BlizzCon 2014 - WoD Cinematics

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Martí Micolau
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In a new talk, we've been following the development of the Warlords of Draenor expansion cutscenes and Warlord series videos chronologically.


Beginning of 2013: the beginning

The Warlords cinematic has been worked on since early 2013. Like any cinematic, it started with a storyboard then a preview and finally the modeling of all the elements visible in the cinematic. In particular, the element that has caused some problems is the iron star. But in the end, Grommash is a powerful character and the idea of ​​having him lift this contraption is representative of the character and it was kept.


Stream 2013: Warlords

The principle of videos like Lords of War comes from Mist of Pandaria with the story of Shaohao. Basically, it was a Blizzard employee who, with a broomstick as a stick, told the stories of Pandaria in the hallways. When it comes to Warlords of Draenor, there were basically two stories told: Durotan's and Yrel's (a Draenei), which cost hours of work. But they were used in the episodes of Warlords that we know well.


Current 2013: Pre-rendered

  • You can see the stage where the WoD cinematic takes place, with nested elements.
  • Big challenge to represent Mannoroth. Its design and modeling were adapted to the technology of 2014 and it was necessary for its personality to appear on the screen.
  • The developers explain to us that they shoot pre-rendered scenes themselves so as not to forget elements and that the cinematics remain consistent and true.
  • Regarding the end of the WoD cinematic, Grommash kills Mannoroth but it was necessary to show what changes compared to Warcraft III. And it's through Garrosh that it translates.


Fall 2013: Machinima

WoD is announced and the first trailer is made while the teams know nothing about the content of the expansion. The poster where the Warlords are on a cliff and the sun behind them is a bit daring, as there is Garrosh on it (to represent Blackhand) because the model existed.


End of 2013: 5 stories for Warlords

Blackhand is not in the stories because he already has comic strips for him. For the others, it all started with the collection of ideas, each one more brilliant than the next. After deciding on the scenes and illustrations, they were painted and worked to give the result we know.

For the ogre with the parasol, it is inspired by Marlon Brando. In the other references, there is also Sin City because like this city, Draenor is not a nice place.

Originally the cutscenes were black and white and once in place the artists realized they needed to be painted.


Early 2014: the effects

The cinematic for the expansion is almost complete and the effects are being created. The ultimate challenge remains the blood of Mannoroth because it is demon blood and the developers were not happy with what they had modeled. They then bought shampoos and did IRL tests to find the correct version of the blood (viscosity, texture).


During 2014: The cutscenes in play

There are more cutscenes in-game than in other expansions. At the end of each zone in Draenor, players are rewarded with a cutscene that shows what happens in the zone after our passage.


Second part of 2014: final touches on Lords of War

The 3D parts of the videos were invented very quickly (this year) to make all the episodes fit: that includes the right lines of who would be the narrator. The story becomes that of Maarad because he tells us what he lived and what he wants revenge.

The Motion Story Team is the team that manages the movement of the layers in the episodes. There are camera movements, layer movements. Unlike HearthStone, the danger is to integrate too much movement and that the graphic paste no longer has an effect on the viewer. This is why the large camera movements do not appear.


End of August 2014: first broadcast of the WoD cinematic

It was at Gamescom and Los Angeles during special events and broadcast. 6 videos are therefore presented during the year so that players enter Draenor knowing a minimum of History. Mike adds that there are a lot of people working on these videos: sound, image, animation, rendering, promotion, etc ... It's a colossal job but done in the fun and pleasure.


Questions answers

  • To test the cutscenes, the artist developers go to groups of Blizzard employees and observe their first impressions.
  • The developers are looking to develop the character of Yrel during Warlords of Draenor.
  • Lords of War received a lot of encouragement internally and that's what prompted artists to tell the story in a less prevalent way.
  • For them, there is nothing to change about the cutscenes of Shaohao and Lords of War but there are plenty of ideas for future videos of the genre (and they want to make some!).
  • Models seen in cutscenes (like Varian Wrynn) are reworked from in-game models.
  • They haven't talked about transcribing drafts and unfinished work on goodies and store-bought products yet, but it's a great idea.
  • It's easier to create machinimas at Blizzard than at home. The tools are not the same as for the general public.
  • They are not allowed to say what they are currently working on but everyone is busy.
  • Usually, a scene is created from a single painting for Warlords.
  • The duration of a cutscene depends on the content to be presented and you must not add unnecessary elements. The good times for the good things.


Enjoy the in-game cutscenes starting Thursday!

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