BlizzCon 2016: World of Warcraft Level Design
At the Level Design panel today at BlizzCon 2016, we have Craig Morrison, Ely Cannon, and Matt Sanders showing the audience how Blizzard creates zones and levels.
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Matt Sanders is demonstrating the software tools that Blizzard uses to design a zone. He is showing us how to make an island!
He starts with shapes and a model, and goes on to add props or what Blizzard calls doodads.
He uses Vertex Shading to then cover those areas with textures.
Having the world be believeable even if it's fantastic is very important.
He describes how to make choices between gameplay and story, by using realistic nature, to show people how to see and experience the zone.
Over the years we have given a visual language about where to walk, how to find things, etc. We do have rules and they have changed over time.
We love the tools because people use them in different ways.
Ely Cannon is designing a magic academy on stage for Kaldor'ei children.
He is describing how themes, stories, and factions shape how you build things in game.
We like to give subtle notes as to where you should be going and looking through things like shadows.
The level designers then run around an area to see if there are any sticky spots or places to fall off and things like that.
Player behaviour affects how you build things, including reflecting how you feel when you're there or how quests tell you to navigate the space.
Level designers work closely with quests designers - they are the physical, visual storytellers.
Level designers also include the small, off the beaten path areas.
They craft both the quest areas and small spaces where stories happen and lets you experience discovery.
Other people on the WoW team hold the level designers accountable for what they produce, and their work is a collaboration and everyone has a say in what they do.
After small details are done, little point lights are added in which change intensity, colour intensity of light to finish off the details of the zone.
Ely Sanders was the one who designed the Westfall Lighthouse! He's showing it to us in the level demo. He was also the original Barrens designer.
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