You may have been following California’s wildfires last year and remember those wild days when San Francisco residents woke to an ash-filled sky. These photos were so vivid that you thought the San Francisco Bay Area had somehow teleported onto Mars.

While everyone else was staring at the sky, Sledgehammer Games’ senior lighting artist pointed a camera straight up at it, taking this amazing view of the sky before it cleared up.

Sandy Lin-Chiang, associate art director, recounted the tale at a Call of Duty: Vanguard media briefing. She said, “It was so overwhelming, but our senior lighter Cecil Powell decided that he’s just going go capture the sky.”

Powell’s photos of San Francisco’s mustardy red sky would become the skybox for a Vanguard campaign mission. Lin-Chiang stated, “I looked at it and thought, ‘This was Stalingrad.'” To be precise, a bombed out, burning Stalingrad. I got a few brief glimpses at the digitized Stalingrad sky in a video presentation and I could definitely see the yellowish resemblance to the 2020 California wildfires that burned over 4 million acres of land and killed 33 people.

This is a great detail. But, do you really need to capture a real burning sky in order to create a convincing replica? Lin-Chiang stated that it is a standard practice at Sledgehammer. “We always capture our skies. This equipment allows us to capture panoramic Gamer News views.


Although I haven’t thought too much about creating skyboxes for videogames, it makes sense that almost all (if not all?) of them are. I don’t know much about the creation of skyboxes in videogames, but it makes sense that most (if not all?) of them start with a picture of a sky. Now, I wonder how many studios actually go outside to take pictures of the sky, and how many simply use photos from elsewhere.

These questions won’t be asked of me when I play Vanguard’s Campaign. I think I will stop and look up at the sky when I reach that Stalingrad mission.

Vanguard’s campaign was also a highlight for me. I saw some gameplay in an early mission. Check out our hands-off preview for details.


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