Can you tell us about Artifact design? Style, variations, colors?
Similar to Order Halls, we wanted to hit the tone for the class and spec. A few were easy because they were established, but the new ones were more difficult since they weren't established. We had to come up with something that felt lore-comparable and helped answer the questions: what is the core class fantasy? What weapon feels like what you want your character to feel like? I play a rogue, so I used a lot of personal experience to get the feeling of what a rogue would want to pick up in their hand to use. Then with spec differentiation in the weapons we went on with further honing into that class fantasy.
What was it like to create a weapon from scratch when there's some well-known artifacts like Doomhammer and Ashbringer?
We start with a base artifact level, i.e. Ashbringer - this is what the player expectation is for an epic level artifact weapon. Using that as a reference, all weapons should feel comparable next to each other. The problem with that is there is no established lore for the new ones, which makes them harder to identify with. So the new weapons had to look above and beyond to feel equal to Ashbringer. The base visual levels for the new weapons were a bit more complicated than the established weapons to make them feel equally epic.
Another difficulty was Shaman. Doomhammer was difficult because it didn't feel right seeing two Doomhammers (as dual wield). A solution was to make one a magical magma hunter to avoid breaking fantasy and make it seem like we're just giving Doomhammers away.
We know classes are going to feel unique with artifacts - how well have you accomplished this and making each spec feel unique visually?
We are trying to make this a balance and it will always develop along with characters - artifacts being there early on took us into a more streamlined weapon design process. There are usually 550-750+ weapons, this time 240....so we had more time to make them more epic.
As we worked on armor sets, we used visual decisions from artifacts to layer them on top of armor sets. There are not spec-specific armor sets but we looked at all the artifacts from one class to utilize visual elements on armor. Provides a more cohesive vision.
1. Are these effects meant to be hidden, or is there simply a missing spell ID, artifact trait, etc?
2. If not, what actually enables them? Are they baseline, tied to the equipped artifact, different per spec, and so on?