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The art panel itself did not contain any new information apart from the Q&A. However, many new animations and graphics were showcased. The BlizzLive Flickr has many photos of the art panel. This kind of panel is best presented in a video; luckily gamespot has taken one such video:

Click here for HD 540p quality.

Rough summary:

Samwise Dider
Brian Sousa - Lead Technical Artist
Alan Dilling - StarCraft II Art Lead (specialty - effects)

The last few months have all been about polishing Zerg units i.e. adding lots of detail, working on the specular mat (making things shiny), and having the team color integrated into the Zerg carapace as opposed to just being a big splotch of color.

Fun note: The Terran Goliath portrait in StarCraft II is based on Brian Sousa (who even had the goggles).

StarCraft 2 Art Panel - BlizzCon 2009

StarCraft 2 Art Panel - BlizzCon 2009

There will be 15 full tilesets but many combinations can create more. Doodads are specific to tilesets - have their own destruction animations i.e. Terrazine Shrine (Protoss doodad, nuclear reactor - some of this was talked about by Dilling)

Names of Tilesets:
Port Zion

There are four to five death animations for each unit which are Havoc Physics engine-driven. Immortal pieces will fall down cliffs, etc. Some deaths are specific i.e. Zerg getting destroyed by fire. When units die their team color becomes black for easy recognition. It's the same philosophy with buildings: two to three death animation types. Zerg buildings have far more crazy deaths - much bloodier, creepier, etc. The iPistol will play on TVs in the game between news shows.


Q: Will there be any Easter Eggs in Starcraft II?

A: I think we have enough Easter eggs in this game to fill up a henhouse.

Q: How many wings are you planning on putting on the Zergling?

A: It depends on how many people complain.

Q: When it comes to gameplay units, when you design stuff like the Thor, is it the gameplay guys that make the Thor a mobile fortress with guns on top. Or is it your guys' concept getting into the gameplay?

A: The Thor is the designers way of saying, artists, you are awesome, we will try to fit this in the game somehow, because this was purely from the art side. We wanted a big giant mech in the game somewhere. This just seems like an area of the Terrans that we never hit before and we wanted to put it in there. So the designers made it a functional unit and you see 3-4 of them running around in a mid to late level game. We actually shrunk them down a little too because people are building them all the time.

Q: For StarCraft II, what race's units and buildings requires most detailing and graphics.

A: That's a tough call. I have to say the Zerg are more time consuming because they're more organic and have all these crazy shapes. It's like controlled chaos. It's pretty even, but Zerg are a little harder to handle.

Q: In regards to the new explosions and physics, how much do they interact with each other?

A: We have to have the physics in there and we can control that where buildings can have a general kind of shape around it. It's not super detailed, but in general the main thing to worry about is the terrain. Lots of the SP stuff too, we love where a building blows up and catches fire to this and that. But in the multiplayer we want to keep it a little bit more tame.

Q: For the death animations, how do you decide how long to make them so they don't clutter the field? And does this change because this is an RTS?

A: It definitely changes because if we were doing an FPS or World of WarCraft, we definitely have to change it up. A death will be 2-3 seconds and the blood might last 10-20 seconds and the body might last an extra 5 seconds. It depends on the unit, so we try to change it up. There's lots of variation and flavor there

Q: It appears you've come a long way in the artwork. What is the art team doing now?

A: We're still working on single player mission. If we find out we have an extra week that means we're going to go back and try to redo something to fit to our standards. Right now though we just finished up going over alot of Zerg. Single player is our big focus right now and now we're even going over and tweaking things and adding unique artwork to a tileset because we were using alot of leftover stuff from another planet. So we're still focusing on getting all the art up to our level of perfect. If we have more weeks we might add more critters and just more things to bring the single player and planets more to life.

Q: How much different are the Protoss from the Xel'Naga?

A: They're different because they don't have any art. We haven't really gone too far into defining Xel'Naga other than defining a few temples and things. We on purpose don't really want to showcase what exactly a Xel'Naga is, because who knows what the future brings and we may decide we want to do something more with them. The Xel'Naga, artwise, they don't have lots of art. Now, Dark Templar and Protoss, their schemes are sort of the same i.e. curving and arcing armor, but dark templar are a little more archaic. Their metals are platinum, silver and blue hue where the Protoss are more warmful, bronze even some ivories and things like that.

Q: I remember in StarCraft, the Jim Raynor hero was a teal Marine. Now in StarCraft II will heroes have a different character model? Have they been differentiated from regular units?

A: That's a great question - we've really stepped up for hero artwork. They have unique artwork, animations, weapons, so when you do play them you'll be able to recognize them.

Q: Can you give me some sort of idea of how big the texture maps are?

A: Background tilesets were 1024s. Basically I think that's the largest in this game. For anything else it depends on how big it is or how large the doodad/object is. We don't want to put too much detail on something that's too small. So we'll have anything that's from 64x64 to 1024x1024.

Q: Do you use more than one texture map for a model? Or do you get to use one?

A: We didn't use more than one but it has been known to be done. So some of the larger buildings I've been working on I'd use more than one - especially diffuse maps, we have a specular channel, a normal map channel an opacity channel, we have increments of channels. So in one object you might have seven different textures that are 1024 so that's why you might not want to have more than 1 texture on it because of all the other passes that are going through.

Q: Can you describe to us your general design icon, going from the design team to artists, modelers, etc.

A: So sometimes the artists might have an idea and the concept of a picture or show us a design. Alot of times the designers will need an idea i.e. a GTA unit that can siege. So we'll do concepts, finish up the concepts, go through a few rounds of that, then start the modeling, then texture and animation, then we put in a couple deaths just to make sure he's not to cluttered on the battlefield, and now the real work begins. We'll have him in the game and we'll be playing and the designers will decide the siege range isn't working so we want to make it melee range so we have to tweak the art. Then our own artistic comments start coming in i.e. "I don't like how he walks around with this - we should make him look more powerful". Take the Thor for example - we had to shrink him when people started making more of them in gameplay. That's usually the last stage of the art - we'll go through their effects, we do a real death and polishing and then the unit might be taken out of the game.

Q: Are we going to see all the models in this game be available in the editor?

A: Yes. I'm actually doing a pass right now, because we're doing lots of stuff for single player and the levels, and they want us to do it for every level so that if someone is making a mod they have access to that art even though we're not using it. So we're doing lots of extra work just for the editor and making lots of cool and dynamic stuff for you guys. The thing is that someone will come up with a cool little critter or civilian vehice, and even if it's awesome we will do extra work to put team color on it.

Q: Is there specular mapping or new layers delaying the game?

A: The specular mapping, once you create the art you can create those things like that. There are programs that can create those things for you. But no, the art is right on schedule. We'll have time to put in more art than the game even needs and put in some unique units. The art will be pretty easy to take care of.

Q: What kind of programs do you use?

A: We use mainly photoshop and 3d studio max for texturing and modeling. We'll use mudbox and zbrush to do some normal maps and portraits. That's basically the core right there.

Q: Weather was a big feature in WarCraft III. Are you guys including weather?

A: The ones we have with the rainstorms going on there's so much more atmosphere in them. It looks really nice. Besides rain, we try new things like death storms coming through, mystical smoky clouds that wave off the ground so it looks like they're wagging or parallaxing. We also use fog effects in the editor. If you go in the canyons we'll have a flash of lightning and smoke, so there's a whole bunch of things that will be available for modders.

Q: In regards to having the unique hero models and you all working on multiple death animations, even though hero death is something you'd want to avoid, would you create some sort of over-dramatic hero death animations?

A: Right now we haven't established all the hero death ends yet, but we've been thinking in the context of the levels, but it really depends on what the game needs. As artists we love doing that kind of stuff.

Q: What's the most detailed scene in the game right now?

A: Probably our Korhal levels, city based tileset. There's alot of civilian vehicles and people running away in fear. When you're walking around as Raynor some of those sets are just really hardcore detailed. The Terratron might be the most graphically expensive unit in the game...so I think that's why he might not be in there.

Q: Are there any plans extra texture effects at least in single player? i.e. weather after-affects like rain dropping off of leaves.

A: We don't necessarily have that for weather, since raindrops coming off leaves would be too small to see, but one thing we have is the Zerg effect. If there's an infested Terran colony, you will know. It's not just going to be brown team color. They're covered with all sorts of nastyness and stuff. This stuff is sort of the things we try to ninja in at the end of the project.

Q: Do you guys work on pre-rendered cinematics as well as in-game models? Do you base your art off the cinematics or vice-versa?

A: We work with the cinematics team alot. In fact, the cinematics team is doing all of our pre-rendered cinematics and in-game spaces right now. The units themselves, they made the Hydralisk 360 - full model. Some of our models are too big for cinematics i.e. the Marine is too bulky to do a salute. But vice-versa that's no problem since everything is so small.


starcraft 2

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) BlizzCon 2009 event article.

starcraft legacy

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