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With Fhenris, we're going to reveal a little more behind the scenes of WAKFU to you. He's the lead level designer, who has been working on the graphical overhaul of Monk Island!

What is your role in the WAKFU team?

I'm Fhenris, 28 years old, I'm the WAKFU lead level designer, and I've been working on the game for 8 years.

Why did you decide to overhaul Monk Island's graphics?

Before I answer that question, you have to remember that there are various different roles when it comes to developing a video game. We're not all just "devs", since we don't all do the same things. I must emphasize that it's really important to keep that in mind.

On the WAKFU team, there are:
 
  • Graphic Designers: they're the ones who draw the monsters, items, decorative elements…
  • Animators: they make the monsters, characters, and so on move.
  • FX Artists: they create the explosions, spell effects…
  • Game Designers: they define the rules, balance, and configure everything.
  • Developers: they're the famous "devs" who do the coding and bring everything together.
  • And of course, Level Designers, who deal with the maps and environments, for example. 

During patch 1.46's production, all of the above-mentioned teams were fully occupied, and their workload was already substantial. Some of them are also working on projects for future updates.

The level design team had some free time. So, we thought about tasks that we could carry out on our own, without help from the other teams, since they didn't have a minute to spare.

We couldn't work on a new island, as the graphic designers, game developers and animators weren't available to add new monsters or items. We couldn't work on monster balancing or policy either, because that's not our job. You can't ask a chef to do brick-laying!

The only task that the level design team can carry out fully autonomously is the visual overhaul of environments, such as islands or dungeons.

It's crucial to understand that the overhaul of Monk Island is bonus content: a purely visual improvement, which hasn't taken the place of other content, and has in no way slowed down other projects.

This overhaul is just like adding a cherry to your cake, so if it's free, why not have it?

What are the main differences between the old and new versions of the island?

Without any doubt, it's the assertion of our artistic direction. Over time, we've intensified it and understand it much better. The isometric style is also more pronounced.

In its overall style, the old island had curves that were too rounded, which gave it an inelegant look, such as roads that were too horizontal or vertical, underdeveloped and untidy, and completely out of step with the new areas and latest overhauls that have recently been done. I'm thinking of Kelba, Forfut, the Huppermage School, and Moon Island, for instance.
The paths of the old version of Monk Island.
 
The new paths!
 
We also took this opportunity to delve deeper into the world of the Monks, by adding resources relating to their history. I'm talking about things such as Barley, the crop that is needed to make beer… Drink responsibly, if at all!

On another note, many ruins have also appeared. The old island looked a little empty in terms of structures, whereas the new one will recount much more through new visual elements.


The old ruins…


…and the new ones!


Why has Monk Island's style changed so much?

I drew my main inspiration from the ruins of Pompeii, mainly the city center: flat settings, with very little elevation, and no mountains. From aerial views, I could see grand streets with very open buildings. So far as possible, I avoided particularly curved shapes.
 

The ruins of Pompeii: a source of inspiration for Monk Island's ruins. Reference: http://www.bbecopompei.it/fr/ruines-de-pompei.html


Let's get confidential! What are your top 3 islands which could also use a little makeover?


In 3rd place: Whispering Island The area has aged quite badly, and is out of sync with what we're doing these days. A little facelift would do it a great deal of good! Moreover, I've seen some very interesting proposals from several members of the community (you know who you are!), who talked specifically about redoing this island around… a Crackler!

In 2nd place: the Sadida Kingdom. This is a request that I often hear from the community, and I share their view. For example, I would like to incorporate many details from the animated series into the game, to further promote WAKFU's transmedia format.
 

Have you seen the WAKFU series? You must surely recognize this tree!
 
And in 1st place, it's not only an island, but something altogether more vast: the Nations! Amakna, Bonta, Brakmar, Sufokia, and Riktus… Why, I hear you ask? Simply because they are the oldest game areas. In the same way as Monk Island, they too are not consistent enough with what we're doing these days. But the team and I still have lots of other wishes and ideas!

What do you think of the visually revamped Monk Island? Share your thoughts with us! Oh... and see you at the next interview!