An eye for detail

Today’s newest blogpost from Arenanet was about environmental artists, and the work that they do for Guild Wars 2. I love reading the Anet blog posts, because it’s quite neat seeing these little glimpses into the behind-the-scenes work that’s being done on GW2. Also, as an artist, I love the bits of concept art and game screenshots that tend to be displayed in these posts; I also find it quite intriguing to see how artists that specialize in a different part of the field work.

The main thing that this particular post made clear, and that I especially love, is that the artists working on the environments in GW2 are working very hard on the little details. Guild Wars had lots of detail in the environments, but as noted in the article, it was possible to ‘cheat’ with that, since there were areas that were initially not accessible to players (and I recall a couple of areas playing through War in Kryta that were obviously not originally intended to be seen close up; usually low-res textures that look fine at a distance but not when you’re standing in front of it). As Peter noted, though, “there are few parts of this new game world that are inaccessible”. The examples he said of what players would do made me giggle (jumping the counter to go sneak into the backroom of a bar, for one), but he’s absolutely correct that players are going to want to explore every bit of the world that we can.

I like how it describes the process of creating the environments; first blocking in the major stuff (cliffs, rivers, towns), and then going back to add in the smaller details. What started out as just a large block next to a road would become a house, a shop, a smithy. Shop stalls would have items on the shelves. A home might have a garden with a cat lazing about. A smithy would have a fire going in the forge. There’d be plants, grass, and trees all over. In other words – it’d have the same things you’d notice about a place in real life.

Of course, it’s not just as simple as putting props into place wherever they please. The environment artists need to keep in mind the tech limits they have to work within, as well as trying to match the concept artists’ visions. The bit about Daniel Dociu furiously sketching on a napkin made me laugh, I will definitely admit. The fact that basically no area is exempt from being redone if needed I also quite liked; the human starting area, Queensdale, has been redone over 700 times. It’s been revised forty times since the demos at PAX and GamesCom last year. I have to wonder, just how many other development teams can make that sort of claim? That they’re so dedicated to having everything work and look so perfect that they’ll redo it hundreds of times before it’s right? Somehow I doubt it’s really that many.

My boyfriend’s response to that blog post, as an aspiring game designer, was “I seriously want to work for them so much. Every art or design post they make perfectly matches my ideals.” I know that I certainly can’t wait to go and explore every last inch of the continent – and I also know that I won’t be the only one doing so.


Defeat ALL the things!

So, I was originally going to do a post about Charr week that was last week, but…I think there’s going to be enough blogs covering that right now. Plus I’m more interested in the Sylvari anyway and am waiting for their turn in the spotlight.

So, I recently (in the past few days) finished up my Canthan Vanquisher title. I actually did the last eight areas in two days, which is a lot for me – especially considering that last week was one of the most exhausting and stressful workweeks I’ve had outside of the holidays, and I did half of that after coming home from nine hours of trying to not scream. Yeah.

Now, I definitely take my time with these things. I started vanquishing…oh, I don’t even remember when. Quite a while ago…I’d say probably nearly a year ago? I did Elona first, finishing it somewhere around Christmas, I think, and then turned my eye to slowly working my way through Cantha. My problem is my attention span. I can’t grind my way through a ton of stuff quickly like that. The thought of vanquishing Tyria makes me cringe, because there’s just so much there. So many areas, and so many a pain to get to. I’ve gotten about twelve done there so far, and those were all thanks to the Zaishen Vanquish quests. I’m not even a quarter of the way through it.

Not only that, but sometimes I just want to do something else. I took a break from vanquishing to run my Paragon through EOTN so I could get Deldrimor armor for her. I spent a fair amount of time in Kamadan buying the sweets, alcohol, and party stuff needed for those titles. I played around on my other characters a bit. All of these things were to refresh my mind so I could go “Okay. I want to get this areas done today if possible”, and actually be able to stick to it. Because vanquishing is definitely a daunting task – almost all of the titles are. One of my friends has managed, in the time that I’ve done two vanquish titles, get Legendary Vanquisher, Guardian, and Skill Hunter. I can’t even imagine finishing all of that. I’ve been ‘working’ on Cartographer for ages, and while all three continents are at about 96%…the thought of going back over every area (which for Prophecies means redoing missions – just kill me now) to scrape for those last little bits is just mind-numbing to me. I still can’t get Masters on Eternal Grove in NM, let alone HM, so Guardian is right out. Skill Hunter…blech. Random boss spawns in Prophecies means that’s right out, because I know I’d get bored and irritated far too quickly trying to get the right boss to spawn.

So, then, what can I do? At this point, I may as well vanquish Tyria and finish that up, since I did start it and am about a quarter of the way through. The real question is, though, what to do past that? I kind of have it in my mind to do Treasure Hunter/Wisdom, and see how high I can get Lucky/Unlucky at the same time. It’s kind of odd that I want to do those, since they’d require far  more grind than most every other title I could do…but at the same time, I can do them at the same time as other things. I’m rank 3 Treasure Hunter and Wisdom, as well as rank 2 Lucky and Unlucky, just from opening every chest I’ve come across while playing and vanquishing. Yes, I’ve done some chestrunning, but that only accounts for about 30 of the ~550 chests I’ve opened. I did a bit of Golden Egg farming, but I don’t have the patience to farm much, and have only gotten about 50 of those. I didn’t really waste time or money on Nine Rings, because I’d rather actually play than go afk. The fact that those titles are account-wide also is nice; stuff I do on other characters helps with this as well.

My friend presented the idea of doing Legendary Master of the North to me the other day. I may just get suckered into doing that one…am I insane? Only time will tell. Right now, I think if I hit 15 titles, I will be amazed. But hey, it certainly gives me something to at least to attempt to work towards.

And one of these days, I will defeat you, Eternal Grove, and get my Protector of Cantha title! Grrrr.

Welcome to the Grove

Since I spend far too much time talking about Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 these days (what a surprise), I’ve started up a blog where I can write down these musings instead of rambling at friends of mine who aren’t really all that interested in the games. Silly them, but that’s their loss!

I know that Guild Wars is largely considered a dying game, and most people are just looking forward to GW2, but I happen to disagree with that. I play GW avidly, and only in the past half a year have really started doing any work on titles. And even that I’m going slowly through. But hey, it’s something, right? I also tend to hop between characters (having one of each profession fully leveled up), so that once I finish something on my main, I can jump over to someone else for a bit of a change of pace.

Of course, I am looking forward to GW2 quite a bit, myself! I’m especially interested in what the remaining professions are going to be. I’m holding out on the fact that one is going to be Mesmer, and they just need to actually announce. I love Mesmers, and I intend to play one as my main for GW2. Of the races, the Sylvari are my favorite by far, so I can’t wait to see Sylvari Week.

And of course there’s tons of other stuff I talk about. I like to ramble, after all.