I played something like 130 hours of Fallout 3. I adored many things about it — and, admittedly, hated a few others — but my absolute favourite part was exploring the world. The entire history of this never-quite-was version of Washington DC could be read in its architecture, its artifacts and its people. The game turned the city where I actually live into a wrecked, raygun-gothic husk of itself… and I loved it.
The concept artist who created nearly all of these designs, Adam Adamowicz, passed away earlier this week. A fellow concept artist has outlined Adamowicz’s skill and legacy in a touching obituary:
Earlier today we learned that Adam Adamowicz, one of the main concept artists behind Fallout 3, Skyrim and other Bethesda titles, passed away today. It was silently announced, but I’d like to shine some light on Adam because he was an anomaly in the game industry, a veritable one-man conceptual machine, who unlike his contemporary counterparts, did a majority of his work in non-digital mediums. Fallout 3 was pretty much visually designed from the ground up by one humble man who got little to no recognition, nor sought it.
For those who are unaware, I also work in the video game industry as a concept artist and often sought inspiration from what other conceptual designers were doing in the industry. Back when Fallout 3 was released, it came with a making of DVD showcasing how the game was built from the ground up. When Adam’s art pit showed up in the video, with his own hand-drawn art covering every inch of space from the ground up in his cubicle I was nothing short of blown away and filled with inspiration.
Adamowicz’s work for Fallout 3 is, indeed, meticulous and impressive. This morning, I went back to the collector’s edition art book and got lost in its pages for quite some time. Bethesda’s official website for the game features several now-iconic examples.
More recently, Adamowicz worked on the concept art for Skyrim. In the first of the developer diaries Bethesda posted for the game, Adamowicz and fellow artist Ray Lederer recorded a podcast and interview about their process and sources of inspiration.
In the interview, Adamowicz said: “I love Lord of the Rings. It’s gorgeous. And so how do you beat that? That’s kind of what it came down to. How do you do something really cool in this genre and have it be original and not ape all of these things?”
It seems he always found a way. His contributions to the industry will be missed.