Posted on August 27, 2008,

Blizzard Taking an 'Iterative, Organic Approach to Graphics Upgrades' in WoW

Gaming Today

It’s not difficult to find any number of MMORPGs that look better than World of Warcraft from a technical standpoint. You could argue looking “better” is a subjective matter and I’d agree as someone who is a big fan of WoW’s art style, but that doesn’t change the fact that the game absolutely has room for improvement. The concept of updating a game’s graphics engine isn’t completely unheard of (see: EverQuest), and WoW is actually receiving a facelift (to an extent) in the upcoming Wrath of Lich King expansion.

Surprisingly enough, that’s not all Blizzard has in store for graphical improvements, but we shouldn’t count on being blown away by a single gargantuan upgrade. Lead producer J Allen Brack clarified some recent comments on the subject:

First off, we do have some graphics updates coming with Wrath of the Lich King, namely in three areas: shadow system, shader technology, and view distance. The shadow system will greatly improve the look of existing shadows, and players will be able to display both character and structure shadows. The new shader technology we’ve implemented enables the team to create even better looking terrain, as well as some cool ice effects. And, the view distance has been increased, so players will be able to see farther than ever before in Northrend.

Right now our focus is on collecting beta feedback and getting Wrath of the Lich King ready to go for launch, so we’re not ready at this point to talk about specific plans for future expansions. However, it’s important to note that in general we’re taking an iterative, organic approach to graphics upgrades, going feature by feature as opposed to thinking in terms of an overall “new graphics engine.” For example, we’ve discussed plans for new visuals for water, but this would be for a future content update or expansion. We also have other ideas for technical and visual improvements, but these would be for future updates/expansions as well.

So there you have it. I’ll be very happy to have greater draw distance once Lich King releases, and the prospect of seeing further graphical improvements is absolutely something I’m looking forward to.

But to you, dear World of Warcraft fan/Gaming Today reader, I ask: would you welcome graphical updates to the game or do you consider yourself a purist who doesn’t want to see the game touched?

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4 Comments on Blizzard Taking an 'Iterative, Organic Approach to Graphics Upgrades' in WoW


On August 27, 2008 at 3:55 pm

NICE BUT wow u could improve on character texture im not gonna lie the features on your characters could use hug improvment. :shock:


On August 27, 2008 at 4:10 pm

I am just glad Blizzard is doing what A-Net SHOULD of done by the time GW:EN came out. The Guild Wars engine was badly in need of a graphical facelift and when GW:EN and to a lesser extent Nightfall came out it showed. I even remember on the GW Guru forums reading a thread about how on some ATI based chipsets for laptops one area in Nightfall kept choking out the game and system.


On August 27, 2008 at 4:57 pm

Blizzard gets away with alot. Their graphics have the artistic style that is superior to other games that vainly attempt to look “realistic”. However, if you stop moving and look around at their world it is so obviously static. dont get me wrong I am a big fan of their artwork. I love the “cartoon” look.

What do I expect then? I expect a world that has WIND. WEATHER. Not the occasional rainstorm every week. They have really failed on that, and these new graphical upgrades are just a drop in the bucket. After playing wow for 4 years I think this opinion is qualified. Not to be misunderstood, the artwork is astonishing and surreal, especially outlands. But your really needing more animation in your worlds.


On August 27, 2008 at 7:31 pm

I’m probably going to buy WotLK when it comes out. I’m switching to WAR, but I want to experience the expansion too. (On private servers of course).