Thim: We usually start with gather information and wishes from the community to see what horse breeds we can see that our players wish for. After that our team goes through all the different variations and discusses which breed would suit well and work well technically. If the horse has a certain ability it has to be taken into consideration and do a little investigation to see if it can be implemented into the game together with the breed. Like the Icelandic Horse with its tolt.
When it is decided, which breed will be added to the game, the 3D graphics will sit down and research as much as they can about the breed. They will go through books and search the internet for pictures on the breed from all angles and positions. They read about the breed’s standard, which colors are allowed for the breed, the breed’s height, if there are any exceptions for some colors, other details and so on. Basically, all the information that can be found on the breed to have a good foundation to start on. Sometimes they also go with the animators on field trips to different farms that has the breed to meet it in real life.
Next step is to make a concept art on how the horse should basically look like. After that they sketch the details on the breed that should be more highlighted on the horse. Almost ridiculously exaggerated details, like a caricature, to make it very clear. Occasionally, if possible, they use a model from a breed that is already in the game, that is just the same or closely resembles the height of the new breed as a reference. The breed is then built up with polygons, like square like plates that becomes a grid. This is done in the program 3DS Max.
When the model/sketch is done (with a lot of exaggerated details, so the horse looks disproportionate in this phase to make it easier for the animators to rig the horse) it is sent to the animators. They start working on the breeds movements patterns and animations. They also need to do a lot of research from pictures and movie clips as references to catch as much details to make the movements and animations look as realistic as possible.
At the same time as the animators work on that, the 3D graphics start to work on the breed’s texture in Photoshop. Creating the colors and color combinations that has been decided and that fits with the specific breed, but also considering what they want and what the players wants. The horses on Jorvik doesn’t necessary has to follow the rules from real life.
When the texture and animations are fairly finished, they are put together to a finished horse and they evaluate how it looks together and polishes details, animations and texture bits that doesn’t look good, iterates, polishes again, iterate and so on. When the graphics and animators thinks the breed is done, it is sent to the QA-department. They tests the horse in the game and evaluates it as well to see if they can see anything that is wrong or if there is anything the graphics and animators have missed.
When we see that everything is perfect with the horse, we put it into the game for you players to use. This can be done in just a few days or it can take weeks, depending on the planning on releases.
Thank you, Thim!