Hello again, Internet! It’s Patrick Poage, Environment Artist for Neverwinter, and I’m here to show off one of the new zones coming up in Storm King’s Thunder, Cold Run! Cold Run is a harsh strip of coastline at the Northern end of Icewind Dale where the frost giants made their initial landfall in their quest to obtain the Ring of Winter. I drew much of the inspiration for the map from the black sandy beaches in Dyrhólaey, Iceland.
(A view of Cold Run from the cliffs along Dead Man’s Point)
One aspect of environment art for games that I’d like to showcase in this blog is asset and texture reuse. All of the rocks, cliff sides, and boulders in this map are using the same tiling texture and only five different rock models, scaled and rotated different ways.
(Almost every rock in the zone is a scaled, moved, or rotated version of one of these five rocks)
The models needed be made in such a way that they can represent different types of rock formations from different angles. From left to right, I named the rocks: Lumpy, Clumpy, Long, Lip, and Elbow. Each served a different purpose depending on how I angled or scaled the piece, and with this rock kit I was able to construct all of the shapes that I needed for the zone.
(Deposit Materials blend two different materials based on a direction. In this case, the snow always draws on top)
Another way to get more mileage out of each rock asset was to use a material that has a deposit texture. Notice that the snow always shows up on the top of the rock, no matter how it’s rotated. The deposit texture really does a lot of work making the zone feel rocky and cold. Combining the rock models and deposit texture let me make Cold Run as vertical and expansive as we wanted while also keeping the project in scope.
(A Tour of Cold Run)
I had a ton of fun putting this map together. There are a lot of different places to visit, from the large giant ships of Storvald’s Breach to the ancient, muted ruins of Gulbrand’s Gorge. I even got to include another little Easter Egg on the eastern edge of the map. Keep your eyes open for a mysterious sorcerer who has made his home in Cold Run. But adventurers be warned. He doesn’t appreciate visitors…