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About Rainier

PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!

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'Heroes of Might and Magic V' - Developer Q&A

by Rainier on March 21, 2006 @ 2:13 a.m. PST

Heroes of Might & Magic V will benefit from the features and characteristics that established the success of the initial saga while offering a wealth of innovations such as a highly immersive scenario, a variety of appealing factions, modern 3D graphics, a revolutionary tactical combat system, and a story-based campaign mode. Ubisoft content director Erwan Le Breton tells us more about his involvement in the new game.

Q: How were you brought on to work on the Might & Magic universe?

Erwan Le Breton, the Might & Magic Content Director at Ubisoft, got in touch with me when he was looking for an artist who could give Might & Magic a strong visual identity. The universes I picture in my graphic novels are dark, warlike, and violent, and this was exactly the direction that Erwan wanted the Might & Magic universe to take.

Q: In your opinion, what are the most interesting parts of this universe? How will that translate in the design?

ELB: For me, the very interest of each fantasy universe lies in the fact that it allows to feel different places, other eras, and to escape… I think it is something very usual; You always need a place where you can escape from the real world constraints. Some people watch football matches, others will read fantasy novels. In the past sci-fi was the lead universe, but today it’s heroic fantasy. But in the end, all these genres use the same codes; the story is often like a good old western. The need to escape remains the same, it only varies in manners.

Q: Could you describe the process of creating a new design?

ELB: I always start by picturing the different factions, how they are related to each other, what differentiates them, etc. Then for each side, I come up with some basic shapes and silhouettes that remind of places, eras, etc. So I give graphical codes to each one of them. Then I use this basis to create all the characters and places.

For Might & Magic, one constraint was to look different from the usual fantasy universe. Factions like the undeads or the elves have very strong and established visual codes, but Ubisoft wanted to move away from this single vision. This is why the elves in Might & Magic do not only refer to a Celtic imagery but also to American Indians. The Dark elves, on the other hand, will remind you of the Italian Renaissance.

Q: What are your inspirations?

ELB: I am still deeply influenced by my early readings, with artists like Giger for instance. I also base my inspiration on existing elements a lot. I really think that if you wish to create something original and long-lasting, you have to base yourself on existing and historical grounds. Those are the kind of things that will speak to everyone and are unlikely to become old-fashioned.

For instance, in the last volume of my current series, Requiem, some buildings I drew are directly inspired from some churches in my region. When I need to draw armor, the first thing I will do is to search my 13th century weapons encyclopedia, in order to build on cohesive grounds.

On top of that, like every artist, I always keep a close eye on what other artists are doing. Their work is always an important source of inspiration.

Q: What particular interest do you find in working on a video game? How much is it different from your usual work?

ELB: For me the most interesting things in videogames is the fact that they allow us to animate the universes that are created. It is very impressive to be able to walk in a man-made universe, just as if you were part of it.

I had worked with video game industry in the past, but it was more difficult to see a direct link between what I had created and what was displayed on the screen.
For Might & Magic, I took care in creating characters in which you could remove some details without breaking the general silhouette. Even if most of them cannot be translated as such in a video game right now, we hope it will be possible in the future.

Q: You became famous in the first place for your work on the Dark Moon Chronicles, which is also set in a heroic fantasy universe. How does it felt to work on that kind of universe again?

ELB: It was a bit like returning to the past. I really felt at home in this universe. Fantasy is a genre I am very familiar with, I know how to handle it even if this time the approach was a bit different. In graphic novels, the characters are simpler, because you know that you will have to draw them hundreds of times from many different angles. My work on Might & Magic was more about designing characters, which allowed me to bring more details in the final drawing.

Since my work on the Dark Moon Chronicles, I have worked on many other projects that allowed me to broaden the palette of characters I could draw. This helped me a lot for this work given the amount and variety of what had to be created.

I think my work on Requiem also influenced my designs as they are darker, with more skulls.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

ELB: I would say that my work with Ubisoft on the Might & Magic universe was my best experience with video games so far. I had a lot of freedom in creating my designs, based on the vision Erwan and his team had of the universe. It was really a great experience.

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