Eye Candy

As far as the latest patch notes for Wrath go, I’m not interested in the latest build, what’s being done to balance skills or anything like that. No, what really gets me drooling is the artwork, which in an of itself has me impressed, that I’m actually getting excited about WoW artwork.

Now, before you pounce all over me, I majored in Media Arts and Animation. This means that for four years of my life I was surrounded, and immersed in, the best that the 3D world had to offer. I learned to gauge movements with a critical eye and was trained to be able to critique things. During college, my love of games gave me access to many different art directions and, inspired, I devoted myself to learning as much as I could about asset production. I wasn’t interested in coding, or balancing, all I care about doing is making it look good.

I suppose this attitude is responsible for the amount of flack I got back in the day from the WoWheads (as we called the know-it-all elitest jerkfaces of the gaming world) I loved nothing more than plunking two different but similar games down next to each other and comparing artwork. Chiefest among these activites were comparing World of Warcraft and Guild Wars. The two were released moderately close to each other and both scaled wonderfully with various computer systems.

Now, I don’t want to compare gameplay, progression, payment methods, pvp vs pve or ANYTHING like that. I’m only talking about models, textures, atmospheric affects, animations, spell effects, things like that. In this department, at the time of release for both games, Guild Wars beat WoW in visual quality hands down.

I don’t care if you prefer a more cartoony look to a more realistic one, my opinions allow for such differences of preference. The thing is, when you put two models, environments, or textures next to each other and compare apples to apples, Arenanet just did a cleaner job than Blizzard (off the bat, Blizzard has since stepped up to the plate and delivered, more on that later). The difference is even more apparent with animations. I honestly have serious trouble playing my Blood Elf male Warlock because of his jump. There’s a problem with the curves. Go ahead, go create one, go jump around. He seems to float up off the ground instead of springing up. The take-off is sluggish. Now, I know I’m an animation snob, and things like this aren’t going to stop me from enjoying a well-made and fun game like WoW, it’s just food for thought.

(Note: Guild Wars’s complete lack of a jump mechanic is even more obnoxious for someone like me who enjoys bouncing around like an epileptic flea)

Now! *clears throat* Did I mention I’m excited about Wrath? What I’m seeing coming out of the betas actually has me smiling and happily preparing to shell out the money for two copies of the expansion (one for Mr. Tigerfeet of course) in a way that was never present for me Pre-BC. When BC came out, the only reason I bought it was because I didn’t want to get left behind. If I knew a good fraction of the community was going to stay in Pre-BC content I would’ve stayed happily in Azeroth. Unfortunately I’d have missed out on one of my favorite instances, Karazhan, but that’s not the point. I wasn’t all that excited!

With Wrath, however, I am, most vehemently, excited!

Up next I’m going to talk about scenery and artistic effects, as well as embed two zone videos, so if you don’t want to hear anything about Wrath stop here.

Two words… Utgarde Keep. Did you see those giant skulls? Did you see the fire belching forth? Good Job Blizzard on those effects! An animated fire texture with an alpha map looks a MILLION times better than a non-blended particle system any day, plus I’ll bet it’s easier on the engine to boot.

Now, the two videos I’ve got up are only of zones. They’re not gameplay videos, just grand sweeping overviews accompanied by stirring music (I’m a sucker for music). I’m not interested in seeing gameplay videos, I’ll see all the gameplay I want upon release, but seeing the zones presented in this way allows me to oogle at all the eye candy without feeling like I’m being cheated out of some kind of experience.

My feelings are along the lines of when I used to play Warcraft II and III and first stepped into a barracks. I had a wrenching feeling of de ja vu and then suddenly realised, Hey! This is where footmen come from! I’d always wondered what it looked like from the inside! It doesn’t feel like a spoiler if I look at the overviews because once I’m actually in game I’ll be looking at things from a whole different perspective.

So go ahead folks, enjoy the videos, I’ll get the popcorn!

The Cold Dream

Muffin’s WotLK Exploration Video

I apologise for the links to WoW Insider, but I couldn’t figure out how to embed videos from filefront like I do from Youtube.

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