Neverwinter’s Environmental artist, Ryan Dao, talks about creating the environment for Shroud of Souls, and Producer Vincent Malley shares how the team prioritizes player feedback.
New posts from Arc Games shed light on the development process for Neverwinter’s newest expansion The Cloaked Ascendancy. Members of the design team share the process that they underwent to create new environments for players as they delve into D&D lore while Producer Vincent Malley provides insight into the development teams system for implementing player feedback.
Environmental artist Ryan Dao discusses his role creating assets for Shroud of Souls in Neverwinter’s The Cloaked Ascendancy. In the post, he talks about how he and the environment team had the opportunity to reuse old and existing maps to fit the new narrative. The team employed a technique known as kitbashing, a process where artists take a new or commercial model and remove pieces to be used in another custom model or kit. This process helps progression and cuts down on workflow. The post goes into a detailed description process from pre-production to post-production giving visual examples to the process.
Working closely with the design team from very early on Ryan used in game screenshots with some modifications to set the scenes and understand what work needed to be done. Then the environmental artists could begin building the larger set piece props such as the Orcus Altar. Pieces like this could then be “kitbashed” to make smaller elements for the larger environments. These elements are then repurposed as the team moves on to world building.
Making key adjustments to an environment’s lighting and atmosphere can have a drastic effect on its appearance. Adding the new models completes the transformation and turns an ordinary Neverwinter street map into Evernight.
In another post, Producer Vincent Malley talks about the prioritization about the feedback that is given
There’s no one system that fully covers how we prioritize things. We’ll generally give the highest attention to issues that prevent people from playing the game (including getting rewards), or issues that could impact our ability to keep the game running (e.g. Zen Market not working – as distasteful as some folks may feel it is, the game does need to allow players to purchase and spend Zen in order to stay in active development).
Vincent goes in more detail in the rest of the post, his team works with quality assurance specialists, player testers, and feedback threads both before and after a module is released. As the game’s producer, Vincent often scans the forums himself and writes up bug reports for the QA team to verify. Once an issue has been verified the team begins to assess how they can address it without negatively affecting other elements of the game. Not every issue is a quick fix. Miller provided some insight about the kinds of questions and scenarios that help them determine the priority of a fix.
- As a player, how does this affect me?
- Would I want to leave the game because of this?
- Even if I wouldn’t leave the game for this specific issue, would it cause long-term dissatisfaction?
- Do we understand the issue on a technical level, and is it possible to reproduce this in a controlled environment so we can prove it’s fixed?
- What portion of the player base is affected, and is there a player known workaround?
- Is it possible to fix in a good way, or do we need to make a quicker, less comprehensive change that may cause more issues down the line?
- Does the fix risk being worse than the issue itself?
- Does the fix fit within a new build’s test cycle? Can we even get it in the current module’s updates?
- Do we have a better, more comprehensive fix coming in a future module? If so, is it soon enough that we can let this issue slide for the time being?
There are many things the team has to consider when decisions are being made but player feedback is an important consideration. The team values the feedback the Neverwinter community provides and Vincent encourages players to keep reporting issues they may run into but warns not every issue will or can be resolved immediately. Prioritization is not a science he says but serious issues will be addressed in time. His advice for players reporting issues:
It makes it much easier for me to escalate when there’s a clear cause and effect – but don’t let that stop you from reporting issues for which you don’t have that information, if you think the severity is bad enough. Also remember that we devs aren’t always up to date on the standard abbreviations.
What do you think of the process the teams go through with Kitbashing and processing feedback from the community, we’d like to hear your feedback! Let us know in our discussions and join us on Discord, on our Facebook page, or Twitter!