Blizzard's art and animation team today unveiled its progress on re-animating the Tauren race for upcoming expansion World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor.
A blog post and series of short videos at Battle.net shows how the bull-like creature now looks as it stands, walks and converses. Blizzard is redesigning its character animations as part of the Warlords of Draenor expansion due for launch at the end of this year. Updated versions of male and female orcs, dwarves and gnomes and the human female have already been shown.
"As we begin applying animations, we're extra careful not to stray too far from the original," wrote lead animator Steve Aguilar. "It's important to us to retain the essence of the original animations, because how characters walk, move, and carry themselves help to define their personality. We use all of the original animations as a starting point, and then go through the process of cleaning them up and adding additional articulation."
The Tauren's facial animations have been given a significant upgrade. "Since the facial animation system worked so well with the Pandaren in Mists of Pandaria, with the updated models we wanted to add the same life and emotion they deserved," said animator Kevin Rucker. "In the past the character models only had a jaw bone that could be animated, but now we're able to add movement to the brows, eyes, cheeks and mouth. We're able to properly make them smile, look angry, and talk."
Overall body-movement has also been given a new look. "On a certain level, how you move in the game is one of the most important things you experience as a player," said Blizzard artist Jeremy Collins. "It's your main interaction with the world around you. For Warlords of Draenor, we wanted to improve the locomotion of WoW's player characters with brand new rigs. These new rigs are capable of doing so much more in terms of fidelity of motion for our characters, and we wanted to showcase that as much as possible."