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DESIGNER DIARY > Expanding on a Concept
PUBLISHED: October 1, 2007
This was originally published on the official Star
Trek Online website.
Entry 3.0 -
"Expanding on a Concept"
Stardate 61215.0 (October 1, 2007)
Welcome back to the STO DevLog, a
recurring glimpse into the planning, plotting and production of Star
Trek Online, the game so big it takes half the galaxy to tell it.
For this installment we'd like to mix things up a bit. For the past
couple of months we've closed out the DevLog with stunning pieces of
concept art, showing off the elite skills of our concept team.
This time around, we'd like to start with
one of these boffo images, and take everyone on a whirlwind tour of how
they're broken into increasingly tiny pieces.
Let's start with the snazzy "Vulcan Village" concept by Ryan Dening that
we shared in last months' DevLog:
That's darned pretty, but if we're
going to build more than one Vulcan-style village in Star Trek Online
(and we are), this beautiful drawing will have to be broken down into
its component parts, so that our modelers and texture artists can create
dozens of bits and pieces that can be easily be re-assembled into a
nigh-infinite variety of combinations. This process is usually handed
off to a member of the concept team, who has "ownership" of the concept
As an example, consider the building in the lower left of the village.
After some discussion with the design team, it was decided that this
might be a good all-purpose library (Vulcans are big on stores of
knowledge, and we tentatively plan on using Vulcan-themed libraries at
various points throughout the game). Armed with this decision, the
concept artist gets cracking on sketches that attempt to show the
library from a useful prespective, adjusting its scale for the realities
of MMO play (in MMOs paths and doorways are almost inevitably bigger
than they would be in "real life"). Eventually, we arrive at an exterior
drawing that looks a bit like this:
During this phase, the concept
artist begins to rationalize the individual pieces of the architecture
(walls sections, fences, pavement, etc.), suggesting ways that modelers
and texture artists can create modular components.
Soon afterwards, the artist uses the same approach with the interior of
the building, creating this complimentary piece:
Once again, it's interesting to
note the scale of this library. Even though this is an "everyday"
building to be used in quiet little villages, its doorways have been
widened and its floor space has been enlarged to accommodate the
possibility that dozens of STO players could be striding into the
library looking for information, missions, or irraditated sehlats.
Once we're happy with the basic exteriors and interiors for the
structures, the concept team gets down to the nitty-gritty, and begins
drawing up the dozens of individual props that will be used to decorate
the buildings (and all their variants). Here's just a small sampling of
the "Colonial Vulcan" sketches generated by our team in an effort to
give us a great big pile of props:
As prop concepts are approved,
they're handed off to texture artists and modelers, who transform them
into actual game objects...but that's a topic for another DevLog, and
we're running a bit long as it is (shucks).
Be sure to join us next time on the DevLog for more dollops of
developmental diversions from the Star Trek Online team.
But wait! I bet you thought that this month's emphasis on concept art
meant that we'd leave you without our "STO Artwork of the Moment"
picture, didn't you? Heaven forfend! Here's a fun piece of work from our
very own Ocala Bellows:
Oh noes! We're DoooOOOOoooomed!
Happy Federation Day,
PS Thanks to Greg, Ryan, and, Binky, for getting this installment of the
DevLog together in the midst of a milestone crunch.
Mike Stemmle is the Star Trek Online's Story Lead. He is a great admirer
of Commodore Decker's "five-day bender" stubble.