I’ve been at Jagex working across various roles in the art team for 12 years now, and am currently Lead Character Artist.
That’s a long time to stay in one company, especially by today’s standards. I’d have thought it very unlikely when I joined, especially when you consider what an amazing pool of artists there is to work with and learn from across the industry.
So why am I still here?
One theory is that I somehow slipped into the Quantum Realm during one particularly dry meeting back in 2009, so perhaps it only feels like 12 years has passed? The grey hairs sprouting in my beard suggests otherwise, however.
The more likely answer is that RuneScape has changed so much since I started back in 2007. It has allowed me to grow not only as an artist but also as a lead and line manager. Development constantly presents new challenges.
I’ve found it hugely gratifying to see how RuneScape has graphically blossomed from its humble beginnings. Back then, we had a limit of 500 tris per character, which really hits home just how liberated we are in comparison today.
Throughout that time we have built up a truly talented art department, producing stylised sculpts and hand painted textures that any artist would be proud of.
Above: 2011 Dragonkin and updated model 2019
Above: 2007 Giant and updated Giant sculpt 2018
The evolution of software, tools and graphics – alongside my own personal career progression – means I am as engaged today as I was when I started. Helping to nurture the game from its troubled teens to adulthood is an accomplishment I’m incredibly proud of.
MMOs come with their own particular challenges, both in terms of scale and content diversity. The need to update on a regular and ongoing basis, coupled with the fact that I can go from designing a real-world creature one moment to a high-fantasy monster the next, keeps the work feeling fresh and interesting.
It’s tremendous fun to be in a room full of other likeminded people discussing how a creature should look, move and attack. I wouldn’t give that thrill up easily. Indeed, the team is most definitely the most important thing that has kept me here all these years!
Everyone has bad days, even in a game studio, but what I love is that no matter what’s going on, there’s always someone there to pick you back up again. There’s a real comradery, with everyone pushing their colleagues that extra mile to make them the best they can be. It’s a healthy environment where anyone can give their opinion without fear of upsetting their peers.
To see every artist develop their skills and confidence is incredibly satisfying, and I’m still learning every day, be it from the Senior Art Director or our junior artists. Plus, the banana cake is really good!
If you have a team that is fired up, excited about what they are working on, that are working together towards a common goal of becoming recognised in the industry as solid professional artists, that is an extremely rewarding thing for me to be a part of.
Interested in a career in game art? Head to the careers page for current openings.