The Making of Onderon
With the upcoming launch of the ‘Onslaught’ Expansion this September, one of the new planets players will be able to experience is Onderon. With Onderon already having a wealth of mythos behind it from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2, we sat down with our Art Director, Carrie Meade, to pull back the curtain on bringing this iconic planet to SWTOR.
For starters, what is your role here on the SWTOR team?
On the SWTOR team I function as the Art Director – which means I am responsible for organizing and running the SWTOR art team, as well as maintaining the artistic vision for the project. I help with troubleshooting, brainstorming, idea generation, problem solving, team scheduling, swag creation and general game editor whispering.
What lessons or aspects from the creation of other planets came into play when bringing Onderon to life?
Lots of things! For Onderon we had a wealth of reference to draw from in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars show. We reviewed that and used it to spring-board into our interpretation of the planet. Our concept artists went to work really defining the look and feel of the space as the designers started laying out the gameplay area. Following that we then started to add props to the area in order to bring it to life. We did this by making sure there is a good density of objects that create an interesting view which keep the eyes busy.These techniques are something we really honed when we were building Copero. We made sure we utilized all directions, not just left and right but we wanted the floor/ground and the above areas to be visually rich as well.
For the jungles outside the Onderon cities, we took a look at how the jungles were done on Yavin 4 and utilized some of the lessons there in making the Onderon jungle dense with a good variety of flora, while incorporating other geographical areas like natural cliffs and water features. For the new creatures we mainly took our inspiration from the environment and the creature reference from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, really trying to craft lifeforms that harken to the established creature look and like they would be at home in the jungle biome.
One thing we are doing new on Onderon is we are trying out a more modular approach to our city building - meaning the city is broken up into several sections. This allows for more variety and options, instead of doing fully modeled single structures with limited options. You’ll have to play Onderon and let us know how you think that worked out!
What type of environment will players be experiencing on this planet?
On Onderon, players can expect to experience deep jungle, including caves and a jungle lake. They’ll be able to explore and experience gameplay in an Onderon city as well as visit the Onderon Palace. There are lots of exciting places to go and see.
With all the planets to choose from, what was it about Onderon that made the team want to include it with the upcoming expansion?
Onderon is a planet that is visually dense with nice variety in its locations and creatures, and is very beautiful. It affords us many unique game and story opportunities, including a moon that players visit for the new Operation.
Building off of that last question, how did the team go about adding a unique touch to the planet?
The team really loves when we get a chance to do our interpretation of an existing planet. It is a challenge to take something existing and give it our own Old Republic spin. As to how that happens, it starts with the concept team. They do exploratory images then the leads and myself get together to review the sketches. We decide what we like, what we’d like to change, and we narrow down refining until we arrive at the final look. Here is a good example of the end product for this process:
Once we have the environment look, then we branch out into designing the characters, trying to think about our reference and challenging ourselves to make unique, fresh designs that look like they would exist in those locations.
Okay, last question - what are you excited for players to see while traversing and exploring Onderon?
The whole thing, the planet, the characters, the creatures, the story and the gameplay! I hope the players have as much fun enjoying the planet as we did making it!
Thank you for your time Carrie! If you’d like to see more news about the ‘Onslaught’ Expansion, be sure to keep an eye on our newsfeed.