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BlizzCon 2018 Build A Panel: World Creation in WoW
03/11/2018 alle 13:38
The Build A Panel: World Creation in WoW has begun. This panel will cover how zones in Azeroth are assembled. There will be a live demonstration of how a zone is created, from concept to completion. We'll highlighting notable details from this panel here.
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About the Panel
Hosted by Darin DePaul
Panel topic voted on online, Zone and World/Lore building in WoW.
Principle Level Designer, Gary Platner
Lead Level Designer, Jim Chadwick
Senior Game Designer, Steve Burke
Level Designer, Colin Volrath
Level Designer, Josh Navarro
Level Designer, Sara Wons
Where Does a Zone Start?
Start with High End story obligations but leave a lot open.
Kul'Tiras was a bit different, since we had somewhere to start with.
We wanted to tell a special, intimate story.
Boralus was planned to be a major part of the continent.
We look at older cities, like Dalaran or Shattrath, for inspiration.
Really just starts with a set of areas and roads.
Then start inserting buildings that go with the "flow" of the city.
After inserting the block-buildings, final assets are added like texture to enhance the vibe and theme.
The vibe is naval - we wanted you to taste the salt in the air.
A hearty, homey, lived in place.
Designers use references all the time - for Boralus, specifically France and Hamburg, older medieval cities.
Just starts with moving blocks in a space.
Creating a cool composition, and an awesome place to run through.
The usability of the zone is tested before actual art is inserted.
Simply replacing a few pieces really makes it come alive.
Next step is adding textures.
Guiding people through the dungeon with objects and also giving the dungeon more history or story by creating the environment.
Juxtaposing busy and non-busy areas to reinforce busy-ness.
Level design and story is an iterative process, they give each other notes back and forth during the creation of a dungeon.
Behind the Scenes: New Arathi BG Upgrade
Still using same engine as 2004 but we're raising the visual bar.
New technology inspired the upgrade while keeping the feel - i.e. increased view distances, etc.
Level designers often insert easter eggs into zones. For example, there's a baby in a tree in a bird's nest in Drustvar inserted by Sara Wons.
The theme originally was the Scottish Highlands.
Lots more options with painting tools, etc.
Frequently, things like environmental archways are used to guide players.
What Happens to a Zone Next?
Sometimes we'll be so settled on a zone, and then we build it and we love the idea but once it's build we hate it.
After that, we change and iterate it.
Even on game level - "We've cancelled more games than we've shipped"
We often save assets we've made for other things and use them elsewhere.
For example, the disguise mechanic in Suramar. We were scared to try it out and it took a lot of work to make it happen.
Drustvar started out as a Game of Thrones inspired frozen wasteland, similar to "beyond the wall"
But those notes weren't hitting so started over from scratch with the horror zone.
There were some camps of witches in the frozen wasteland version of Drustvar, so we kept those and built on it.
Boralus went through a lot of changes over time, cities are particularly work intensive.
Mentioned inserting horde graffiti at Varian's tomb in Stormwind but "I got caught" and it was removed.
Changes happen, for example, when you have a Horde area that Alliance need to get through so things like safe roads are then inserted.
Underrot went through a lot of changes in the process as well.
Underrot was supposed to be a zone and was pitched as such. Instead of forcing it we shelved it for a bit and decided it would work better as a dungeon.
Another example is Voldun, wondering how to break up the desert. Tried jungle, trees, etc. Eventually added an Oasis in the middle of the dunes.
Putting Polish on a Zone
So now we know the size of a zone, the quests, etc.
Now we get to put the finishing touches on it like lightning, music, sound effects, sound design, etc.
Finishing touches of Underrot - inserting things like moss, plants, fungus on the bones on the ground, etc.
Small details make a huge difference.
Lighting calls out certain areas to draw player attention.
Special tools to make the zone deeper, and more realistic.
Arathi was more about finishing touches on the 'feeling' - the zone was already there, just needed to up the quality bar
Prop addition sometimes just playing around with adding props, having fun with it if you need some inspiration.
Discussion of the collaborative nature of this iterative process.
Collaboration helps to streamline the theme to make it "WoW" versus that individual designer
Nothing is procedural, everything is placed by hand.
We love seeing player reactions to the zones.
The technology and level of detail advancements happen so quickly - we couldn't have made Boralus even 3 years ago.
Note: Vectis has killed players somewhere around 16 million times since BFA!
Level designers feel they've hit their stride and there are amazing things coming!
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