Mats Persson, Creative Director
Mats here. Erik was supposed to write this entry, however he's been ill for the last couple of days so I'll simply hijack it. He had prepared for the blog by sending me a couple of his creature models which I cut together into a small show reel. And although he’s not here now, I’ll publish it anyway to be able to show you a few pieces of his work.
Erik has been with us from the start as a modeler/texture artist, and he’s made the vast majority of organic models in the game. That includes beasts, creatures, characters, and some really epic stuff you haven't seen yet - but he’s also been working with armors, weapons, architecture, terrain, props, particles, materials and some of the graphical mechanics behind some of the visuals like the armor system, weather and so on. In short, Erik is a Swiss army knife when it comes to graphics, and a very fast one at that.
The main reason why I want to show you the "Original Models" reel is because a lot of Erik's talent and time spent on the graphics aren't really noticeable in the game. At least not yet. Some of the stuff actually looks crude in-game, and that goes for a lot of the other content produced at SV as well. The main reason for this is that a non-instanced, fully open and streaming world means we have to set very hard limits on the graphics - especially textures. This means that the game is in no way comparable to for instance single- or multiplayer games, not even the majority of MMO's out there. I often feel sorry for our artists who are producing brilliant stuff, which then has to be down-scaled to work in the game. That said, we will be working hard on more scalable graphics settings and optimizing content. This way, at least those of you with high performance machines will be able to experience MO in its full glory.
As I said above Erik is listed as our Creature Artist (although he's definitely not limited to that). The actual production pipeline often starts with me coming up with various ideas and entities connected to the lore. I then collect a lot of reference images, which I then send to Hannu or directly to Erik depending on the type of entity. Hannu is our concept artist, and he turns my rather jumbled or seemingly incoherent references and ideas into concrete concepts, usually as various proposals. Most often these concepts are very rough sketches (not the fancy stuff presented as "concept art"), and they are used to check if an idea works at all, and how to make it fit the MO setting. Erik is often doing this sketching directly in 3D, again it's depending on the entity.
It doesn’t matter that we've worked together for several years now; I am always amazed when I look at Eriks final realizations of my ideas. He has a great sense of anatomy, proportions and style - and he is geared towards believability in a way that makes ideas that could have resulted in "fantastic" or "laughable" creations in the hands of a less skilled artist turn out as perfectly plausible beings of flesh and blood. Or in this case, polygon shells. Seeing them in game is another thing though, and one could argue that “if you are that limited by technology, why go for such a difficult art style as realism, why not make it more cartoonish as that is way more forgiving and would look smoother?”. And although I definitely think that’s a valid argument, I am personally rather fed-up with the streamlined art style of the majority of MMO’s out there. It simply doesn’t feel right to render the harsh world of Nave in that way. Not to mention I think it’s just a matter of time before we are able to up the quality of the graphics in game – and when we do that, the bulk of the work will have already been done.
It is too bad Erik isn’t here to share his own thoughts regarding his work. I’ll make sure he gets the opportunity to do it on another occasion. Enjoy the reel!