The second day at the 2008 Blizzard Worldwide Invitational began with an Art Panel led by Samwise Didier, Blizzard's Senior Art Director, and Dave Berggren, Lead Environmental Artist.
The panel began with Samwise going over what the art team has been doing since the StarCraft II announcement. He states that they were working on toning down the bright colors on the models, and adding more polygons. He presented slides detailing changes to several units.
The team is also hoping that the decals, which we see featured on the Terrans right now, will eventually become selectable in a manner similar to how team color is.
Additionally, he joked that every time that people whine about the wings on the Zergling, that he's adding on two more. A frightening thought indeed.
Next, a StarCraft discussion about the different environments.
Shakuras was first, and with it a special treat, a trio of slides showing the process of mapping out terrain in the StarCraft II Map Editor.
They then went on to reveal artwork for a new location - New Folsam. Originally a prison controlled by the Confederacy, it was taken over and is now run by the Dominion.
Next up is Korhal which, unlike the desert featured in Starcraft, is now to be a city-style tileset.
Finally, Aiur was up next, confirming that there will be a return to the planet. Much of the planet is still completely controlled by the Zerg. One item that was mentioned is that the mission on Aiur would involve a return to the area where Tassadar sacrificed himself to destroy the first Overmind.
Next up was a Q&A session:
Q: Why doesn't the baneling building grow out of the spawning pool?
A: that's the way design had it. Maybe later we'll decide we don't want that many buildings on the zerg side and put them together.
Q: In regards to art design - how are you going to show the downgrades of units - for example the overlord that isn't a detector.
A: If you notice when you upgrade the Overlord - there's all new art. There are a few things like that and we're working on that. Pretty much ig upgrades get changes in the art.
Q: How will the enviroment affect the textures of the units? A: If's it's snowy map then there's snow on the buildings. We take it by a concept to concept basis. Some can make things too cartoony etc.
Q: How do you keep a balance between cartoony and the more serious StarCraft style.
A: We really want to keep Warcraft over here & StarCraft over here - separate. It was difficult for our team because we came from WC:TFT and then WOW so you could see earlier the brighter colors etc - some of that obviously carried over but we really want keep them separate.
Q: Will we see Panda's in StarCraft? What's with the egyptian influence in the Protoss?
A: I think that if we put Pandas in StarCraft someone would shoot me. Even in StarCraft vanilla we wanted to take an ancient culture and mix it with science fiction.
Q: Will the Xel'Naga be in the game and will they be in the game?
A: There's nothing we can really say about that right now - but wouldn't that be cool?
Q: Will the map editor be able to modify the landscape since it's very complex (like blowing up a cliff)?
A: We've been talking about that and probably in the single player you'll see more of that sort of thing. I love it but in multiplayer we don't want that happening.
Q: How are you going to make the nydus worm travel through different types of terrain (water, space, etc)? A: We still have to work on that but in your current build there is no worm it functions as a nydus canal - creep here, creep there, it shows up there.
Q: What kinds of special effects will be in the game?
A: It's very important that we want everyone to be able to see what's going on. That's why there isn't much debri when the game is done; we don't want the clutter. There'll probably be more of this stuff in single player rather than multiplayer. We might even have an option to turn this sort of thing on and off. In the final product there'll be some really cool stuff.
Q: Will the dark templar be changed - have they changed - especially considering all the flak you've received?
A: The dark templar is still a unit that we're going to go over. What I'd like to do is go over it and make the old dark templar and maybe have people vote on it. I can't promise that but it's still in the process of being worked. And we're still working on our cloaking mechanic so that will have an impact on the design as well.
Q: Have you ever thought of a fourth race based on artistically?
A: No comment.
Q: Are you still creating units?
A: Everytime we have a finished race we end up redoing half of it. I'm sure that once we're in Beta you good people will show us the error of our ways and we'll make new units to fix those. And of course we'll end up patching it for ten years :P .
Q: Will there be a change in the Thor (and other big units) art for attack?
A: Yes, right now the thor is doing something different from what we started with. We used to have seige animations for him. But once the design team tells us this is what he is going to do we'll create something new.
Q: Will there still be one theme per race and will you be writing more?
A: Yes, we'll be writing more music and each race will have it's own.
Q: The new seige tank model doesn't look quite as meaty - why not?
A: Right now it has a plasma gun and so we wanted to get away from a barrel. Everyone seems decently happy with it right now.
Q: What's the flow of communication between the design and the artists like?
A: It works both ways. The designers come to us and tell us they want this. And we wanted a giant robot (the thor) and they're like - what are we going to do with this.
Q: How's the art direction for Battle.net coming?
A: We're not talking about it much right now but we're definitely doing more art for it - we'll kind of see where it goes.
Q: How many cinematics are planned for StarCraft II?
A: We haven't decided on a final number but it's between 1 and 1,000,000. From what I've seen they look very good and you guys will like them very much!