Massively exclusive: Camelot Unchained dev blog discusses armor, part 1

Currently in internal testing, work on the fantasy PvP sandbox Camelot Unchained continues rolling forward. But even with the plethora of news out there, there are still plenty of details unknown about the game. In the first of a new three-part series, creator Mark Jacobs reveals the artistic vision for CU's armor system with the help of Lead Artist and Animator Scott Trolan, Lead Concept Artist Michelle Davies, and Concept Artist and Animator Sandra Pavulaan.

If you are hoping for dental floss-inspired metal bikinis, you're going to be disappointed; Jacob's vision espouses realistic ensembles befitting warriors who depend on their armor for survival. Read the team's vision and see some of the concept art right here in this first installment of this series, exclusively on Massively.

Mark Jacobs: Over the last couple of months, our Camelot Unchained concept artists, Michelle and Sandra, have been diligently working on creating the artistic vision for our armor system. Of all the visual cues that are important for an MMORPG, armor certainly ranks in my top three, and I believe it ranks that highly for most players as well. Getting it right is therefore very important, and given the way our game is being funded, it's also crucial that our backers agree (well, at least most of them) we are moving in the right direction.

My own opinion on armor, especially for female characters, is pretty well known from my edict that there would be no chainmail bikinis in Dark Age of Camelot, and that its graphical look would steer away from other MMORPGs of the era. As a matter of fact, the year when Dark Age of Camelot debuted at E3, the models wearing our more realistic armor complained that it wasn't revealing enough compared to what other game company models were wearing. For Camelot Unchained, I intend to follow the same path, and our art team is 100% on board with this decision. This is the first of first three diaries we'll have on how we've gone from not having any armor in our game to our artists' first visions for some of it.

Now, although I can talk about this stuff all day, I think it will be even better for our artists to show and tell you about this process. So, I'll turn the keyboard over to Lead Artist and Animator Scott Trolan, Lead Concept Artist Michelle Davies and Concept Artist and Animator Sandra Pavulaan. Today and next time, Scott will share his vision/thoughts, and Michelle and Sandra will take over in piece number 3 later this week.

Scott: At City State Entertainment, development of Camelot Unchained's visual style is an ongoing process. As artists, Mark has tasked us to re-imagine and visually define what separates our game from other MMOs. A critical consideration is that everything must serve to support Tri-Realm™ Combat. Players from rival realms must be able to identify the difference between friends and foes immediately, and to apply their assessments in real time RvR combat.

Drawing upon familiar elements of folklore and real world references, the three realms are the Vikings, Tuatha Dé Danann and Arthurians. In the world of Camelot Unchained, the geography and surrounding resources influence and reflect the uniqueness of each realm and its resident races. A player's ability to recognize anyone else's realm identity should be instant. To avoid confusion, our art direction must be based on high visual contrast. Each realm is assigned and designed around a primary shape, the circle, triangle or square. This will allow players to differentiate among the realms at the subconscious level.

The design elements for the Vikings revolve around the circle. Signature round shields are used in defense, shipbuilding, and architectural design. This realm is home to coastal nomads who capitalize on the native resources including fish and animal bone, teeth, leather and scales. Their appearance, while seemingly disorderly, is highly utilitarian. They are dressed and fastened tightly in heavy layers for exposure to extreme weather conditions. Layering also aids in adding protection from attack.

Vikings are wind-worn and dressed in subdued, desaturated colors. Their weapons initially appear warped and quickly fashioned, but actually have great detail and craft artistically depicting cultural lore and stature. Metal work is precious to this realm. In order to preserve a weapon's longevity, teeth and bone act as replaceable serrated edges and blades.

Here is a study that Sandra used for her presentation of Viking concepts. As is the case with such pieces, her goal was not to present final concepts, but to show possible directions for the realm. Like our artists' previous studies, this one includes images that provide inspiration but also show directions we don't want to go down.

[Click images for larger versions]

Here is one of Michelle's inspiration pieces for the Vikings.

Next time, we'll give you a peek at what we've been up to with the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Arthurians.

Mark: Thanks for taking the time to read this, the first part of the three-part series that we are doing with Massively. As always, our gratitude to you and to them for allowing us the time to present some of our ideas, thoughts and occasionally, bits of insanity.