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Everquest II: Rise of Kunark - Creature Feature, Part One of Two

The folks over at SOE's Everquest II have provided us with information about five of the new monsters that will make an appearance in the upcoming expansion, Rise of Kunark. EQII Senior Producer Scott Hartsman answers our questions about what goes into making monsters for MMOs in part one of a two part feature.

MMORPG.com:

Let’s start this off with a bang. Can you tell us a little something about what needs to be considered when bringing a new creature into an MMORPG?

Scott Hartsman:

There are a lot of questions that get asked. The story and environments tend to be the big driving factors – Who lives in these new places? What’s their history? Is this their natural environment, or are they displaced? And so on.

That’s an exercise that goes on for all of the new areas that we make, and it tends to drive a list that’s far larger than what’s practical.

Once those elements are worked out, we then need to apply reality. How much time do we actually have to get new creatures developed? How many new creatures can we feasibly develop? How much emphasis can (or should!) we put on bosses while still making sure there are enough new creatures for everyone to see?

Eventually, the wish list meets reality, and we end up with the populace for the new areas.

 

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MMORPG.com:

In this small series, we’re looking at five of the monsters that were created for Rise of Kunark. Are these all of the new monsters that we should expect to see, or are there more?

Scott Hartsman:

You should definitely expect to see quite a few more. This is a small fraction of the new creatures available in Kunark.

MMORPG.com:

How long does it take between when someone comes up with an idea for a monster and the time that we all see it in-game?

Scott Hartsman:

Assuming that we’re talking about a fully brand-new creature from start to finish, it depends on a few things. The range can take anywhere between a few weeks to a few months of multiple people’s time, starting with that background info I mentioned a minute ago, and then heading into the 2d concept phase. From there, it goes into the 3d, fx, and audio phases.

For us, the easiest thing to make is an animal creature that doesn’t have an extensive set of animations.

For creatures that can wield weapons and need a full range of combat animations that work correctly while fighting with different weapon styles, that adds some time. For bosses that have their own custom-made entry/death/fight animations and sometimes even their own voice to be scripted and recorded, that can add another few weeks to a month to the process.

After that, they need to be hooked up into the world, either as standard population or as part of events need to be written, and those frequently need their own spells, which also adds fx/visual/audio time.

 

MMORPG.com:

How much does real-world mythology come into play when designing monsters for MMORPGs?

Scott Hartsman:

With many creative endeavors, people do have a tendency to draw upon the things they’re familiar with. Norrath seldom intentionally borrows from the real world, but there are definitely places where an observer can take a look at something and spot influences.

MMORPG.com:

We hear a lot about balancing a game for the different classes. How does balance come into play when talking about monsters?

Scott Hartsman:

It’s quite a bit easier to balance monsters than it is player classes. What we usually try to do is ensure that racial abilities are interesting enough to be unique, but not so interesting that a given creature is far harder than it’s supposed to be. That’s a minor trick, but nothing compared to player class balance.

That, and, monsters don’t get to post on the forums. :)

 

Below, you will find images representing: the concept art, the 3D sketch, the mesh and the final product as well as a lore description.

Burynai Caster

Looking rather like a large plump badger, the burynai often instills amusement upon first sight. It is not long until their sharp claws, jagged teeth and necromantic arts prove them to be anything other than cute and loveable. This intelligent rodent race hails from the deepest and darkest caves underfoot. It is in that underworld that they have spent their lives burrowing endless tunnels and excavating subterranean relics all in the hopes of increasing their powers and serving the Duke of Below. In their quest for arcane power, they have discovered Kunark, a continent littered with artifacts of necromantic nature.

Devourer

Below, you will find (in this order): a production shot, the mesh, a final product with sample tints and the final product.

Never has a name encompassed a creatures meaning of existence better than the devourer. These "floating maws" have one purpose in life and that is to eat any living thing that it comes in contact with. Its ravenous nature has been the misfortune of more than a few small villages. Tales have been told of a few devourers consuming entire villages of iksar. Should you see a massive jaw filled with long sharp teeth and a tail flowing behind- run! Pray to the gods that this creature has not sensed it next meal

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