April Fools 2014 Blizzard Roundup

Today was the first of April, which means Blizzard has once again come up with some “news”. Here’s the roundup!

World of Warcraft:

Quote from: Blizzard

Welcome to Artcraft! I’m Chris Robinson, senior art director for World of Warcraft, and today we’ll be discussing the revamp of the female Draenei model. In this blog, we’ll touch on how we approached this redesign, show before and after images, and talk about our art process with this particular model.

When we first discussed throwing away the old model and making a new female Draenei from scratch, one topic that kept coming up was the connection between the Lost Ones and the Draenei; visually, there wasn’t one. We wanted to help a player understand, more viscerally, the connection between the Lost Ones, and their seemingly perfect cousins—the Draenei. Ready to challenge long-standing design conceits, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.

Lead Character artist Tyson Murphy explains: “The original model was never very popular among players, and while certainly there are the few who dearly love playing a female Draenei, we felt like we needed to start over. The best way for us to do that was pretty clear from the start: rely on the lore. I wanted to create a new face that got across the idea that this was someone you know, the proverbial “blue space demon next-door”, while playing up her connection to the Lost Ones. We brought out her eyes, created a more natural “Lost Ones” jaw line, brought her waistline in to more realistic proportions, and took the hairline up to create some visual parity with the male designs.

Lead Animator Steve Aguilar:
A lot of what we try to accomplish with art in the game is to tell a visual story through the textures, props, and animation, giving you a sense of what something is without having to outright explain it through text or voice. Most people forget that the original Draenei survivors on the Exodar came from one specific mountain family clan, and the Draenei female you know and love was actually conceived en route to Azeroth. We wanted to rough up her edges a bit, and tell a story that has been told many times before—the story of a rebellious young girl cooped up on her family’s floating crystal ship that’s just crashed on a fantastical planet. When you get your hands on Warlords of Draenor, be sure to take a look at some of the unique emotes the animation team has created for her. Some of my favorites are: /twerk, /ew, /chewgum, and /whatever. Also keep in mind that the models shown here are using a temporary pose, which may make her appear more animated and lively than she will in the final product.

Character Artist Dusty Nolting adds:
The Draenei, like all of the game’s races except the humans, are essentially anthropomorphic representations of animals, so a lot of care went into conveying that. Playing up the capra-like slender reverse-ankle and hoof, and adding tasteful amounts of fur, were both changes players have been asking for since Burning Crusade. We also know a lot of you have been requesting full “back side” shots to properly compare the before and after. Hopefully this helps!

That’s all we have for the female Draenei right now. We hope you continue to enjoy this series as we invite you to meet the team, get insight into our development process, and sneak early looks at some of the art we’re creating for Warlords of Draenor.

See you next time!

Other links:

Heroes of the Storm

The new hero Pajamathur was presented today. You can check out his amazing abilities and other details here. Let’s hope this will become a Abathur skin!

Starcraft II

Quote from: Blizzard

Throughout our history, we’ve sought to bring epic experiences to gamers around the world. StarCraft II has seen Jim Raynor, Sarah Kerrigan, and Zeratul as the focal points of epic adventures across the universe. As we move toward our third chapter for StarCraft II, we’ve come to feel that a fresh approach is needed to keep the experience as immersive as possible. Accordingly, we’ve decided to realign the focus of the Protoss story to reveal this mysterious race in all its power and glory. Therefore, we’re happy to announce that the next expansion will feature the Protoss story through the eyes of Artanis, the Hierarch of the sage Templar, and it will be titled StarCraft II: Herald of the Stars.

Herald of the Stars will feature a revolutionary non-linear campaign. It can be played backwards, forwards, with any mission in any order, or not played at all, while still delivering the exact same life-affirming storyline.

Writers James Waugh and Justin Dye said,

“We don’t want to give away too many details of the plot at this point, but rest assured we will answer the important questions you’ve always wanted to know about the Protoss, and we plan to do so in excruciatingly specific detail. “What do they eat?” “How do they breathe?” “Do they breathe?” “Hold on – they surely breathe, or how do they oxygenate their blood?” “You know what, I’m sorry I asked about the whole breathing thing… this is going massively off-track.””

New weapons! New units! New armors! New hairstyles on the Stalkers! Customize the color of your lasers so long as you’re okay with 10 different shades of blue! A dance editor? Yes. Sure! A dance editor!

Will Artanis save all of the multiverses from utter annihilation? It’s up to you and all of the other Twitch viewers who are in chat at the time!

While the motivation for this change ultimately stems from our desire create the most epic gaming experiences ever, there’s more behind this decision. As you might expect, Blizzard Entertainment is constantly researching the aspects of our games that our community of players enjoy. One thing that has unexpectedly come to our attention is our audience’s love for the acronym HotS. With recent successful titles Heart of the Swarm, Heroes of the Storm, and Hearth (of the) Stone, we took notice of players’ absolute love for this particular string of letters. This caused us to reconsider everything, and the results were nothing short of spectacular.

Long-time Blizzard Head of Trend Studies Jack Sterling said,

“At Blizzard, we constantly strive for optimization. Over the last few years, through deep market analysis, ethnographic study, and highly advanced acoustic research, we have come to scientifically prove that the player community prefers games with titles that form the following acronym: HotS. We were amazed. It’s quite unexpected. For some reason, people just synergize with the acronym HotS. In one study, 87% of respondents choose the HotS acronym over another random video game acronym. People seem to like how easy it is to say, how attractive they feel when saying it, and the sudden rise in body temperature associated with such an impactful acronym. Other than that, it’s baffling, but it’s awesome at the same time!”

Senior Game Designer David Kim also voiced his excitement about the new name.

“From a design perspective, we want to create new and exciting experiences for our players, while making it as easy as possible for new or returning players to try the game out. HotS is a well-known name at this point with lots of awareness in the gaming community. Switching over to an entirely new acronym for our next expansion creates an entry-barrier that just felt unnecessary. When players upgrade from HotS to HotS, that transition will be as smooth as possible!”

Senior Game Producer Hony Tsu had this to say about HotS:

“Developing the StarCraft II franchise puts a lot of responsibility on us at Blizzard. There were many creative hurdles between Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void, and we just love the acronym HotS. We’ve spent so many hours of time searching for names in the past. In fact, more than half of the time we spend in development is on hair-brained, outlandish, theory-crafted suggestions from random co-workers. With Herald of the Stars, our team saves not only frustration and time, but we get to hold on to superior acronyms. It’s hard, on the spot data that can’t be contested. HotS is like a … hug of the soul. HotS will hugely overhaul the sacred naming conventions of our games. I just realized that thanks to my name – Hony Tsu – my e-mail address is HoTs@blizzard.com. That just makes heaps of total sense.”

Check out our new Herald of the Stars website here, and perhaps you, too, will come to hope our triumphant success in naming leads to great things

Diablo III

For D3 blizzard released their own flappy bird game! Happy Reaper! You can play it here.

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