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  Click here to go to the first Rift Team post in this thread.   Thread: RIFT Behind the Scenes: Stephen “Drakcoon” Mabee

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    Rift Team Ocho's Avatar
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    Default RIFT Behind the Scenes: Stephen “Drakcoon” Mabee

    Community Manager Eric “Ocho” Cleaver sits down with Senior Concept Artist Stephen “Drakcoon” Mabee to talk about art, RIFT, and Planetouched Wilds!

    Ocho: Could you introduce yourself?
    SM: Hi, I’m Stephen Mabee, Senior Concept Artist, also known as Drakcoon on the forums.

    Ocho: How long have you been here?
    SM: Around a year and eight months. I’ve been with RIFT since the beginning, though!

    Ocho: Tell me a little bit about your history with RIFT. How did you start?
    SM: I originally came from another MMO, where I was a hardcore raider. I had hit a couple world firsts in that game, but it had gotten stale and I was looking for something new. The early news about RIFT, especially dynamic rifts, really attracted me so I came over with some of my friends to check it out.

    Ocho: What are some of your favorite memories of playing RIFT?
    SM: Interestingly, I really enjoyed the process of leveling up! The large group of friends who I was playing with was a big advantage. Killing Greenscale together for the first time was a huge rush!

    Ocho: Do you still play RIFT?
    SM: I still play RIFT quite a bit. For me, it’s father-and-son bonding time, since my father also plays. We’re big into PvP and playing Warfronts together.

    Ocho: Favorite Spec?
    SM: Right now I’m playing Warlord and Reaver. Reaver is pretty solid at the moment, but Vladd is sure to keep changing things to keep us on our toes.



    Ocho: What’s day-to-day life for a concept artist on the RIFT team like?
    SM: Every day I get tasks from my manager, Marigold. She explains importance, and we tackle them in order. I’ve been working on armor and mounts for a while, making sure we have new stuff in the pipeline for players. Once I’ve got my tasks, I get my coffee and go at them!



    Ocho: What have you been working on lately in RIFT?
    SM: Recently, I’ve been working on the Shalistiri who we’re fleshing out for an upcoming release. They’re genie people who have been getting more attention and backstory. I start with the bosses and gradually work my way down towards the base creatures. I’ve also worked on a set of weapons for them to go along with that.

    Ocho: Do you spend much time looking at references or searching out inspiration?
    SM: I usually gather a bunch at the beginning, looking at Google or surfing art sites. I generally have a pretty good idea of where to go after talking to Captain Cursor, who comes up with the story and lore side. For the Shalistiri, I thought genie. It’s a little cheesy, but my mind went to Robin Williams, so in a way it’s a bit of my tribute to him. Other things I looked at included Middle Eastern cultures. The Shalistiri are air creatures, so wind and air motifs play in a lot. Flowing and elegant designs were on my mind while concepting them.

    Ocho: What’s something you particularly liked after seeing it in game?
    SM: A lot of it hasn’t been released yet, but the next raid we will release is really exciting to me. It’s a bit of a different direction than we normally go, but the raid will be unique visually with a lot of different elements that will be completely new to RIFT.

    Ocho: What is your favorite thing to create?
    SM: Big, bad bosses. When I go to the forums and I see a boss that I helped design being a challenge for players, I enjoy it. When folks do finally beat it, it’s glorious, with a lot of yelling. I’ve been there so I know how great that feels.

    Ocho: How did you get involved in doing art?
    SM: I started doing art, drawing and whatnot, at a really early age. My parents both loved art. My dad was into fantasy art, and it was always around growing up. Dad was an inspiring artist, but he went the military route, which is a bit different. They were always very supportive of my interest in art.

    Art went away when I was in middle and high school – I had other things on my mind at that time. I guess I got really serious about it again towards my senior year of high school, when I was figuring out what I wanted to do with my life.

    Ocho: Did you go to school for art?
    SM: I attended Ringling College of Design in Sarasota, Florida.

    Ocho: What was your course of study?
    SM: Originally, I was considering computer animation, but the year I started school was sort of the end of traditional cell animation. I re-evaluated what I wanted, and went with illustration as a general field.

    Ocho: Do you have any advice? Concept art is pretty much the coolest art job in the company. It’s what most folks think of when they say, “I want to create art for video games!”
    SM: Spend more time on art than anything else, even games. Draw every single day, and spend most of your day doing art rather than whatever else you could be doing. You might think you’re missing a lot, but most of that can be made up. Practice is super important and just takes time. You can’t fake tens of thousands of hours drawing.



    Ocho: How do the long development cycles and delayed gratification from seeing your creations in-game impact you as an artist?
    SM: I don’t mind it too much. I’m constantly creating new art, so it’s nice to see stuff I’ve worked on pop up. It refuels me and keeps me going. Since it’s been so long, I can look at it with fresh eyes. The next raid we will release was concepted months and months ago.



    Ocho: So you’re the guy who has all the info the players want about future content?
    SM: I might know a few things. We work really tightly with the design team, because the closer we work together the better the stuff we come up. We have a really great relationship with the designers here on the RIFT team.

    Ocho: What’s it like digging in Captain Cursor’s mind?
    SM: We play off each other really well. I love his enthusiasm, and I love bouncing ideas back and forth and seeing how crazy we can go.

    Ocho: Anything questions for the players or anything you’d like to share?
    SM: What direction would you like to see RIFT go artistically? We’re trying a bunch of new stuff, especially with Planetouched Wilds. Do you want RIFT to return more to its roots, or do you enjoy when we strike out in new directions? Players’ honest opinions, even when they’re a little brutal sometimes, are invaluable to us.

    The only other thing I have to share is if you want to be an artist, keep making art. I draw for 4 or 5 hours a day after work, constantly keeping at it. Make sure you love what you do. That’s the most important part.
    Last edited by Ocho; 07-28-2015 at 11:58 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ocho View Post
    Ocho: What have you been working on lately in RIFT?
    SM: Recently, I’ve been working on the Shalistiri who we’re fleshing out for an upcoming release. They’re genie people who have been getting more attention and backstory. I start with the bosses and gradually work my way down towards the base creatures. I’ve also worked on a set of weapons for them to go along with that.
    UWOTM8?

    I just /squeeeeed irl. Omg so fascinating and I am really sorry I did not realize we had a Drakcoon to say thanks to for the awesome art work I am madly in love with so thank you, thank you, thank you nice to read about you!

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    Ascendant Nuuli's Avatar
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    Checking some of that art style on the 'net. Impressive. Like to see more!

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    Woah pics!

    That's the I just...

    The dimensioneer in me just somersaulted and the everything else just flipped out - what class is that armor and is that blue dude the Shalistiri? Did Drakcoon design Izibithu Demise (my new fave dimension building second one and want to build a third on same map) or is that creature coming too life soon? Omg...I see claws and paws and wait is that a Bahmi or not?...

    SO MANY QUESTIONS /faints...

    Omg look at the interior art assets guys and girls...

    WAIT: Shalistiri are Air are we heading for an Air expac?
    Last edited by Kiwi; 07-28-2015 at 12:16 PM.

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    Prophet of Telara Zaber's Avatar
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    I like whats coming from seeing from the Art

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ocho View Post
    Ocho: Do you have any advice? Concept art is pretty much the coolest art job in the company. It’s what most folks think of when they say, “I want to create art for video games!”
    SM: Spend more time on art than anything else, even games. Draw every single day, and spend most of your day doing art rather than whatever else you could be doing. You might think you’re missing a lot, but most of that can be made up. Practice is super important and just takes time. You can’t fake tens of thousands of hours drawing.
    This. THIS. OH GODS, THIS.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ocho View Post
    Ocho: Anything questions for the players or anything you’d like to share?
    SM: What direction would you like to see RIFT go artistically? We’re trying a bunch of new stuff, especially with Planetouched Wilds. Do you want RIFT to return more to its roots, or do you enjoy when we strike out in new directions? Players’ honest opinions, even when they’re a little brutal sometimes, are invaluable to us.

    The only other thing I have to share is if you want to be an artist, keep making art. I draw for 4 or 5 hours a day after work, constantly keeping at it. Make sure you love what you do. That’s the most important part.
    Me, personally... I would love to see more of the dark Gothic look from Port Scion/Nadir Plaza/Meridian (some of which we see in the Guardian tutorial, too). Not like the Caers in Stillmoor, though... something more elegant, like the architecture you see in the River of Souls. I was absolutely fascinated by that from the moment I first saw it, and went, "What was here? What WAS this?!"

    *****

    Great interview, btw! I love these little insights into the RIFT team!

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    Ascendant Nuuli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
    Woah pics!

    That's the I just...

    The dimensioneer in me just somersaulted and the everything else just flipped out - what class is that armor and is that blue dude the Shalistiri? Did Drakcoon design Izibithu Demise (my new fave dimension building second one and want to build a third on same map) or is that creature coming too life soon? Omg...I see claws and paws and wait is that a Bahmi or not?...

    SO MANY QUESTIONS /faints...

    Omg look at the interior art assets guys and girls...

    WAIT: Shalistiri are Air are we heading for an Air expac?
    Would be nice! Getting webbed toes from all that water.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
    UWOTM8?

    I just /squeeeeed irl. Omg so fascinating and I am really sorry I did not realize we had a Drakcoon to say thanks to for the awesome art work I am madly in love with so thank you, thank you, thank you nice to read about you!
    Oh me too! My husband just looked at me and shook his head. Man I am so into the Bahmi here lately, this makes my day!

    As for where Rift should go.... well, I don't really have anything to say because I pretty much love it all. I got kind of burned out on PoW after the number of 60s I was leveling up - so now I'm mostly finishing levels on them with dailies. I'm seriously looking forward to PTW, and also to the other planes eventually. The biggest issue I've ever had with Rift is that I'm an altoholic - and since the game has only two starting areas (one for each faction of course) it's easy to get burned out on those. I get that it would be difficult to add other areas at this point, but I could wish I guess!

    And that art.... My gosh this man is good! Thanks to both Ocho and Drakcoon - REALLY enjoyed this interview!
    Last edited by Narcise; 07-28-2015 at 02:49 PM.
    People who circumscribe their lives to conform to the narrow expectations of others get exactly what they deserve.

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    RIFT Fan Site Operator Jonus's Avatar
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    Great to see another Behind the Scenes and to finally get more info on the Guffin overlord!

    New concept art looks amazing! Can't wait to see everything fleshed out! The latter half of this year has gotten me really excited with all the meaty additions coming to the game. All brand-new too! Can't wait!

    I take a quick peek of ArtStation every now and then and it's a little disheartening as a very, very, very casual drawer; but very inspirational! Being a concept artist must be a blast!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ocho View Post
    Ocho: Anything questions for the players or anything you’d like to share?
    SM: What direction would you like to see RIFT go artistically? We’re trying a bunch of new stuff, especially with Planetouched Wilds. Do you want RIFT to return more to its roots, or do you enjoy when we strike out in new directions? Players’ honest opinions, even when they’re a little brutal sometimes, are invaluable to us.
    some brutality :
    most wardrobe item's looks are HORRIBLE, and completely un-usable. do you want an example? Drowned Prophet's Armet, the warrior helmet. can you please tell me WHY the helmet has such a huge gap between the rim and the neck? is it not supposed to protect the head?

    PLEASE, PLEASE make more amazing wardrobes... the drowned prophet set was passable, the basic lvl 65 blue dungeon/crafted set was great and the frost keeper set was MIND-BLOWINGLY FANTASTIC.

    what i'd love :
    1. more "tanky" armor. bulk it up
    2. badass armor. skulls, fangs and menacing spikes!
    3. simple items with two-tone details. i love it when items can be colored in contrasting colors.
    4. more items with a "pure" color. this is kinda hard to explain, but many items dye horribly... like the WARRIOR frost keeper set... the breastplate is almost impossible to dye, everything looks dull and dark. its no fun having to stick exceptional white dye on everything because every other color doesnt work.
    5. i should stop now, or i'll make your job harder.

    but please, no more ugly wardrobes!

  11. #11
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    Your connection to the Ringling School is fascinating. Before the school was there, it was a museum. I toured that as a school child some 50 years ago (and several more times as an adult) and I vividly remember "The Flaying of Marsyas by Apollo", more for its graphic subject than the art form. At 8 years old, the idea that people might resort to such cruelty was a new concept.

    I enjoy the art work in RIFT, and I respect your contribution immensely (as I fail in my attempts to draw even stick men with a straightedge). Keep up the nice work!

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    Plane Walker regall's Avatar
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    I'm so damned curious about HOW this concept art is coupled with animation. For example; I just LOVE jumping, it's so smooth and virtually realistic compared to other games. I have seen some methods of how they wire up an actual person and map their movements on computers, and I often wonder if this is the method that Rift uses or whether they draw a series of pictures like the old cartoons.

    I'm limited to my 'connect the dots' art experience, so would love to see how the interaction differs from other games.

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    Now that I've settled down after seeing the amazing art work Drakcoon I wanted to say that it made me smile that you play with your Dad, this is perhaps what I appreciate most about the titles Trion has/will be getting. The variety gives us more opportunity to play with loved ones. Cheers also for sharing your journey as an artist and the reminder I needed about drawing constantly and consistently which is something I have always loved.

    These interviews are always great cheers Ocho!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ocho View Post
    Ocho: Anything questions for the players or anything you’d like to share?SM: What direction would you like to see RIFT go artistically? We’re trying a bunch of new stuff, especially with Planetouched Wilds. Do you want RIFT to return more to its roots, or do you enjoy when we strike out in new directions? Players’ honest opinions, even when they’re a little brutal sometimes, are invaluable to us.
    The reason I was drawn to Rift and still am is the art work and Rifts. I love the planes and how each one evolves in its story and the Dragons of Telara and would love to see the planes, bosses of the planes and Dragons implemented more in wardrobes, mounts, portraits and Dimensions (Please can I have Laethys Gold Room and separate items - piles of gold and as another item that gold light she shines? Can banners be created for each one?) All of them should be represented proudly.

    A Dragons of Telara portrait concept contest would be great held by Trion for 5th year Anniversary.

    I'd like more traditional/fantasy wardrobe vs modern every day wear and would continue spending a lot of money if there was more flow, glow and bad azzery. The weapons in PBB are so good the Nightmare Tide relic armor and the Skelf weapons. Razer has one of the nicest glowing weapon and cape wardrobes so maybe something like these can be made for other events like 5th Anniversary or Extra Life?

    We could do with more hairstyle, make up and marking updates

    I cannot wait for Planetouched Wilds and Primalist I found Plane of Water almost a completely separate game artistically but feel PTW will bring back the flavor many of us adore Rift for as well as the adventure. That is what PoW lacked for me - adventure. No cairns, artifacts were scarce though the environment is beautiful especially the skies.

    In regards to art assets from a Dimension point of view it would be really nice if Dimension art assets for a specific zone came out sooner. Not content items, the zone ie landscaping (rocks, trees, plants, coral), skies, music those environmental things everyone gets to enjoy doing content. I would also like to cheer on more tiles, textures, cloth items, shapes, tables, benches, chairs, pillows, rugs, chests, vases, lights, boxes so we have higher chances of them ending up as part of dimensions oh and more animals including puppies so we get them as NPC's heh.

    So to answer your question the direction I'd like to see Rift keep taking is bringing a lot of the Lore long forgotten or not accessible bought to life more and more with chances to adorn or represent the planes, bosses or zones we love most.

    We need more Colossus type world events like Volan that involves the environment being effected, more epic!

    I am so excited for PTW and loved the return to the old with new twists like Song of Dreams. When Chronicles and Instant Adventures are made highlighting old content and all its art work I'm over the moon but I like that raids and warfronts are often completely new.

    More mounts from content in the game would also be very cool as suggested in this thread and as a side query: is it even remotely possible for Dimension builders to be involved in morphing assets for in game as environmental art in towns or cities or to be purchased/rewarded in game?

    Lastly: I dig how that throne room is up in the air like a massive blimp.
    Off before I get too excited again!

    Ether, lets talk about Ether...

    Sorry for the rant but the art work in Telara is just so good, cheers for being part of it!
    Last edited by Kiwi; 07-28-2015 at 09:29 PM.

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    Prophet of Telara Meowy's Avatar
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    So you're one of the people to blame for all the wonderfully bad-*** bosses that may or may not have mutilated me. Nice to get to know you more, Drakcoon, and all the wonderful things you have designed that certainly helped keep me in awe as I explore through the various places in the Rift universe. And... Shalistiri... *squee*

    Also, a fellow warlord user, totally cool!

    P.S. Need more of the frost keeper plate armor set styles (but with less skirt) ;P Just... more cool bulky awesome armor! I don't know how you'd do it just... do it! Lol.
    Serale@Faeblight

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    very nice read. love the tidbits about the upcoming zone and new creatures!

    keep up the great work!

    ..on the birth of a search, white trash my native son..

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