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  • Interview WildStar, Behind the Scenes

    June 3, 2013 by Eric Chadwick

    Here at Polycount, we’re always on the lookout for awesomesauce to share with you. And man oh man do we have some sweet exclusive screens and hot juicy giblets to share with y’all today.

    The team at Carbine Studios is hard at work on their gorgeous new painterly MMO WildStar. I got to dig in deep with their Creative Director Matt Mocarski, to find out just how they managed to breathe so much awesome into this game…

     

     

    Polycount: What was the genesis of Carbine Studios? What did the team work on before? And how big is the art team now?

    Matt Mocarski: Carbine was founded by a group of around 20 people who worked on the original World of Warcraft Team. It was mostly Seniors and Leads. After shipping WoW, a bunch of us were asking “what’s next?” Creatively, we were looking for something new.

    The Art Team is around 60 people now. It sounds like a lot but that covers the 12 sub-teams responsible for every aspect of development and marketing: Animation, Effects, Character, Prop, World, Environment, Cinematics, Concept, Illustration, Structure, UI, and Tech Art. Yeah, it’s a big game!

     

    WildStar Stalker

     

    How was the WildStar art style developed, what sources were the most influential?

    We explored roughly 2-3 styles before we hit one that clicked. For a time the game was much more realistic. During these phases, the team kept getting excited by the assets that had more style and personality. That’s really what led us to make our choice about the visual style. It’s important that the team is excited and passionate about what they are working on. So we focused on that.

    Artistically we were influenced heavily by animation and comics. We didn’t blatantly try to match a style from something specific. Instead it was an amalgamation of influences that were then translated by our Concept Lead, Cory Loftis. Cory had a huge part in helping define our core style. You can definitely see the influence when you look at his work. He’s at Disney now, but his work still influences what we do.

     

     

    How do you keep the art team all on the same page? Do you use an Art Bible? What can you tell us about your crit/review process?

    Early in development we had one rule “match the concept.” We concepted nearly every asset and made sure that everything, from the shapes and silhouettes to the brush strokes in the textures, were being replicated.

    We also have a fairly rigorous testing process. We test people with actual concepts for our game. The people that nail a 3D asset closest are usually the people that land the job. So even before they start, our artists know what the goals are. Now that we have so many people trained up, the team understands the style and helps teach it to the new people.

     

     

    To help maintain quality and style, the Leads and I review every new asset in the game in a weekly review meeting. We review everything, even assets that are WIP (work in progress). It’s important to catch mistakes as early in the process as possible so you minimize the amount of rework the artists need to do. It’s a huge effort and takes about 4 hours a week.

    We also do a tons of walk-arounds and sub-team critiques. We really push our artists and it’s created this great environment where everyone cares about the work they do no matter how small the asset.

     

     

    We see you’re using XSI, how did you come to choose it as your main 3D software?

    The initial decision was made before I came on board, but if I remember correctly XSI had some amazing animation transfer tools that we felt could really save us a lot of time down the road. Funny enough, I was pretty outspoken against it at first, I was coming off using Maya and loved it.

    Back then XSI had a lot of issues with UV features and there were very few studios using it. Since then, there have been a ton of improvements and we do a lot of tool development in-house that has helped out our work-flow.

     

     

    Your engine is homegrown, right? Can you talk about its strengths, and what kind of artist tools you have?

    Our Engine and tools are all proprietary. For MMOs, there aren’t any great “go-to” engines out there. These are huge, seamless, persistent worlds with thousands of players running around. I imagine it would be difficult to market an engine that could do that and everything needed for an FPS and Action/Adventure game. So the best thing about our engine is that it’s, first and foremost, designed for a large scale MMO.

     

     

    The other great thing about it is it was developed along the same time as we established the art style. So we were able to request tool features that gave us a ton of artistic freedom. For example, we can paint color on the terrain, we can also color tint assets based off their material type. So if we want red leaves on a tree instead of green, we can just tint the color or the leaves without affecting the trunk.

    There are hundreds of tiny things we control. We made sure every graphical feature enhanced and preserved the game’s art style. Having the engineers in-house, developing their tools with the same goals in mind was essential in pulling off the style.

     


     

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    46 Comments

    1. Josh Mount on June 3, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      Awesome read! I cant wait for the release/beta invite :P


    2. Spug on June 3, 2013 at 8:04 pm

      WOOT! Thanks for sharing this PC, love ya, always have :)


    3. Mrandk on June 3, 2013 at 8:12 pm

      Thanks for the share guys! Feels good to finally show some work! :D


    4. beezul on June 3, 2013 at 8:15 pm

      BOOM :D


    5. jermaineb on June 3, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      nice :P


    6. beezul on June 3, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      alsoooo just wanted to add thanks for the interest in our project AND… im so happy to work with such talented cool people like spug and mrandk AND alll the folks works you see here and some who ya dont get to see yet!


    7. Eric Chadwick on June 3, 2013 at 8:49 pm

      From the zip you sent, there were too many great shots to choose from, so hard to winnow it down. We demand a proper art dump! It's not like you guys are busy or anything, right? ;)


    8. vcortis on June 3, 2013 at 8:50 pm

      Great stuff, proud of this team… and especially our tech guys. Love these tools!


    9. beezul on June 3, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      we are workin on it Eric XD been trying to squeeze some work out for awhile now :D sooooon


    10. NyneDown on June 3, 2013 at 9:24 pm

      This game looks freakin' awesome man. Would love to see a big phat huge art dump ;-)


    11. Dubzski on June 3, 2013 at 10:34 pm

      Brilliant article, really interesting read! Thanks for sharing. Can't wait for this game =D.


    12. eazy on June 3, 2013 at 10:37 pm

      This artwork is everything I aspire to and more!


    13. Screwonhed on June 3, 2013 at 11:13 pm

      This stuff always looks great and I'm glad Polycount set this interview up! Paul Poff Pistol Variants! thought i didnt notice did you?


    14. jmiles on June 3, 2013 at 11:17 pm

      shit that's good


    15. EiGHT on June 3, 2013 at 11:19 pm

      Fffffffuck yes!@#@!##


    16. moof on June 3, 2013 at 11:37 pm

      this game looks amazing. The art is top notch; congrats to everyone on the team, it's really fucking awesome, can't wait to try out the game :D


    17. Brandon Kern on June 3, 2013 at 11:51 pm

      Wow this is awesome. I actually really really want to try the game just for the art and animation alone. Ridiculous!


    18. POFFINGTON on June 3, 2013 at 11:58 pm

      @Screwonhed ohhh youuu! Thanks brotha!


    19. Heart_Murmur on June 4, 2013 at 12:31 am

      Oh man that middle blue sword is sweet.


    20. Torch on June 4, 2013 at 1:32 am

      Oh my god… too awesome XO *explodes*


    21. Desperad0 on June 4, 2013 at 3:26 am

      YES! Softimage!!! Finally a game studio that's using Softimage! My education has hope of actual usage now!

      pleasetakemeilldoanythingO_O


    22. chaosblade on June 4, 2013 at 3:53 am

      Great interview! The game looks amazing, definately going give it try. And really cool to know they use XSI :)


    23. Mathew O on June 4, 2013 at 5:26 am

      Looks great, I can't wait to play it. I'm sure I'll just stand and stare at trees and such for the first hour or two, the art looks really polished. :)


    24. Jeff Parrott on June 4, 2013 at 5:52 am

      The game looks awesome. Can't wait. Awesome job on the art everyone! Looks gorgeous.


    25. Skamberin on June 4, 2013 at 1:45 pm

      Oh damn this is some sexy stuff!
      Love the approach and how they handle the artistic tech, would love some insight into the numbers too though, such as how the netcode works but that's for another forum!
      Those swords definitely made picking the Warrior class even easier ;)
      Now I'll patiently wait and pray for a beta key, good luck Carbine!


    26. Adams on June 4, 2013 at 1:58 pm

      Amazing… I like the interview, very cool the art and looks like a good team :D


    27. stabbington on June 4, 2013 at 3:44 pm

      Great interview, really inspiring work! I was itching to see more art for this and didn't expect so much behind the scenes info so soon. Keep up the amazing work guys!


    28. pearlzu on June 4, 2013 at 4:11 pm

      Great share! The animation info was a good read. :) Can't wait for this game!



    29. Orb on June 5, 2013 at 11:14 pm

      Love the "ratchet and clank" vibe..inspiring!
      (wtf with those Orb avatars btw >>)


    30. Sweetangel0467 on June 6, 2013 at 9:15 am

      Love it! That art style is so awesome :D This would be my dream job ^^


    31. ZeroCartin on June 9, 2013 at 2:10 am

      I am in LOVE with the art style!!!


    32. minorthreat on June 10, 2013 at 3:56 am

      Incredible inspiration, I can't wait to start sculpting away a descent dev team like this in the somewhat near future.


    33. Desperad0 on June 10, 2013 at 9:00 am

      I've been going about all upside down… thanks for sharing this!