FORTRESS (Final Fantasy XII Followup by GRIN) Concept Art Repository

#1

We all know about Fortress, the cancelled Ivalice/Final Fantasy XII followup that was being developed by Swedish company GRIN in 2009 (if you don't, see the Wikipedia article of the game). Following the cancellation of the game, many ex-GRIN employees updated their websites and portfolios to include pieces of concept art, one track, and a few videos of the project. However, only a few amount of these assets have received mainstream attention.

I'm creating this thread to gather and display in one place all the various Fortress assets that I have found throughout my research.

Let's start with these photos taken by an anonymous tipster who visited GRIN's offices shortly after the company went down. You probably already know about them:



Source:
http://kotaku.com/5358430/a-final-look-inside-grins-fortress/


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Now here are two videos by lead technical artist ANDERS BODBACKA, showcasing none other than the characters Basch and Larsa, returning from FFXII:




Here is another video, by character animator FRANCESCO CAROVILLANO, showcasing a few animations from the game:




There is also the infamous tech demo that you've most likely already seen:




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One track from the project has been publicly released. It is an epic 7-minute piece by music director ERIK THUNBERG. It includes the traditional "Prelude" melody:

http://web.archive.org/web/20100804155519/http://www.starsounds.net/


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A programmer who worked for GRIN and goes by the pseudonym "Vim" on his blog describes his contribution to Fortress as follows:

After Bionic Commando I got to work one month on this final project at Grin

The core game was about you and a small group of loyal soldiers defending the fortress against a army invading from the sea. They had ships and monsters in endless supply and you had to keep your troops morale high and move around the fortress and defend key areas of it as the enemy attacked. Between attacks you could travel inland and explore some form of ancient temples or something.

My task was to create a system that would support a huge amount of characters fighting in and around the fortress. Besides the need for the player to be able to jump in and affect all battles a system to script events in the combat was also needed. All without making them look like bad background actors in a movie. The goal for the game was to keep around 2200 characters in the combat, 2000 attackers and 200 defenders.


Source:
http://spinningcubes.com/?page_id=2858


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Alright. The following sections will showcase all the pieces of concept art and 3D art that I have found, sorted by artists. When available, I have also included quotes about the project from these artists, in italics. You will recognize a few FFXII elements such as recurring enemies, Ashe, Gabranth's armor, the Dalmascan flag, etc. You can also have a relatively good idea of the geography of the titular Fortress by watching for the big landmarks such as the giant tree at the top, the floating cathedral, the distinctive towers, etc.


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BJÖRN ALBIHN (lead character artist)

“Fortress” was the last project I was involved in at GRIN, and it was a game with an epic scale both in story and production values. It was cancelled after a few months into preproduction and our time spent on it was very brief although I feel it showed much promise.

I worked closely with the concept artists and Art Director during this project creating 3D concepts of weapons, enemy characters and monsters and also one of the game’s bosses.

The main enemy faction invades from the sea and their culture is most closely reflected by the vikings. They also seem to be very influenced by the sea and it's creatures. Their decorations upon their armor and weapons are of waves, fishes, octopuses and other sea monsters.

Giant

The giants carried several weapons such as huge stone axes and gigantic chain weapons. One of the more unique weapons designed was this club that had living and burning creatures attached to it. The creatures shrieks out and burns everything around it when the club is swung.



"Living Weapon"

The giants carried several weapons such as huge stone axes and gigantic chain weapons. One of the more unique weapons designed was this club that had living and burning creatures attached to it. The creatures shrieks out and burns everything around it when the club is swung.



"Boss Creature Mockup"

This huge creature was a very early mockup of one of the game's bosses. At first one of the arms would attack the player from beneath the ground and the player would think that the enemy is some kind of snake monster. As more arms would emerge the situation would become worse and finally the boss would rip up the wall to reveal it's gigantic gaping mouth and start to eat the unfortunate ones caught in the arms.

One of the suggestions to take down this monster was that the player would be required to mount up and ride close to the seaweed hanging from the back of the creature to jump and climb atop it. Up there the paler would drop bombs into the many holes the creature had upon it's back while fighting of the creatures that are in fact living inside this huge beast.



Here are some of these inside the game engine as early mock ups to test proportions and scale.

Ingame Tests



Sources:
http://cargocollective.com/albihn/107280/-Fortress
http://www.albihn.net/projects/296/
http://www.albihn.net/107280/ Fortress (dead link)


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MARTIN BERGQUIST (lead concept artist)

Production paintings:



Layout sketches:



Character design:



Storyboard:



Sources:
http://martinbergquist.blogspot.fr/
http://www.martinbergquist.com/


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PETER JOHANSSON (senior concept artist and assistant art director)

Key experience
* Concept art
* Concept modelling
* Technical design and solutions for game content
* Art direction for environments
* Level design and composition
* Follow up on production


Environment related art:



Character related art:



Schematics and technical art:



3D models:



Sources:
http://artbypeterj.com/
http://www.pressfire.no/spill/532/screenshots/555


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KENNETH JOHANSSON (senior character artist)




Source:
http://www.kennethj.net/wp/project/fortress/
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NASIER ABDOEL (senior artist)

Studio GRIN a game company that i used to work for, teamed up with Square Enix to do a project for them, called Fortress. I worked as a concept artist for 5-6 months on this before it unfortunately got canceled due to many reasons.



Source:
http://lastofseven.blogspot.fr/2011/02/fortress-centipede-concept.html


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DANIEL CONWAY (concept artist)

Another X-GRIN concept artist here, its nice that we can finally show this stuff, guess every cloud has a silver lining after all so yep im currently looking for a full time job while doing some freelance stuff.



Sources:
http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=167132&p=2403737#post2403737
http://arcipello.deviantart.com/gallery/?catpath=/


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JOAKIM HELLSTEDT (concept artist)



Sources:
http://www.joakimhellstedt.com/
http://web.archive.org/web/20101014213208/http://www.joakimhellstedt.com/


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TONY HOLMSTEN (concept artist)

When I was working at GRIN in 2008-2009, we landed a gig to make a huge open world RPG for a well known company. However development was troublesome with no real vision from the management, which lead to the game's cancellation .

The concept art team was tasked to create the world, the characters and the overall style of the art direction. Here are some samples.




Additionally, Tony Holmsten posted the following message on a forum shortly after the game's cancellation concerning his view of the project:

The only thing i can say to us , concept artists, defence is that, we did not even know what game/brand it was until the very last two months or something before grin went bankrupt (I have no idea what grin's decision behind this was). So we had been working several months without any proper art direction just doing something "fantasy:ish". And in the end they finally told us what we were doing, and said "Now we have to remake everything, and make it look more like... " It was a complete disaster, a shame, it could have been good.

Sources:
http://web.archive.org/web/20110702100754/http://www.tonyholmsten.com/fortress.html
http://www.tonyholmsten.com/68197/593084/gallery/cancelled-rpg-game-2009
http://tonyholmsten.deviantart.com/gallery/?catpath=/
http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=167132&p=2425908#post2425908

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Jakob Tuchten (concept artist)



Source:
http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=167132&p=2424284#post2424284 (dead links)


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TOMISLAV SPAJIC (environment artist)

I worked on the environment models and textures.
A important thing with the texturing for this project was the way we reused textures in the UV space. Therefore we had to keep that in mind when we made the models.




Sources:
http://www.clayman.se/#section-7
http://web.archive.org/web/20100812100817/http://www.clayman.se/
http://www.pressfire.no/nyheter/Xbox360/1108/grin-jobbet-med-final-fantasy-spill


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And that's it for now. These assets were collected sporadically in my free time between 2009 and, well, yesterday (which is why I know some links that are now dead links). There might still be more out there.
 
#5
Looks to Nordic..

Sorry, couldn't help myself

It's a shame the game got cancelled, but at least they went on to make some good games, albeit in a different studio. It doesn't seem to have the FF feel to it, so maybe it was really for the best.
 
#7
I've been replaying FFXII . Wish it would get a proper sequel. Such good characters and world. Twas a unique experience with the main character actually not even being the focal point of anything. Just a watcher of some of the most significant events in that world.
 
#15
As down the crapper as FF has been this generation, based on what's presented here I'm not really bothered about this games cancellation. Looks like they threw out the elegance of FFXII's style for an overly corny heavy metal album cover attempt at edgy fantasy.
 
#18
Interesting concept takes on toneberry and a couple other FF things.

Also I know there was another thread on this I just don't know if it showed everything that was in this one.
 
#22
While this looks nothing like Ivalice at all (but who can truly create the master style of Yoshida), I admit I do reeeeaaaallly want a game like it to come out. Or a true sequel set in Ivalice.

For a Final Fantasy game, it looked a bit too The Witcher-esque.
 
#23
Interesting concept takes on toneberry and a couple other FF things.

Also I know there was another thread on this I just don't know if it showed everything that was in this one.
It's been said before about this but that Tonberry is atrocious and completely misses the point of the Tonberry in an attempt to make it all scaly and disgusting looking.
 
#28
This game would have looked exactly like Skyrim / Oblivion. FF13 runs mile around it.
I don't know where you get the Skyrim/Oblivion comparison given the material in the OP. Even then, even given Skyrim's problems it still has more interesting art assets than FF13 by a very large margin.

It seems like most of the art people have problems with (or don't think looks like Ivalice) were actually going to be for the enemy faction of the game, which seems like it probably would have been a previously unkown area of the world - obviously, not developed by Yasumi Matsuno though, so they perhaps wouldn't have been "valid" in the eyes of some.
 
#29
Dat Gabranth.

Tonberri sucks but the detail of the arrows and swords in his body is a nice touch. Molbol is ok. The rest looks like Spring Skyrim.
 
#30
I don't know where you get the Skyrim/Oblivion comparison given the material in the OP. Even then, even given Skyrim's problems it still has more interesting art assets than FF13 by a very large margin.
Yeah, let me rephrase this. The whole open world concept this game appears to be making often leads to very generic landscapes and backgrounds. The concept art is fantastic but the world looks rather dull.
 
#31
Yeah, let me rephrase this. The whole open world concept this game appears to be making often leads to very generic landscapes and backgrounds. The concept art is fantastic but the world looks rather dull.
There's not enough material here to make that kind of blanket judgment on what the game would have been like.
 

Y2Kev

TLG Fan Caretaker Est. 2009
#34
Does not really look like FFXII from the concept art. FFXII is not really such a "foresty" game. If you take away the Salikawood and the Golmore Jungle, you don't even see a ton of large trees! This doesn't look like the same world.
 
#35
Does not really look like FFXII from the concept art. FFXII is not really such a "foresty" game. If you take away the Salikawood and the Golmore Jungle, you don't even see a ton of large trees! This doesn't look like the same world.
I kind of assumed that was just all they had finished.

I mean if you look at Daniel Conway's stuff, it's like 5-6 environments.
 
#36
Does not really look like FFXII from the concept art. FFXII is not really such a "foresty" game. If you take away the Salikawood and the Golmore Jungle, you don't even see a ton of large trees! This doesn't look like the same world.
IMO, Ivalice is more than just the visuals. Its the music, the design, and the lore, whan yoy mix it all up....

PERFECTION.
 

RoboPlato

I'd be in the dick
#38
Grin may not have been the most talented team but I love everything I've seen from this. Here's hoping we get an RPG like this at some point, be it from S-E or someone else.
 
#39
After playing SE's recent FF attempts, maybe it would be a smart move to hand them off to another developer to develop. This looks better than what we got
 
#42
I definitely would have enjoyed this more than FFXII, which I became so disgusted with I never even finished. It marked the end of true turn-based combat in the FF series, and the last FF I played because of that fact. But this one seems like it could've been an interesting tactics game.
 
#45
As far as the screenshots go I feel it looks more like FFT Ivalice than FFXII Ivalice, given the conifers, riversides surrounded by rocks, and general grassy sparse forest feel.





 

Kintaro

Worships the porcelain goddess
#47
I'm sorry but given the shit quality of the majority of Japanese IPs handled by Western studios this generation, I'm happy this was canned. For as bad as you guys think FFXIII is, this would probably have been worse.

Look at Grin's resume and tell me you had faith in this. That's like having faith in Double Helix.
 
#48
To be honest, nothing in the art or footage I have seen from this game ever really appealed to me. It just doesn't look right. I can't really mourn its cancellation.
 
#49
I'm sorry but given the shit quality of the majority of Japanese IPs handled by Western studios this generation, I'm happy this was canned. For as bad as you guys think FFXIII is, this would probably have been worse.

Look at Grin's resume and tell me you had faith in this. That's like having faith in Double Helix.
That's exactly how I feel.