Friday, August 26, 2011

I have a new home

I'm very proud to announce that starting on August the 29th I'll be working on Halo at 343 studios as a Technical Environment Artist. I'll be working under contract through Filter.

My job description is a shoe in for me as a former lead as it fits my former duties minus the management side of things.

Technical Environment - Job Description
Character, Weapon & Vehicle Technical Artist responsible for performance, optimization, and maintaining walkthrough of assets to run time environment. Responsibilities include checking daily builds, reporting issues back to the team and working closely with Devs, Designers and Artists to maintain Character, Weapon, & Vehicle assets and provide quality assurance as well as generating and amending assets, textures and materials for run time.

I'm trying to be humble but holy cow, Halo!

Wish me luck,


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Environment, EverQuest II Qeynos South

South Qeynos, one of the five large sections of the city of Qeynos. I have so many stories with this section but I'm going to try to keep it to the point. If you have any questions please let me know. I love talking about this work.

Mage tower, very tall tower in the back, was built using Fibonacci numbers, mental images of the white tower for the Aes Sedai and a bit of Draculas exterior tower from NES Castlevania. I added a secret gate behind it under the water that was never used for anything.

The initial city contained scaffolding on the buildings for players to climb and jump from roof to roof. This was pulled out due to players seeing too much and causing the frame rate to drop way too low.

The wall that splits the mage tower from the rest of South Qeynos was also a last minute addition to help with frame rate.

Harry Potter audio tapes was playing non stop on this section of the city.

Every buildings foundation has a brick coping section beveled with the grout meticulously lining up with the terrain.

All the windows flicker on at different times in the evening as if someone is walking through the building turning on the lights.

Every section of Qeynos had a mental theme for me gleamed from early design docs.

Cliff notes, original Qeynos is destroyed by part of one of Noraths moons crashing into Antonica. The Jaggedpines elf's help the humans rebuild the city. In my mind the humans and elf's work together, this is reflected in all areas of Qeynos.

  • Elddar Grove - Jaggedpine elfs all the way, built on top of the ruins of the original city of Qeynos, one to one by the way. Look for Fippys message ;)
  • North Qeynos - Humans and Jaggedpine elfs merge. Take a close look at the main stain glass window on the castle front.
  • South Qeynos - More human then elf but the park like feel is still present.
  • Qeynos Harbor - All human.

South Qeynos was probably the most labor intensive section but it is also my personal favorite.

Responsible for, design/layout, a few exterior buildings, all terrain geo/uv, exterior lighting, main prop placement and particle placement.

Environment, EverQuest II Qeynos Nettleville Hovel

Nettleville Hovel one of the six Qeynos starting areas.

Fun fact, the racial starting areas and adventure yards were not part of the original design for Qeynos and Freeport. When we first started internal alpha testing code quickly discovered tanking frame rates due to the amount of shaders being loaded. The theory was to break up the new players into separate starting areas and initial adventure yards. Sounds like a good fix right? Unfortunately adding the starting hovels and adventure yards wasn't much of a fix. Instead of having hundreds of players spread out over a large area we now had hundreds of players gathered in small hovels and adventures yards causing even more shaders to be loaded into memory. Large areas like Antonica handled many more players and mobs easier due to the way everyone was spread out. This issue was quickly resolved though by adding instances once the load got too high in a zone.

Long story short the starting areas and adventures yards were some of the last minute zones created for the launch of EverQuest II.

When adding in the new zones I focused very hard on ensuring a logical line up to the initial layout of the city. I'm very proud of how well these hooked into the flow of Qeynos as if they have always been planned.

Nettleville Hovle, is essentially a mirrored version of its neighboring area Starcrest Commune. This allowed us to get these in quickly and then add detail to make them feel unique.

You can also notice how much I love height changes in my work with these two areas.

Responsible for, design/layout, exterior lighting, created all geo/uv except center buildings and the majority of exterior prop placement.

Environment, EverQuest II Qeynos Strangely pet shop

Good old qey_p26_strangely. As with the majority of our design documents for the city of Qeynos p26_strangely was simply described as, pet shop. Well it had a bit more then that in the document but not too much more. When working on South Qeynos I listened to the Harry Potter series over and over again up to book 5. When I saw the pet store on the design document I immediately saw Harry at Diagon Alley picking up Hedwig in the pet store. From that mental image I went with orderly chaos, all the beams are twisted and things are a bit more off and magical in appearance. The interior geometry was relatively simple as I wanted to have cages hanging and placed everywhere to get the look and feel I was going for. Strangelys was one of the few buildings that came together as I initially pictured it in my mind. Still a fun place to visit while in South Qeynos.

One last tidbit, you'll notice on the exterior shot of the building a vertical cut going down the far right side of the building. You can also see a horizontal cut on the tower. During the last few months of production we needed to gain a few more frame per second within South Qeynos. To accomplish this I diligently cut the city up into a grid. The cut sections could now drop out even sooner then before to gain a few more frames per second.

Environment, EverQuest II Qeynos Trade skill

I Need to create a short cut for this statement, "Everything must tell a story". When I started on the Qeynos trade skill center I went straight to Disneyland and its themed areas for inspiration. Every section should tell a story on what is crafted in that area. Break down, tailor in center common area, spell craft in the posh library room. Potion area had a bit of an accident resulting with a hole in the ceiling and magically twisting the room, I personally blamed the gnomes. Armor crafting is found in the bedrock. I also make these distinctions to help with player navigation. At all times in these maze like buildings you should have a good idea of where you are. Nothing to me as a player is more frustrating then immediately getting lost in identical looking rooms.

When this area first went to QA I got one of my favorite bugs. Basically it was a detailed write up with pictures and diagrams, on how the potion crafting room was twisted. Not a bug, those pesky gnomes I tell you.

Responsible for, design/layout, geo construction/uv, some prop placement and lighting.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Environment, EverQuest II Qeynos Stables

I had a lot of fun putting the stables together. As with all of my work I try to tell a story in every triangle and pixel. In these stables I created a way to hang out at the top hay loft, look for barrels that you can jump up to and then climb across the beams.

EverQuest II environment assets could have up to four UV sets to manage. In these images you can see 0, color and 1 dirt map. The 3rd UV set was mainly used for alpha transitions between different ground materials.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Good news!  I've got a bit of contract work.  It's only a few weeks worth but I'm happy to have it.  We also moved my "office" into a better spot in the house to help with focus.  The previous arrangement wasn't the best, imagine a work place in the middle of Chuck E Cheese.   ...well it wasn't that bad but close at times.  I'll start posting new work again once this contract is complete.