Dragon Age II, the role-playing game from Bioware is the sequel to their smash hit Dragon Age: Origins. Most companies when making a sequel tend to stick to the same art direction but not Bioware. They went a different route and gave the game a whole new visual style.
Pixologic, the creators of the digital sculpting tool Zbrush, had a chance to interview the artists about the sequel. It’s a great read and gives an insight into the thought process and reasoning behind each artist’s decisions while making the game.
Here are some snippets from the interivew:
In what ways can we expect the visual style to change for Dragon Age 2?
Shane Hawco (Lead Character Artist): There are many distinct things that were done with the entire art style of the game. One of the things that we really wanted to change from “Dragon Age: Origins” was to give the creatures and characters a more distinctive physiology, style and identity that ties them closer to their background and ethnicity.
The elves, for example, are not just smaller, skinnier humans with “knife ears”; they now have a closer connection to their natural and organic background. In order to do this we elongated their form, amplified their more curvy and organic features and gave a majority of them bare feet which directly connects them to their environment. We also reflected these ideas in the facial structure; they have a more oval base with soft curved features on the cheekbones and jaw lines, and their smooth forehead transitions into the small subtle nose between the enlarged eyes. Overall they look more fawn-like, which is a very clear connection to their forestry origins.
The elves were not the only ones who got this treatment – the other non-human races did as well. For example, the dwarves contain more angular elements that are similar to dwarven architecture, further anchoring them to the ground. These elements are carried to the face where they have a more chiseled jaw line, angular nose and squared off eyes.
One of the most interesting characters in Origins was Sten, simply because it was so hard to find out anything about him or his race. (I still learned new things the last time I played through the game!) Are the Qunari back in DA2? If so, what can we expect to see there?
SH: The Qunari definitely make a return in DA2 in a big way! You’ll have lots to discover about them since they play a very pivotal role to the story of Hawke’s Rise to Power. With the re-introduction to the Qunari we felt it was a great opportunity to have their appearance match the complexity of their character, culture and background.
They are a hardened and proud people with a rich and dynamic history which is encompassed by honor and glory. We dug deep into the archives and developed a look similar to what we originally envisioned for them in Origins.
We brought back the horns and pushed the boundaries of a humanoid form, increasing their height and bulk to enhance their intimidating and imposing nature. But they are not just a mindless race of barbaric warriors. They pride themselves on their belief system, called the Qun, which governs all aspects of Qunari life and thus was a very important element in their re-design.
We have adorned their bodies with the symbol of the Qun. On most of the Qunari, it is painted on their bodies, but the Qunari Arishock has the symbol embedded in his armor, further showing his status as a leader and the commitment he and his people have to the Qun.
Be sure to visit Pixologic for the full interview. One thing though, the interview does contain a few spoilers regarding the game’s story. So feel free to bookmark and return once completed.