In a blog post today, Blizzard Entertainment revealed the first iteration of its new Human Female World of Warcraft character model design. As you can see, the graphical upgrades are obvious. But Blizzard also hopes that the human female, and the rest of the character revamps it's planning, continue to feel familiar even amidst the changes.
"With the revamp, we’re completely overhauling every aspect of the player models, but our goal is to do so while retaining the core look and feel that has always made them your character," senior art director Chris Robinson said." We'll feel like we've succeeded if you see the updated version of your character and it still feels like you’re looking at the character you've been playing for the past however many years--only someone has finally focused a lens."
Specific to the female human character model, senior character artist Joe Keller explained that you should notice that she now has greater "muscle definition and personality" in the face. "Hopefully this will also help show her as more of the capable fighter that she is," he said.
Blizzard announced during BlizzCon in November that it plans to update all eight of the original World of Warcraft races, as well as Draenei and Blood Elves. To achieve the level of graphical fidelity Blizzard is aiming for, developers are increasing the polygon count significantly (in some cases this means going from fewer than 1,000 to over 5,000), doubling texture resolution, increasing bone count, and retouching almost every animation.
"For animation alone, that’s roughly 180 animations per character, times 10 races in both male and female variants, equaling approximately 3,600 animations," Robinson said. "We’re also incorporating the rigging technology we introduced with the Pandaren into every character to provide better posing, smoother animation, and the ability to pull off some fantastic facial expressions."
In the future, Blizzard will share similar blog posts concerning other character model revamps detailing the techniques and challenges associated with the process. Some of the new character models will be available when upcoming expansion Warlords of Draenor launches, but Blizzard hasn't yet said which will be ready for release.
Warlords of Draenor is World of Warcraft's fifth main expansion, following The Burning Crusade (2007), Wrath of the Lich King (2008), Cataclysm (2010), and Mists of Pandaria (2012). In addition to the character model revamps, the expansion introduces seven new zones, raises the level cap to 100, and allows you to boost one character automatically to level 90.