Hogwarts Legacy was a bit unlucky. The game has become one of the most popular games of 2023, and if you exclude Counter-Strike 2, which is “complicated”, it’s the most popular. Hogwarts Legacy has received very favorable reviews from players and the media, but it seems that it will not receive any of the awards at the end of the year. The fact is that Hogwarts Legacy was released in February of this long year, so both the jury members of prestigious game awards and ordinary players have managed to forget about this project. And in vain, despite some criticisms about the same type of open-world tasks that can actually be addressed to any Open World action/RPG, this is an impressive game, especially in everything related to art direction, style, and world building. This is what The Art and Making of Hogwarts Legacy is mostly about, and it allows us to look behind the scenes of Hogwarts Legacy and understand the challenges the game developers faced and why they made certain design decisions.

Title The Art and Making of Hogwarts Legacy
Genre artbook
Author Avalanche Software
Translation SBT Localization
Publisher Insight Editions, MAL’OPUS
Year of publication 2023
Pages 252
Format 23 × 32 cm
Binding hardcover
Language Ukrainian
Website MAL’OPUS

One of the main challenges facing the developers of Hogwarts Legacy was not to betray the expectations of the Wizarding World of J.K. Rowling fans. The fact is that future players have most likely already read J.K. Rowling’s books, seen the movie adaptations, or even managed to visit theme parks in the Harry Potter universe. But…

The problem is that the same places are described in the books and shown in different parts of the movie in different ways, and moreover, the events of the Hogwarts Legacy game take place 100 years before the events of the main series of books/films, and even 40-50 years before the events of Fantastic Beasts. So the developers had to create something similar to what readers/viewers have already seen, but something different, something in a completely new era, with its own style and rules.

Judging by what we saw in the game, they succeeded. And on the pages of The Art and Making of Hogwarts Legacy, the developers who were responsible for certain aspects of the game tell us why they made certain decisions, what their initial ideas were, what was eventually included in the game, and what they had to reject in the process.

The Art and Making of Hogwarts Legacy – Behind the Scenes of Hogwarts

For example, the original design of Hogwarts was much more complicated, and secret rooms could be identified even by the extra windows on the castle walls. But it turned out that the castle was incredibly difficult to navigate, and players would simply get lost in the endless corridors and staircases.

Or, for example, it was interesting to find out how complicated the design of an on-demand room turned out to be, because it can change its size and players can decorate its walls, which becomes a problem both in terms of animation and memory.

In fact, there are many such interesting things in the book. Which animals should be left in the game and which should not be added. What it cost to build the Hogsmeade village, which has no straight walls and each building was created by hand. Why do some rooms look like the ones we’ve seen in movies and others don’t? What is the problem of creating video sequences when there are thousands of options for player’s clothes? What interesting things and hidden surprises you might have missed while going through the professors’ offices and rooms. And much more.

The Art and Making of Hogwarts Legacy – Behind the Scenes of Hogwarts

Unlike some other artbooks that consist mostly of illustrations and brief descriptions, The Art and Making of Hogwarts Legacy contains a lot of text, about half of the volume of the publication. There are both full-page illustrations and full-page spreads with text only. So there’s a lot to read, and it’s really nice. The art is, of course, very cool, but you can find it online if you want, but the first-person stories about the development itself are a real treasure. And in this edition, more than a dozen Avalanche Software employees from different departments of the studio, and even workers from some contractor studios, share their thoughts on the development process. If you are involved in game development or are interested in this field, this is a must-read, almost like attending a specialized conference.

The book also contains a lot of additional details about the game’s characters and locations. Students, Hogwarts professors, enemies of the hero, the school itself, dormitories. Some parts of the artbook are a real game guide that complements what we saw in Hogwarts Legacy, because who reads these guides in the game itself. As one of our authors aptly noted recently: “I like to read, and I like to play. But I like to do them separately!”.

The Art and Making of Hogwarts Legacy – Behind the Scenes of Hogwarts

Hogwarts Legacy itself has no Ukrainian localization, but the artbook was translated by SBT Localization, which has already translated many games and managed to get into a number of scandals related to localizations this year. But, as for me, the translation of The Art and Making of Hogwarts Legacy turned out to be very good and high-quality, and I would gladly play Hogwarts Legacy translated by SBT Localization.

By and large, the only thing that slightly discourages the purchase of The Art and Making of Hogwarts Legacy is the considerable price of the publication – 1200 UAH. But right now, for Black Friday, the book has received a 20% discount and costs only 960 UAH. This is a good offer, don’t miss it.

But keep in mind that after reading the artbook, you might want to play through Hogwarts Legacy to see all the interesting things the developers talk about in the book. I did just that, reinstalling the game and starting it as a new character to get a different perspective on Hogwarts Legacy, knowing how certain design decisions were made. Think of it as a kind of Directors Cut. And yes, it’s a really cool game, and in terms of world design, it’s a really cool game.

Enjoy reading and playing.