I wasn't sold on the Bilgewater Goblins initially. When they and the worgen were announced in the run-up to Cataclysm, I had to wonder if there was any compelling reason to play what felt like a green gnome over a badass werewolf. (Yes, I was young and foolish in those days.) That changed quickly when I hit the beta and found them to be a hopelessly endearing race despite (or perhaps because of) their fairly amoral approach to life. I loved the little details in their towns, from the empty Chinese take-out boxes scattered around their inns to the little dinghies that fly underpants in place of flags.
Credit where credit's due -- most of this is the work of the Blizzard props team. These folks are also the reasons that Gilneas is so magnificently creepy, with its creaky windows, flapping sheets, and papers drifting across lonely towns. What little details do you particularly enjoy about the race you play as a main?
I know that the World of Warcraft preview and question-and-answer sessions always tend to attract the most commentary at any given BlizzCon, but for my money, the most interesting ones in the long run tend to be those concerned with the game's artistic and technical sides. Seeing how developers got the game to look the way it does, and the reasoning behind the design of different races, zones, and items gives you a much better appreciation of the game while you're in it. The gorgeous Uldum sky didn't get there by accident.
As you'd expect, the art panel contained a number of previews of the characters, locations, dungeons, and props we'll be seeing in Mists of Pandaria. If you're only interested in a peek at the male pandaren's model and animations, well, you can get that here, but there were a number of interesting observations made. Two of the things that really jumped out at me:
They're experimenting with tier and item set models. Rather than pasting a design onto the standard-issue flat chest and leg pieces, for example, we may see swinging chains, ribbons, and other three-dimensional objects on more gear in the future.
Technical advances in very recent months have made it easier and faster to add more detail to the environment. New texture tools have made it possible to add snow or lava between cracks in a road, or pooled in the nook of a hill, much more quickly than they could earlier.
The Props team at BlizzCon showed a video on what they do, and also displayed a lot of the characterization and mood setting of the new Goblin and Worgen starting areas. The Lost Isles for the Goblins are just beautiful and quirky and funny, abounding in tropical drinks, a breakfast machine, and a "rocket-catapult-turtle-powered-machine" (and did they actually build a railroad out of bamboo?), although I have to say that the Dickensian/Victorian feel of Gilneas is just...words fail me. It's lovely. This is perhaps the loveliest, most haunting, spooky and creepy zone Blizzard's ever done, and...it's going to be an almighty lagfest when Cataclysm hits. Oh well. Truthfully, I had no idea just how much of what we think of as the "landscape" is in fact the Props team at work.
As an FYI for readers who have observed this on previous video, yes, there are gold-sellers' ads popping up on Viddler, and no, we're not happy about it, and we certainly didn't put them there.