The team are currently working hard preparing our announcements for Content Update 3.0.0 tomorrow and 2.6.0 later this week! In the meantime, we've sat down to interview Blake, one of our environmental artists to gain insights into his work!

Hi Blake! Thanks for taking part in the interview! Could you please introduce yourself and let us know a little bit about your history with gaming and environmental art?

Hey, my name's Blake and I'm an environment artist at GGG. I guess I got into gaming pretty late. I didn't grow up with any game consoles or a PC, so going round to my friends houses to play video games was a huge deal for me. What we did have growing up were a lot of board games, but over the years I got tired of the same games with the same rules, so I began to add new rules, changing things to be more challenging or interesting. I'd play test these changes with friends and then go and adjust the rules after. I guess this was a Game Dev sort of mindset. I didn't think anything of it at the time, I was just doing it because I was bored.

Later on in high school I got into 3D because I thought it was cool. My high school science teacher just randomly happened to do 3D animation in his spare time and gave me a copy of 3D Studio Max and a bunch of tutorials.

After high school I did a couple of 3D courses at Media Design School. I ended up focusing on Environment art, mostly because I really like making worlds for players to explore and partly because Animation and Character Art is really hard.

Could you please tell us about your current role at Grinding Gear Games and what an average work day is like for you?

I'm an Environment Artist, so I make the dungeons! Areas in Path of Exile are made up of environment tiles. They're like 3D puzzle pieces that the level designers use to create areas. My job is to make those 3D puzzle pieces.

The average day for me is pretty straightforward. My tasks tend to be very long term tasks. I had one task that basically said "Make the Aqueducts" and I was working on that for almost a year.

So day to day I tend to work on the same area. I've usually got 2 or 3 areas to work on so if I get tired of working on one area I can switch over to another for a few weeks. I'll also collaborate with the level designers on ideas for the dungeons

Are you able to give us an overview of what it takes to get an area in the game completed?

It actually doesn't take too long to get a basic dungeon prototype up and running. In the very beginning, once I've got a good idea of what the theme of the area is, I'll start blocking out the basic tiles with just grey blocks to get a really rough idea of how the area will look. The level designers can then use these basic tiles to create some dungeons. I'll do this for 2 or 3 other dungeon sets that I've been assigned to work on.

By the time they're all up and running in a very basic form, I've either gathered or been given tons of reference images or concept art for the areas. I'll then begin working on replacing the blocky placeholder art with real art. This is the part that takes weeks to months. The dungeons will also evolve and change along the way as new ideas are added or old ideas removed. Erik, our lead artist, will often ask for specific things in the dungeons too.

What is the most challenging aspect of creating environmental art for Path of Exile?

The tricky part with Path of Exile is that, because areas are randomly generated, all the areas are made up of dozens of tiles that have to join seamlessly with each other and look as if they are not being repeated, even though they are. There is a real balance we have to find between creating something interesting and unique but not too unique because it will stand out as being repeated. Like for example, we can make a really cool looking collapsed wall of a dungeon, but then if a whole corridor of that dungeon is made up of the same collapsed wall tile it would look terrible. So what we end up doing is creating variations of that wall, collapsed ones, whole ones, partially collapsed ones, etc. Hopefully when the game generates a dungeon with all these tile variations it doesn't look like they're being repeated. It really does becoming a balancing act.

Is there any area in the game that you are particularly happy about how it turned out?

I think the Mines in Act 4. The walkways of rotting wood and the way they overhang the cliff edges, I think turned out pretty well. They made the area quite unique, because originally it was going to be a more straightforward cave/mine type dungeon but with some creepy guys fused into the walls. While I was looking online for reference images I found an image of a rickety walkway on the face of a cliff and thought, that might be cool for the cliff edges in the mines. It then spiraled out into all these walkways and platforms.

Also the Fighting Pits of Daresso's Dream I think turned out well. The hardest part of that dungeon was actually what to put in the area above the fighting pit. We wanted it to look good but not distracting. We also wanted to make it as clear as possible to the player that they can't get up there, but it also had to look like an area that the inhabitants of that world could be up there and spectate the fights from.

Do you have any advice for aspiring environmental artists?

Just look at stuff really. Play games, watch movies, look at the real world around you. Try to figure out what makes an area interesting in a game or movie. I always feel like an area needs a hook to justify its existence, something that makes it unique, even if it's just a small thing. For the Mines I think it was the rotting walkways. For the Scepter of God I think it was the crying statues and weird posed statues. For the Library, I think it's the bizarre freakshow style skeletons.

Also, this kinda goes without saying, but always try to one-up yourself. Always try to make this asset, area, project, whatever, better than the last one you made. I guess most importantly, try to make stuff "yours". I think that goes back to the hook thing. I've known artists who get are tasked with making a wall and they'll make a wall, but it's just a wall. They don't go the extra mile to make it an interesting wall.

I guess what I'm saying to aspiring environment artists is: always do the best you can, don't just make a wall, make the best wall.

Are you working on any other game-related projects outside of Grinding Gear Games?

I am! I co-host a gaming podcast with a couple other GGG devs, Nick and Saveun. Nick's a designer and Saveun is a 3D Artist. We talk about games and gaming news and other random stuff, like the creepy clown sightings last year. We've been doing it for almost two years now. You can find it at

What can the community look forward to in terms of things you're working on at the moment?

There's a couple of dungeons I've been working on that I'm really looking forward to players seeing. I'm not sure how much I can really talk about, but one of the dungeons I had the idea for way back when was making the Library in 2013. At the time we were too far through the production of the Library to implement it, so when this new Act 5 dungeon came along I thought, "I have the perfect idea for this!". So far I think it's looking pretty damn cool. Here's a sneak peek:

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Grinding Gear Games
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This is fantastic! MMMMMMMMMore of this!

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I have absolutely nothing to say against the aesthetic of the environments, they are perfect
ZiggyD is the Labyrinth of streamers, some like it, some dont, but GGG will make sure to push it down ur throat to make you like it
Last edited by Sexcalibure on Feb 13, 2017, 5:53:31 PM
Wow! This really got me thinken, GGG should move people from working on the environment to working on more MTX, would really boost the key presses if you know what I mean.
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Last edited by OSsloth on Feb 13, 2017, 5:59:12 PM
first page

cant w8 for 3.0 info !
Last edited by BerserkZodd on Feb 13, 2017, 5:57:06 PM
Nicu!!! :D

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