On the latest episode of Guild Chat, host Rubi Bayer was joined by Creature Artist Ronald Kury, Lead Narrative Designer Ross Beeley, and Game Designer Keaven Freeman to discuss how they designed the baby dragon, Aurene.
Work on Aurene’s design began in earnest at the end of Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™ development. Ross knew they’d need a good payoff for the mystery of Glint’s egg, which played a major role in the story. The egg was going to hatch, so who would players meet when it did? Glint was a crystal dragon, like Kralkatorrik, but the egg absorbed a lot of Mordremoth’s energy. That’s a lot to put in a very small package!
It wouldn’t do to use a wyvern rig for Aurene’s model, because wyverns’ batlike wing membranes are attached to their arms, and dragons have four feet with wings as individual appendages. Ronald said it would be difficult to justify creating a unique rig for a single creature, so a full-sized adult dragon rig was made and then scaled down to suit Aurene.
Aurene’s model takes inspiration from crystal dragons like her mother, but her head shape and rough-bark skin texture are modeled after Mordremoth. The team wanted her to look cute, especially since babies can’t talk—without dialogue, Aurene’s appearance plays a huge role in communicating her character to the player.
Because it’s so important for Aurene to express herself so the commander can bond with her, Keaven said they asked Animator Chuck Jackman for a short animation sequence for Aurene to perform when she’s happy. He made Aurene pat her feet on the ground, which everyone on the team loved.
The audio team was asked to provide sounds Aurene could use to communicate a range of emotions. Once Ross and the narrative team heard how expressive the noises were, they went back to the story and wrote in more opportunities for her to “talk” to the player.
If you missed the episode, check out a recording below!