Toilets of Hardline
Most of my game toilet research is done from the perspective of the user, but in this piece I interviewed Marquis Houghton, an environment artist on Battlefield Hardline (2015). According to software engineer Ben (Gaciu) Wander, Houghton was often seen "with a bathroom catalog in his back pocket, studying the intricacies of sink materials and tile layout."
Q: Why include toilets in the environment at all?
A: Well the toilet was at the beginning of the game, which was set in an old motel, and it allowed us to showcase the destruction the game would include as you shoot up the motel room.
Q: How has the real world informed you as an artist when creating toilets? Was there any artistic license to the intricacies of the toilets in the environment, or were the toilets created with only realism in mind?
A: I did my best follow reference and be fairly accurate without being anal about it.
Q: What role did “Levolution” have in your workflow when creating the toilets in-game?
A: “Levolution” refers to a larger more detailed destruction system. It was meant more for structures rather than props. The toilets were setup with fractured destruction that you can shoot chunks off of.
Q: How much time and attention was put into toilets alone?
A: Well this toilet had multiple revisions by multiple artist! I was but one in a long chain of artist that this prop passed through. The fracturing needed to be better, the seat rounder, etc.
Q: Any challenges specific to toilets that you’ve come across in your career?
A: Nope, I’ve only worked on one lol.
Q: How does creating toilets compare to any other mundane object in environment art such as boxes, barrels, and vents?
A: Well it is rounder and has more curves so that may make fracturing it more difficult. Otherwise it is a pretty simple prop.
Q: What is your favorite memory of a toilet in a video game?
A: Neebs gaming cameo in one of the Hardline DLC’s
Q: What aspects of toilets in games do you think appeal to you personally (if any)?
A: Some games allow you to flush them. That is always a cool detail.
Q: Any interesting discoveries you’ve found in your time with toilets (both in games and out)?
A: Weird phone numbers you probably shouldn’t call for a good time.
Q: What values (cultural, political, etc.) do you think toilets present in games?
A: If anything it shows you the culture of the studio. If they allow you to use them, do you have reflections in mirrors, how much detail they go into for immersion.
Q: Any tips or advice you have for future generations of environmental artists looking to get into toilet asset creation?
A: Find a cool reference and detail it up!
Q: Do you follow any social media or documentation about toilets in games? If so, please list them!
A: No… Lol.
Q: Do you have any questions for those who devote their lives to archiving and studying your work on toilets in games?
Q: Closing thoughts on toilets?
A: Close both lids people!