Category: Warcraft

Artcraft: Level Design Part 3

Artcraft – Level Design continues with part 3!

Quote from: Blizzard
Artcraft: Level Design Part 3

Hi again, I’m World of Warcraft senior art director Chris Robinson. In this third installment of this Artcraft series, senior level designer Ely Cannon explains a bit more about the level designer’s role in bringing World of Warcraft’s landscape to life.


Hi, I’m Ely Cannon, a senior member of the level design team for World of Warcraft, and I wanted to talk a little about the role that World of Warcraft level designers play in developing the visual style for our zones. On the WoW team, we look for artists who also have design experience, or designers with art skills, for our level design team. This is essential to our process since each level designer is ultimately the gatekeeper for the visual style and tone of the zone he or she is working on.


This process starts with the pre-production work for a zone. Working with an environment artist, the level designer will help guide and define the scope of environment assets needed. These assets include terrain textures, trees, bushes, accent plants, rocks, etc. The range of models and textures needed must address not only the main zone look, but the sub-environment types needed to break up the zone. Not only that, but the textures must do this all while bringing the concept to life and remaining within the capabilities of our game engine. It can be a challenge, and often is.

Take, for example, the new Nagrand. Not only does it encompass the environment that you know of as the Nagrand from Outland, but it also contains new areas, like a wetlands and a higher-elevation arid region. These disparate environmental themes could clash quite jarringly if not handled with care. To keep the zone’s development moving in the right direction, the level designer and the environment artist need to constantly discuss shape language, color, diversity, scale, mood, model usage, and ultimately, the visual tone of the zone as a whole.


The environment artists make the models and textures, and the level designer sculpts and paints the terrain, places the trees, rocks, and bushes—all the while considering gameplay and both the art and design direction. A typical day for our level designers will include decisions about the overall look and feel of a zone, as well as paying finite attention to detail, like how one plant looks when placed next to another plant in the scene.


Nagrand in Warlords of Draenor is a good example of the color relationships between textures. The vast sweeping savannahs of verdant green which make up a large portion of Nagrand presented a particular challenge: how can we get color depth into massive green fields while staying true to the concept? At first glance, the fields and rolling hills seem to be simply green grass—and lots of it. On closer inspection, you’ll notice a carefully selected range of green tones used to render the savannahs of Nagrand. Each of the green tones is a unique grass texture which is meticulously blended with the others in the set to create the effect seen in-game. Likewise, the sub-zones in Nagrand diverge from the main zone color scheme in very specific ways. These were defined early in the process to ensure that players would experience a diverse range of environment types while playing through the zone, and ultimately when they return for max-level content.



Our artists and designers work together to build and iterate on zones quickly, creating huge play areas with a consistent level of visual quality. In the last segment of this Artcraft series, you’ll learn more about Nagrand and the challenges in building the zone from five of our level designers: Victor Chong, Ian Gerdes, Ed Hanes, Damarcus Holbrook, and Kevin Lee.

Quote from: Blizzard
6.0.3 Hotfixes: October 28

Here you’ll find a list of hotfixes that address various issues related to the recently released World of Warcraft patch 6.0.3. Hotfixes are updates we make on our end without requiring you to download a new patch. Some of the hotfixes below take effect the moment they were implemented, while others may require your realm to be restarted to go into effect. Please keep in mind that some issues cannot be addressed without a client- side patch update. We will continue to update this list as additional hotfixes are applied.

Hotfixes have been listed by the date they’ve been implemented.

Patch 6.0.x Information


  • Roll Club: Serpent’s Spine should no longer cause players to float and allow them to complete the quest.
  • Zarhym Altogether: Spirit Chests looted during the weekly quest no longer contains gold.

World Environment

  • World Defense chat channel should be joinable once again.
  • Alliance characters taking a flight path to Shattered Beachhead should now arrive safely at their destination (rather than falling through the world).

Battlegrounds and Arenas

  • Bonus Honor for winning a Battleground is now only awarded when queuing for a Random Battleground (it was incorrectly awarding the bonus Honor for any Battleground win).

Artcraft – Level Design Part 2

Quote from: Blizzard
Artcraft – Level Design Part 2

Welcome back to our ongoing Artcraft series that takes a look at the environmental and zone design for World of Warcraft. I’m senior art director Chris Robinson, and today senior level designer Michael McInerney is going to take us through a more high-level design overview, again using Nagrand from Warlords of Draenor to illustrate our level-design philosophies.


Hello, I’m Michael, and I’ll be providing insights on some of the thought processes that go into designing an iconic zone like Nagrand. Our approach to level design begins with asking many questions, and defining the answers. The one big question we always ask ourselves is “what is the story we are trying to tell?” This usually keys off the initial pitch—in the case of Nagrand, we wanted to convey that this was the sweeping pastoral home of the Warsong clan. But we also needed to determine the specifics of how we were going to communicate that visually to the player.

The obvious answer to how we tell their story is to put their homes within the environment. But that’s not the only thing that makes a place a home. The Warsong are fairly aggressive and confident, so when you first enter the zone, you’re not so warmly greeted by their war banners and fortified towers. We also knew the Warsong clan were wolfriders and traveled in large packs. This was something we could show with the large beaten-down roads that their war bands travel along. Their home base is nestled into a wind-carved canyon, and has subtle references to an Orgrimmar long past, with buildings and living spaces shaded by cliff sides. We also knew that the way they care for their wolves says something about their culture, and is noticeably different from the reverence for them within the Frostwolf clan. We illustrated that by using animal pits to get across their relationship with their wolves, instead of integrating them into the villages as the Frostwolf would. All of these elements come together to paint a different picture of the Warsong and give them character.


Nagrand also had some equity we wanted to explore; players have experienced a shattered version of the zone in Outland, and this was a unique opportunity to provide a contrasting look. Giving places a sense of history is high on the list of zone design philosophies. Some of the more obvious ways to tell a zone’s history are with ruins, when they make sense. The Highmaul ogres were once a great power in Nagrand. Now they are on the edge of oblivion. All that’s left of their once great civilization is scattered remnants, as evidenced by their crumbling towers and roads you find throughout the zone. It’s not a coincidence that the area they occupy in the zone doesn’t exist in Outland.


We also wanted to touch on the floating islands, one of the classic visuals of Nagrand everyone remembers. We needed to figure out how could we could capture that vibe and still tell a story. One way was to create geography so delicate in places you could imagine it snapping off and floating into the sky—fel energies notwithstanding. The sweeping arches and impossible rock formations also lean toward that realm of magic, without fully committing.

The player experience, and the way a player feels when they are moving through the environments is something we’re always thinking about. Moving from zone to zone, or even within the subzones and small microcosms we create, can dramatically impact someone’s perception of their progression and the game world around them. Stay too long in one area and it can get very tiresome, but move too quickly from one to another and it can feel overwhelming. We work very closely with the quest designers to move players through the world so they can experience a dramatic environmental change at the best possible points, or when we feel they could enjoy a change of scenery.

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The challenge with Nagrand was creating enough variety within a theme while maintaining an organic feel. This is a zone that is essentially grassland, but we knew we couldn’t fill a space this large with only fields. Developing an ecology that feels fresh and real is an important tenet of designing a world. Mountains flow into valleys; the edges of a forest blend naturally into open fields. The high points are dryer with scrub bushes and dead trees. The low points are lush, sometimes flooded with water. The riverbanks are a subzone in themselves, covered in reeds and thick vegetation. These areas all offer variety yet stay within the fantasy we are trying to deliver.

The way the NPCs occupy the areas should also make sense. The panther-like Saberon live in roughed out caves below the rock arches. Herds of Clefthooves roam the fields. The Highmaul for the most part occupy the mountainous areas. These relationships to the environment tell a story without any reading required.


A great zone is one that, upon entering, you immediately “get” the fantasy of, and years later you still remember that moment, and I hope we’ve achieved that with the latest incarnation of Nagrand.

Tomorrow, senior level designer Ely Cannon will explain more about the role of level designers in the creation of a zone.

Quote from: Blizzard
6.0.3 Patch Notes

World of Warcraft Patch 6.0.3

Updated: 10-28-2014

Note: For the rest of the pre-Warlords expansion patch notes, please see The Iron Tide: 6.0.2 Patch Notes.

World Event: Iron Horde Incursion

  • Characters that have completed the Iron Horde Incursion event can now visit a vendor near their faction’s respective beachhead to purchase replacement quest rewards.
  • Report to the King/Warning the Warchief: Characters with a healing specialization should now be able to select Ironmender’s Totem as a quest reward.
  • Thrall received a reminder that he is currently still on Azeroth.

Character Models

  • Resolved an issue where certain helmets could incorrectly cause an Undead’s jaw to disappear.
  • Resolved an issue where skin color for Human models were not matching up with their original counterparts.


  • Resolved an issue that could cause characters to remain disarmed for an extended period of time.
  • Death Knight
    • Talents
      • Breath of Sindragosa now deals reduced damage to secondary targets. Damage to the primary target remains unchanged.
  • Druid
    • Feral
      • Savage Roar should no longer incorrectly consume Omen of Clarity’s clearcasting effect.
      • Resolved an issue where Rip refreshed through Ferocious Bite was not extending its duration for the full amount against targets that were below 25% health.
  • Paladin
    • Protection
      • The passive ability Sanctuary, is now learned at level 10.
  • Priest
    • Shadow
      • Resolved an issue where Shadow Priests in Shadowform were not displaying a targeting outline.
  • Shaman
    • General
      • Chain Lightning, Flame Shock, Frost Shock, Lava Burst, and Lightning Bolt now costs 50% less mana.
    • Elemental
      • Earth Shock and Earthquake now costs 50% less mana.
  • Warlock
    • Glyphs
      • Glyph of Ember Tap was causing Ember Tap to heal for more than intended. Additionally, the glyph now increases the healing of Ember Tap by 2% (down from 5%).


  • Gulp Frog no longer drops the Wilted Lilypad.
  • Kor’kron Butcher Cleave ability should no longer deal an excessive amount of damage.
  • Kor’kron Commanders with the Hemorrhagic Shadowstep ability should no longer deal an excessive amount of damage.

Pet Battles

  • Iron Starlette should no longer be excessively noisy when their owner is on a mount.


  • A Villain Unmasked: Resolved an issue where Samuelson Unmasked was dying too quickly to grant quest credit.
  • Basilisk Butcher: Basilisk Meat should be dropping again.
  • Borrowed Brew: Resolved a number of audio issues with the quest.
  • Get Kraken!: Resolved an issue where North Sea Kraken was dying too quickly to grant quest credit.
  • Warforged Seal: Added a safeguard to prevent characters from completing the quest if they already have the maximum amount of Warforged Seals.

Dungeons, Raids, and Scenarios


  • Looting bind-on-equip items should no longer automatically bind it to the character on Personal Loot mode.
  • Resolved an issue where Guild Raid groups were not receiving credit towards Guild challenges on Mythic difficulty.
  • Dragon Soul
    • Spine of Deathwing: Blood of Deathwing should no longer deal an excessive amount of damage.
  • Firelands
    • Shannox: Rageface’s Face Rage ability should no longer deal an excessive amount of damage.
  • Blackwing Lair
    • Razorgore the Untamed received a buff to increase his survivability.

Battlegrounds and Arenas

  • Battlegrounds
    • For players queued for Random Battlegrounds, the losing team should be receiving 45 Honor again.


  • Resolved an issue where Windwalker Monks were unable to craft more than one item at a time using the “Create All” button.


  • Fire-Watcher’s Oath should correctly have a 100% chance to grant Bloody Coins on PvP kills once more.
  • Living Root of the Wildheart’s bonus armor provided by Ursine Blessing for Guardian Druids has been toned down to a more reasonable level.


  • PlayMusic API should now work correctly and be able to play MP3s once more.
  • PlaySound API should now work correctly and be able to play MP3s once more.
  • Resolved an issue where quest headers in the Quest Log may become stuck in a collapsed state.
  • Game settings and macros for characters with names that contains an extended ASCII character should be saving correctly once more for users on Mac OS.
  • Resolved a number of situations where the mouse cursor can disappear on Mac OS.

Bug Fixes

  • Resolved an issue where multi-passenger vehicles entering your character’s viewing area could cause them to be booted to the character selection screen.
  • Resolved a client crash that can occur if a character logs out after copying a calendar event.
  • Resolved a LUA error when selecting monitor 3 on systems with multiple video cards.
  • Resolved a LUA error from using Command+M on the Credits screen on Mac OS.
  • Resolved an issue with the skybox flashing on systems with multiple video cards.

Artcraft is back! This time the series is about the Draenor level design!

Quote from: Blizzard
Artcraft – Level Design Part 1

Hi, I’m Chris Robinson, senior art director of World of Warcraft, and welcome to a special edition of Artcraft focused on environment and zone design. Previously we showed you what it was like to create the Spires of Arak from a purely art-focused perspective, but over the coming days we’ll be releasing a series of articles focused on exterior level design, using Nagrand as a focal point. You’ll be hearing from the team who works with the artists, as well as the quest designers, systems designers, historians, and more to craft and create not only the zones we adventure in, but the visual story that is told about these locations and the creatures and races that inhabit them. For this first article, I’m pleased to introduce Julian Morris, our lead level designer.


Hey everyone, Julian Morris here, lead level designer for the World of Warcraft exterior level design team.

Exterior level design is the process of designing and constructing the zones of World of Warcraft, from Azeroth to Draenor and everything in between. Our team has planned, plotted, and designed the rise and fall of ancient cultures, as well as shaped mountains, forests, seas, lakes, rivers, roads, ruins, and every land feature imaginable. In addition to the land itself, we also design and create cities, towns, and Battlegrounds (with the random exterior dungeon or two in there every now and then, too).


The level design team is a hybrid of both art and design. We work hand in hand with the quest design team to build the environmental stories that support the content that defines Azeroth’s lands, cultures, and conflicts.

We also work every step of the way with all of the art groups on the Warcraft team. Working with the environment art team, we sculpt and paint the landscapes to create the rich, vibrant settings that form the foundation of the world. Within those spaces we work with the dungeon team, designing and constructing the thousands of camps, towns, settlements, and cities that provide the unique architectural beauty that anchors all of our cultures and creatures to the world. These locations in turn provide the scenes and staging for the finely crafted set dressing—the tables, chairs, books, and more—that our prop art team creates.


Level design binds the vision of many groups together, and it takes the passionate effort of all these teams to create an incredibly detailed, hand-crafted experience.

The zones of World of Warcraft are their own main characters that come to life before our very eyes during development. In this series, we’re going to draw back the curtains a bit to show you more on how we approach world-building and how we breathe life into a zone.


Join us again tomorrow as senior level designer Michael (Mac) McInerney gives you a deeper look into the level design of World of Warcraft using Nagrand from Warlords of Draenor.

Patch 6.0.3

A new patch is coming, which will bring along many more bug fixes!

Quote from: Blizzard
We’re planning to release a patch tomorrow that will bring the live game up-to-date with the version currently being tested on the beta realms. This includes a number of fixes and changes to address issues we’ve identified since the release of 6.0.2, as well as remaining assets and content to prepare for the launch of Warlords of Draenor. As we’ve done in prior expansions, our plan is to not require a launch-day patch, and have a smooth transition to the new expansion in North America at midnight Pacific on November 13.