Hello fellow Polycounters,
My name is Jason Stokes and I've been lurking around here for years. I wanted to share some of the work I've done on GuildWars 2 and also explain some of the process. I love the community here and I've learned quite a bit over the years so I figured I should probably start contributing
I was at ArenaNet for about 8 and a half years working mostly on environment art and prototyping some of the more ambitious areas in GuildWars2. Prototyping was our way of pitching big ideas to the game designers by actually having the environments working in the game engine. It was a lot easier to get buy off on these ideas once people saw them working. This process evolved into a weird hybrid of concepting and production and became an integral part of the development process. I worked closely with Daniel Dociu the art director and often times we would start blocking things in the level based from very loose sketches and then refine the concept simultaneously with the asset creation. Because of this paralleled approach the end result evolves quite a bit from the original idea and usually for the better.
I assembled all of the areas below in our editor and created a lot of the core assets. Many people helped and I'll try and give specific credit where appropriate. Also most of these areas have changed in the final game so if you go searching for any specific vistas you'll be out of luck.
Also most of this work is 3-5 years old so please forgive some of the outdated tech.
here is a video portfolio of some of the finished prototypes.
This first batch is an early process breakdown of the Charr architecture and city. Here is a Daniel Dociu concept accompanied by some of the photo ref he used for his piece. The photo reference is usually just as valuable as the concept itself and comes in handy when hes not around to answer questions.
A close up of the finished model. Most of the facade detail was created using layered alpha which is expensive because of the overdraw but is very versatile for creating new ornaments and details on other parts of the building.
a quick breakdown of the textures. Again built with modularity in mind so that the textures can be used throughout the city.
once the materials are defined building variants are quick and easy. usually we would make 3-4 variants per structure.
Another shot of the structure in a test map. Always try and get your assets in the editor as soon as possible even if it's only a grey box for scale. If you're not actually running around and evaluating the prop up close you won't be able to prioritize the assignment correctly.
Here is a quick city layout sketch that Levi Hopkins provided me. He used to be on the prototype team with me before he switched to concept artist so he understands the trenches.
A shot of the DeathSta... I mean Black Citadel
Just rough enough to evaluate scale and silhouette.
Blocking in the basic layout based on Levi's sketch
Here I'm just playing with the few buildings that we have and trying to get interesting clusters by intersecting them.
Here I took my current progress into photoshop and concepted where I'd like to take it. I find this process to be very important because it allows you to step away from the 3-D barriers and think of your environment as an illustration. This is the parallel tie between production and concepting that I mentioned earlier.
Now I start implementing some of the elements from the new concept.
more playing with the structures.
Finished prototype ready to show design and get yelled out.
I have a bunch more break downs that I'll try and post throughout the week. Hope this is of some help.