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Hi everyone, I’m Jeff “LCDRMiller” Miller, an environment artist working on our Underdark update. I’m excited to share with you what went into the creation of the new Underdark hublet, Mantol-Derith.
Mantol-Derith, at this point in the story, has seen better days. Don’t get me wrong, it has always been a place for shady deals and the transfer of secret information; however currently demons have started to invade the surrounding area and most of the denizens of Mantol-Derith have been pushed out. Most of the people have left the area, but few have remained. This area of Mantol-Derith is right up against Darklake. When players first arrive they will dock here.
Like all maps we make it starts with a paper drawing. Here we sit down with the content designers and plan out locations for contacts and anything else a player will be interacting with. Vendors, story contacts and even NPC animations all come into play here.
After this is signed off on, I’ll take this paper map and start to realize it in engine. To start with, I made a huge cave shell of a room and added terrain. Terrain is somewhat like sculpting clay. I use radial brushes to make hills, flat areas and even material painting such as grass or dirt
When the terrain has started to get the general shape of the map, I’ll start to build placeholder areas using props to show where the structures will be. At this point, the designer will load into the map and place down all the contacts in the locations decided during the paper map phase.
The structures that make up Mantol-Derith are mostly ruins. This place was never intended as a place to live but a place of business. We wanted to really show this off in the Hublet. Here you will find at the center of the map, an open air tavern of sorts; the walls are crumbling and water from the many rivers that feed Darklake drip overhead.
The Tavern and the surrounding shops are run by very unique characters, and we wanted to really show this off with supporting props. For example, you will notice that the tavern owner has affection for Dwarven artifacts… Just wait till you meet Grazilaxx
Another main thing we wanted to show off here is the Underdark itself. Much of the Underdark has very unique plant life and fungus that only grows there. Creating some new natural life was key for selling this new area. New mushrooms were made as well as grass that gives the illusion of a starry night sky that you can walk through! Darklake is the last main feature here in Mantol-Derith. The water is cold and dark. We wanted the lake to have some character than this deep blackness, so the waters in the area have glowing crystals that light up the cliffs of Mantol-Derith.
Getting to work on a section of the Underdark has been amazing. It’s unlike any other place players have been to. Sitting down and coming up with the layout of the map and what sort of plant life would be here has been a great and challenging task. I hope you all enjoy exploring this new “home” as you start your battle against the demons that have started to emerge from the abyss.