Frank and Drake: Finding Creative Cohesion in Diversity


  • Telling a story that embraces the power of community.
  • A layer of reality juxtaposed with surreal protagonists
  • Finding beauty in the unexpected.

The Challenge of Blending Different Worlds

The foundational idea of Frank and Drake was being able to represent how our unique diverse identities can find a common ground of understanding through different levels of communication and empathy. That principle is valid for the characters themselves and their relationship without physical contact, but it goes beyond that. Almost unconsciously, it affected all the layers of the development, with a peculiar atmosphere as a result of the use of mixed arts.

F and D characters

Art and Animation: a Collage of Styles in Harmony

The world of Oriole City is presented mostly via illustrated backgrounds that present an accurate – yet stylized- architecture where nothing is distorted or out of proportion. Our lead artist Romina Correa defined with her style this layer of “reality” in juxtaposition with the rotoscoped protagonists, that live in the spectrum of surrealism. But other instances of the game show different techniques, such as rough pencils in black and white (flashbacks), ball pen drawings (journal sketches), stencil and graffiti (walls of the streets), and even imitations of oil painting (murals in certain locations). Working with not only different but versatile artists allowed us to create this visual melting pot within the boundaries of the lore.

This multi-disciplinary creative approach also affected the visuals in motion. The rotoscoped animations stand out for obvious reasons (and are the most time consuming, with over 8,000 frames drawn!), but there are plenty of other frame-by-frame animations without footage as a reference that support the narrative, and even 3D models, very convenient in complex rotations or interactions.

F and D city

Music: the Rhythm of Light and Dark

We knew Kai Engel well from his work in the soundtrack of our previous game stay. The goal in Frank and Drake was not only to provide both day and night a unique setting, but also project the way both characters experience their reality. By opposing the hip hop rhythms of Frank with the jazz vibes from Drake, you get a beautiful contrast that helps you navigate between characters and to fully feel the emotional impact of both stories.

F and D night shot

Narrative: Two Voices, One Big Mystery

Crafting a story with dual protagonists was a new challenge for our writer and Narrative Designer, Ana Monteiro. Some rules needed to be followed to make it work: define unique voices with respective personalities and perspectives, so they couldn’t react to conflict in equal ways. They needed to have character arcs revealing a change of beliefs and behaviors as proof of personal growth, too. And all these internal conflicts had to clash against an external conspiracy, something that would make their destinies merge at some point.

F and D sketch

Ultimately, Frank and Drake tells a story that embraces the power of community: how a strange (and often bizarre) place like Oriole City can become the home for many individuals, usually tagged as the outcast of society, and where diversity of realities coexist respectfully. Where beauty can be found in the unexpected, and differences are accepted in a supportive, cooperative manner. We tried to keep that exact essence with the combination of multiple art forms throughout the game. The goal was not to strive for perfection individually, but to find a cohesive nature in the sum of this honest, fragmented identity.

We hope you enjoy discovering the story of Frank and Drake.

F and D screenshot

[This article originally appeared on Xbox Wire]

Xbox Wire

Posts by this account are syndicated from Xbox Wire.

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