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Thursday, November 20, 2008
BlizzCast 6 Now Available
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Blizzard Entertainment has released the sixth BlizzCast, a series of podcasts created by Blizzard's Community Team and focusing on the company's current and future game offerings. The sixth BlizzCast includes interviews with Senior Art Director Sam Didier and Lead Designer Dustin Browder about Starcraft II unit design, and Senior Character Artist Anthony Rivero about creating characters for the Diablo series.

Karune: Can you guys guide us through one of the units you guys created and maybe the process on how that unit was created? Any challenges you guys faced while also creating that unit?
Sam Didier: One example was for the Terran side was the Thor: big giant, earthshaking robot. Great, cool, cool, sounds awesome. We ended up doing the concept then we started the modeling and we always tweak when we’re in modeling nothing ever really follows a concept a hundred percent. And then after that we animate it, texture, animation and all that. The problem with it we had in the concept is we had these giant guns on his shoulders. ‘Real cool! Yeah that looks awesome!’ Well anytime we have something cool in the art like that we have to justify it in gameplay. So it had these giant guns, what’s it do? Well we already have a siege tank that rains death upon the battlefield so what do these big guns do? Rain bigger death? That makes the siege tank obsolete. So we couldn’t do that. So one of the problems with this unit is we went with the art first and because it had the big cool guns now were trying to figure out what to do with it design wise. At the end of the day it will be perfect mind you. But you know we’re still working on that sort of thing.

Dustin Browder: I’m not too worried about the Thor these days. The Thor using his cannons in the back for long range anti air has been pretty successful and that’s a great example there of a unit that started with art first, we all got behind, that everybody was really geeked up to see a giant battle robot on the Terrans, it really fit in the sci design really well and it looked awesome on the battlefield. And then we’ve been really working on the mechanics to make them as tight as we possibly can. And so far that’s done really well. It’s been a very successful example of how we sort of marry these two things together.

Bashiok: When you were working on the Diablo II units, what was design and creation process start to finish more or less, and how has that changed for Diablo III?
Anthony: Well the creation process was fairly different, like I said before, a lot of the artists did everything from the ground up. Then there was the sprite rendering part of it, you would have to pre-render your assets, and so basically you’d wait forever for all the stuff to render out, and with the heroes you’d have to render out all of their body parts separately. Things like the gloves and the boots, things that would change on the character. Then you would have to composite those together, for every direction he was rendered in for every frame of animation. So if he’s rendered in sixteen different directions and he has a … whatever, an eight frame animation, well you have to go through all that and composite all those separate elements in the right order for it to look correct on the screen. So you don’t have an arm that’s supposed to be behind the body in front of the body. And… that was a real tedious process.
So thankfully with real time 3D we don’t have to worry about that, and that’s kind of what I was getting at, with things being a lot easier. Also your animation frame count is not an issue any more. We can have nice fluid, smooth animations now whereas before they were really choppy because, you know, we were only given six or seven frames for a walk cycle. You need a lot more than that to make a convincing walk cycle, but you had to make it look its best within the limitations. So the technical part of it was very different, the creation part of it… I think back then things were a bit more tight-knit and collaborative I guess. You know because the team was smaller, you know when you came up with ideas or designs, there was just a lot more back and forth with designers and artists and programmers. It really felt like everybody was more cohesive in that sense, whereas now the department is bigger, there’s more people on the team, it’s more specialized. There still is that collaboration, I mean I can get up and go talk to anybody on the team that I want to, but when they’re way down the hall you start to get lazy and you don’t want to go chit-chat with somebody. You want to get your tasks done. The design process is a little different, but we still, when we come up with an asset now, there’s a particular monster needed for an act for instance, before we really start working on the asset we’ll get together with a designer, a technical artist, character artist, and producer, anybody that needs to be involved and we’ll talk about it and spin ideas around and make sure we can troubleshoot anything we can in the beginning stages. Come up with ideas for how it may die, what else can it do that would be really cool, and we didn’t have that kind of organized meeting when we were working on Diablo II or the expansion pack.

Click on the link below to check out the new BlizzCast.

BlizzCast Episode 6
Blizzard Entertainment

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Archives  News  BlizzCast 6 Now Available