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Character model rework 25% complete


Speaking to Tom Chilton and Cory Stockton this morning, the question came up of the character model rework. Unusually, these guys actually seemed happy to give us quite a lot of information about where they were going with the character models. Most notably, when pushed, they let us know that the percentage completion of the new character models was as follows:
TC: "Um, 20% maybe?"
CS: "Yeah 25%, maybe 25. That could be a safe number."
TC: "But yeah, there's a long way to go. And I also don't know that, when we launch the new character models, I don't know that they'll all be done at the same time. We'll probably have a good number of them done, and we'll launch those, and we'll continue to update more throughout the patch cycle. We figure players would rather have some earlier than wait forever until they're all done. Not forever but, a longer time. Might feel forever. Blizzard soon."
Tom and Cory also went into quite some detail about the reasons why the process took so long, and brought up the importance of maintaining a character's identity while also updating the models. They recognized how important that was to players, and how many players identified heavily with the look of their characters' models.

TC: You don't want to log in one day and feel, like, "well MY orc, his eyebrows were a little bit more like this, and you know his ears were more like that, and you like, changed that on me, like what the ****..." You want to look at Garrosh and go, well, I love that level of fidelity but if we actually literally map it onto your character it gets pretty scary. So it's still going to be really risky for us to do, we're going to try it out and see how it goes, but there's still danger.

CS: We've taken a lot of care with the animations especially, because you know, you add all that fidelity, right, we want to keep the same animations so their dances are obviously the same, but there's so much more stuff there to animate, now. And that has a danger like Tom said to make it feel pretty different.

You know, once there's beards swinging around and ponytails, and they've actually got fingers now, so when they do the point emotes they actually [point]. So we have to animate that now, 'cause we didn't do it before 'cause the hand was like a glove, right?

So we've actually spent a lot of time, we review them, in those weekly art sessions, looking at them side by side, here's the old dwarf and here's the new dwarf, and running the animation and trying to make sure that they have the same emotion. I think if we can capture that emotion in the animations, that people will feel like it's OK, it just looks better.

TC: The run still feels the same, you know, they've still got the same personality.

CS: It's a long process though, it's not easy, 'cause there's a lot to do, male and female, for every single race.

It seems like maintaining the character's "soul", so to speak, is very important, but the talk of animated hands and beards swinging and ponytails, and looking at the Garrosh model that started off the whole discussion definitely has me excited. Also, from their earlier quotations, it sounds like it may well be the case that we're seeing a few of these models in the next expansion... but that's inference, not fact.

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