Blizzard texture artists -- you are my heroes. Prepare yourselves for a sappy love letter to whom I believe are the hardest-working people behind some of the most intricate content in the World of Warcraft.

My love and appreciation for the WoW texture artists began with one texture. This one texture made me appreciate what textures were capable of. Love at first sight. The gates of Orgrimmar, to me, are the single most beautiful texture in World of Warcraft. The sense of depth and scale that the gates of Orgrimmar convey are absolutely astounding for what the actual object is made up of. The wall itself is flat. Going up close to the wall is like pulling back the magician's robe -- the trick is just a trick. Looking at the Ogrimmar gate from afar is the real magic.

If you haven't seen the gates of Orgrimmar, it is practically a giant rectangle polygon wrapped with this extraordinary texture. Back in 2004, I (like many fervent WoW fanatics) was engaged in wars of internet-epic proportion on forums and message boards about how terrible and cartoony World of Warcraft looked compared to Everquest 2, the graphical competition at the time. Every time the graphics argument came to a head, my answer was always the same -- WoW's texture artists make this game ooze with flavor, style and depth, and Orgrimmar's gate was my proof. WoW's textures compensate for many of the engine's flaws, even in the midst of complaints of new models' being needed for many of the races.

With Cataclysm approaching sooner rather than later, and with my boy Garrosh Hellscream taking over my capital city, I am losing my favorite texture in the game. I am losing my ace in the hole, and it will be sorely missed. Thank you, WoW texture team, for putting out the best art in video games.

The art in WoW has obviously affected me in and out of the game. What are some of your favorite textures or art pieces in the world that actually have crossed the game's boundaries? Have you ever been amazed at how textures in WoW can make a five-year-old engine look this good?

This article was originally published on WoW Insider.

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