WildStar art style developed

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?
WildStar Stalker
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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