Interview with Jason, Buildings Artist

Building Buildings

Jason: I do a lot of buildings and oversee a lot of the construction of the buildings. We have some standards for building creation, that way buildings look to scale with each other. I think the hardest part we find is making a unit look like it can fit in a building, but not going out of the tile size and not making gigantic buildings. So we just kind of dealt with ďwell, thatís never going to happen.Ē Basically we start out with all first floors have to be this tall, all doors have to be this tall, stairs are this size, and windows are about this size. And then go from there, creating the assigned building that we have to.

Dave: Are you guys familiar with Max at all?

Zen: Actually, I use Lightwave.

Socvazius: Iím not much of a graphics person. [Laughs]

Jason: This is the Korean Temple, and the number one thing we do is search for images on the internet; get references because itís a history-based game and we try to keep things as accurate as possible. We do reuse a lot of the components from other buildings; this shape here is what we used for the town center. All of the nations building sets have basically the same kind of buildings; this one here looks almost indentical.

Like any unit that we make for the game, we have the model, then we lay out the texture and piece it together; eventually we come up with the full building and itís about 90% of what you see in the game. Then weíll put a couple touches and itíll be done. One of the things youíll later in the day is that we can make some effects to give some light and animation to buildings.

We would do a lot of touching up on all of the units and buildings, add those animations to the buildings and do some little things you might not normally notice with the units; tank treads would move along according to terrain and speed, things like that. Many, many layers. Itís a multilayer project and most of the time it works. Have you guys played much of the singleplayer?

Socvazius: Iíve played some of it so far, havenít gotten to finish it yet.

"Total, we schedule about 60 hours to do each building; sometimes we can get 1 1/2 or 2 buildings in a crunch time week, depending on how long it takes to do each building."

Jason: This next building has to be my favorite, and it comes from the singleplayer. These flags were made for the Korean campaign; we got ahold of some Korean scripts with poems on them, which made it that much more real. I guess what makes it my favorite is that the front is flat and fortified but when you go inside it has a lot of curves and life in the garden, a little more opened-up on top. Any questions?

Zen: How long does it take you to create a building?

Jason: We basically have a week and a half to do a building. This building Ė despite the fact that itís one of my favorites Ė strangely enough took half the time it normally takes to do a building. Some buildings take a lot longer because there are things that you donít think about in terms of the texturing; you donít have enough texture space, you think that this thing is really cool but the entire time some say it sucks, they are lots of factors that effect just how long it takes to do a building. Total, we schedule about 60 hours to do each building; sometimes we can get 1 1/2 or 2 buildings in a crunch time week, depending on how long it takes to do each building. Thatís if the building is a straightforward building, things like the mining camps Ė combined with the programming Ė we had no way of thinking just how they were going to work.

As you get to the end of a building set with each building using most of the same elements Ė the roof, the walls, etc Ė once youíve done them two or three times for other buildings, you donít have to do them again. So those buildings only take 30 to 40 hours. This was the last Asian building I did, so I think despite how complex it was it only took me 20-30 hours to do it.

Dave: Though there is one main person working on this, there is a big group input concerning how things are done. They try to have as much group input as possible; itís very common to see artists going across the hall and grabbing artists to critique their artwork.
Socvazius: Well, thatís it. Thanks Jason!

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