The times I've come to visit Digital Tome, I've seen the art team at work and I've always been terribly curious about its progress. In a macabre sense, this section's almost like the factory floor where all the monsters and nifty weapons are manufactured. Or if you side with the "Good," so are the heroes. (But that doesn't mean you can't still have kick-a$$ weaponry).
Well, if you couldn't tell ;) I've always had this predilection for learning about fine weaponry and armor. I did ask Lead Artist Brad Lewis for a list of available weaponry, but he told me it's a continual process. While you guys are playing Chapter 1, the Art Team is still at it, slaving away creating new stuff for you to use or encounter in later Chapters.
Lewis has been on a schedule of one character a day. Since Siege of Avalon is downloadable, there's a constraint on file length. Yet, Lewis really feels strongly that it would be a total cop-out if 300 copies of the same guy were roaming around the game. That would lose the immersive property of the game, he says.
Digital Tome figured out how to deal with this. Basically, there's templates and layers. A template of a human character would include all the programmed movements of humans (since we expect them to move the same way, more or less), but then the layers customize the appearance. There are 14 layers attached to a character in Siege. Pillars will have even more. This way, there's more variety and about a billion permutations for possible characters.
Lewis also says he wants the characters to look real even though they might not exist in reality. He spends about 1/3 to 1/2 of his time on research.
For instance, the Art Team showed me the spider monster. Lewis had read up on spiders trying to figure out how Siege's spider monster was going to move. He designs the monster and when it's ready for testing, the Art Team sticks it in the Siege environment to see how it does. Monsters can have layers too, so eventually, each spider might have its own markings.
The rest of the Art Team is: Marshall Womack (who's been working on floor tiles, objects and spell effects), Randy Polk, and Philip Horn (both props, objects, textures). Mostly, the art is drawn up in 3D Studio Max and then rendered into isometric 2D, or a "god view."
Since the lighting is determined by the level designer, the Art Team tends to use neutral colors. But, occasionally, you might see bright colors against the background, maybe to indicate special magic objects.
If you want to take a look at the Art Team's work, there's some offerings in the Gallery.
Til next time,
listening to Swirliese
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