Guild Wars 2 dev blog loose on the interwebs, and ArenaNet's Peter Fries has lots to say about the upcoming sequel's environment art. Fries paints a pretty picture of the game's locations, both literally and in the mind's eye of folks excited about ANet's decision to make Tyria more of an open world. "In the original Guild Wars, a map artist could cheat in places they knew a player could never reach, using unbacked facades or hollow props, but there are few parts of this game world that are inaccessible," Fries notes.
The blog entry gives us a high-level overview of the creation of a game map from prototype to finished product, and Fries says that environment artists were involved very early in the process (usually just after a level designer finished up with an initial three-dimensional sketch). We're also let in on the fact that ANet typically uses two environment artists working in tandem on a particular map, the better to shoulder the significant workload inherent in filling the landscape with minutiae.
Finally, we get a bit of a tease as to why location and location art matters, as Fries alludes to the history of Tyria and the continuity from the original game to the sequel. "Players who enjoyed the lore of Guild Wars will find plenty of relics from our game's history in the landscape of Guild Wars 2, sometimes tucked into surprising places," he says.