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Senior Art Director Samwise Didier conducted an AMA on reddit yesterday and we looked at the most interesting answers to your questions.
Mister Samwise, you have no idea how many of your artworks have been used as wallpapers. Thank you so much for all the incredibile illustrations you have brought us!
Thank you! I am glad that the art I create is enjoyed by other people besides my imaginary friends. : ) Thanks again.
New Elite Tauren Chieftain song when?
Don't know when but we did try a power ballad called Female Dwarven Paladin. Maybe that is next?
Chris Metzen looks like he'd be fun to work with but an absolute monster. Do you have any funny stories about interactions with him?
He is super fun to create with. Some of my fondest memories are when we were creating War III. He always made his Orcs more human proportioned and my Orcs were always more brutish. We made it so that the more intelligent and noble Orcs, like Thrall, had the Metzen proportions, and the primal and savage dudes, like Samuro and Hellscream, had my art style.
I've always loved your work! You have mentioned before that Samuro is based on a D&D character you made called Grumok the Wanderer. Are there any other Warcraft (or other Blizz characters) out there from your D&D adventures, and who are they?
Uther was based off a blind Paladin I created artwork for. In one arm he carried a book of Honor. In the other, Virtue. It was a pencil drawing I did in '95. The look of Illidan was based off another character I did as well. The stories were created here by Metzen and the War III team but the original art was from before. Funny that Uther ended up not being blind and Illidan did. There are others as well but that is for the next AMA.
When the Mists of Pandaria expansion was first revealed, the response from players was divided. While many were hyped that the Pandaren were finally coming to WoW (me included), there was also significant backlash. How did you feel about that initial response, as creator of the Pandaren?
I was ok with it. I understand how important WoW is to people. One person's WoW is different from another's. Some people love the original Warcraft and don't want anything to change. Others love the ever evolving world. I'm glad we were finally able to include them into the world.
What do you do to work through artists block? Are there any exercises that can get you right back into drawing despite feeling stuck?
ou should never have artist's block. If you have free time, don't go onto your phone, or social media and the like. Think about your next image, your next project. I do a lot of my creative thinking in the car on my way to work. No music. No books on tape. It is quiet time to think about the project and figure out what I want to do. So the next time I sit in front of my sketchbook, I am prepared.
My saying is ABC. Always Be Creating. That is what I try to embrace everyday. My story, The Last Winter, was born from this ideology. BOOM, blatant plug. :)
I have 2 questions, if that's alright!
What's your process to develop character designs? Do you just start with a doodle and start adjusting to fit the game's art style and themes, or maybe a silhouette?
How did ETC get started? What's been your favorite experience as part of it?
Some ideas come from myself and the art team, others come out of necessity because of the design needs. When creating my own art for The Last Winter, I had no constraints other than what I wanted to create for the story. In my opinion, that's the most fun--when it's just an artist, his creativity, and a sketchpad or computer.
Blatant plug #2,718.
ETC got started when it was suggested that our cover band did a Warcraft-inspired song for the end credits of The Frozen Throne. We didn't have a lot of time so we swapped the lyrics from one of our songs and replaced them with Warcraft stuff. BOOM-power of the Horde!
As an art director what are the qualities you look for in your team of artists? (3D Character/Concept Art)
A good artist, you have to be able to draw. Someone who knows the Blizzard art style so we don't have to train them. Someone who knows programs like Photoshop or Maya/Max and Zbrush since these are the ones we use at work. A good passion for Blizzard games and someone who's a solid team player.
What are your top bands to listen to while you work? (I've been recently blasting Hammerfall or Eluetie)
Lately I've been listening to a lot of Alestorm, Dropkick Murphy's, and a whole bunch of HP Lovecraft stories.
You said once in a recent interview I listened to that your heroes are just an e-mail away. Would you ever be open to an artist e-mailing you as a fan and to ask questions? (Of course I would never want to annoy you, and I hope others think the same)
Yes! You can message my Twitter account whenever you want - @SamwiseDidier (I'm usually only on about once a week so don't stress if I don't respond immediately)
Do you still play D&D? (At least I think you played it in the past, or people you knew did)
Yes. It's now mostly saved for weekend-long campaigns up in Big Bear with my friends from high school that I still hang out with.
What class/race did you play in WoW? Do you still play?
I always loved how old WoW and the icons looked cartoony, I could easily recognize your style! From the wolves and gnoll snarls to the coloring and shading on armor/weapons. And with the old buildings as well!
Oh totally, I play mainly Alliance and Gnomes ; )
Thanks, I really loved doing all the button and icon art. I'm still doing it on Heroes of the Storm.
Do you have any tips for a guy that loves concept art and game art in general, but can barely draw stick figures? I'd love to be able to create the ideas in my head, but i just dont seem to get them on paper.
PS: I absolutely love your work, so thanks for the inspiration.
Practice. That is the main thing. If you aren't able to come up with your own ideas, look at the artists you like and draw their stuff. There are a ton of tutorials on YouTube, deviantArt and other sites that you can watch, learn, and grow.
Patience. You will need to realize that you aren't going to be good at first. Maybe for a while. Have patience. Keep practicing.
Perseverance. You will need to keep trying and practicing your art if you want to get better. Don't get demoralized. There will always be someone better. There will always be someone worse. Learn from one, help out the other.
ABC! Always Be Creating!
Being creative can be exhausting. What do you do to refill your tank?
If I'm getting exhausted working on something, I'll stop working on that and start working on something fresh. That way I can still be creating, but I don't feel tired or frustrated.
Do the pandyr share any relation to pandaren?
Also, was the adjustment of pandaren headbands in 7.0 in WoW intentional (https://i.imgur.com/rdl0eyK.png), and will it be readjusted to be how it was before? Currently it looks very much broken, too small and moved up too high. I'm afraid it's going to remain like this.
No. And they don't wear headbands. . .
Just kidding. The Pandyr were created after seeing a certain Black Metal band, playing in full corpse paint, in the snow, singing about dark and black grimness. I thought they looked like Viking pandas. Thus, the Pandyr were born. They are denizens of Mistgard, a mountainous island that is set between Icegard, the realm of the frost giants, and Firehome, the land of the fire giants. The Last Winter is set in the final days of Mistgard, where the oceans freeze, and the giants start to march.
Blatant plug #2.
Headband-wise, I will bring this up to the WoW art guys and see what can be done. Sorry I don't have a better answer for this part. I am currently working on Heroes of the Storm, which you can play now for free!
Blatant plug #3.
What are the chances of your books coming to Brazil in Portuguese?
I believe the only language that it will be translated to currently is French. Hopefully there will be more in the future!
Love your work and enthusiasm, Sam. How do you maintain a level of excitement for what you do?
I don’t know, really. I think it mostly stems from the creation aspect of art, story, music, whatever. I am most excited when I am creating art for today and jamming on ideas for tomorrow.
What is/was your favourite piece that you did?
I don't really have a favorite piece. I love many pieces of art I've made before, but what I'm always really thinking about is what I'm going to create next.
There's always one more picture to draw. There's always one more story to tell.
Why was you face chosen for the old icon-less spells in WoW so long ago? Was it just a joke that made it to live by accident or did you just get lucky that it was you face?
I was responsible for creating the bulk of the icons for our games back in the day. Games like Warcraft 1-3, StarCraft 1, and even as far back as Lost Vikings and Rock and Roll Racing. So when WoW was getting going, I was asked if I could help create buttons/icons for the game. There were literally hundreds, if not thousands to do and that image got put in as the “missing artwork” icon. If there was a button that was missing a piece of art, my image would show up telling whoever saw it that I had some more art to do. At least, that is how I remember it.
Sam! I love everything you have ever done. (Including your rad hair)
I look forward to reading your book!!!
Question - if you could retire anywhere in the world of Azeroth, and spend your golden years with a nice plot of land where would it be and why?
(I think I would pick The Jade Forest because it seems so peaceful.)
Would you rather live in Azeroth or Pandyr?
I would have a few vacation spots. One would be in Dun the Morogh/Kharanos, hanging out at the Thunderbrew Distillery. My second would be in the Barrens. Say what you want about the Barrens but as soon as I cross the bridge from Orgrimmar into the Barrens and hear that music queue up, I am home. Zangar Marsh is another one. One of the prettiest places in WoW. Plus, being a dude whose family is from Louisiana, all that funky swamp life would go into my pot and make some killer gumbo.
As to living in Azeroth or Mistgard, that’s the name of the island where the Pandyr live, I have lived in both for years now. I might have to turn the question around to you, after you pick up the book and give it a read. . . BOOOOOOOM, BLATANT PLUG FTW!!!
Greetings Samwise! If I may ask, I'm curious about something that's very important to me. I am a bit of an aspiring artist of sorts, in the sense that I really... want to do it, but never have time or, more importantly, the drive/motivation whether it be due to work or issues in the home and whatnot. Honestly I'm pretty terrible and haven't gotten that much better simply because I never get around to it, I admit.
I suppose my question is simply, prior to actually working for Blizzard, what gave you the drive to practice? What kinds of conditions did you have to work and/or push yourself against and how did you find the time and energy to do so?
I apologize if this is too intense a line of questioning but I'd really appreciate any answer, thanks!
Art was always something that came easy to me. Whether I was drawing with crayons back in kindergarten or using the newfangled gadgets we have today. I never had to push it. It was something I just naturally did. On blue-lined notebook paper in school, to the back of bathroom check sheets at the movie theater I worked at prior to Blizz. If you have to force yourself to do something, then it is just a job. I never had to force myself to create so art had never been a job to me. Even now, when it is my actual job, it still is way more than that to me.
You and Chris Metzen are my two artist heroes from Blizzard's long history. I'm really digging the style of your new book by looking at the art. Would you mind sharing what inspires you?
Silence! Oh, I’m sorry, I am not telling you to be quiet. I am saying, I get inspired by silence. And solitude. No noise, no distractions. I can think. . . I can run ideas around in my head. It is hard to create something when you are distracted. Thank you! I hope you enjoy the book.
I've always loved your artwork and have always made a point of attending the artists' stage at Blizzcon, in part just because I love watching the various members of the art team, but also to watch you at your craft.
That said, I'm curious as to how much you've had to dedicate to practice to get to where you are in your art? Do you spend time every day working on artwork, or are you intermittent with it? Any recommendations for improving our own skills? (Asking for myself and a friend who also admires your work).
Thank you in advance! :D
It depends on the person. I have drawn and created art nearly every day of my life, and even more so since joining Blizzard. But there are many people I personally know who don’t draw nearly as much as I do and they are way better than I am. Even then, I don’t believe they do it intermittently. I personally don’t set aside time to draw or create, it is what I naturally gravitate to and I do it every time I am not doing something else.
I am such a big fan of you Mr. Samwise, you brought MoP to reality and it is my favorite expac and I can never be grateful enough for that :D
My question for you today is, what is your advice to someone trying to start his career of game design at Blizzard? I love Blizz and would love to put my talents to work there but with how competitive it is, I'm not sure how to stand out. I'd appreciate any advice .^
First, have you applied? That would be the first thing to do to get noticed. : )
Second, I am not a game designer so I’m not exactly sure how you would stand out as a game designer. If you were an artist, I would suggest posting Blizzard fan artwork on our community pages. Get people talking about your art. I have hired multiple artists to my team, and it all started from seeing their fan artwork online. Another way is to try to contact some of the artists or other devs and ask them for feedback on your stuff. Blizzard also has many positions open at a multitude of skill levels, from associate level to senior and director level. You should even consider applying to non-design related jobs at Blizzard. Most of the art and design producers I work with daily came from inside Blizzard, from our Billing, Customer Service, QA, and GM departments. Blizzard is really good about hiring people from within Blizzard. Now, if you can’t get into Blizzard right now, whether it is lack of experience or whatever reason, try some other companies in or around your area, even a startup. Once you get a job with a game company, you can learn the tools, learn the process of game development, and grow your talents and development experience. In a year or two, apply again. Or, you may love where you are and decide to stay and grow with the company. Good luck! I wish thee much fortune on your quest. See you soon!
The Overwatch Contender Playoffs and the HCT Summer Championship finals will be hosted there.
Blizzard will get its very own esports arena in Burbank Studios, Los Angeles. Blizzard Arena is set to officially open on October 7, 2017.
Τhe opening of Blizzard Arena will kick off with the Overwatch Contender Season One Playoffs on October 7-8. A week after that, the Hearthstone Summer Championship finals will also be held there. This came as a bit of a surprise to the community, since they were waiting for a European venue for the last Championship before Blizzcon (the previous venues were the Bahamas and Shanghai).
Here's the official announcement from the Blizzard Press Center:
World-class esports have a new home in the entertainment capital of the world. Blizzard Entertainment today unveiled Blizzard Arena Los Angeles, a cutting-edge live-event destination for pro players, esports fans, and everyone else who loves premier competition. Situated in the legendary Burbank Studios, once home to groundbreaking television shows, the studio at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles has been custom-tailored to support an exciting live-event experience for local attendees and broadcast audiences around the world. When the Arena opens for business on October 7, top competitors from across Blizzard esports will be the newest stars to shine on one of the most celebrated stages in television history.
“We’re at a tipping point for esports and we look forward to helping usher in a new era of competition-based entertainment,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “As we open the doors of Blizzard Arena Los Angeles and welcome fans from around the world, we’re honored to bring the best in Blizzard esports to the same stage that some of the biggest names in entertainment have called home.”
With multiple sound stages, control rooms, and practice facilities, Blizzard Arena Los Angeles was built to support a full slate of competitive events year-round. In addition, the Burbank, California arena will house a Blizzard retail store that rotates stock for event attendees based on the competitions taking place at the time.
Blizzard Arena Los Angeles will open its doors to the public for the first time on the weekend of October 7–8 with the Overwatch Contenders Season One Playoffs taking center stage. The culmination of a summer of formidable European and North American competition, the Overwatch Contenders Playoffs will crown the top Contenders teams in each region.
Beginning October 13, the Hearthstone® Championship Tour’s Summer Championship will bring top-notch Hearthstone pros to the Arena for a full weekend of competition, with $250,000 on the line. The global tournament will conclude the third act of the HCT and set the table for the Hearthstone World Championship, taking place in early 2018.
The early battles of both the Heroes of the Storm® Global Championship (HGC) Finals and World of Warcraft® Arena Championship will be held at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles in late October, with top Heroes of the Storm and WoW® Arena players looking to fight their way onto the championship stages at BlizzCon®, Blizzard’s annual community celebration in Anaheim, California, taking place November 3–4.
Then, later this year, some of the top Overwatch® players in the world will take their first steps toward stardom at the Arena when the Overwatch League opens a new era in professional esports. With the players leading the way, the city-based franchises of the Overwatch League have their sights set on establishing a new standard for esports excellence.
Tickets are available now for the Overwatch Contenders Playoffs and the HCT Summer Championship. (source)
Blackheart's Tavern have scored a massive interview with Blizzard Senior Art Director Samwise Didier, the man responsible for the "Blizzard look". From defining the art style of the Warcraft universe to, more recently, Heroes of the Storm and basically everything else in between, he's one of the most veteran people at Blizzard today and has quite a few stories to tell, stories that Blackheart's Tavern were nice enough to share with the rest of us!
See when we may or may not get to see the next WoW expansion announcement and everything else going on at gamescom!
We've already seen the streaming schedule for Blizzard's gamescom presence, but today we're getting the full rundown of all the events and announcements for all Blizzard franchises, including the big ticket items like the Blizzard Reveal Ceremony at 18:00 CEST on Wednesday, August 23, where we may or many not actually get the next WoW expansion announcement! Then there's also the new Overwatch Animated Short that'll show up during the same ceremony, the WoW Arena EU championship finals, a M+ race between two top guilds and much, much more.
gamescom 2017 (source)
Blizzard is heading back to Cologne, Germany next week for gamescom 2017! The event takes place from August 22–26, and we’ll be there to put on our best show yet.
We’ll kick things off by releasing a special preview video of all the playable content we’ll be showcasing at gamescom. Be sure to mark your calendar for 18:00 CEST on Monday, August 21, and head to YouTube to watch it. Subscribe to our channel to be sure you don’t miss it!
At 18:00 CEST on Wednesday, August 23, members of our game development teams will take to our main stage for the Blizzard Reveal Ceremony, which will be live-streamed on http://gamescom.blizzard.com.
Throughout gamescom, visitors to the Blizzard booth in Hall 7 of the Koelnmesse will have the chance to play the latest content for Overwatch, Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, StarCraft II, StarCraft: Remastered, and Diablo III. Of course, we’ll also have some epic entertainment in store, including our Blizzard Cosplay Contest and two performances from Video Games Live—these activities and more will be viewable via live stream on the website.
Our full schedule of activities is now available on http://gamescom.blizzard.com, and you’ll find an overview of each game below.
Visitors to the Blizzard booth will be able to experience a brand-new Overwatch map—tune in to our preview video on Monday when details will be revealed.
The world premiere of a new Overwatch animated short will take place on our main stage and via live stream during the Blizzard Reveal Ceremony on Wednesday.
We’ll be showcasing some impressive Doomfist cosplay on our main stage on Wednesday.
The German voice actors from Overwatch will be doing a live performance on Thursday.
Overwatch FX Artist Rachel Day will be presenting her work on the making of Doomfist live on Friday.
Members of the German Overwatch World Cup team will be doing an on-stage panel on Saturday.
Hearthstone players can enjoy an early look at new Fireside Gathering features during gamescom, where they’ll join forces in a whole new kind of Fireside Brawl: a group raid against the Lich King.
We’ll find out which country’s players will rise above the rest as the Hearthstone Global Games Finals take place live on our Hearthstone stage on Friday and Saturday—choose your champion to win a card pack, and watch the tournament live-streamed on www.twitch.tv/playhearthstone.
To celebrate the latest expansion, Knights of the Frozen Throne, gamers in Cologne will be able to grab a free frozen treat and participate in Hearthstone activities at the gamescom city festival—where the Hearthstone traveling ice cream truck will be making its final European stop on the Ice Cream Citadel tour on Friday and Saturday from 15:00-23:00.
World of Warcraft
Gamers will be able to group up with other gamescom attendees and run through a dungeon from World of Warcraft’s upcoming Patch 7.3—details about this content update will be unveiled on stage and via live stream during the Blizzard Reveal Ceremony on Wednesday.
Twelve top-ranked Arena teams will battle it out in the WoW European Championship Finals on our World of Warcraft stage from Wednesday to Saturday for a share of the $100,000 USD prize pool and the chance to compete in the WoW Arena World Championship Finals at BlizzCon later this year—watch the live stream on http://www.twitch.tv/warcraft.
Visitors to the Blizzard booth will be able to attend a live Darkmoon Faire, which will include activities like an airbrush makeup station and photo opportunities with iconic WoW statues and items.
Top European World of Warcraft guilds Nova and Set Sail For Fail will race against each other in Mythic dungeons live on stage on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
Heroes of the Storm
Blizzard booth visitors will be able to get some hands-on play time with our latest Hero—details will be revealed in our Monday preview video.
Heroes of the Storm: Showdown will see community personalities and pros duking it out in live show matches on our main stage—including Team Liquid and Team Expert on Wednesday, and popular German YouTubers ApeCrime and PietSmiet on Friday.
Carbot Animations will be doing a Heroes of the Storm drawing session live on stage on Thursday.
Our newest co-op commander will be playable for the first time at the Blizzard booth—tune in to our preview video on Monday when details are unveiled.
StarCraft: Remastered, our recently released modernization of the classic award-winning real-time strategy game and its Brood War expansion, will also be available to play on the show floor.
Professional StarCraft players will clash in exciting live StarCraft II and StarCraft: Remastered show matches on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Attendees at gamescom will be able to command legions of the risen dead and wield the dark arts with Diablo III’s Rise of the Necromancer pack, playable on PC and PlayStation 4.
We’ll also feature our famous dance contest on Friday and our cosplay contest on Saturday, as well as signing sessions, quizzes, and more on our main stage—including performances from Video Games Live on Thursday and Friday. Remember to visit http://gamescom.blizzard.com for the full schedule of activities.
In addition, gamescom attendees can pick up a selection of Blizzard merchandise, including some brand-new and convention-exclusive items, at the Blizzard store in Hall 5.
Daily Live Streams
Those who can’t make it to gamescom 2017 in person will still be able to catch all the excitement via daily live streams on http://gamescom.blizzard.com. Well-known streamers will also be bringing you live action from the Blizzard booth—visit the website for details, and follow our social media channels for the latest news live from the event!
Quarterly results of the Activison Blizzard Investor Call are here and Blizzard reached a new all-time record of Monthly Active Users (MAUs)!
Here are some interesting highlights of the Q2 Investor Call. Full presentation can be found here.
Q2 MAUs are at 46 million (up 38% Y/Y) MAUs have more than doubled since early 2015. Blizzard experienced strong participation with in-game content for Overwatch, Hearthstone and Diablo III. Diablo III
The Necromancer was embraced by the player community. Hearthstone
Hearthsone MAUs rose to an all-time record, fueled by the new expansion, Journey to Un'Goro. Overwatch
Overwatch MAUs have risen every quarter since the game launched and rose to a new all-time high in Q2. Anniversary event drove strong engagement and record participation in customization items. Uprising's PvE-mode was well-received with record play-time. World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft time spent grew Y/Y and Legion continues to outperform Warlords of Draenor.