Star Wars the Old Republic, the ambitious MMO set in a pre-Vader universe has had fans giddy with excitement since the day it was officially announced.‚ Details on the project have been released on a weekly basis brimming full of hype and expectation.‚ Some over-excited fans are crying out for a release date or a time frame, but every sign points to a date far, far away.‚ The amount of content BioWare is creating is gargantuan and greater than the amount found in both Knights of the Old Republic titles combined.
Ever wonder how that content is created?‚ How the vast and dynamic world is assembled, from an artistic standpoint?‚ Well, a recent entry on The Old Republic blog, written by Alex Thomas, Senior Environment Artist on the title explains the methodology behind environment creation.‚ The entry is appealing even to me, someone with the artistic proficiency of an 8 year old.
The entry highlights the creation of the polluted world of Hutta.‚ Interestingly, concept art was based on the many swamps found in Florida.‚ Log that fact away for some killer trivia points when the game finally releases.
The entry does not skimp on detail as Alex eloquently describes the creation of Hutta:
“When we began work on Hutta, we knew it was supposed to be a polluted, filthy sewer of a planet, just like the Hutts would like it. Without any movie reference, we gathered a wide variety of real life photos of swamps and wetlands, taking note of common themes and basic shapes that come up again and again, like hanging moss, thin trees and ankle-deep water.”
The article continues to explain the environmental design of Hutta as Alex notes the “unique challenges” a swampy planet contains.‚ He notes how swamps are naturally flat but in terms of gameplay, such a swamp would be quite dull, and having steep hills of swamp would make no sense either.‚ The team of artists found themselves at an impasse until a solution was found in the creation of large metal shoring props. ‚ These props were essential to shaping the mud at different heights thus creating “corroded metal walls with swamp muck oozing out from the cracks.”‚ Sounds like Hutta to me.
The Old Republic will be laden with content upon release.‚ However creating a planet is no easy task and the many planets that make up the universe can take four to eight months, depending on the sheer size of playable terrain, for the team of three to four environmental artists to complete.
As much as I would love to play The Old Republic tomorrow, I would much rather see a content rich, environmentally beautiful universe to explore and interact with.‚ BioWare, take your time, if you build it, they will come.‚ Indeed we will.
Read the full, very detailed blog post here.