I Spy With My Little Eye…

September 21, 2008

With a newly-launched MMO, there’s just so much to take in, appreciate, digest, debate, criticize and love. Art direction is one of those things that either grabs you by the lapels your first time in the game, or you get so involved with playing instead of looking that you quickly take the art for granted.

Art director Greg Grimsby popped over to the WHA forums lately to ask a question aimed at the first group of people: what art and visuals are you loving in the game? Some might see it as begging for a compliment, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt — they’d been working on this game for so long and poured their hearts into this one section of the game that it really means a lot to get direct feedback on it. Especially, since I said, we all-too-quickly take visuals for granted and start focusing on spreadsheet numbers.

The thread is a good read with a lot of “I spy” moments, like the foot sticking out of the goblin pot in the tier 1 greenskin zone (it’s an awesome little sight gag) to the huge vistas of landscape. I even spotted my guild’s GM making a few comments. I’ll agree with a lot of these posters — WAR is, if not “pretty”, then “spot on awesome” in the visuals department. It’s not the shiniest Crysis-looking thing on the market, but for a MMO it is chock-full of details and touches that more often than not go unappreciated… but we’d somehow think the game less if they weren’t there.

I simply love how WAR looks. It’s not a Disneyfied fantasy world, nor is it so beholden to reality that browns and greys dominate. It’s a lived-in, war-torn world that begs you to explore and examine it. I just can’t get over how cool all the armor looks, and how it’s not just reskinning the basic body model, but instead it involves layers of objects on top of your frame. At level 4, I started to feel like I had some cool-looking gear, and that’s not something I could’ve said about WoW. I can’t wait to see what I’m going to look like at 40.

Here’s a few screenshots I took recently due to a spur-of-the-moment impression that a particular vista made on me:

This is a tent on fire, burning from the inside-out like a piece of paper (it’s for a Dwarf T1 PQ). I had to stop and stare every time a tent caught fire like this.

One of the first sights when entering the Marshes of Madness… I never saw a marsh or swamp in a MMO that actually looked pretty before now. You can see the moon behind the trees and clouds, too.

Got this one today — the Dragon Gate in the elf area… so incredibly tall, it seems to go up into the clouds and beyond.

What are your favorite visuals?



  1. I love love love the greenskin keep in the Tier 2 dwarf zone (marshs of madness?). I also have some surprisingly pretty screenshots from the Shadowlands.

    But really I’m mostly struck by how good the character models look. Look at their hands. Very very nice work.

  2. The eye twitches on your character. Adds a very nice touch of realism. Although I think other toons don’t show that option (at least not at max framerate).

  3. I have to agree, when I first saw the Dragon Gate, it was awesome looking. Just rising up into the mist…

  4. On the destruction side, stepping out of the Inevitable City and looking out over the Chaos Wastes feels appropriately epic.

    Also, looking up at the Elven keep in the Shadowlands and seeing lightning strike the top of its spire.

  5. The first time I saw the Burning Windmill in the distance, I paused to take it all in, annoyed my wife with a ‘come and look at this’ and it now graces my desktop as my wallpaper!

  6. The chaos starting area has eyes in the ground…and tentacle trees…./shiver.
    I also like how agreeable twitchy my gobbo is. He has no smooth motions. Everything is done in furtive little jerks, always with a sly sideways glance.

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