Art Director Matt Mocarski: It's All About Style

Hi. I'm Matt Mocarski, the Art Director here at Carbine Studios. Today I'm going to talk about the visual direction of the game and when I'm done give you a sneak peek of a still from our debut trailer, which you will see in its full glory at gamescom.

When we started this project, we had a couple goals in mind for the art. We wanted to be sure that we developed something that was iconic and recognizable as a signature of our game. When gamers see our game, we want them to instantly know that it's Carbine's MMO.

So, we started looking at the things out there that have influenced us as artists. Mainly, American and European comics and American and Japanese animation. Across all of these were some recurring themes, such as expressive characters with high-personality, and lush beautiful backgrounds.

We knew we were a future fantasy game - players will see both fantasy and sci-fi elements in our world and our gameplay. We also knew we'd need to be able to tell a huge variety of stories, everything from intense drama to mind-blowing action to humorous tales. There were a few influences that we really focused on. Animated films such as Atlantis, The Secret of Nimh, and Princess Mononoke really nailed the overall look of the style. We know that our game was for adults so we studied shows like Naruto and Full Metal Alchemist to see how they balanced a unique visual style with stories that had both humor and drama. Lastly we looked at comics such as Hellboy, Battle Chasers, and Tank Girl to influence our balance of technology and fantasy.

We decided it would be an exciting challenge to pull off an illustrated look both technically and artistically. More importantly, we were all excited to experience a world like that. So that set us down the right path.

We started with a very unique look to the game. It had an esthetic that was certainly different, but it just wasn't translating to the 3D the way we wanted it to. When we layered on the Tech it took away from the style and ended up looking like a hybrid of games we've all seen before. It wasn't long before we decided to go back to the drawing board.

Our second iteration of the style was a lot more successful than the first. But there was still something missing. Within that iteration there were a few assets that really got the team excited. These were filled with personality and people couldn't stop talking about them. We analyzed what about these particular assets made them so different from the others and decided to do yet another take on the style.

We decided to really embrace our traditional animation influences and push the art further than we ever tried before. Once we did our first proof of concept, we knew we really had something. The team really latched on to the style and we started developing tech to specifically play to its strengths.

We believe our art style has an element that is missing from a lot of games on the market, and that's a sense of fun. I love looking at our art. It tells a story. It screams "Come out and play!" I'm happy when I run around our world. It feels magical - like anything is possible. I often find myself running around the world for hours just to be there.

That pretty much covers the history of our style but as for the style itself, I'd describe it as "hand-crafted." We paint all of our textures from scratch. We try not to use any photo reference in our assets. We make sure everything has a strong silhouette with really strong personality. Everything from a mountain to a chair should be an expression of character whether that's a specific mood or the history of the asset.

I could go on and on about the intricacies of how we craft our assets and the deep, dark secrets of our technology, but I'll save that for a future blog post. For now, keep your eyes on our twitter and Facebook pages! We've got a lot of information to share, and we're looking forward to sharing it!

Thanks for reading!
-Matt