Hey everyone, Julian Morris here, lead level designer for the World of Warcraft exterior level design team.
Exterior level design is the process of designing and constructing the zones of World of Warcraft, from Azeroth to Draenor and everything in between. Our team has planned, plotted, and designed the rise and fall of ancient cultures, as well as shaped mountains, forests, seas, lakes, rivers, roads, ruins, and every land feature imaginable. In addition to the land itself, we also design and create cities, towns, and Battlegrounds (with the random exterior dungeon or two in there every now and then, too).
The level design team is a hybrid of both art and design. We work hand in hand with the quest design team to build the environmental stories that support the content that defines Azeroth’s lands, cultures, and conflicts.
We also work every step of the way with all of the art groups on the Warcraft team. Working with the environment art team, we sculpt and paint the landscapes to create the rich, vibrant settings that form the foundation of the world. Within those spaces we work with the dungeon team, designing and constructing the thousands of camps, towns, settlements, and cities that provide the unique architectural beauty that anchors all of our cultures and creatures to the world. These locations in turn provide the scenes and staging for the finely crafted set dressing—the tables, chairs, books, and more—that our prop art team creates.
Level design binds the vision of many groups together, and it takes the passionate effort of all these teams to create an incredibly detailed, hand-crafted experience.
The zones of World of Warcraft are their own main characters that come to life before our very eyes during development. In this series, we’re going to draw back the curtains a bit to show you more on how we approach world-building and how we breathe life into a zone.
Join us again tomorrow as senior level designer Michael (Mac) McInerney gives you a deeper look into the level design of World of Warcraft using Nagrand from Warlords of Draenor.