Introducing Environment Artist, Tim Schuhler

Introducing Environment Artist, Tim Schuhler

Anthony “Minus” Guidi and Tim Schuhler

Hello Tim, and thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. I’m excited for the community to get to know you, so let’s jump right in. Can you introduce yourself by defining your role on the team and what it entails?

Sure! Basically, I’ll be developing the artistic look and feel of the world of Kingsreach. There has been a good amount of environment art content created previously, but changes in technical process are going to lead to improved quality and richness to this world. There is going to be a more cohesive plan from story to concept and to the final playable world. It’s my responsibility to take our unique concepts, while solving the best and most efficient ways of turning them into full explorable reality.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of your position, I’m always intrigued by learning about influences. Across the Visionary Realms team, influences range from EverQuest and Legend of Zelda to Metroid and Star Wars. What type of gamer are you, and what have been some of your most influential gaming experiences?

Outside of gaming, Star Wars was a major influence on me as a child. The original trilogy were some of my favorite movies as a child. Whenever I was in a library or bookstore, I would look for materials that cover the special effects process used in those films. I feel like I always wanted to get involved in that type of creative process, even before computer graphics really started taking over years later.

As far as games that influenced me, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was a game that got me really thinking about how game art can really be taken seriously as a true art form.

How have these experiences influenced your desire to be an environment artist?

I knew that I wanted a career doing something creative, but wasn’t sure what path to take. I had made a couple different attempts at going to college and taking art classes. I just took a bunch of drawing classes, and then eventually decided to attend a small art school in Vancouver BC, Canada. The school offered a course in classical 2D animation, which was already becoming an antiquated skill, but I knew that it would make me a much better artist.

Taking a step back, can you tell us a little bit about how you got into being an environment artist and your past career experiences?

The school also had courses in 3D animation and Game Art/Design. Once I got a look at what some of those students were doing, I knew that this was it — building worlds for other people to interact with. I can’t imagine anything more satisfying than that. I took the game art course, and was able to put together a fairly decent digital portfolio. It’s a difficult industry to break into and requires a lot of persistence. I was able to land a couple short term jobs at small studios in California. I mostly just built small 3D props and did a lot of texture painting. I continued improving my portfolio, and eventually landed a paid internship with Disney interactive. It was there that I got more into the actual world building process. Working on the Cars 2 game made me feel like I was going to have a legitimate career moving forward. I jumped around to a couple more small studios before finally landing at ArenaNet. This is where I really solidified my focus on fantasy style world building.

How do those past experiences relate to the experience here at Visionary Realms thus far? What is similar, and what is unique?

There is definitely no substitute for experience with this type of work. I really try to think about how to draw a player into the world emotionally. I don’t want to just build a bunch of things that everyone has seen before. I believe that there is always a way of thinking outside the box and providing a truly memorable experience for our audience as well as my own coworkers. I think what is unique about this project is just how free we are to think big.

What enticed you about the possibility of working on Pantheon, when you applied to the team?

From a purely artistic standpoint, this type of fantasy genre is my favorite to work with. The open world exploration that we’re striving for is really going to make a rich experience for everyone. I think we have a really great team that is very passionate about this project. That makes me want to do the best work that I’ve ever done.

While we are introducing you today, I know you have already been hard at work for a few months. Can you give us some insight into what you have been working on so far?

I’ve mostly been focusing on the Wild’s End region. There was some nice story and concept work to start with, but mostly a blank slate with this region as far as any 3D work. This should turn out to be one of the most dynamic environments in this world. There will be a lot of verticality here, a lot of really vast sightlines and majestic viewpoints. There will also be some unique shapes, and a variety of visual appeal. The idea here is to really make the player want to explore while not knowing what is around every corner.

We all had the privilege of seeing some of the assets you’ve been working on in Wild’s End and in particular Mad Moor, earlier this month. When designing these areas, do you work in tandem with JN (lore) and Jared Pullen (art) to bring these areas to life? How do you pull that all together?

Yes. As stated above, these guys have done a great job of developing story and visual language that is super rich and unusual while still being believable. This allows me to get drawn into the world and see what the finished product should look like, before even starting to build anything. This is very important to creating a cohesive world that supports gameplay throughout.

There is a lot of excitement around the upcoming implementation of the HDRP. Can you talk to what this means for you as an Environment Artist, and is the excitement warranted?

This new art pipeline will simply allow us to take advantage of the latest real time rendering techniques. More dynamic lighting effects will be achieved in order to create a more immersive visual experience. If you are interested in the visual look of interactive gaming, there is plenty to get excited about with this project.

Finally, to all our awesome community members out there following the development of Pantheon, what would you say to them about where we are heading?

There are some important milestones coming up related to our new art workflow. I believe that things will really start rolling at a quicker pace in the near future. I know that the game designers are creating some really cool design mechanics. It is our goal to ensure that the visual quality is at a level that supports the great gameplay.

Producers’
Letter
Monthly Recap Introducing Tim Schuhler Creature Feature: Mad Moor The Bait – Pt. 2 How Game Worlds Foster Creativity