Guild Wars 2 – The Ascalonian Catacombs Dungeon Cinematic

Arena.Net  recently posted cinematic from the upcoming MMORPG title ‘Guild Wars 2’.  Below contains the article and video posted.

Hey everyone, Horia Dociu here. As the Cinematic Department Lead, I’m very excited to share with you one of our team’s favorite dungeon cinematics – the Ascalonian Catacombs intro.

These cinematics play at the key moments of the story mode in each of the eight dungeons in Guild Wars 2, setting the mood and delivering valuable info. Stylistically, we’re pushing the concept of a visual storybook as a form of communicating to the player – we want the cinematics to feel like moving paintings.

There were a lot of technical challenges we had to overcome to achieve the deceptively simple and elegant look of our painterly, storybook cinematics. Our cut-scenes are rendered in real time and are formatted to allow us to layer both 2D and 3D elements into the mix. In addition to using 3D models to display our main characters and your customized characters, we also apply 3D animation rigs to add motion to 2D elements – anything from flags fluttering in the wind to actual drawn characters. We also make good use of our game’s particle system to animate stylized painted smoke, clouds, or birds in a realistic fashion.“…we want the cinematics to feel like moving paintings.”

These different tools, which were custom-built to our requirements, help us breathe life into all the cinematic sequences that appear throughout the game. This unique narrative approach not only lets us tell stories the way we want to, but it also ensures that our cinematics don’t look like any other game. Efforts like these, which require a massive collaboration between our art and technical teams, give Guild Wars 2 that hand crafted spirit we’re striving for.

We meet up with Rytlock Brimstone, our iconic charr character, in this cinematic. He gives us our mission in the Ascalonian Catacombs and warns us of the dangers that lie ahead while relaying a bit of the area’s history. Rytlock tells of the fall of the human kingdom of Ascalon, and we bear witness to that fateful day through a flashback. This is how we want to use cinematics in Guild Wars 2: showing what cannot be told with beautiful imagery.

In this particular cinematic, we actually get to see the charr laying siege to Ascalon, watch the walls of the human city crumble, and hear the mad King Adelbern damning the entire kingdom with his infamous cursed sword Magdaer. These types of cinematics are a fun way for us and the fans to get a glimpse into Tyria’s history, and actually show in the most dramatic way possible how history has come to pass.

We had a lot of fun (and honestly a lot of headaches) making these cinematics work both artistically, technically, and narratively. Seeing our storybook concept come to life is truly rewarding – we hope you enjoy it as much as we do!