So when is concept art not concept art? When it's part of an artist's established portfolio of fan art and book covers, and not in any way related to an actual game. That didn't stop Cubed3 from posting the "exclusive concept art" straight from Nibris, which turned out in fact to be older art that deviantArt member OmeN2501 turned in to the alleged developer as an example of what he might like to see in a DS horror game.
That's rather more like conceptual examples of concept art for a possible concept than an actual confirmed game, but this not the first we've seen from the company's reported upcoming title, Children of the Night. It's just the first "art" we've seen, and if you happen to seek out Silent Hill fan art, you may have seen some of it before. Fortunately, a few intrepid armchair detectives over at NeoGAF were quick to point out that the art was not precisely new, but was in fact part of the aforementioned artist's profile on deviantArt. A little digging revealed that while Marek Okon, aka OmeN2501, is reportedly working as an artist for Nibris, these particular pieces of art were never meant for release in conjunction with Children of the Night, or any other game, real or imagined. It might also be worth nothing that the artwork was cropped to give it a fresh look, though we can't say who did the cropping.
Cubed3 has posted a retraction, but the damage has been done as other sites began to pick up the story. In the retraction, C3's Adam Riley indicated that the art was sent by mistake, and that Nibris representatives did not label the artwork as "not for publication." However, a response from user "nibris" on the C3 forums (whom Riley has confirmed as Piotr Babieno, Nibris President), appeared briefly that indicated the artwork was included in casual correspondence with C3 and was not in any way an official press pack. The response has since been edited away, but was preserved via a quick copy/paste on NeoGAF. However, Babieno, posting as nibris on the C3 forums, did indicate that the PR rep who handled this would no longer be handling such material in the future, so it looks like the blaming finger of blame can be pointed all around. Or, as Marek Okon himself said ... well, we can't repeat what he said, so we'll translate it it as being "a big mess."
But what's the real story? Is Children of the Night in development, or in the earliest of early planning stages? From the last time Nibris reps spoke with C3, it seemed as though work on the game was already under way. In that edited forum response, however, Babieno indicated that the game is as yet "planned" only and remains "unconfirmed." Like many of their projects, it seems it may or may not exist, and in a few years, we could find out. Maybe. Further, considering the works in question were incredibly high quality, as concept art for any DS game, we would think they would almost certainly be questioned. Concept art is one thing, and so is the idea of creating a mood -- but concept art should also, in our own humble opinions, reflect something that can at least be evoked on the system in question. As much as we love our DS games, we're also the first to admit that even our most visually impressive titles couldn't easily evoke something like this.
Dementium: The Ward is a great example, in fact, of a new developer taking on a difficult horror game and making it work on the DS in terms of looks. Even the recent highly-stylized trailer uses images that are simple and evocative, and much less detailed than Marek Okon's lush art. But most of what they've shown us is -- imagine! -- actual game footage, even from day one. The official site is a healthy mix of DS screens and simple art, and the combination creates a fantastic atmosphere that also manages to show off exactly what we'll be playing if we give it a try come October. We would encourage Nibris and others to look to Renegade Kid for an example of how to pull this off without leaving the world convinced that you may not be more than a couple of guys with an internet connection and too much time on your hands.
While we've seen some questionable footage from Nibris games, this debacle, as well as the continued delay of concrete information or footage from Sadness, the highly-anticipated (if it ever appears) horror game for the Wii, continues to cast the company in a poor light. But the best thing that could come out of all of this is more attention for Marek Okon, who truly is a gifted artist. We hope he enjoys a long and fruitful career.