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This IRC Q&A features Rift's Lead Environment Artist, Brian Clarke.


  • Abigale: Lots of you have been asking to talk to an artist. Brian is looking forward to chatting with you. Hope you've been submitting lots of questions! :)
  • Abigale: I was playing again last night and HATING that there weren't more people round. I cannot wait for Beta either! :)
  • Abigale: I played a warrior for a couple of levels. But not much yet. That's my next class I want to try out ;)


  • Braen Have you played an Assassin yet Abi?
  • Abigale: Haven't played assasin yet, Braen. There are still a lot of souls I haven't tried yet


  • Abigale: Ok, folks... Brian is getting ready to log in. He's going to tell you a little about what he does here. Then he will answer questions :)
  • Abigale: Welcome Brian. Thanks for joining us today! :)
  • BClarke: Hi everyone!
  • BClarke: Sure guys I'm glad to be here
  • BClarke: So if nothing has really been said about me yet I’m the Lead Environment Artists on Rift: Planes of Telara. My job is basically building the game world. I create the zones the player runs around in. I also do things like lighting, sky, mood, and scenery. Most recently though I have been in charge of the visual look of the rifts in our game. I also work closely with designers for dungeon design and game play.


  • Maxxy-HD asks: What 3d application do you use for the artwork on the game?
  • BClarke: We use Maya as well as Zbrush for creating high resolution models and normal maps


  • Meson asks: What was the most challenging environment to create?
  • BClarke: I would say the shadowlands so far. It’s been a fun challenged try and define a place beyond death. It’s gone through a ton of iterations and being the start area there is a lot of pressure to look amazing and play well to hook the player.


  • Draegan asks: Are the tools for Rift any different than the tools you've used in other games? If so, how?
  • BClarke: Not particularly, most games share a very common ground with the base tools that are used to create art. There are some aspects to get used to of certain in-house tools but especially in MMOs the tools have a lot of similarities.


  • squid808 asks: Could you talk a little bit about the ranges of environments we can expect to encounter in Rift and which one of those excites you the most?
  • BClarke: In the game world you will experience at ton of different looks as you travel through Telara.
  • BClarke: Anywhere from desert lands in the south to snow covered peaks in the north and everything in between has a unique spin on a realistic look to create some very beautiful and compelling world locations.
  • BClarke: This is honestly one of the most pretty games I’ve worked on and the addition of rifts invading this land really sell the impact for something great and that would actually probably be the most exciting part. The entire world is spectacular but the idea that it can change at a moment is very cool to me.


  • Draegan asks: What is your greatest challenging when dealing with dynamic content changing the world?
  • BClarke: I would have to say making it blend well in the world. These planar incursions are supposed to feel foreign and deadly but they can’t look out of place with the game itself.
  • BClarke: So creating something that can randomly appear over the world you’ve created already can be a tough task to make it still look good.
  • BClarke: That being said, it has been a tough journey but we are really creating some amazing work that blends well into the game world we have created already. Any time we want to do more with dynamic content we bring more challenges to the table, but they are very fun to deal with and make a great game.


  • Elethor asks: Do you find yourself using some of the same sort of enviroments over again?
  • BClarke: Never, there are areas of the game like the desert areas that are influenced by the same climate type but we want the game to stay interesting and involved.
  • BClarke: yeah hang in there with me guys I tried to answer as many as I could before hand too to give you what you want :D


  • Meson asks: How much does the environment vary? Do we go from plains to volcanoes to forests?
  • BClarke: You will travel to other areas with very different looks but we don’t want to create a world that is jarring in how different they are from crossing over a small patch of land. You will see a ton of different and interesting sights but you won’t feel like you’ve suddenly teleported into another land instantly.


  • squid808 asks: Brian, what will set the visuals in this game apart from all of the other MMOs out there? Sometimes is you've seen one magic effect you've seen them all.
  • BClarke: First thing that sets us apart obviously is the quality of graphics. Though most games are getting to a high graphic bar MMOs tend to lag behind. With our game we want to push and bring you visuals you would normally only see in FPS or console games. We use this technology to try and create awesome visuals (rifts being some of the more intricate)


  • Elethor asks: Where do you draw inspiration from when creating new eniroments? Is it all from your imagination, or do you draw on real world places for guidance?
  • BClarke: We pull a lot of what we do from concept artist but that only covers a small snap shot of the world at a time. When creating a world I’m normally pulling from my own experiences in video games and the real world. Mostly just working with what I feel would be pleasing to see. I find a lot of fantasy inspiration from movies and books though.


  • aborath asks: Have any of the environments been especially fun to design, from a creative standpoint, because of their strangeness (other than the rifts themselves)?
  • BClarke: Totally. While we are trying to keep within a relatable realistic look it’s fun to push into unexplored areas. There are some places in the game that have some very interesting and crazy looks to them.
  • BClarke: I love working on the more crazy areas


  • Maxxy-HD asks: Will be able to actually climb a mountain if we see one in game? Swim?
  • BClarke: Yes. I really hate the idea of invisible walls in an "open" world. There are some places where you may simply not be able to climb but those are rare. I am a huge fan of being able to explore so I wanted to make sure that if you see a place. You can get there.


  • Ciovala asks: How challenging is it taking concept art and creating it in-game?
  • BClarke: Some times its very easy. But the most challenging are the most interesting. Sometimes we receive a concept piece that we simply can’t pull off with our tech. But (and this is the beauty of Rift and our team) we will often push for new tech to be able to achieve the looks given from concept.


  • Maxxy-HD asks: The graphics look great, how much will this impact a older computer system?
  • BClarke: Obviously as games progress the need to update gets higher. BUT! We are constantly working to make the game work on older machines. We don’t want to single someone out because they couldn’t get a better machine. Obviously some graphic abilities will be lost with lower settings but I am amazed by how much of the original look we try to deliver on even our lowest settings. The game will be made to run on older machines.


  • anagain asks: can we see for miles and miles when we've climbed mountains? Dependent on machine of course.
  • BClarke: If you have a machine that will support the higher settings you will be able to see very far. We are constantly working on performance and better ways to allow for even further viewing distances. We want the game to be jaw dropping in more ways than one.
  • Abigale: My jaw has dropped several times already ;)


  • Thekk_HeroicDead asks: What kind of effects are going to be in the World? aka moving grass and tree's, ect.
  • BClarke: We want to create a world the player can get lost in. Yes it does include moving grass and swaying trees but we are taking steps constantly to add more and more life into our world.


  • Lanes asks: Are there any places with fauna in the area aside from the normal enemy mobs? Birds in the sky as an example.
  • BClarke: Yes there are ambient creatures too. This is akin to the previous question in some ways. We want the player to be IN Telara this means we need to take the extra steps and care to create a world that does that.


  • Elethor asks: We've seen the Deepstrike Mines screenshots, aside from that what sort of enviroments might we see in Rift's dungeons?
  • BClarke: You will see all sorts of crazy things! I’ve helped design all of them so I know there are going to be some great things to enjoy. Exterior and interior that cover all areas of our unique lore. I wish I could tell you more but they probably want to unveil them in time ;)


  • Kalbuir asks: TRION & RIft aside, is there anything (world related) you would love to build one day as an envoirement artist?
  • BClarke: I am a huge fan of dark and gritty. I would love to build something out of this world that was something sort of twisted and broke the laws of physics as well as be creepy!


  • XApothX asks: as some who enjoys creepy and maybe twisted zone designs, is there anything i can look forward to =)
  • BClarke: Hehe perfect. Without a doubt the death rifts (my favorite) but outside of rifts the world has a lot of interesting dark things to offer. We want to appeal to all audiences but there is something in it for you too. ;)


  • Braen asks: is there a limit to how big a rift can grow?
  • BClarke: Yes in some ways, no in others. A specific rift event only grows to a certain size (this may vary depending on how they play in testing) but in addition to that planar incursions can go beyond a rift event and actually travel over the lands and destroy other areas as well as other rift types. That’s all I can say though ;)


  • aborath asks: Are their going to be hidden areas or easter eggs tucked away in far-flung corners of the world as a reward to those more exploration minded?
  • BClarke: Most definitely. Like I said I am a huge fan of exploring so I want to give that to the player. So are the designers on our team. There will be cool places to see and things to find.


  • Braen asks: if an animal/mob is walking in a area where a rift opens, does that animal/mob get "corrupted" and take a different appearance?
  • BClarke: Yes. Any person or thing minding its own business in Telara can have a rift open over it and if it gets too close it will become planar touched. It’s pretty sweet.


  • Maxxy-HD asks: do you design any of the armor, or just environment only?
  • BClarke: Only environments. We have a very open work environment though where anyone can openly comment on anything. So all team members can influence look.


  • Kara asks: So far, Trion seems to have been only hiring senior staff for the art department, will there be any intern or junior positions in that department in the future?
  • BClarke: In the future who knows. We are still a startup, but a very strong startup. We hire only senior staff for this project because we want to deliver the best product we can. But with that , I hope with a successful game we open new doors for people looking to break into the industry.

Thanks to Replay IRC! Raw logs here.

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