Blizzard came out with 2 interesting posts today. The first being on the changes that will happen in Siege of Orgrimmar when 6.0 hits (which will be 4 to 6 weeks before WoD launches!). And the second with a look at the design of the Spires of Arak, one of the new zones in Draenor.
In the recent Dev Watercooler: Raiding Azeroth Part 3—Warlords of Draenor, we discussed some of the raid changes coming in the next WoW expansion. Before Warlords of Draenor launches, players will have a chance to experience the new raid structure firsthand in the Siege of Orgrimmar.
In the upcoming Patch 6.0, the pre-expansion “systems” update planned to go live in the weeks leading up to Warlords of Draenor’s release, we’ll be converting Siege of Orgrimmar to use the new Normal, Heroic, and Mythic difficulties. Both Normal and Heroic difficulties will support flexible raid sizes and our cross-server Group Finder tool, while Mythic will be a fixed 20-player size. At the same time, “stat squish” will be in effect, the new class changes will be live, and Hit and Expertise will no longer be stats on items, so those will be replaced with more useful ones on all existing items. The raid as a whole will be retuned for the new numbers and scaling size—overall, it should prove no more difficult than it is currently, and will likely be easier in many places.
With the end of an expansion and a raid tier, along with introduction of a new level cap, we’ll also be retiring a handful of rewards. We want to encourage everyone to enjoy one last hurrah in the Siege of Orgrimmar before your adventure on Draenor begins.
In addition to the above changes, when Patch 6.0 arrives:
- Flexible Raid difficulty will cease to exist as it does now, and will be removed from the raid queue interface. The new Normal difficulty of Siege of Orgrimmar will offer a similar experience to that of Flexible Raid.
- The new Group Finder tool will be available, designed to help players create and find groups for Normal and Heroic Siege of Orgrimmar and other cross-realm group content.
- Siege of Orgrimmar achievements will be relabeled according to the new difficulty structure (e.g. “Heroic: Malkorok” will now be “Mythic: Malkorok”). Credit for these will be retroactively awarded to players who earned them before Patch 6.0.
- The Garrosh Hellscream “Ahead of the Curve” and “Cutting Edge” Feats of Strength will cease to be obtainable.
- This means that the Kor’kron War Wolf, awarded by the “Ahead of the Curve” Feat of Strength, will also cease to be obtainable upon release of the pre-expansion Patch 6.0.
- With the release of Patch 6.0, the drop rate of the Heirloom weapons from Garrosh Hellscream on Normal, Heroic, and Mythic difficulties will be significantly increased.
- Players who have yet to get any Heirlooms will have a 100% (guaranteed) chance of getting a spec-appropriate Heirloom when defeating Garrosh on Normal difficulty or higher.
- The chance of receiving additional Heirlooms beyond the first will also be increased.
When Warlords of Draenor is released and players are able to head to Draenor and level past 90:
- Garrosh Hellscream will no longer drop Heirloom weapons.
- The Kor’kron Juggernaut mount will cease being a guaranteed drop from Mythic Garrosh Hellscream, and will instead become a rare drop (like Invincible’s Reins, Mimiron’s Head, etc.).
All other loot, achievements, and cosmetic rewards (e.g. the Kor’kron Dark Shaman transmog set, rare battle pets, etc.) will remain unchanged.
Hello, and welcome to another edition of Artcraft. I’m Chris Robinson, senior art director on World of Warcraft, and today our environment team is going to give you a look at one of the zones we’re creating for Warlords of Draenor, as well as share some insight into how we approach creating environment art. Take it away Gary!
Hey, I’m Gary Platner, lead environment artist on World of Warcraft. I direct a team of artists who help create the world . . . of Warcraft. We shape the land; texture it; place the trees, rocks, and buildings; and design the “sets” where our quest team will later place the “actors.” Today we’re going to be showing you some of what’s going into the creation of the Spires of Arak. This location that would later become known as Terokkar Forest, but in Draenor-terms, this zone is the home of the regal, sinister, and flighted arakkoa.
One of the best parts about working on WoW for me is when we first start a new exterior zone. Creativity reigns, and almost anything goes—it’s real blue sky stuff. When we started working on Spires of Arak, we only had some basic ideas: tall rocky spires jutting out of a dense forest. So we got together to talk about what that might look like, and soon afterward, artist Jimmy Lo started making concepts.
Based on these concepts, we could tell right away that this zone was going to present some unique challenges. The biggest one was how we were going to build the large spiky rocks that would give the zone its distinctive look. We had two basic methods in mind to create those spires. Some of us thought that the best way would be to make most of the rocks as 3D props instead of using our terrain editor to sculpt the landscape into tall spires. 3D props have some distinct advantages, since building a prop allows for the creation of fully 3D objects of any shape, which gives us a lot of design freedom. The downside is they tend to be difficult to blend into the landscape in a natural-looking way (see the original Blade’s Edge Mountains in Outland). They’re also much more difficult to iterate on as design needs change. If instead we used our terrain editor to create the spires, that would allow us a lot of freedom to iterate on zone layout and design without needing to fidget with large pieces of premade geometry, with the potential downside of not being able to do the concept justice.
Our design team wanted to at least give the terrain editor option a chance, so they embarked on creating a proof of concept to see how well it could work. A lot of us contributed to the Spires of Arak, but ultimately Matt Sanders (exterior level designer) and Kelli Hoover (environment artist) were tasked with creating the zone. Kelli gathered resource material and started to do some paint-overs of our concepts in order to unify a distinctive new color palette. Meanwhile, Matt created the proof of concept in our editing tools in order to test ideas for creating large spiky rocks with the exterior terrain editor.
Kelli gathered a lot of reference pictures, paying special attention to color and mood. She then slightly recolored Jimmy’s concepts to model different times of day.
Then Kelli moved on to testing texture ideas by creating rough and quick block-out textures, which aren’t intended to look final but help give us an idea of color and detail. We can paint these rough textures over the landscape and do various tests to help us see how they interact. We can also see how the textures change and distort as they are painted on steep mountain terrain.
As you can see here, Matt and Kelli experimented with different textures and geometry in an attempt to duplicate the concepts from Jimmy.
Kelli and Matt discovered that using a striated rock texture would actually work better than a simpler rock pattern, and the striations give the impression of upward movement. These linear texture shapes would also bend and stretch well over the exterior terrain creating a really unique look for the zone.
Once Matt and Kelli finalized their demo zone and we agreed that everything was heading in the right direction, the real work could begin. Now the whole zone could be completed using the style and techniques that worked in the small demo zone. They’d still have to work out the look for some of the smaller subzones, though, like dense forests, beaches, and a massive thorny bramble where the Shattered Hand orcs dwell.
Last but not least, we’ve prepared a short video for you to demonstrate the various steps involved in creating the Spires of Arak. Thanks for tuning in, and we look forward to sharing more with you in the future!