Those lifeless, outdated expressions on your World of Warcraft Night Elf or Human will soon be a thing of the past, developer Blizzard announced today. No, Blizzard isn't radically altering the look of its gold-standard MMO, but instead it's bringing characters' faces inline with more modern graphical techniques.
The task isn't an easy one, mind you. According to the latest edition of Artcraft
, the original low-polygon heads and texture overlays meant things like facial expressions were simply "painted onto" the texture. An example was a sneering Dwarf lip, which previously would have been just painted onto the flat model, but now with the updated modelling, a sneer means adjusting the entire model to pose a sneer, adding the appropriate textures, then meshing "that base pose with all of the existing emotes and animations."
"While it wouldn’t have been ideal to see a mix of lower-quality and higher-quality models running around side by side," explains art director Chris Robinson for World of Warcraft on the topic of rolling only a few races out for the expansions launch, it did seem to be the most realistically achievable way to bring the new models into the game. However, Robinson said that the art team committed itself to getting the job done entirely, and "the finish line is nearly in sight."
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor is expected to launch before December 20th.