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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Wizard101: Darkmoor Castle Block Idea


With the introduction of the Aztecan Builder's Bundle, Wizard101 unveiled their second set of castle blocks, themed around Azteca. These new blocks include some new textures on old pieces, new blocks, and even some apparently new physics on the stairs and roofs. That in mind, why not other castle block? This is precisely what led me to begin experimenting with one I've wanted for quite some time - a Darkmoor set.



Celebrating 600 Posts!

This expanded article is really exciting for me, not only because it's been a project that has been in the works for a long time, with bits and pieces happening here and there, but also because it is my 600th post. I had hoped to do something special which is why you haven't seen a lot from me lately. I've used it as a push to complete the project, and I'm very excited to share.

Outer Wall Model

Evolving Art

Most people, including myself, don't think of Swordroll's Blog as an art site, but there's more art here than you'd think. For one, there are countless illustrations and edits accompanying posts. For example, in this post, the wallpaper at the start is a compilation of different rendered images. Moving a little bit closer to traditional art forms, this post contains the sepia-tone image of Pollo's crew that I recolored.

Rock Model
Other times, I've done basic illustrations, like the Casmir-Kane campaign materials here, or slipping in some illustrations like the locks and keys in this post. I took on both the Abracadoodle style and the puppet show style for posts like this one or this one, and even did a Doodle Day feature here

But it gets even more obvious than that. I played with original pet design here, and continued on the trend of game elements with my Amber Estate Map and Polarian Shipwreck Map. Other times, I've created infographics as in the Bundle Buyer's Guide. In terms of concept art, I created a Malistaire player gear set and also did an Arctic Bundle illustration.

In short, it seemed only natural that the art would progress to these two newest forms - ones we have yet to see much of in the community - basic 3D modeling and texture art.


Building Blocks

The foundation for the idea was actually laid even before the release of the Azteca card. I chose Darkmoor not only because I'd personally love to have the blocks, but also because I think they're something everyone else would seriously want. Wizard City blocks were pretty cool because they were new. Aztecan blocks, while they have some awesome textures, are ones that I don't think will be quite as popular just because we've seen this Aztecan theme and feel in Skull Island, the Tribal Crew Pack, Azteca, the Shaman's Lore Pack, the Skyvern's Hoard Pack, the Dino Bundle, the Prehistoric Bundle, and now the Aztecan Builder's Bundle.

Fence Dimensions in Progress

Texture Art, Take 1

Creating the look of new blocks meant doing something I'd never tried before - texture art. If you've seen some of the image sets of all of a particular creature's textures, you'll notice how tough it can be to get everything just right. Fortunately, castle blocks are about as simple as it gets, and that meant it wouldn't be difficult to do.

I looked in Darkmoor for some of the prominent textures and ideas, and borrowed a couple and recreated others to fit my needs. The trick with castle block textures is that they have to be continuous, or seamless, to look right when you put them together. Your castle looks like a castle and not a bunch of random items because the blocks were created in such a way that when they met up with other blocks on any particular side, they'd look natural. This was one challenge of the art.


New Blocks

One of the best parts of seeing the new Azteca set was some of the new blocks that were introduced, and so it wouldn't be any fun to simply re-texture old blocks alone.

Test Fence Build

Secret Bookcase

When considering the secret wall blocks, I decided to do something different, and slightly more subtle, than just darkening the panel. I decided to introduce a bookcase block. This was interesting because it didn't take up any traditional space that a castle block occupied. Instead, it makes sort of a sideways "T" shape when placed. Also, like other walls, it would have to sink into the ground when placed on top of a floor, or remain on top if placed off of it. The difference between the standard Bookcase Castle Block and and Bookcase Secret Castle Block is that the secret version has an extra book, sticking out in such a way that it could appropriately be pulled to activate a passage. This could work one of three ways.

A) The user simply walks through the secret bookcase like other secret walls.
B) The user clicks "x" and the books disappear, revealing the passage.
C) When the user approaches, the books disappear like some of the doors and reveals the passage.

I also wanted to do something different with stairs. Let me tell you, stairs are tough to make. They require placing 46 textures each, with 5 textures unique to that one block. Beyond the normal stairs, I also created one that has curved edges for more of the Darkmoor feel.

Secret Bookcase Animation Change

Doors and Roofs

Some of the other more interesting blocks I made were the Tall Door Block, which I thought was fitting for Darkmoor, as well as the decorative archway, buttress, and fence pieces which can double as crenelation. One of my favorite expansions to former block ideas are the roof blocks. Now if your roof is off by a few based on whether you like to place your walls inside or outside, you can use the single roof piece to fill in the gaps. There is also now a dormer piece, which turned out pretty cool.

Tower Blocks

I decided to do the towers a little bit differently. They are all slimmer to match Darkmoor's style. I also added a few new blocks. There are standard tower blocks with four windows that can be integrated with the 4-wall cube block, then also entrances with an archway.

Wireframe Tower
I also included a new type of block - the connector. One of the problems with the existing round towers is that it's tough to connect them to an existing castle. The "lip" of the archway prevents placing blocks right up next to them without special techniques. The connector tower allows for connections between your larger castle and the tower.

The big pieces here is the tower top, which is probably the most intricate block in the set, requiring a number of different textures across over 50 planes.


Developing a Castle

One of the reasons I didn't just graphically piece together some of these blocks is because I actually wanted to build with them. Imagine having an unlimited number of castle blocks at your disposal with no backpack or item spaces to worry about. The building begins...

Assembling the Darkmoor Mansion

The great thing about the way I've set it up is that future builds are now made easy because the blocks are already there, and I may occasionally post additional castles I create. This time around, I made only two different castles to showcase some of the blocks. The first is to show off some of the towers up top. The second is below.


This mansion shows off a lot of the different blocks, from decorative archways to curved staircases, buttress pieces, the fence, and more. I think it really gives you an idea of how you might use them. It was actually the first one I created, with the tower display up on being a second version I made later on.

Bits and pieces of the environment were also modeled to get the correct angle. The trees, as those who follow me on Twitter will know, were rendered (quite the intricate process), but the back wall and rock pieces were modeled. In-game, the wall is a flat object, but I went ahead and gave it some depth. The rocks were also modeled and textured.


Detailed Look at All Blocks

Below are all of the different blocks I created for the project.

4-Wall Cube Castle Block

Archway Decorative Castle Block

Archway Castle Block

Bookcase Secret Castle Block

Bookcase Castle Block

Buttress Castle Block

Door Tall Castle Block

Door Castle Block

Fence Gate Castle Block

Fence Large Castle Block

Fence Medium Castle Block

Fence Small Castle Block

Floor/Ceiling 2-Story Castle Block

Floor/Ceiling X-Large Castle Block

Floor/Ceiling Extra Small Castle Block

Floor/Ceiling Large Castle Block

Floor/Ceiling Medium Castle Block

Floor/Ceiling Small Castle Block

Floor X-Large Castle Block

Floor Small Castle Block

Floor Large Castle Block

Floor Medium Castle Block

Floor/Roof Extra Small Castle Block

Floor/Roof Large Castle Block

Floor/Roof Medium Castle Block

Floor/Roof Small Castle Block

Floor Small Castle Block

Roof Corner Castle Block

Roof Dormer Castle Block

Roof Peak Edge Castle Block

Roof Peak Castle Block

Roof Pyramid Castle Block

Roof Slanted Castle Block

Roof Slanted Small Castle Block

Stairs/Ceiling Castle Block

Stairs Curved Castle Block

Stairs Castle Block

Stone Floor/Ceiling 2-Story Block

Stone Floor/Ceiling X-Large Block

Stone Floor/Ceiling Extra Small Block

Stone Floor/Ceiling Large Block

Stone Floor/Ceiling Medium Block

Stone Floor/Ceiling Small Block

Stone Floor X-Large Block

Stone Floor Extra Small Block

Stone Floor Medium Block

Stone Floor Small Block

Tower Connector Castle Block

Tower Entrance Castle Block

Tower Top Castle Block

Tower Castle Block

Wall Castle Block

Wall Corner Castle Block

Wall Double Castle Block

Wall Medium Castle Block

Wall Post Short Castle Block

Wall Post Castle Block

Wall Medium Short Castle Block

Wall Short Castle Block

Wall Window Castle Block

Wall B Castle Block




More to Come!

I am looking forward to trying out more castles in this Darkmoor style. Please let me know what you think by commenting.

Thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral!

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