EQII's art team is amazing! We have gorgeous environments, spectacularly detailed characters, and some really nifty animations. But that isn't all there is to it. The effects in game are just as important to the visual candy as anything else. Gary Daugherty does the effects for everything you see in-game. Everything from spell effects to the nifty mists and sparkles on epic weapons. Gary was kind enough to sit down and answer some questions!
What do you draw from for inspiration for your effects?
I started working on EQII during development of Expansion 4: Rise of Kunark so at that time I was inspired by Rich Sjoberg and Tom Moon’s awesome FX already in the game. Therefore, in those early times, I tried not to deviate too far from the art style of the existing FX. It wasn’t until I became more familiar with the FX tools and more confident in my abilities that I started to really do my own thing with the FX in EQII. Today I get a lot of inspiration from movies. I love cinematic FX as far back as the Star Trek Movies all the way to today. I also try to keep up with current video game FX whenever I have time to look at them. Ultimately I try to make my FX as clean and structured as possible since I’m such a huge perfectionist.
What’s your favourite part of EQII?
I started playing EQII when I began working here and at that time I really enjoyed Timorous Deep. I did some of the FX in that zone and it was fun playing through it and seeing the fruits of my labor. My favorite part of that zone was the last quest where I had to get the Ballistae working while all the bird people attacked. Doing the FX for the bird slaughter was fun and seeing it all work in game was quite a rush.
What's your favourite thing that you've done for EQII?
I really had a lot of fun doing the Shard of Love zone and spell FX. Nathan McCall had so many great ideas for that zone and his FX requests for the casket room were brilliant. I went a little crazy on the FX in that zone as well as the weapon and spell FX. It was quite the undertaking. I still haven’t played the zone on Live…maybe someday.
How did you get started in the industry?
I always wanted to work on video games but never knew how to get involved. Back when I first went to college, at UCSD in the early 90’s, the video game industry was not as big a business as it is today. I got a degree in Cognitive Science but didn’t really know what to do with it. So in the early 2000s I went back to school at the Art Institute in San Diego and got a degree in Video Game Art and Design. Because of my programming background with UCSD and my aptitude for motion graphics I got a job here at SOE doing FX.
What are some of the other projects you've worked on?
SOE is my first job in the game industry and I love it so much I don’t really want to do anything else. So keep playing EQII everyone!!!
Do you have any special (or just super fun) projects you're working on now for EQII?
I’m currently updating, optimizing and standardizing every class spell visual in the game. My hope is that players won’t have to turn the FX off when they group or raid and will still be able to tell what is going on. It is also my goal to help better visually identify what class a player is by what spells they cast. In addition I’m setting spell visual tiers so an apprentice spell will have less bells and whistles than an adept or master spell visual. This update has not been officially announced and no release date has been chosen.
Do you have any advice for aspiring game artists?
Go to art school and learn as much as you can! No matter how much you hate a particular teacher or class, give it all of your attention and do the absolute best job you can. It’s art school kids, getting a 4.0 is not that hard! If you have a good work ethic and a helpful attitude you will get a job. If you have talent, you will keep it!