The art of Guild Wars

Going from dark horse to multi-million seller, Guild Wars has been the Cinderella story of the MMO world, battling against the heavyweights of WoW and EverQuest II for supremacy - and holding its own. Art director Daniel Dociu certainly has got a lot to do with this success. We’ve cornered him to find out more about how the look and styles of Guild Wars, and the new expansion pack Eye of the North, came about. All the while wondering where we’ve seen that face before…

A problem of size: “The scope of the game is definitely one big challenge. An MMO of Guild Wars’ proportion is something I hadn’t done before, and it took a different perspective. It needed a different kind of thinking: a lot more planning, the ability to step back and look at the big picture and plan for all the details to fit and work within the context of a broader storyline. And from a production perspective the scope doesn’t even compare! We’re talking 100 maps, each of them vast enough for the player to roam around for hours. Then there’s the need for having all of these maps to look reasonably unique, diverse, different and rich. In an MMO, you can go anywhere, and see everything from a different angle - and that’s a real challenge for the designers and artists.”

Asian angle: “With Factions, we were participating at a trade show in Asia where we built a small prototype map with an Asian feel to it. We were at a point where we were wrapping up Prophecies, and we were thinking what possible directions we could follow with our next chapter, and the good response we got from that demo prompted us to dare tackle an Asian theme. We figured it made sense from a story standpoint, it allowed us to move onto a different continent and it was something we hadn’t done before. We all got excited about the challenge. It was very well received, and so we moved onto Nightfall, and we had to decide where we’d go next. We felt that Africa and the Middle East had a lot to offer, and thought “Hey, let’s give this a shot.”

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