While I was at the exhibition opening for the Art of Blizzard Entertainment gallery and book signing, I was able to interview Nick Carpenter, the vice president of art and cinematic development. He, Chris Metzen and several artists were there to sign the soon to be released book and to answer questions about it.
The book itself was available for purchase at the time and contains a selection of art from all Blizzard games throughout its existence, as well as commentary by Nick Carpenter, Chris Metzen and Samwise Didier. I felt very fortunate to be able to ask Nick a few questions.
WoW Insider: You are the VP of Art and Cinematics, what does the art part encompass?
Nick Carpenter: That's everything. So I work with all of the art directors, and a lot on the box art, creative development, and the game teams -- helping everyone sort of work in the same direction.
How about things like the toys?
I deal with all of the toys. I actually just hired a sculptor, Brian Fay, an in-house sculptor, who will actually be doing the toys on site. So we're certainly opening that up.
So that's also Mega Bloks and ...
All of it. I do all the art direction. That's also one of my sweet tooths, if you will. I'm a huge fan of toys. It was something I always wanted to get into when I first came to Blizzard. "Our toys could be better!" It's kinda one of those things: be careful what you ask for.
As far as cinematics, there aren't any stills in this book, are there?
Oh no. No no no. We strictly focused on illustrations and concept art in this book.
I noticed there is this great commentary going through the book, between you and Chris Metzen and ...
And Sam Didier. How long did that take?
I think we did about three sessions where we just sat around in the room and flipped through the art. Someone put a tape recorder on and we just started barfing out things.
It really makes the book.
It was fun. It was a lot of fun.
So that you can see everything in context.
If you could have heard the stuff that was omitted, oh my god.
Will there ever be outtakes?
Well, you never know. A lot of us just goofing around, talking about old times Kind of what the art meant to us at the time. Which would trigger another story that might not have been appropriate for the book but that was super fun.
I noticed there was some geeking out going on in the commentary. What do you think is your favorite geekout moment in the book?
There is a piece that Bernie Kane had created of Terenas holding baby Arthas. It's a very loose sketch. It wasn't actually created for anything, it was done after the fact, kind of as an internal piece, like a "what if?" It's got the rose petals falling -- very Warcraft 3, right? -- but his father's holding him, almost presenting him to the rest of Azeroth. Every time I see that, the geek factor in me just redlines. I look at that and I'm just "Wow!" ... the beginning of it all. And this artist, we were just kicking around ideas and he did it on his own. And I remember looking at it and going "We have to turn that into some type of movie or cinematic." It has to be. Just this beautiful little picture in the book.
I have to say that the reason I got into Warcraft in the first place -- I can't do RTS gamess -- but I watched the Arthas cinematic where he kills his father ...
That was one of the first pieces I ever directed.
With him grabbing the petal and all that sort of stuff.
I had a lot of fun with that. That was back in the day when I actually used to do the modelling and the lighting and all of it. Well, we had a smaller group of people then. But nowadays I'm all behind the camera. I just finished directing the Diablo 3 cinematics.
For the expansion?
No, I've moved onto a different project and there's a different director for that. But I did all of the initial cinematics for Diablo 3.
Which are gorgeous.
A lot of fun. A lot of late nights.
About how long did it take to put the book together?
We poked at it for the better part of two years. It's something that we wanted to do and the idea floated around for a while and we got serious about it. And then we all got busy with everything else we were doing and then we come back and poke at it for a little bit. Then I can actually remember about six months ago, these people, I think, in licensing came up and said, "You guys have to finish this book! We've already solicited it." and we were like halfway done and we're oh my god! All the art was there. It was just a matter of putting it together and making sure all the quotes and stories were intact and the book really came together in the last half-year.
Back to the cinematics, many of us would like to know ... Can't we have a movie? That's all cinematics from your department?
If I had a penny for every time I heard that, I could actually pay for the film itself. It's something that we've talked about. It's something that could potentially be really exciting, but our primary focus is making the best games.
That makes sense, but we wish.
There's not a no in that ... but there's certainly not a yes.