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The ArenaNet Team on the Aftermath of Season 1

David North Posted:
Interviews 0

Editor's Note: Art questions provided by Daniel Dociu, art director, Aaron Coberly, character art team lead, and Naomi Baker, concept artist.

MMORPG:  The Living Story featured a lot of new character designs, and environments. When did the process for creating this designs begin, and how was this process different from the concepts created for the core of the game?

Daniel Dociu: It follows roughly the same steps – it begins with brainstorming, working with the writers, with the designers, then concept artists taking over. And then it goes on to building those assets, whether by the actual living world teams, or when the demand exceeds their capacity they get help from the core art team. It’s much more scope-aware, a lot more intense. 

MMORPG:  The Aetherblade Pirates had a great visual style that makes them seem more technologically advanced then most of the races. What were some of the challenges you faced when getting a visual style that fit the rest of the world, yet still be unique?

Daniel Dociu: The reason for that culture existing was an idea that goes way back. It was something that we circulated around the dev team a few years ago, and we decided we weren’t ready to do it justice. We resurrected the idea, and then we needed to support it with a story and build characters that would inhabit it, a culture that would inhabit it. Giving them their own specific flavor did indeed have its unique challenges.  We went back and forth into crossing the line into rather heavy steam punk then toning it down and pushing it again. It was a fine balance that needed some iterating upon until we got it to a level that we felt was fitting and consistent with the visual style of the game.

MMORPG:  Taimi has become a fan favorite very quickly. Could you talk about how you came up with her look, and why Scruffy looks so much different than the other golems we see in the game?

Aaron Coberly: With Taimi and her golem, we wanted to do something really different because she was a genius and exceptional, so we wanted her to stand out from the other asura.  And we wanted her golem to stand out as well. With Taimi herself, we went into season one trying to make a new set of characters like our previous iconics, but with this round we really wanted to take them in a much more diverse group that would be more interesting to players. With Logan and Rytlock, these are all veteran, war torn, been there done that. They have a similar weary and battle worn mentality.  We thought with Braham and Taimi that we could introduce new characters that would have a broader range of appeal and interest. We kind of designed them around a whole. With Taimi, we definitely wanted her to be young, bright, and have some special qualities about her. Our asuras are already pretty cute but they can span the realm from being kind of mischievous gremlins to being more cutesy. Obviously with Taimi, we wanted to accentuate the cute side of the race.

Naomi Baker: As far as the design of the golem, I just knew that the difference with the other ones in the game was that she built it from other pieces. It’s kind of beat up, so it’s different in that way.  The things like the lights and some shapes that are diamond-shapes, those are typical for asura things. The shape itself is nothing in particular, just different shapes put together and kit-bashed from other pieces of technology.

Aaron Coberly: It also kind of has kind of a futuristic feel, and I think it fits Taimi being the next generation, being a young girl. I think adding to the evolution of the asura meant adding something a little bit more modern and a little more futuristic.

MMORPG:  A lot of concept art was made for the core of the game, and we've had the lucky chance to view some unused concepts printed in the art book. Do you plan on possibly revisiting some of these unused pieces for future updates?

Daniel Dociu: We have an entire bank of ideas that we would really love to resurrect, and that for one reason or another we haven’t yet found the perfect way to implement them yet. They’re all waiting for their time to come.

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David North