One of the more underrated panels during every BlizzCon is the World of Warcraft art panel, which discusses the little things that players usually gloss over when playing the game. Environmental Art Lead Gary Platner and his team spoke about how the art in the game evolved through time, particularly with the advances in the game's technology. Since its launch in 2004, World of Warcraft has evolved in many visual, if not always noticeable, ways. For instance, players can now see up to twice as far into the distance compared to when the game first came out. Projected texture effects are overlaid on some terrain, creating a more "realistic" environment, and vertex shading for richer, better lighting.
The new Cataclysm expansion will continue to improve on the look of the game, utilizing new technologies such as texture blending - which allows distinct objects to be blended together visually. The team also previewed new water, which was just marvelous to look at. They also discussed the creation of new dungeons, which start from brainstorming, picking up lore, and getting real world inspiration.
Gallery: BlizzCon 2009: Art Panel