Tuesday, February 11, 2014

To Build a Home :: Homeward Bound

New Graphic Incoming. COUNT ON IT.

Well, we knew we were getting a fully interactive experience when Blizzard announced their latest edition of Artcraft, but I'm not sure I was actually prepared for the stunning I got when I fired up my browser thirty minutes ago. If you're one of those people who thinks Garrisons aren't a really significant part of the Walords Expansion, it's time to think again. This feature may end up redefining everything that surrounds us, including the World of Warcraft we live in.

The Garrison feature is going to be a huge part of your core experience in Warlords of Draenor. 
Cory Stockton, Lead Content Designer.

The details are everything. AND THEY ARE.

Gone are the clunky and blocky buildings in my old graphic above, to be replaced with what the Art Department themselves describe as a reinvention of the traditional buildings we have come to live in and love over the last decade. This 'trip down memory lane' brings a level of detail which took my breath away, where it is clear that care and attention has been lavished from the planks on the floor to the flames of the candles. It would be a considerable understatement to say I'm now desperate to see what these places look like when animated.

When we’re creating the art, we actually use small stories as a way to guide the scene. We use lighting, material choices, silhouettes, and carefully crafted details to invite the imagination of the player to look beyond the pixels and textures, and bring their character into the world. I like to think of the buildings as characters themselves, each with a personality, from the little nicks on a doorway, to the warm hearth in the Town Hall.  
We hope you feel right at home when you step into each of these places. 
Wendy Vetter, Lead Artist, Warcraft Dungeon Team. 

What is also clear is the change that occurs as buildings are updated, although I can already see people not willing to do so because they'd like to keep the smaller nature of some of the tents and buildings themselves.

Not a Mill, at least not yet!

The implications for this are significant: for the person who asked on the Forums for faction-specific buildings and who was then told it was that or a Raid Tier, it should be abundantly clear to anyone looking at the US Blog post exactly why that would be the case... but the potential is HUGE, especially if transposed onto the wider framework of the World, because let's face it, who wouldn't want these buildings all over Azeroth at the first available opportunity? Could this mark the beginning of a concerted redesign of other buildings outside the auspices of the Garrisons, part of a commitment by Blizzard to bring the real world up to scratch with the much-anticipated redesigned character models? What could this mean for future Expansions? Could we expect Night Elf and Undead architecture to be similarly revisited? Who knows... but for now, anyone who thought this feature would be a crushing disappointment...

If all else fails, I could stare at this stuff for hours and not get bored.


I sense something of a sea change in the graphic outlook here: of course the look of the game has always mattered, and there are some epic vistas in every part of Azeroth and beyond. However, this approach is tied to making the ENTIRE experience of Crafting something more than simply sitting in a Capital City and grinding out hundreds of items. For some, this is always what the experience will be, but for those who want to truly feel a part of what they do and what they make, this is a major departure, and a hugely encouraging one. Everything matters in your garrison, and that respect for the franchise is visible in every pixel.

I'll revisit the Buildings in more detail in the next few days, because to do all of this justice needs me to sit and take it all in with the benefit of time and consideration. Needless to say, I'm really glad I've been covering this feature since Blizzcon.

This is possibly the most excited I've been about something new for quite some time.

1 comment:

Val said...

Gah, how I LOVE the Alliance style garrison art. If Horde can somehow look half as beautiful, I'm going to end up loving the garrison feature.

I loved every image they showed today, except for the horde stable (and I will admit, to still having very mixed feelings lol). The wait for the next Artcraft post is going to be excruciating!!!

Because wow. Wow. Wow. Especially that mage tower. o.O <3