A Few More Glimpses

Former 38 team members have been posting more work-in-progress assets, and I wanted to honor the team’s efforts by passing them along. It should be noted that I’m only linking this material–some of the coverage of my last post made it sound like I’m the one releasing them, which is not the case.

The first video shows off Jottunhessen, seat of power of the Amaranthine. It was built upon the ruins of the Kollossae floating city of Pelios, which was brought down through the combined efforts of the Dokkalfar, Jottun, and Tyrgash about a hundred years before the start of the MMO. This event would cause the collapse of the Hyperian Empire and usher in the Age of Heroes. The city retains elements of Kollossae architecture, but was deliberately perverted as a way to remind the haughty giants that they were brought low thanks to the manipulation of the dark elves. (How’s that for a lorebomb?)

The first video shows the city as it was originally built, but we found that it exceeded our performance budgets and made the client engineers’ heads explode. An optimization pass had to be made, which is what the second video captures. This kind of rework is a reality of game design, especially when your engine is still being optimized along with the art. The lessons learned here saved us a lot of time on subsequent cities, such as Valiance.

I wanted to call out one of our philosophies in world design: if you could see a point of interest in the distance, we wanted you to be able to get to it. If you notice the huge spire hanging over Jottunhessen, that was the ruling seat of the dark elves and you could make your way up into that tower for an awesome view of not just the city, but of surrounding zones. You could jump out a window in the spire, and if you lined up your jump correctly, land in the Well of Souls that was positioned below. That was a ton of fun to do!

Again, please understand that these are artist-created milestone review videos intended only for the team, and should not be thought of as trailers or something that was meant to show off to an outside audience.

One of our composers has also posted some samples of the excellent music he wrote for the project. We had some great music written for the game, and this is just a taste of what had been recorded over the years. We believed that music and sound effects were every bit as important for storytelling as art or design, and I was always delighted by how seriously our audio team took that philosophy to heart. They really sought to understand the story and world we were crafting, and were regularly running their work past me and others to make sure that what they put together matched the tone of the zones and the races who inhabited them.

I hope you enjoy these bits of beauty as much as I do.

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