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BlizzCon 2017 Day 2: Warcraft Art Panel

Posted 2 years, 6 months ago by Preston.

It's Day 2 of BlizzCon 2017! More Battle for Azeroth news is on the way, and I'm here to provide an overview of it. Expect a gallery of slides from the Virtual Ticket stream as well as any additional insight I can provide. If you have any thoughts or feedback, please leave a comment below or tweet @PrestonDvorak.

Expect tons of spoilers ahead! If you want even more coverage, check out my Day 1: Opening Ceremony and What's Next for Warcraft article, or all of the BlizzCon articles.

Table of Contents

Character Art, Creating New Cultures

Covers characters, creatures, armors, and mounts.

  • Unique armor coming for the Horde and Alliance
  • Kul Tiras and the Kul Tirans
    • Rugged, sea-faring people
    • Suffered through years of war against now extinct Drustvar
    • Look different from current humans, battle-hardened, more robust shapes
    • Practical armor, clothing that's made for harsh weather
    • Weapons that are elegant with nautical motifs, but functional
    • Culmination of where and how they live
    • Kul Tiras full of dark secrets
      • Harnessing ancient druidic death magic
      • Sweet old ladies that want to use your bones for rituals
        • Death magic makes you more powerful but twists and contorts body
      • Summoning horrific druidic minions, not friendly like treants
  • Zandalar, Zuldazar
    • Aztec and Mayan influence, dinosaur motifs, lots of gold
    • King Rastakhan
      • Look and feel references Zandalari architecture
    • Dinosaurs!
      • Brodasaur, several times larger than Devilsaurs
    • Worship Loas
      • Currently corrupted by Blood Trolls
        • Savage and matriarical, worship blood gods
        • Create blood beasts, used as hunters and mounts

World Building, Animation

  • Strong cultural narrative helps drive animation
  • Recently began focusing on adding texture to city animation
    • Suramar showed rich, vibrant city, but only scratched surface
    • Needs a heavy focus on what defines culture and people
  • Freehold, Kul Tiras port
    • City has workers, couriers, ship builders, dock workers, and beer!
    • Chaotic streets with lots of merchandise moving around
    • Seedy environment develops underneath, pickpockets, rogues, and thieves
    • Government realizes problem, work to protect merchandise and people
    • Guards in cities have been around since the beginning
      • Working to break up guard poses, stoic versus relaxed
    • Government needs a way to spread messages, introduces criers
    • All the elements work together to form a cohesive narrative
  • Makhab (check spelling), Zandalari
    • Blood troll location, lots of blood around
    • Blood doesn't come from thin air, harvested from other trolls
    • Blood fuels magic and the gods demand it, priests act as messangers
    • Strong ritual motifs throughout, visualized through actions


Make the magic, if it sparkles or explodes it's an effect.

  • Player ability update ongoing
    • Haven't gotten to all specs, Warlocks on the way
  • Effect animation is the same as character animation, just applied to abstract shapes
  • Start with basic guidelines, such as a rune
  • Structure it to determine when different parts are visible
  • Work with character animators to tie it together with pre-cast and cast animation, plus effects on the target
  • Effects need to communicate what you need to know, friendly versus harmful spell
    • Old Holy Word: Sanctify didn't convey it was helpful, new one feels friendly and inviting
  • Working on raid and dungeon bosses getting unique spell effect kits
  • Better support for interior and exterior world effects, cool animations to mounts and enemies
  • Drustvar
    • Summoned druidic golems, what does that effect look like
      • Ashy effect, inverted lighting, or soft and wispy
      • Blue too friendly, Red is meaner but looses connection to spirit magic
      • Blue colors with ashy effect conveys spirit magic with nasty undertones
      • Same ideas work into other aspects of the kit, such as witch nuke
    • Blood magic looks different, lots of blood splatter

Environment Art

Covers natural elements, trees, plants, rocks, everything from blades of grass to clouds.

  • Work closely with level design, they use the environment art to create the experiences
  • Nazmir, Zandaldar
    • Zandalari abandoned due to increasing blood magic use
    • Filled with abandoned troll structures, wanted an overgrown lost world feel
    • Didn't want players in the dark all the time, created light marsh deltas and dark swamp areas
    • Wide open spaces on edges of zone for large creatures
    • Design is sometimes grounded in reality, not always just making what's cool
    • Used massive strangler trees to create intimidating root system players can run inbetween
    • Need to strike balance between filler plants and accent plants
      • If everything draws attention, the scene looks busy
    • Murky waters needed a new water system to allow the muck to be placed near the edges only
    • Necropolis uses similar items as the rest of the zone, but is given a different feel through lighting, fog, and the sky
    • Overall the zone itself creates a journey to supplement the story of the zone
  • Kul Tiras

Dungeon Art, Structures

Creates dungeons, buildings, and cities, translates culture into structures.

  • Important to understand background to create new art that feels unique and alive
  • Ask two main questions: who and where
  • Kul Tiras
    • Cold and harsh, people are hearty, strong nautical connection
    • Began with ships as a reference, careful not to make things that feel fake or like they belong in an amusement park
      • Used overall curve of the ships, hull for roofs
      • Windows with high detail and a curve like they were taken right off a ship
      • Details and windows focused in one area to match layout of a real ship
      • Lots of rust, weathered wood, oxidized green
        • Materials used to sell overall feel, make the inhabitants feel grounded
      • Fine details, like carvings, used to break up large elements, should feel handmade
        • Careful not to over do it, such as thing as too much tentacle!
      • Areas used by outlaws don't get refined sensibility, look as if they took items right off a ship
    • Overall feel of a city is used to tell a story, players should feel immersed in the city

Prop Art

Creates what the characters would create, bottle of wine to mailbox, to huge fountain.

  • Goals is to make the world feel lived in, tell the story of the people, and guide the player's eye to important things
  • Always looking for ways to add flavor to the game, whether through referencing culture or creating silly things
  • Zandalari
    • We've seen them before, but wanted to make them feel new and interesting
    • First time seeing a thriving troll city
      • Ancient, opulent, and colorful, but also harsh and sinister
    • A lot more culture will be seen
      • Dinosaurs and loa in carvings, materials, and even food (dinosaur eggs)
      • Mayan and Aztec influence used to be subtle, not anymore
        • Relief carvings, mosaic tile, food, cloth, gold, and skulls
    • Spirituality
      • Run by political council, lots of scholars and priests, very classy
      • Atal'dazar, burial place of troll kings, shown with lots of gold with subtle magic qualities
    • Overall, smart but still savage
  • Holidays and their function
    • Give a sense of passing time, bring community together 
    • Fun to work, can be silly because they're not permanent
    • Blight Boar, new Darkmoon Fair band
      • Keep with Forsaken gothic influence
      • Forsaken have always been metal, but it was fun to take it to 11
      • Small touches like the arm that pops out of the grave to rock out
    • Auction House Dance Party, Micro-holiday
      • Interesting to make DJ turntables that fit in WoW, added lots of wobbly engineering bits to make it seem not too reliable


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