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Patch 7.3: New Caster Animations

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With 7.3 on the horizon, Blizzard did an official preview of new caster animations with videos and developer comments.

Blizzard LogoBlizzard (Source)

With patch 7.3 on the horizon, we thought it was time to share some updates to combat animations for several casting classes. Similar to what we did with the melee classes at the launch of Legion, these updates are all about priests, mages, Restoration and Elemental shaman, and some additional refinements to Restoration druid casting animations! We’re also continuing to work on even more enhancements for additional classes at a later point in development.

A little over two years ago, we set our sights on revamping combat animations. The team has wanted to renovate it somehow, but what exactly does that mean? To determine the answer, our development leadership put together a small group of people to come up with a prototype of what we thought could use some cleaning up. You are currently experiencing the fruits of this work with the new melee animations. Our final goal was to create new melee moves that would make the game feel better, but not change how the game was played. During this prototype phase, we also came up with a plan for casters, but didn’t have time to put it into production until now. Let’s dig into some of the things we did.

WoW has grown a lot over the last decade, and after we took stock of our combat pacing, it was clear that we needed to deliver a much tighter and more responsive experience for every button you press. Back in the days of simply chain-casting Frostbolt, it didn’t really matter how much time it took your character to go from precast to missile launch. Today, you have a suite of spells at your fingertips where cast times have sped up and split-second decision making is key. To help the way the game is currently played, we wanted more timing consistency.

Keeping this split-second decision making in mind for the new cast animations, we found a sweet spot between game play responsiveness and striking, weighty animation. The punchiness of our new animations were working so well, we decided to revisit our original cast animations with a fresh eye on what we had learned—while keeping the style and uniqueness of the classic cast animations for every race. The only thing we touched was the time it took to hit the cast pose since, in the live game, each race’s cast timing is different. This ensured that every spell cast with our new class animations or our iconic racial animations had the same punchy and responsive feel.

Ultimately, our main goals remained the same for our next chapter in updating combat; retain the individuality and identity of what came before, pay off epic moments over the course of a battle, and update the game as seamlessly as possible. If we did our jobs right, it should feel as though it has always been this way. Our work should blend into the background so you can focus on melting, smashing, cursing, crushing, igniting, stabbing, purifying, and exploding your foes into unfathomably tiny bits.

ADAM KUGLER, LEAD CLASS DESIGNER

With animation, the first things you might notice are all new caster ready idles. Currently, after you cast a spell, the character goes back to their stand animation. For this revamp, we wanted to create distinct idles that conveyed the personality of the caster much like how a melee class does while holding two swords or a giant, two-handed axe. This was tricky since class fantasy is very personal and no two people have the same idea on how a mage or shaman should stand.

We also looked at what we could do with spells that had a cast time. Currently, directed and omni (area of effect) spells loop as the spell builds up before firing. These are distinct animations we had no intention of removing, but to fit the idea of a spell building up, we thought a strong, progressive motion showing the character pulling magic from the ground or gathering it from the air would look cool. So that’s what we did with the new precast animations. Again, class fantasy was a factor with this—how exactly does a shaman pull magic from the ground?

We also created a bunch of quick, single-handed animations to add variety to instant spells. These look especially neat as you run around casting with your right and left hands. Beefier spells now have stronger straight arm moves, while curses fire with a flick of the wrist.

KEVIN RUCKER, SENIOR ANIMATOR

The next step for revamped animations was revamped spell effects to go along with them! This was a tricky undertaking, especially for iconic spells. The goal was to pay homage to the original—but in some cases, we needed to completely reimagine the spell. It gave us a chance to define what each kit of magic should look like and with higher fidelity than what was possible in classic WoW. With that in mind, we aimed to work our way towards snappier, more modern spell effects without trampling too much on sacred ground. Overall, we needed the combat for casters to look and feel more exciting and rewarding while keeping a unique visual identity for each class and spec.

For example, with the BlizzardBlizzard spell, we kept all the same elements of the original, but brought them in line with more modern effects. We also defined what makes this frost mage-like (wispy, magical, precise) as opposed to shaman frost (naturalist, elemental, realistic) or death knight frost (bitter, aggressive, sinister). This is a good example of an homage spell, where we wanted to keep the intention of the original spell.

With Arcane MissilesArcane Missiles, on the other hand, we reimagined what it could look like. We kept the iconic structure of five bursts of four missiles, but got creative with the rest. What should a mage’s Arcane magic look like? Chaotic firecracker-like sparkle explosions? We think so!

The effects revamp effort was all about the balance between paying homage to the original feel and reimagining everything. How do we breathe new life into each spec, but make sure we retain the core identity? How do we build a tighter, more cohesive class fantasy around spells players have been casting for 12+ years? How do we make sure all these fancy new effects don’t tank your graphical performance? It has been a long, careful balancing act between what we, as artists, want it to look like and what you, as players, want it to feel like. We’re psyched about how it turned out and we hope you’re equally psyched to run around casting your improved spells!

SARAH CARMODY, FX ARTIST

We hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at the new caster visual updates. We had lots of fun creating all these animations and effects and look forward to hearing your thoughts on them.

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Wow, that whole cheesy talk of the next expansion having custom model changes doesn't seem so far-fetched after all; with those new animations seem polished enough that Blizzard is planning a complete overhaul to the characters. I really like how smooth those movements are. Each class having its own battle stance is something I've been wanting for a long time.

Edited by Valhalen
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I remember across games I've played there's always been that signature little move or spell that you use upon logging in and keep it running, toggled on or refreshed as necessary that you cannot imagine your toon being without. For a long time, it was Inner Fire for my Priest; Aspects for Hunters was a nice idea, but the concept has never been 'yeah, this is it' to me. I'm hoping these animations bring back a little bit of that magic and sentimental attachment to the class and spells themselves. 

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This looks really cool, but I don't understand that they didn't use any weapon at all. I mean those are artefact that are supposed to be the strongest weapons ever ! I wouldn't mind if it was "normal" weapons and I think the main issue is that we have so many different weapon possible to equip that if they want to bring class fantasy animation + alternative with weapons equipable that would be a lot of work. But that's just sad :(

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most of these are hit and miss for me some are like huge fireworks in the sky while others are those lame little sparklers. 

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On 8/17/2017 at 11:52 AM, Tri said:

most of these are hit and miss for me some are like huge fireworks in the sky while others are those lame little sparklers. 

+1 to this. Getting seriously mixed vibes from them so far. Hopefully seeing them on live and playing with them will change my mind a bit.

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Seeing as they're still working hard on updating animations (Warlock specifically) even post-7.3.0, I remain hopeful that they'll continue to polish these!

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On 8/19/2017 at 9:00 AM, Yridaa said:

Seeing as they're still working hard on updating animations (Warlock specifically) even post-7.3.0, I remain hopeful that they'll continue to polish these!

Yeah - I'm a bit disappointed honestly that Warlock isn't coming out with the others, but I can't wait to see them when they are done.

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      Travel System: Kyrian Gateways
      You’ll be able to access a Bastion-specific travel network from the comfort of Elysian Hold. Dissolve into pure anima to flit between points of interest instantly. There are three tiers of Anima Transport that you’ll unlock over time by restoring Anima to your Sanctum. Here are some examples:
      Step of Faith (Tier 1)
      Allows travel to Elysian Hold, Hero’s Rest, Aspirant’s Rest, and the Temple of Courage.
      After arriving at a location, cast Unburden, greatly increasing movement speed and propelling you forward.
      Leap of Power (Tier 2)
      Allows travel to Sagehaven, the Temple of Purity, and the Seat of Eternal Hymns.
      Unburden duration increased by 100%.
      Your Summon Steward ability can now create an Elysian Beacon, granting you access to the network in the field.
      Eternal Paths (Tier 3) Allows travel to the Temple of Humility and Exaltation Rise.
      Unburden additionally reduces the radius at which enemies will detect you while active.
      Your steward’s Elysian Beacon can now be used by party members.
      Kyrian Adventures
      Put your tactical skills to the test by sending your allies into the Shadowlands and lending aid to the Kyrian Covenant. You’ll need to be strategic about how you take on these combat puzzles, which Kyrian Covenant allies you’ll send to face them, and how you’ll utilize their skills to claim victory.
      Anima Conductor
      Players can enable additional content with their Covenant’s realm by investing Anima into specific areas in Bastion. When you restore Anima to a location, it revitalizes the area allowing you to access new quests, making it easier for you to unearth wondrous treasures, or luring powerful foes which can be slain for rich rewards. Different areas are tied to different content unlocks.
      Purity’s Pinnacle – Find a unique Covenant treasure. Temple of Courage – Fight an enemy champion. Temple of Humility – Access a Covenant World Quest. Eternal Forge – Access a set of Covenant daily quests. Eonian Archives – Get access to powerful kyrian enhancements. Citadel of Loyalty – Fight an elite enemy champion. Meet Your Kyrian Soulbinds
      Once you’ve proven your worth, you’ll unlock the ability to Soulbind with one of several select characters in the Covenant, who will share their distinctive powers with you in the form of a variety of traits and bonuses.
      The noble kyrian you befriended in Bastion will form a special bond with you if you join their Covenant. Below are descriptions of each, along with a few example powers they can bestow upon you.
      Pelagos trains diligently for ascension even in the face of challenge and adversity. Along with Kleia, his other soulbind, Pelagos is quick to befriend you as you seek an audience with the Archon and confront the Forsworn threat. Despite the trials he faces, Pelagos pushes ever forward, steadfast and optimistic.
      Bond of Friendship: Defeating enemies slightly reduces the cooldown on your Steward’s non-Phial services per enemy defeated.
      Combat Meditation: Using your Kyrian class spell or ability increases your Mastery slightly for a moderate amount of time and occasionally expels Sorrowful Memories. Walking through Sorrowful Memories extends this effect by a short time.
      Kleia met you while she was still an aspirant. She demonstrated to her soulbound companion Pelagos and the rest of the kyrian that she wants to push forward and best any trials they faced. A caring mentor to Pelagos and you, she will do whatever she can to protect her friends and Bastion.
      Ascendant Phial: Phial of Serenity renders you immune to Curse, Disease, Poison, and Bleed effects for several seconds.
      Valiant Strikes: You and your nearby allies’ critical strikes grant you stacks of Valiant Strikes. Once you maximize your stacks, you heal nearby allies for 5% of their maximum health over 10 seconds.
      Forgelite Prime Mikanikos, a steward of Bastion, showed promise from his earliest days and quickly rose to the rank of Forgelite Prime. He was the primary inventor of many of Bastion’s most iconic creations. Recognizing the potential of the Maw Walker, he became a formidable ally to help you get to the bottom of the anima drought and take on other threats.
      Charged Additive: Phial of Serenity also knocks nearby enemies away from you.
      Bron’s Call to Action: After using a significant amount of spells and abilities, your next spell or ability summons Bron, who attacks and heals your targets.
      Power of the Kyrian
      When you join the Kyrian Covenant, you’ll gain two new unique abilities—one signature ability and one class ability.
      Signature abilities are available to all Covenant members regardless of class, race, or specialization.
      Summon Steward
      Call your Steward to bring you a Phial of Serenity that can be consumed to restore some of your health and remove all Curse, Disease, Poison, and Bleed Effects.
      Your Personal Steward
      You get to choose your own special steward to call upon from an entire flock, including one of these three:
      Pico: A clarinet player who toots as much as he hoots!
      Farra: This hammer-wielding Steward isn’t afraid of a fight; just look at her splinter a training dummy!
      Bumos: A baker at heart, Bumos has a confection to make—he always has a slice of cake or two ready for you!
      As you progress through the Covenant Campaign, your Steward will grow in power alongside of you, by being able to use the Travel Portal or even craft special items in the Path of Ascension.
      If you decide that you want a new traveling companion, no need to ruffle your feathers—you’ll be able to choose a new Steward at Hero’s Rest.
      Covenant Class Abilities provide additional combat-oriented gameplay options that are tailored to the theme of that Covenant.
      Covenant Class Abilities We look forward to sharing more information as development continues, and we hope this preview gives you a taste of what the Kyrian Covenant has to offer. Learn more about Bastion in our previously published article.
      Rewards, mechanics, and abilities are still in development and subject to change, so be sure to check back for periodic updates on worldofwarcraft.com as we approach the release of Shadowlands.
       
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