Blizzcon 2015 - Day 2 Schedule
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Blizzcon 2015 Schedule
Note: all times are converted to the timezone your computer is currently in.
Blizzcon 2015 - Day 1 Recap
Saturday starts off with the Legion Game Systems panel at 1 PM PST / 4 PM EST, followed by Q&A and an In-Game Cinematics panel at the same time. Linkin Park will close out the show!
We will be going back and covering the Cinematics panel after the Q&A is wrapped up, along with the Engineering discussion and Community Game Systems discussion later in the day.
Legion - Armor Sets
In all of the excitment today, you may have missed the first preview of Legion armor sets. The Rogue and Warlock Mythic and PvP gear sets are shown below!
Legion - Transmog System GamesBeat had a short interview with J. Allen Brack that covered the new Transmog system.
The new Diablo 3 inspired system will include tabards.
The designer that worked on the Diablo 3 system is working on the WoW system now.
In Diablo 3, once you obtain an item, you have unlocked the appearance and don't need to keep the item anymore.
The system will make transmog more of an item collection system and help to clean out your bags and bank.
The team knows that the limited backpack size isn't ideal, but they have to find everwhere in the code that assumes it is a fixed size. They tried increasing the number of slots but items would disappear into the void and be mailed back to you.
Legion Community Amphitheater Discussion The Instance hosted a discussion at the Community Amphitheater with several of the developers. This did not appear on the Virtual Ticket.
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Story, Lore, and Questing
Wowpedia is a great resource for the team to see what they have done with characters in the past.
Sometimes if there is something very cool they will contradict the lore a little bit to do it.
It is very important to the team that every single designer gets to contribute to the story.
Most of the priests you would recognize are Alliance, so some new Horde priests are going to be added.
Alleria is tied to the Marksman artifact weapon, so you will see a little bit about where she has been through that experience.
In Draenor several characters promised to help fight the Burning Legion or visit Azeroth. The team wanted to limit how much of Draenor leaked out, as it was an alternative timeline, but they may appear in the future at some point.
Jaina will play a role in Legion, maybe not a huge role.
The events at the Broken Shore are devastating and are really going to shake things up. The Alliance and Horde will be reeling from that throughout the entire expansion.
Many of the major characters use multiple specs, so Thrall may be Elemental and Enhancement.
Individual quest designers tend to put up their own ideas when it comes to specific content and parts of a zone. They are really excited about working with previous characters, working with the creative development team to fact check the lore and make sure it is consistent.
Individual quest designers usually have favorite characters that they enjoy working with.
Lorewalker Cho shows you his ancestors for one quest and all of the models used are rejected Lorewalker Cho models from earlier in development. One of them is wearing a Timewalker tabard.
The Artifact and outdoor world quest lines use the NPC models and voice acting to enhance the quest experience more than ever before.
When you hit max level, the team doesn't want you to feel like the questing experience is over if that is content that you enjoy. The team has been working on the max level questing experience, taking the lessons of Pandaria, Timeless Isle, and Tanaan Jungle to create an experience that allows you to log in and have things all over the world that you can go and take part in.
Legion tries to enable more types of gameplay at max level. If you enjoy questing, there will be a nice questing experience. If you enjoy dungeons, the new scaling will keep them relevant for you throughout the entire expansion. Raiding is still there and fantastic.
One of the quest designers switched to working on professions for Legion, bringing his experience from quest design to create profession related content that will last for quite a while during the expansion.
Rogues can sneak around their hall and pickpocket each other!
Garrisons were really fun for the first couple of months, but not so much after that. The team is aware of this and careful about not bringing the bad parts of garrisons forward with Class Halls.
Velen plays a role in the Priest hall.
All of the Class Hall locations are finalized. One will be previewed during the panel on Saturday. Others may be shown before beta, but there are no solid plans yet.
The team wants to strike a balance between players spending time in the Class Halls and the major cities. You will be going to the Class Halls multiple times per day and there are some special features you may want to hang out for.
The Warrior Class Hall has an arena thing that you can participate in. Every Class Hall may not have something special like that, as it reduces the variation.
Warlocks overstep at the start of the expansion when the Order Hall is introduced, getting greedy and think they have more power over the Legion than they really do.
Some of the Artifacts will have a history that is well known to players, but there weren't 36 of them to use. The team had to make very compelling story lines at the start of the expansion to make players feel like their weapon is important and has a history.
There will be multiple people carrying the same artifact weapons, but this was already the case with weapons from current raids. There is actually more variety because each of the 36 weapons have different models and colors for each individual weapon.
Artifacts are trying to create an interesting long term progression system that gives you something to do even after you hit max level.
Artifacts will take some effort for other specs, but you should be able to switch specs. The further behind you are, the faster it goes. Keeping two Artifacts completely maxed out may take some more effort, but switching and catching up or keeping one Artifact a little bit behind shouldn't be too bad.
Class specific blogs with lots of details are coming starting on Sunday!
The class team makes changes for mechanical reasons fairly often, but Legion is giving the team a chance to focus on the class fantasy as much as they do for quests and the general story.
There will be a lot of class mechanic and aesthetic changes in Legion to try and bring classes back to their roots, as well as making the different specs more distinct.
The team is trying to develop different ways to handle class balance and tuning without harming the fantasy and fun of the classes and specs. The new PvP leveling system is one example, allowing them to tune classes specifically for PvP.
The team is really focusing on class fantasy in Legion. What do the different classes do when they are hanging out in their Class Hall?
The team plans out the major story lines very early in the process and build the progression of the zones along with them. Those stories have been becoming more important and numerous in each expansion.
Stagger is not going away.
Brewmaster gameplay does not deliver on the fantasy very well right now, as the biggest thing that matters to them is Guard. You generally think of a Brewmaster dancing around and avoiding things and when you do hit them, they don't seem to take a lot of damage.
The team tries to avoid drastic class changes in smaller patches, but with major patches and especially new expansions they can make larger changes.
Set bonuses got really strong in Warlords, providing some variation to gameplay, but there will be other systems that fill this role in Legion, especially the Artifacts. They will be fun and exciting, but maybe not quite as strong.
Talents are one of the best ways to distinguish the different classes and specs. Legion will have a lot more spec specific talents, adding variety to the different specs.
The team is adding some loose themes to talents. For example, all of the left column talents may have something to do with rage, all of the far right ones are a weapon enhancement, and all of the middle talents are something else.
The team isn't trying to use Artifacts or Class Halls to fix classes or change how classes work, but instead build upon what the class already is.
When the team was working on Pandaria, they wrote a song for Lorewalker Cho to sing. The voice actor was given a tune and gibberish song and it came out great.
In Starcraft, the sound team was doing an operatic passage that used Latin and French. The lyrics were mostly meaningful, but part of it was the team's names and other bizarre things.
Warcraft Movie Recap
We finally got to see the trailer at Blizzcon this year! The movie comes out June 10, 2016.
There was a press event for the movie that featured Duncan Jones, Chris Metzen, and some of the movie cast.
The initial version of the movie felt a little bit like "Humans are good, everything else is bad". Duncan Jones came in and pitched a film that told the story of both sides with the same empathy, care, and time.
Blizzard wanted to share the Warcraft story with people around the world, especially the vast part of the world population that doesn't play games.
Blizzard and Legendary shared a lot of the same values, so it was a great match.
Duncan laid out his vision for the film and it felt like he was pulling the thoughts right out of their heads. He gets the details right and appreciates the nuances.
The movie is a chance to show people who we love what it is that has gripped us so strongly for such a long period of time.
If you don't play Warcraft, you can still appreciate the movie as a fantastical story of right and wrong, as well as choosing the right thing to do.
If they do play Warcraft, there are so many great Easter eggs hidden in the movie for you to find.
This movie really feels like it is for everybody.
Durotan was all motion capture, so it took a strong director to make it work. You really have to become the character and get every detail right, as motion capture will capture every detail.
There was an orc cam to help actors get used to motion capture and create a movement vocabulary for Orcs.
Paula Patton plays Garona. She got the script and loved it because it read like a novel, with great background and history for every character.
Patton was also fascinated by the fact that her character was half human and half Orc, living a life of pain and struggle as a slave to Gul'dan. She had to fight to gain respect in the Orc culture and now feels like a fish out of water in the human world.
Patton found the role challenging and initially scary, but she eventually learned to ride a horse and wield a sword.
Garona is the bridge between two cultures that have never met and are now meeting for the first time.
The actors got some idea of what things would look like during motion capture but they didn't see a completed and finished Orc until after they had been shooting for several weeks. Seeing how great the Orcs would look was a relief to all of them.
Technology has significantly advanced since Avatar, so the motion capture used in Warcraft was even nicer than Avatar.
Gul'dan has an unusual posture, so the actor had to squat and stay hunched over during filming.
The movie is a retelling of Warcraft 1, which was turned into a novel called The Last Guardian. The novel allowed them to build out the characters and story more, but storytelling of games was still crude in 1994. The mythology grew a little more with the movie, along with some tactical calls to simplify themes and ideas. The movie is the ultimate version of Warcraft 1, streamlining all of the best parts into something better.
The team made some weird decisions with the lore over time, some things Metzen wishes he could take back. Retelling the story was a chance for redemption, making the Warcraft 1 that everyone remembers, but better.
The "For the Horde", "For the Alliance", and "For Azeroth" roars from Blizzcon 2014 did get used!
The cinematic needed an emotional hook, so the team looked at war movies.
They considered starting with an Alliance footman writing letters to his family, then Orc grunt who was writing letters to her family, finishing with Varian writing to Anduin.
Every shot brings the ship from the cinematic closer to the Broken Isles. It was very technically challenging!
There were thick clouds and they wanted to use sunlight beams to light the characters.
The ship wasn't going to be featured in the game, so they cinematics team was able to customize it as they wished. They elongated the ship and widened the bow to make it more front heavy.
The gunship model was very detailed. 7 million faces, 3000 of the 4000x4000 texture maps, raytracing. It takes 4-6 hours to render each frame.
There were 18th century ships they used as inspiration.
They also looked at older planes with sheets of metal and rivets.
The original cabin was going to be much larger, but it felt better smaller, allowing it to just be a backdrop for the character.
Some of the items on the desk are reused from previous cinematics.
The compass is passed down from Llane Wrynn.
The team drew inspiration from all of the different versions of Varian art that already existed.
Translating the character proportions from art to the 3D model was challenging.
Varian texture maps were based on real people. Pictures of 40 year old white males that worked in the office were used for reference. These detailed shots are used to make Varian's skin look real.
Much of the variation in his skin is from the reference photos, not painted.
There are as many texture maps on Varian as there are on the entire gunship.
Varian has lots of hair!
Varian takes 4-6 hours per frame and 20-30 GB of memory to render.
The lens makes a difference to how Varian's facial features appear.
Later on in the process the team picks the f-stop / focal length, trying to keep the result look realistic.
Lens distortion and chromatic aberration help to make it look like a real lens was used. Making 3D look realistic involves adding artifacts back in to the video.
Lots of reference video was used to give Varian realistic facial movements. No motion capture was used!
There were 50+ assets on the deck in the first big shot of the deck, helping to make it look filled out and realistic.
The team can use a motion capture camera to walk around the 3D deck to capture the camera movement, adding the smaller shakes and sways that come with using a real camera.
Motion capture was used to animate some of the other characters in cinematic, such as the soldiers on the deck.
The effects team made some really great water by using reference footage of someone in a pool.
There is a small goblin tugboat in one of the shots.
Some of the ships were recycled from other cinematics, such as the ship being destroyed in Booty Bay or the ships in the Mists of Pandaria cinematic. More detail had to be added to the ships.
The reference for the Horde ship coming through the clouds was older Viking ships. It was less detailed than the Alliance ship, with most of it near Sylvanas for her closer shots.
Sylvanas being an Undead High Elf was something the team wanted to be reflected properly in the cinematic.
Sylvanas had some more armor added to her midriff.
It is hard to get the subtle facial detail for younger women right. The team had some photo references of women's faces, projected it on the model, and cleaned it up from there. The pore detail is from real people.
The team added the illusion of red bloodflow in her ears with the lighting.
The team worked with Anna Maltese to capture reference footage to make sure Sylvanas moved realistically.
The fel energy was used as a team color, appearing on all of the enemies.
The final fighting shot used hundreds of reference footage shots to make it great.
Lots of effort put in to the lighting and composition to make it amazing!
The Illidan model from Burning Crusade was updated for Legion.
If the team does reuse assets, they usually have to update them to add more detail.
Orc skulls are reused in several cinematics.
Around 50% of environment assets are reused from previous work.
Cataclysm zeppelins are also in the background of the Legion cinematic.