Ovaj video predstavlja intervju sa Lead Environment Artist Gary Platner, kako je napravljen wolrd... of Warcraft, kao i programi koji su korišćeni da bi se doveo život u igrici.
Rob Simpson: Hi there, I'm Rob Simpson from the Blizzard e-Sports Team and today joining me I have Gary Platner, the lead environment artist for World of Warcraft, and we've got an exclusive chance to interview him, ask him a few questions, and pick his brain a little bit about the coming expansion.
So, Gary, to get started, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the gaming industry.
Gary Platner: I just answered an ad in the paper a long time ago back in about '93. I answered an ad from Sega. They needed artists, and I had just graduated so I applied, but they didn't hire me because I didn't go to Art Center. Apparently they thought I was good enough, but I didn't actually go to Art Center, so they didn't want me. But it got me into thinking about video games, so I took the first job that I could, a little game company in Costa Mesa. I worked there for a few years, I worked at Interplay for about 4 years, I was art director on Fallout 2, I was lead artist on Fallout 1, and a little bit on Torment. And then I went and started at Blizzard in May of '99. I've been here ever since, about 11 years.
Rob Simpson: Cool, cool. So tell us a little bit about what being a lead environment artist entails.
Gary Platner: Well, the environment team is very small, we only have about 4 people, and it's our job to make the world. I always say we put the "world" in World of Warcraft. We make all the natural elements to the game, the trees and the rocks, all the ground textures, the sky clouds, even water, everything like that. We also do a few other things like all the loading screens and the little in-game cinematics when you start a character, we also do that. But our main job is to provide artwork for the exterior level designers.
Rob Simpson: Awesome, so kind of give them a lot of the tools and pieces that they need to make the world happen.
Gary Platner: Yeah, we give them all the art, we make all the artwork, we work with them on how we're going to make a zone. We'll make a little demo zone with our artwork and just go from there.
Rob Simpson: So after years of conceptualizing and designing these world of warcraft environments, how have these tools or processes that you and your team use sort of evolved over the years and chnaged.
Gary Platner: Oh, they've evolved a lot. We have our own proprietary software called WowEdit. It's our own tool, and that has changed many times over the years; actually, almost every month there's something new added. We have a very active tools team. We call it tools, they're just functions and things we can put into the game, put into WowEdit, rather.
So WowEdit has really changed; it's really turned into this great art tool, it's a really nice painting tool. We can paint and texture terrain with a Wacom pen, so you can push and pull geometry and move trees and scale stuff around and paint on our textures. It's very artistic, and that has really improved a lot over the years.
Rob Simpson: And so now over the years as these environments have been changed or added with each new expansion, what kind of challenges have you been confronted with? Especially with Cataclysm; there's a lot of changes coming there.
Gary Platner: Right, right. Well, the big challenge was for us in the beginning to really make the old world look a little more updated. There's a lot of stuff we couldn't do, and a lot of people don't know this, but the reason we did a lot of things in the old world was because of our limitations of the engine. You couldn't see very far, we had a thing called LOD, which is level of detail, and it would in a sense reduce the polycount of mountainscape -- when you look in the distance, it would kind of remove a few polygons. So we would make our mountains a little bit different. Now, we don't have to worry about that; you can see much further in WoW, our mountains and terrain can look a lot better. So when we went back to Cataclysm, we wanted to make all that stuff look better like we did in Northrend, make the mountains look a little more detailed, which we couldn't do in the beginning.
Deepholm was kind of tough. We wanted to do some giant cave inside some kind of planet thing. We weren't sure how to do it, so we thought we wanted new tech, or we thought we may need it, where we could make terrain upside-down. So we'd have the same terrain up here that we could have on the bottom. We were sure we wanted that, and we got the tools team to make that happen for us, and then we decided we had a different solution, and we didn't end up using it. And the tools team was like "Well, we spent months on this, and you don't need it?" And I'm like "Well, I'm sure we'll use it, but just not today."
Rob Simpson: So what are the other steps that your team has taken to go from hearing the initial story progression plan for Cataclysm to visually incorporating and enhancing in all of these aspects of the game?
Gary Platner: Well, any time you give an artist something new that's old to work on, we want to improve it a lot. With Cataclysm, it was about the same kind of progression we would do; we would talk about a zone and talk about what we wanted to do, and all that stuff would happen on paper. For an artist, we need to see that, and we need to visualize how that's going to look, so we would do lots of concepts. Just big paintings about how we wanted things to look, so we could approve what we wanted. Once we see all the colors, that way we'll know if that's something we want to do. So we'll do a lot of artwork; we'll have Justin Kuntz, Gus Schmidt, he would do that on our team, Mark Gibbons a little bit.
So once we have a piece of art, a big concept, well from there we can just make the whole game. The concept is our roadmap. We've got the colors of the fog, we've got the lighting, the ground textures, how our trees are going to look, it's a consistent thing. You know, people probably don't realize that when you make a game like World of Warcraft, you need to make it as though one person did it, but many people would have worked on many different aspects of it. Different team doing the buildings, different team doing the trees, and lighting and everything but it's such an artistic style, you know, stylistic game, we want it to look like it was one guy who did it, like it's a complete painting.
Rob Simpson: So I know you've worked on a lot of pieces, now, over the years, what's your favorite new environment added or changed in this upcoming expansion?
Gary Platner: Oh, well there's so many that are my favorite, of course they're all my favorite, they're all really good.
Rob Simpson: Well, you can pick a favorite.
Gary Platner: I can; I do have a favorite. Vashj'ir is really amazing; it came out really good. When we first heard about it, doing a whole underwater zone was like "How are we going to pull this off? This is going to be crazy." But it came out really, really good. I really love Lost Isles, I really love Kezan, the starting zone for the goblins.
But my very, very favorite zone has got to be Gilneas, for the worgen, the worgen starting zone. That came out so good; it's just the consistency between our buildings, even the clothes the worgen are wearing and the human version of them are wearing, the ground textures, the lighting; it's just a cohesive theme and everything works so well in that zone. It's just gorgeous.
Rob Simpson: Was there anything that you can currently do now that does stand out that you couldn't do before given those tools and other things that have evolved?
Gary Platner: Right, right. Well, there are actually lots of things. To mention a few, I always talk at Blizzcon about vertex shading, one of my favorite features, where we can add color and light. We can paint that in essentially anywhere we want to, we can use it as a highlight or a shadow which adds more dimension for the game. That's always been great, and we've always done more with that.
For Cataclysm, we have a thing called point lights, which is like adding a light to, say a lamp. We can put a light on a lamp now and it will illuminate the ground around it, illuminate the character, or add color. Or say if there wasn't a lamp there or anything, we just wanted to add different color to a zone; well, we can now do that with these point lights, and add a little more color, a little more shading, stuff that we couldn't do with our lighting system before. Really cool.
But probably the best thing, the most incredible part of our tools, is a thing we call LiveUpdate. The idea is, if we're in WowEdit, and you're making something, you're pulling terrain and stuff, what you have to do if you want to see that in game, you have to level build it, you have to actually put it in your local build of the game, run your game, and see it. Now, I can work on WowEdit and have the game running and see what I'm doing. I can move a bush or move a tree or do terrain; I can see that happening in game. Because WowEdit is close to what the game looks like, but it's not exactly. I need to see how things really are looking for the player, so now we can do that. And that tool is the best tool that we have.
Rob Simpson: Alright, well, Gary, thank you very much for joining us, and thank you to all of you at home for getting us this exclusive interview with Gary Platner, the lead environment artist. We'll see you in Cataclysm.