BLDGBLOG Interviews Daniel Dociu

Daniel Dociu is the chief art director of the Guild Wars developers ArenaNet, and one of the best concept artists in the business. I was delighted to see that my favourite blogger, Geoff Manaugh, has taken some time out to interview him.

BLDGBLOG: So how much description are you actually given? When someone comes to you and says, “I need a mine, or a mountain, or a medieval city” – how much detail do they really give before you have to start designing?

Dociu: That’s about the amount of information I get.

Game designers lay things out according to approximate locations – this tribe goes here, this tribe goes there, we need a village here, we need an extra reason for a conflict along this line, or a natural barrier here, whether it’s a river or a mountain, or we need an artificial barrier or a bridge. That’s pretty much the level at which I prefer for them to give me input, and I take it from there.

BLDGBLOG, in case you’re not familiar with it, is an admirably progressive architecture blog, which regularly touches on subjects such as science fiction landscapes and videogame architecture. A peerless read.


  1. Morte says:

    Heh. Nice to see some other gamers read BLDGBLOG.

  2. BrokenSymmetry says:

    Daniel Dociu is a genius. Never have I seen any game concept art that comes close to his work. Although Jim has often complained about Guild Wars’ non-interactive “film-set” feel, the incredible art in that game’s environments (and especially its architecture) is what keeps me going back to that game, even 3 years after release.

  3. Jack Monahan says:

    this is funny. I’ve got the RSS feed for RPS on my google start page, and not a few days ago added the BLDGBLOG RSS… and here they are cross-referenced. nice.

  4. Albides says:

    Gorgeous. Just gorgeous.

    I’ve never played Guild Wars but did vaguely recall seeing advertisements showing buildings with sleek sails and wings, not somewhat unlike the Sydney Opera House. So he’s the one responsible. Well done, that man.

    I’d love a comparison between concept art and in-game screenshots. How much of his work actually survives the translation? I’ve never seen any game design as impressive as those pictures. But then, concept art always looks better.

  5. Thiefsie says:

    It is indeed afantastic blog!

  6. Cian says:

    A delicious combination. I, too, am a fan of the Guild Wars aesthetic and BLDGBLOG.

  7. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Dear lordy, this man’s work is gorgeous. Too bad he has to sacrifice some of these environment’s purity and emotional impact to make them playable, in his words.

    Game design vs. art, sadly.

  8. tom says:

    I love DDs stuff, Its an awesome combo of mead-like futurism and those great pulp sci-fi book covers of the 70s…

    If you’ve ever watched any of the ‘making of guild wars’ things its frequently sad to see his more abstract and 2001ish visions compromised into more stale fantasy confines..

    and bldgblog is ace, brilliant resource for any level designers too!

    Oh and on a similar tip
    link to
    is well worth a look too.

  9. terry says:

    BLDGBLOG defies blog physics by being interesting, beautifully presented and intelligent. Sort of like RPS but with less peggle references.

  10. Kieron Gillen says:

    The Gulid Wars collector edition includes an art book of his, which I quietly treasure.


  11. Mike says:

    Well, it was certainly weird reading BLDGBLOG and then coming here! I was just going through my blog list alphabetically :)