Interview of Sithik Tran

Q : Could you tell us a bit about yourself ?

Hi ! My name is Sithik Tran, I'm 30 years old, I'm married and I have a little boy. Like many people, I've been playing videogames for some time, and I like them as much for their graphics as much as for the fun that they deliver. When I learnt that in France, you could live from this passion, I didn't hesitate for long before doing what was necessary to join one of the small games studios that was being set up at that time.

Q : How long have you been working for Nevrax and on the Ryzom project ?

I've been working at Nevrax, on Ryzom, nearly since the very beginning - so that's about 3 years from now. What I like, apart from the fact that Ryzom is an original project, is that it's the company's unique project. Everyone is focusing on the same direction, with the same goal. So there's a real coherence.

Q : How many people work on 3D art at Nevrax ?

We're a team of 14, some specialized in animation, some in textures or modelling, or both.

Q : What does your job consist in exactly ?

Our job consists in materializing visually, in 3D, the whole universe that we'd been privileged to dream about. Our raw materials are all the 2D designs done from the descriptions of Ryzom's universes : civilizations, landscapes, creatures, etc... From that, in collaboration with the coders, we assess what is feasible and what isn't, based on a set of technical and hardware constraints. Afterwards, we get into the production process.

Q : Could you describe what your typical day looks like ?

When I arrive on the morning, I read my emails and check if there's no urgent need from the other teams. I then check the various things that we're currently working on to see if we have urgent problems to solve for ourselves. Depending on that, I either go and see the team who's concerned and try to solve the problem ; or I analyze our progression compared to the scheduled planning and define the priorities we have. I also check inside the game client that all the data that we're producing are correctly integrated. If it's not the case, we must find where the problem comes from and of course solve it.

Q : Where do you look for inspiration when creating the 3D world of Ryzom ?

I'd say from all the various media that come to the attention of our generation - I mean by that movies, books, graphic novels, comics, mangas, animation movies, video games... Anything that is visually pleasing and creates imaginary worlds. Apart from that, given the look of planet Atys, we mostly look at nature. We have done a lot of photos in forests and at the "Jardin des Plantes" botanic garden in Paris. We have lots of documentation about trees and vegetation as well as various landscapes from Earth.

Q : In order to make a creature for example, what are the different steps from the initial idea till the final 3D version inside the game ?

First, you determine the function of the creature, its body and psychology attributes. Then we create several 2D designs to choose from. The chosen one will go through modelization, mapping and then animation in order to give him life.

Q : What are you working on right now ?

We are working on the buildings which will be used for the guilds and tribes gameplay features. More precisely, we're focusing on interiors and all the buildings which players can build in the game.

Q : What kind of problems do you usually come across ?

I'd say that since we're rather numerous to work on this project, the kind of difficulties that we may encounter comes from the fact that we're all kind of meddling with the same engine. So if we don't make an effort to synchronize, the machine can stop. Fortunately, we've always been able to repair it ;-)

Q : What is your best memory about the developement of Ryzom ?

I'd say during the pre-production, since we had a real challenge to overcome. We had to create a vast and diverse world which made us take audacious technical bets. I was glad to see that these choices turned up into the result we have today.

Q : And the worst one ?

I think it's when the project could have stopped because of the economical crisis. It would have been a real waste given the skills of the people who work at Nevrax and the universe that we're preparing to share with you.

Q : Anything you would like to add ?

Not really‚Ķ Except that your wait is getting to an end, and you'll not be disappointed :-)