PAX East Art Panel 2018-4-12

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Notes [1]

Day 2 Art Team Panel

  • Steven: I’m joined here by our amazing character team, Mr. Matt Broome, Keith Kovach, and Chris Atkins. These are the men responsible for creating probably what your going to experience as the most amazing looking characters in any MMO you’ve ever played. I think you guys are going to see some pretty cool stuff in the coming months in regards to character creation and armor sets that are going to be flowing out like crazy. Tell them a little bit about the pipeline and schedule.
  • [0:49] Keith Kovach: What you’ve seen in engine right now is mostly test stuff. We haven't really shown you guys our true pipeline and our true armor sets that are coming out. The pipeline that we’re using is hyper realistic. It’s really realistic and in-depth, the way physics will work on the pieces will be like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It’s going to look really good. Coming *soon.
  • Steven: They’re looking really good like Keith said. These being like first pass, early placeholder assets that have been put in for Pre-alpha purposes, so that designers and engineers can get into the world to test different things without looking at greyscale stuff is why we did this first pass.
  • Matt: Just setting up the pipeline, we have to technically make it work, before putting the hotness in there. We’ve done pipelines before, but these are easily the most detailed, complex, customizable characters that I think have ever been done on an MMO by far.
  • Steven: You’ve been Art director on some MMO’s
  • Matt: Yeah, I worked on H1Z1, I was art director character lead on that. I worked on DC Universe online, I was art and visual director on that, character lead on that and Planet Side 2, we broke the record for most characters on a server. We know how to make large scale games with really customizable characters. This destroys that metric. By literally 8x wide the dynamic.
  • Chris: Easily, our polly count limits have gone way up. The level of detail from the geometry has really jumped quite a bit. We’re really pushing the limits of fidelity, especially in an MMO.
  • Steven: Chris tell us a little about your background.
  • Chris: I’ve been doing MMO’s now for 13 years. I’ve done Everquest 1 and 2, Planet Side, DC, passed around Sony helping ship games, a hammer hitting nails has basically been my career.
  • [3:04]Steven: A great thing about being here at PAX, the line is around the booth it’s about a 3.5 hour wait to try out AoC.
  • [Jeffrey comes up to join panel]
  • Steven: We’re talking just a little about how the characters your seeing now are just first pass, placeholder characters, and the real pipeline is getting up and running.
  • Jeffrey: It’s so exciting to see what Matt and the crew are doing.
  • [4:08]Keith: We’re pushing the Engine to it’s limits. We’re using the new tech their getting into the engine as it comes out. The new character armor sets are using the latest from Unreal Engine, which is really something you haven't seen yet.
  • Steven: Combined with our implementation of backend tech to facilitate all of the massive battle and characters that will be on the screen.
  • Matt: Without a doubt. Designers are giving us tools out of the engine that aren’t available in the open marketplace in the engine. The engineers are giving us technology to put all these parts into real time where the designers can control the aesthetics and how players actually use this arm of the game. There’s a lot of stuff we’re doing with past experience in the engine. I cannot stress enough our engineers and designers are letting us do stuff with customization, that I’ve never done before and this is my 7th MMO.
  • Steven: I know that the artists were really excited just a couple of months ago because we brought on a dedicated engineer for some shader support. [Artists yell in excitement]
  • Matt: Eric Kinney, who is our graphic engineer is amazing. I don’t think I’m giving away too much, but just the number of fabrics, metals, and materials your going to have for customization on this game is stunning. Another thing I don’t think will give to much away,
  • [5:29]Matt: We just put together our own skin shader that is completely next generation.
  • Steven: That shader, coupled with the lighting changes we just implemented.
  • Chris: It’s constantly looking better. I’m so impressed with this team. This project has been great. Being here has really rejuvenated me. We’re getting some positive feedback, it’s really amazing.
  • Jeffrey: Positive feedback on pre-alpha that’s a few years out from launching. I can’t even imagine where we’re going to end up.
  • Chris: People in where line where like, “You guys are raising the fidelity?” and I was like “Oh, by quite a bit”
  • Jeffrey: This is quick and dirty implementation
  • Keith: Our fans are so great. There’s so many people in our line there like “I only came here for Ashes, that’s it.” I asked them what they saw, “Nothing, I just came here to see Ashes. I went to the panel, and then I’m in line to play the experience, and then I’m leaving.”
  • [6:30]Jeffrey: There are lots of new people too. People that have never played MMOs before who are going “Man, this might be my first one” Which is really exciting.
  • Matt: Did you guys talk about the panel? It was unannounced and we filled the room.
  • Steven: It was a last minute decision to do the panel. We got the panel in about 2 hours after the cutoff time to get the panel in the written pamphlet. It was not in the written guide. It was at 10:30 AM, the doors don’t open until 10:00 AM and most people when they get here on a Friday go straight to the expo hall. We managed to completely fill the panel room, which holds a thousand people. That was pretty good. It was a great feeling to see the enthusiasm and energy that was in that room.
  • Keith: Especially, after you announced they all got keys right.
  • Steven: That was at the very end.
  • Chris: Other exhibitors have come up to me and been like, Oh at lunch, you know what we do at lunch, we turn off the lights and we end up playing your game for about an hour on our break, and these are other guys developing games that are playing.
  • Steven: I just want to tell you, we are all together in this witnessing greatness being born. I cannot tell you how awesome this is going to be. It will last you years to come and you will get fulfillment out of playing Ashes. We’re so excited to bring it to you guys. We’re working hard every day to make sure it gets to you not only in a timely manner, but in a condition that is acceptable and blows you away.
  • Matt: It’s awesome letting the fans play the game and touch the game and talk to us about their feedback and tell us what they love and want to see, and how excited they are to get their input into playing the game in real time. It’s being with the community and having people on the community and seeing all those hands go up when we ask who all is in discord.
  • Steven: We asked everyone at the panel who was in discord and we just had these hands go up.
  • Keith: So, many discord members here.
  • Steven: It’s very cool. We like it, not necessarily that it’s discord, but that we have a medium by which we can interact in real time with people who are invested in this game.
  • Matt: It’s amazing, that when we did the first panel, filled the room, second panel doubled the audience and then some. The lines for QA keep getting longer. The one thing we know there are no smarter fans than MMO fans. It is the MIT of gaming. The questions are light.
  • Steven: It is like no other genre in the entire gaming industry. The MMO itself. As an MMO player when I look at it, I get sad to see that development on MMOs, innovation, studios weren't willing to take the risks, publishers weren’t willing to take the risks. AoC comes on the block, we get this amazing community behind us, and we’re setting the tone for development going forward.
  • Matt: You're being modest that your setting the tone, because you can’t teach a seven year old who becomes wildly successful how to make 20 something years of playing experience into a title. When we’re doing the panels what I enjoy the most, as a developer I have a long history, but as a player I don’t have your history. I can see that audience resonate with you. You can see the child in them wake up. At the end of the panel, if you guys get a chance watch the rebroadcast. My favorite part, one of the last questions we got, was “Name three things that are critical in what Ashes will do different?” and you nailed that. It was the biggest applause because you can’t fake that. You cannot come up with those answers unless you’ve lived it.
  • Steven: I think that’s what a lot of development was missing in the past. They didn’t have someone at the helm who was a passionate gamer. I know that coming into this and starting Intrepid Studios, I read the reddit posts that ‘This guy has no experience in making games” I don’t need the experience, all I need is the passion, the understanding of gaming, and then I bring on the developers that have the 20+ years of experience making MMOs they take the vision and they implement.
  • Matt: We’ve never actually been able to make a title focused on the community and it’s loudest spokesman in the genre we’ve lived in. All of a sudden there is this harmony and magic, where a lifetime fan is building the biggest MMO ever. It’s a game changer.
  • Steven: It’s my dream come true. I can’t tell you enough that working with you guys and everyone in the studios. It’s a pleasure to come in every single day.
  • Matt: Are you going to make me cry?
  • Steven: Stop it, that is to say. I’m just saying, it is not just a passion, but it is fun.
  • Chris: We’re making games.
  • Keith: We have a crazy fun office.
  • Chris: Unfortunately, I made it louder when I got hired.
  • Matt: I made it loud, Steven made it loud, we just keep amplifying it.
  • Keith: I thought I was the loud one and then (Matt and Chris) get here and forget it.
  • Steven: Either way, we just want to introduce you to the guys that are going to be responsible for the character team. If you have questions, feel free to post them on discord, we’ll hop on and answer some. Your going to be really impressed with what comes out of these guys. They are amazingly talented and things going forward will only get better.
  • Keith: We’re completely accessible so always reach out. That’s the best part about our team, you can get in touch with anybody. We’re all here.
  • Matt: We’re always listening.
  • Steven: We’re going to turn it back to Bacon.