Inside the Vault: Christiane Meister

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Our first Inside the Vault for 2008 is with someone all our Elder Scrolls fans know – Christiane Meister. She’s been the Lead Character Artist for Morrowind and Oblivion. She is currently hard at work on Fallout 3 along with the rest of the team.

What’s your job at Bethesda?
I am currently the Lead Character Artist for The Elder Scrolls titles.

What other games have you worked on?
My first game was PBA Bowling 2… yeah, it was bowling. I became Lead Character on Morrowind and continued on with Tribunal, Bloodmoon, and finally, Oblivion.

What is the best part about working as an artist? The worst part?
My favorite part is designing how characters will look and work, down to the hairstyles, armor, and clothing. I generally liked to maintain a feel of culture — the objects that these people wore came from somewhere and were made by people of that particular place. I hope to carry that even further in the future. The worst part of the job is not quite succeeding at what you had envisioned, whether it is time, technology, or design constraints. But then art is never really finished — only abandoned.

How did you get into the industry? Do you have any tips for breaking in?
Way back when I started in this field, it was a learn-as-you go environment as there really weren’t any schools for computer art. I had also already graduated with a degree in biology, so my life took an unexpected turn. My first foray into the 3D realm was government contracting. I built tanks and terrain for visual simulations. This taught me how to be frugal with the polys! My tip would be, have a good foundation for art — even if it’s traditional media, get the programs and learn them. The geek factor is also priceless. If you are really excited about working on a particular type of game and it shows, this makes you a more valuable team member. We’ve hired a number of people that perhaps didn’t have the experience but had the good foundation and the drive.

What would you say is your personal favorite game of all time?
Hmm, that’s tough…I’d say the most memorable games I’ve played are Wing Commander, Grim Fandango, and KOTOR.

What games are you looking forward to?
I need to sit down and play Mass Effect and Assassin’s Creed.

What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
My dogs — they want to go outside, and there will be hell to pay if they don’t get to. No, really, I enjoy the challenge of coming up with new and interesting looks for characters and all the stuff they wear and chop opponents up with.

Worst job you’ve ever had?
Ooh that’s a toss up between fast food and data entry. Grease vs. boring!

Any other hobbies and interests? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I ride my two horses, garden, hike, dabble in photography, and I recently discovered HGTV! I love Design on a Dime!

Reader Comments

  1. re: “…I had also already graduated with a degree in biology…”

    I’d long-suspected someone at Bethesda who worked on TES4 had a bio or medical background. ie Porphyric hemophilia… Who would know about porphyrins otherwise? Or taxonomy for that matter. :)

  2. I loved becoming a vampire, it brought me to a whole new gemplay style that I had never tried before. I didn’t like being a vampire due to the sun damage, but it made me improvise and I planned how to cure my self, I was level 2 at the time, so grand soul gems for the cure were a little out of my reach. The art for oblivion is amazing, just from what I’ve seen on the site, and the collectors edition. one of the main things I wish they had done from the art was the design of Leyawiin, in how it was a three section city crossing the river with several bridges. The way the river was done instead really doesn’t allow for the ships in the Imperial City to get to the ocean, due to the many shallows and the area around leyawiin in general

  3. Hey, Christiane has awesome taste in games :) I miss Wing Commander…

    Mass Effect is bloody brilliant (I say, completely overlooking the inventory system). Gets me my long awaited games-set-in-space fix but it’s not 3D space combat. Are there any games like Wing Commander out there? I played Dark Star One for a few days but it’s pretty repetitive.

  4. [re: “…I had also already graduated with a degree in biology…”

    I’d long-suspected someone at Bethesda who worked on TES4 had a bio or medical background. ie Porphyric hemophilia… Who would know about porphyrins otherwise? Or taxonomy for that matter.

    Left by Kivan on January 14th, 2008]

    Yea as was mentioned in a previous interview Bethesda is full of culture and its tastier then yogurt :D

    Thanks Christiane Meister for all the beauty and completeness of being when it comes to the simulated fantasy world of The Elder Scrolls where art comes alive.