On the latest episode of Guild Chat, Creature Artist Ronald Kury and Animator Brian Walter joined host Rubi Bayer to talk about creature design in the jungle environments of Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™. The creature team is responsible for building Tyria’s wide array of fauna, from pocket raptors on up (warning: size doesn’t always correspond to threat level).
The creature creation process begins by brainstorming with different teams to determine what will best serve the story and gameplay. From there, concept artists provide designs that the modelers can draw inspiration from. The environment the creature comes from plays a role in determining how it would adapt. Fantastical monsters like the raid boss Gorseval draw from the lore surrounding them; the souls it’s made out of are visible inside it, and its torso is made up of arms and hands.
Brian and Ronald compared creature models to a puppet. The model rig acts much like strings to control it, and the animator is the puppet master. Many different creatures can be built on similar rigs to save time; for example, the mushrooms wandering wild around the Maguuma jungle are built on the rig used for skritt. Since the team has a budget from which to determine how many brand-new creatures can be built from scratch, new rigging is usually reserved for models that have very unique silhouettes, such as wyverns.
Process animations allow the animator to block out the model’s poses and animations, which are then refined. An animator has to take into account both art and design so that a creature’s movements look right and allow it to perform the actions and skills it’s meant to.
If you missed the episode, check out a recording below!