News & Events

Vision of Arkhona

Vision of Arkhona

A short story by Graham McNeil

On: May 16, 2014

Hello!

I’m Ghislain Barbe, Art Director on Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade and I’m thrilled to be part of this adventure!

I’ve been in the gaming/entertainment industry for over 22 years, working in pen and paper RPGs, animation and console gaming. I started in the early nineties as lead artist on a miniatures / RPG game called Heavy Gear. At the time we were of course looking up to Games Workshop. So when the opportunity to join the Eternal Crusade crew came, I was overjoyed. It was like coming full circle, with a universe that had the power to conjure all my passions in one project.

Art direction is about vision. In this case, it is bringing Warhammer 40,000 to life in a MMO, being true to its essence, building up on what makes it so dear to millions of fans (talking to you!) and trying to present it in a way that will make everyone passionate about it too. The nature of the project allows us to dig deeper in parts of the lore where miniatures don’t go and to showcase images of the Warhammer universe that other media don’t get the chance to. This will be much fun for everyone! Now, my two main points of focus are the characters and the world.

We are super happy to be able to support five factions in our game, four of which are playable, all of them being somehow the opposite of the other in one aspect or another. The Warhammer 40,000 universe is so vast; it is rewarding to be able to take advantage of as much of it as we can. Unfortunately we won’t have Jokearos (one of my personal favorites) but we’ll still have the Adeptus Astartes, Chaos Space Marines, Orks, Eldar and Tyranids, which should be enough to interest a few people ;)

And what is variety if it’s static? From my first discussion with the game designers, we immediately agreed on the importance to be able to support as much customisation as possible, to dig deep in the lore to find cool elements that will allow members of the community to build and play totally unique characters. Lots of research was done to see how far we could push what we offer without harming game performance. Some of those cool items you will soon be able to see as they will be offered through our Founders Program. For those who’d have missed this info: We have a Founders Program coming in a few weeks at E3!

Regarding the look and feel, a lot of our inspiration came from the work of our friends Kai Lim and Diego Gisbert Lorens who pitched in with cool concepts (to be released soon). Thanks to our in-house concept artist Nicolas Côté who helped a lot in translating what they did into something that would work in our game engine. As we’re a game that will allow thousands of people to fight, anywhere in the same battle, we have to be clever in our choices. Here is a rough in-progress version of the direction we are aiming at, definitely in line with the art style of the Codex of the current Edition but with hints to all that was done before.

Regarding the environment, with the precious help of Graham McNeil and Anthony Reynolds we managed to create a whole new world in which the Eternal Crusade is set. Our game takes place on the planet Arkhona, the fourth planet of the trinary Kharon System is located in the galactic northern marches of Segmentum Obscurus, in the dead centre of a void of systems.

Arkhona was once home to an extinct Xenos species, but those were swept away during the Great Crusade. The Imperium established itself on the planet but the world was plagued with disasters upon disasters (some being closely tied to our storyline). Recently, in the wake of the devastating series of earthquakes, Tyranids have appeared literally out of nowhere, without a hive-fleet in sight (!) and spread quickly, killing all they meet. By the time the forces of the Imperium arrived, the planet’s human population had been completely eradicated. For some reason, others factions are now also drawn to this obscure backwater rock; Chaos Space Marines, Eldar and Orks. Death has come to Arkhona and it is ready for a second service.

Recently, we got the chance to have another great artist added to our rank. Dario Coelho is working with us to create our vision of the planet Arkhona. Mathieu Fecteau and I are very happy to have him in our crew because he has the perfect understanding of the direction we are taking, something in between chaotic landscapes and epic environments. Enjoy some of the works in progress!

It is a scarred planet, with lots of now abandoned old imperial structures and more recent fortifications established by the newcomers. We will have more of these to be depicted in the great work of Dario. With the help of our fantastic level design team, we are trying to get as many original biomes to give the same diversity in environments that we aim at in characters.

As we close off on a lot of vision and pipeline issues and we gain momentum with everything else, we will be able to show you more and more of what’s in store for you. It’s a promise. Stay tuned!

Ghislain Barbe
Art Director – Behaviour
Warhammer 40, 000: Eternal Crusade
www.eternalcrusade.com