The extensive surgery on the population of World of Warcraft continues, as the march to Warlords of Draenor progresses.
Blizzard’s thrown up an extensive look at the changes to the fun-loving cows, the tauren. The studio’s animators chimed in, breaking down how they updated the male tauren’s animations, emotes, facial expressions and overall look. He’s shaping up to be a handsome fellow.
“As we begin applying animations, we’re extra careful not to stray too far from the original,” said lead animator Steve Aguilar. “It’s important to us to retain the essence of the original animations, because how a characters walk, move, and carry themselves help to define their personality. We use all of the original animations as a starting point, and then go through the process of cleaning them up and adding additional articulation.”
The new models, like the tauren male, are more expressive than their vanilla counterparts, with more facial animation to bring them in line with the pandarans introduced in the previous expansion. “Since the facial animation system worked so well with the Pandaren in Mists of Pandaria, with the updated models we wanted to add the same life and emotion they deserved,” said animator Kevin Rucker. “In the past the character models only had a jaw bone that could be animated, but now we’re able to add movement to the brows, eyes, cheeks and mouth. We’re able to properly make them smile, look angry, and talk.”
Since characters will spend much of their lives standing around (while their players advertise stuff on the trade channel or natter away to their guilds) or running to and from places, the idle and running animations have been updated as well.
“On a certain level, how you move in the game is one of the most important things you experience as a player,” said animator Jeremy Collins. “It’s your main interaction with the world around you. For Warlords of Draenor, we wanted to improve the locomotion of WoW’s player characters with brand new rigs. These new rigs are capable of doing so much more in terms of fidelity of motion for our characters, and we wanted to showcase that as much as possible.”
A massive batch of alpha screenshots have also appeared on MMO Champion, showing off some of the new Draenor zones. Some of them, like Nagrand and Shadowmoon Valley are immediately recognisable, still retaining much of the character of the regions as they exist in Outland, in the present.