beaton, Yoyo Hwang, Yea Eun Jung
Microsite Development Team: John Almazan, Ryan Hovland, Jack Woolridge
Logo Team: Jason Carne, Hydro74
Animation Team: Jared Norby, Dylan Casano, Ben Hurand, Bruno Cohen, Matt Barretto, Mark Feldman, Damien Cho, Eric Ramin, Esther Kim, Doug Curley, Jeremy Cartwright, Stephen Villari, Taylor Peters
Editor: Ryan Frey
Game Specialist: Matthew Hope
Source: We Are Royale
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.