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This Developer Blog is copied verbatim from the RuneScape website. It is copyrighted by Jagex.
It is written by Mod Nick F and is dated 14 May 2009.
Modelling

Jade Empire

Fairy outside large

Model of Zanaris.

After getting the beautiful concept artwork for the fairy area from Mod GG, I knew we had a lot of work ahead of us! The old fairy area was worked on by myself and Mod Paul B in the days before we had concept artists and the High Detail mode, so I know the area very well and was keen to rework it using all the new technology that we have available to us.

We want the fairy area to feel magical and organic. The fairies work with nature in an astral realm, so I want to distance the area from the rest of RuneScape so that the player feels that they have travelled a long way to get here. To help this we have introduced new types of fantastical plants and a slightly jade colour to the vegetation so that this does not feel like a typical RuneScape area. This is something we had tried to introduce with the previous ‘Blue Period’ rework, which, looking back, was far too garish. I feel the new, more subtle, colour scheme looks magical and otherworldly without being too obvious.

More house work

Fairy tree

Zanaris tree from wireframe, to flat shading, to textured model.

The fairies live in tree houses, so I really wanted to make an important feature of them. The trees they live in are now some of the largest in RuneScape and some of the most complicated models made yet! We also spent a lot of time ensuring that all of the furniture and technology feels as though it was created for fairies - the tables are far too small to be used by the humans that come to visit the area; even the range and furnace are fairy scale. The only problem this led to was having to create two sets of doors: fairies use a pint-sized door that opens at full height for players.

One issue we had was with the roofs of the floor-based buildings. We really wanted to get away from the grotto look of the previous versions of the area and knew that the area had to have most of the main buildings on the ground floor so that players could easily access them. The concept art looked great having small ground buildings, and they looked great in game, but as soon as we started to map larger buildings they looked very plain and boring, like an expanse of wood. We sent Mod GG back to the drawing board and he came up with the idea of open courtyards for the larger buildings. This worked really well, giving the area the feeling of ancient Rome, where houses blurred the line between inside and outside space.

Bigger fairies

Fairy character large

Model of a fairy.

When it comes to the inhabitants of Zanaris, Mod Alec created a couple of character models to make sure that they read well in the engine and had the right look. My main concern with the fairies was that they were so small; Mod Alec made them slightly larger for the rework so that we could add more detail to them, and so that it was easier to create animations that had more life in them. We wanted the fairies to look beautiful and graceful, with a great deal of variety and customisation. We took extra special care with the Godfather and Fairy Queen, who now, respectively, look more malevolent and dignified.

We hope you’ll enjoy the new-look Zanaris; I think you will agree it’s now a really special corner of RuneScape. The next step in the development process is animation, but we will go into more detail about how we made the fairies fly in the next diary.

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