Environment And The Rest Of That Stuff

 

In an RPG, the world is the most important component. All of your gameplay takes place on or inside the maps your modelers are going to build. Environments will probably take the biggest chunk of time out of your budget. So it’s important to do a lot of planning.

On Neverwinter we started with two things: adapting real-world landscape to gameplay and capturing the feel of the fantasy city. The city was one of my pet projects. I’m really after capturing the densely packed, cobbled-together feel of those centuries-old European towns. But at the same time we had a lot of gameplay concerns, such as controlling players’ movement with impassable walls and locked gates, providing enough space for combat, navigating stairs and ramps, and making user-created maps fast and easy to make. The same principles of applying your research, knowing your technical limits and drawing fast all apply – and working with your technical leads goes double for environments. Adapting a natural landscape such as old-growth forest or limestone caverns into realtime 3D is more about deciding what to leave out than what to cram in. The game has to carry the feeling of place, but it also has to play well. And that means players have to be able to get around the map with a minimum of cursing.

Tobyn Manthorpe and his tile-modeling team used our sketches for artistic inspiration – and also to work out technical details in rough form before building actual geometry. However, the hard and fast rules of building tiles couldn’t be finalized until the designs were implemented and put into the game engine. So there was a lot of re-drawing after the prototypes, to come up with final-ish style guides.

It’s important to realize that concept art is not over after the visualization phase. That’s just round one – once the game development actually begins, the sketch artists have to keep up with the many revisions and rules that are coming into play.

I think you’re beginning to get the picture by now – at least how it works here at BioWare. Concept art is an ongoing process that evolves throughout the project. It helps jump start the project at the beginning, making the first ideas real, and helps nail down the game’s style and technical procedures throughout the rest of the project. Concept artists have to be fast and accurate, and use a lot of research in order to crank out the ideas. And they have to learn how the actual game is made and be faithful to the technical limitations. It’s a fun job, especially so when you get to see your ideas translated into glorious 3D by the rest of the team.

Thanks for your time – I hope I’ve inspired you to do some drawing of your own. And be sure to tune in for the next entry, when I’ll give a little background on creating a lead character in Neverwinter Nights. With everything said above where world in gaming is more important, nothing beats the world of Pokemon Go — the virtual world where you need to explore the real world to gain progress in the mobile game. This may pose some risk but the adventure, fun, and realism is superb. Of course, there are those lazy people who would want to cheat Pokemon Go and play the game without spending for Pokecoins and exploring their world.