Greetings, and welcome to another edition of Artcraft! I’m Chris Robinson, senior art director of World of Warcraft, and for this second entry I’ve gathered a group of Warlords of Draenor developers to talk a bit about Garrisons—specifically, how our artists are working closely with the game designers to ensure that the visuals we’re crafting support their design goals.
We’re not really going to get into the details of how Garrisons work here, like specific mechanics of their design. Think of this more as a behind-the-scenes glimpse into our art process with two of our groups: our dungeon art team, which is responsible for all the Garrison's large buildings, walls, gates, and so on; and our prop art team, which is focused on the profession buildings and all of the awesome details you’ll find inside of them.
"Hey Everyone! The Garrison feature is going to be a huge part of your core experience in Warlords of Draenor, so it’s really exciting to get a chance to talk about it. As Chris mentioned, it's a massive feature with a lot of different moving parts, one of the biggest of which is the visuals—and that’s where our art team comes in. We knew we wanted the Garrison to feel like a big new feature, but we also wanted to keep it familiar, like bringing a piece of home to Draenor. There is just something about running into Stormwind or Orgrimmar that evokes that sense of faction pride, and that’s exactly what we wanted out of the Garrison. The art team was able to work with us to deliver brand new art that still evokes those feelings from our faction capitals.
Nailing the look is just one part of the process though. A big part of the feature is being able to increase your Garrison’s power over time, and we wanted to make sure you see that reflected in the art. This means that all of the Garrison buildings have to have multiple, and increasingly epic visual upgrades. The plot system used for Garrisons—which allows you to customize your layout and place buildings anywhere—presented a unique challenge for the art team, since even though a building needs to look more epic at each upgrade, it couldn’t actually change shape at the base. Check out some of the under-development examples below.
—Cory Stockton, Lead Content Designer
When working on the Garrison, we decided to start with the Alliance buildings first, and that’s what we’ll be focusing on today. When we first began, we thought, "Wouldn’t it be cool for players to get to have some of the original buildings from back in Elwynn and Redridge in their Garrison? Our resident Concept Wizard (actual title) Jimmy Lo ran with this idea of a “trip down memory lane” by bringing back a lot of those early buildings, and we worked on trying to keep a lot of familiar parts of the buildings intact while updating themwith new textures.
After trying that idea out, we began to notice the buildings were looking too familiar—it wasn't epic enough, and wasn't looking like something you’d expect to see in this big new feature. So we updated the recipe to "extra-crispy"—and that meant going far beyond a new coat of paint on an old asset.
Click on all the things!
We didn't, however, ignore the past—we built upon it. Keeping the original spirit of the old buildings, we began exploring new designs. We created fresh silhouettes and pushed the individuality of each building, creating visually exciting upgrades as you progressed. This way, when you get that first shack you call a Lumber Mill—an oversized crate with some sticks and a dull saw in it—you're excited, but you know there's lots of room for improvement. As you build your army and finally get that third-tier Lumber Mill though, you feel like a badass ready to fight back against the Iron Horde.
I have to say I love, love—did I mention LOVE?—the Mage Tower. The library invites the player to grab their favorite book of spells (mine is Beatrice’s Magical Exploits Into the Wilds of Wildervar), wrap up in a blanket, plop on a nice soft chair with their favorite pet sitting on their lap, and read till the light of the fire dims to crackling embers. When we’re creating the art, we actually use small stories like that 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.
“One of the most powerful aspects of an artist’s mission is storytelling, and working to fill the space in the Garrison has allowed us to really focus in on that. Decorating a particular set or building provides an opportunity to communicate a lot of information about how the space is used and how it was made, and all the pieces come together to help convey an overarching theme. Little nuances and details in the props can help give the player context into what’s happening in a particular area of the game, and ultimately, really help to tell the story of an entire zone.
We approach each of these tasks on both micro and macro levels—evaluating how each smaller piece comes together as a larger whole. This is where the real challenge lies, since we don’t want to visually overwhelm the player—but at the same time, we're giving everyone the visually striking, high-quality level of art they've come to expect from World of Warcraft.”
—Jordan Powers, Associate Artist
“In Warlords of Draenor, your Garrison is your fortress—a foothold in a savage world, and ultimately a place to call your own. One of our main goals with the Garrison was to really bring some life and sense of purpose to the characters who inhabit the world, and to make them feel like they belong in their environment. What that entails for us as artists is to brainstorm, develop, and refine a scenario that not only gives a narrative to a particular space, but helps make the player feel like the world is cohesive and real. We strive to give each set of props—what we call a 'kitKit
Short for “style kit,” this refers to an overall story the art should be consistently conveying. This helps to achieve a cohesive look as multiple artists contribute individual elements to a larger piece.'—logical treatment and placement so that the NPCs look as if they truly belong there. In doing so, it hopefully allows for a more visually rich and rewarding journey for the player.”
—Eric Braddock, Associate 3D Artist
“For the profession hubs, we wanted the player to be able to experience leveling up their chosen professions not only with skill points, but also visually through their Garrison. As the player progresses, each profession hub will level up, and the associated building will become more visually impressive. We treated each profession hub as an opportunity to describe the NPC who works there—how neat or messy they are, how they might work, and how they’ll grow with you as you level up your Garrison. We also thought it would be fun to throw in small hints of different races that might be associated with certain professions, such as draenei for Jewelcrafting or dwarves for Blacksmithing, to tie in the many races that give the World of Warcraft its depth and history.“
—Jay Hwang, Senior 3D Artist
Chris Robinson (@artofcgrobinson), senior art director, World of Warcraft. Mage Tower and Lumber Mill by Rhett Torgoley, senior artist, and Lianna Tai, associate 3D artist, with direction from Wendy Vetter, lead dungeon artist; Lumber Mill concept by Jimmy Lo, senior concept artist; Storehouse by Jordan Powers, associate artist; Enchanting hub by Eric Braddock, associate 3D artist; Jewelcrafting hub by Jay Hwang, senior 3D artist, with direction from Eric Browning, lead prop artist.
I really hope blizz puts in some race specific buildings the horde buildings look really rough, where as the alliance buildings look sturdy, sleek, and strong.. good thing I play mostly alliance :P
you can get more followers using mercenaries bahahaha!love that ;Pthis looks alright, we'll see if i like it, i kinda like doing some of this work that the followers will be doign, but we will see.i also like the idea of rescuing your follower in a dungeon, sounds fun :D
"Pet Stable will let you breed epic pets." Sounds awesome! xD
I lMAO when I saw picture above with follower names - Oprah Windfury, Leeroy Jenkins Umad Brew
Please. Allow this to happen. I am psyched.
Are there going to be multiple building styles for the garrison? For example as a horde play am i going to be able to choose between the Orgrimar look and the Undercity look?
By the looks of it, my garrison is gonna be going into terokkar or shadowmoon, perhaps nagrand or arak once they release the screenies of those places.What I'm hoping for is that you need to put followers on guard duty, and that iron horde raids could happen, either taking or leaving behind gear/equipment. Also ships/carrige tracks. Would be amazing, you could sail or ride to main cities or quest hubs. By the looks of it, this is going to be amazing, especially that they're heading for good looks and immersion.
I don't think it says anywhere that EVERYBODY will be able to see your garrison. I got the idea only you and anybody in your party would.
Just adding my vote to the "Please let us pick the look of our garrison." crowd. I love playing Horde, but of the Horde races we've got Trolls who live in tents, Tauren who live in tents, Orcs who live in yurts (which is a tent...), and Forsaken who until recently lived in ruins (now they've got a more mad scientist vibe to their towns. Only Blood Elves and Pandaren live in anything like a decent, well constructed building.I really really hope it's not orc only. The pointless tusks sticking out everywhere just get on my nerves.
And to all the "omg botting" people: I played a little Star Wars: The Old Republic and the crafting was done by npcs (your companions). Sound familiar? It was essentially the same as crafting in WoW today but it took minutes instead of seconds, and the npc has the crafting animation instead of your character.
I cam't wait !
This looks so much like desktop dungeons XDEDIT: i love those names ''oprah windfury'' and ''umad brew'' also at the bottom is a warlock called ''moar dots'' also, leeroy jenkins.
I'm very,very excited for WoD, all of the artwork so far...(to me) seems great.Although, some of these changes could have been added in previous expansions..it's still awesome that they're coming out soon.
I would really love to see us be able to buy vendors we can place at our house that other (non friend) player could interact with. Such as trade goods, armor (repairs), and city portal vendor. You could even get a little whimsical and have a minstrel vendor who dances and sings for a few coins, or one that sells the one-time use toys. Vendors would have a spot to stand just outside the players building, and to acquire a vendor for your abode could be done through quest chain and/or gold. It would be a lovely way for players to further customize their homes as well as offer goods & services to their neighbors and traveling clansmen.
i feel like something is missing on all the structers from the "OLD" warcraft games no clue what but something ! anyone feels the same!btw the mage towers should look like something like dalaran kinda looks,we kinda have the magic and the resources for it do we not?
Please oh please Blizzard -- I beg you to start from scratch on these building designs -- NOT recycle existing structures with a renewed color scheme.
it seems to become nicer and nicer for the next expansion..the current expansion is starting to get a bit boring.. but if i see whats comming next i think i will be able to hold it for a bit :)
Other than challenge dungeons, the only new feature I REEEEAAAALLY look forward to.Just awesome.