Creative Development

Terran: Thank you, Chris. So it has been great meeting a lot of you at BlizzCon. I love when you come up, and we get to chat about this stuff; and in the last couple days, one of the most common questions that has been asked of me actually is: How do we determine what moments in the game experience are turned into cinematics?

I mean, there are hundreds of thousands of great moments in every expansion. How do you know which one is going to be a movie, and which one isn’t? That is a great question. Some of the moments are obvious right from the beginning. Right? Like the big idea, the Broken Shore.

Obviously, this was something we wrote early in the process, and we knew it was going to be a flagship moment, and the lawns will appear over time as the World of Warcraft Quest designers flesh out the new corners of Azeroth to explore, and they find these really-really strong moments that we should consider to make into cinematics; but even after all of that, we have to make the hard choices as to which ones will have their time on the big screen, and one thing that has become a guiding principle over time kind of the North Star of which ones we should do is the idea that if a cinematic, if the moments happening are going to be remembered for years after the fact, perhaps long after this expansion has been out for a long time, that is the best reason to make sure that moment becomes a movie and here is one.


Here’s an example of one that is exactly right on the mark for that.



So Val’Sharah, I can see some of you cringing already, just remembering just the heart-rending experience of this whole entire zone was from beginning to end, and we feel you are right, we are not immune to the guises of the stories that we are telling In fact, to be honest with you, I teared up more working on this movie than I ever have working on other content; but as we got into the story, Ysera, like so many of our heroes from Legion did not deserve the fate that befell her. These tragic events as we take the fight to the Legion. But as we got more granular with this story, and we realize the specifics of exactly what was going to go down, the manifestation of an ancient night elf Goddess, and the beauty of what was really going to transpire in this moment.

It was more than just a tragedy, this had the opportunity to be one of the most dramatically transcendent and memorable moments in World of Warcraft. And so, in order to visualize that, we really had to take to heart, the gravity of everything coming together in this piece; and to tell you more about that, I am going to invite Sherman Ohms to tell you more. Sherman?


Sherman: Alright, folks. Let’s talk shop about Val’Sharah, a cinematic that we needed to strike a number of emotional chords on, between the death of a dragon and a manifestation of a goddess to her people, all within the veil of an eclipse, but how do we do that? How do we start the process on such a performance-based piece without any dialogue going on?


Well, we start often by looking at the key characters involved. So let’s begin with Elune, which is interesting because we weren’t exactly sure what she was going to look like when we started. However, we do have a race in Warcraft that is entirely devoted, and worships Elune.


So we turn to the night elves, and through examining their architecture, their art, and even everyday objects that they have, we notice the same motifs popping up. These undulating curves, and sweeping lines almost like ribbons; along with color palette night elves are known for: blues, violets, and the silvers echoing the moonlight.


So we took those elements, those visual cues, and created an asset for Elune. Those are the long tendrils that she could use (almost like arms) to pick up Ysera, and bear her up towards the heavens.


Now Ysera was our other key player, and a shot in particular that in which her eye is purified merely at gazing upon the presence of Elune, really speaks to the tragedy that has befallen her at the hands of Xavius in the Nightmare; but it also speaks to the purity that is still within her; but she is still a tragic victim, unlike Deathwing and Malygos that overceeded her.


However, we were getting closer to our subject than ever before. So our modeling team looked at her model and her texture, and gave it those extra special touches. So that in that final shot, you can really get a feeling for what Ysera is experiencing in those final moments; and perhaps that even if you weren’t able to save Ysera’s life, that you and the Night Elves were at least able to save her soul.


Now, once Elune has carried Ysera up, and immortalized her among the stars, what is left is a patch of fresh grass and foliage, and a vine pedestal lifting up the Tear of Elune. We thought this was a really great hookup for you the player, that once you come out of the cinematic, we can let you down a little gently so that you can walk around the scene and experience it for yourself.


So we took all those assets, boxed them up, and delivered them to the game team to implement in the world that they were building around the temple of Elune. They did a marvelous job creating a representation of that scene that you can experience and interact with, as you pick up this pillar of creation, and take it back to Dalaran for safe keeping in Ysera’s absence; and that is what this was about, it was about giving Ysera, one of our most beloved dragon aspects among the community a great send up. Something uniquely her and creating a moment that night elf and player alike that witnessed it, would remember.

Terran: Thank you, Sherman. How great was night song by the way? The song in Val’Sharah? I think Neal Acree is here somewhere. Awesome job. Thank you for that. Alright, moving on to the next feature. Probably wouldn’t say the most new heroic feature of Legion.

Illidan: But remember, should you fail, all worlds will burn.

Next: Demon Hunter Cutscenes

In-Game CinematicsCreative DevelopmentDemon Hunter CutscenesSuramar CutsceneGenn vs Sylvanas
Broken Shore CutsceneAnimationLightningBroken Shore FinaleNexus: Varian

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BlizzCon 2019 Panel Transcripts