The Evolution of Warcraft Cinematics

Blizzard’s WOW cinematics have certainly evolved over the last two decades, but with the turn of the 21st century, the changes have become less and less significant. Check it out:

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13 Responses to The Evolution of Warcraft Cinematics

  1. I do agree that the changes get subtler, but aren’t those the changes the People (the gaming population, not-yet-gamers targeted by marketing execs, people who just like cutscenes, etc.) want, graphically speaking? I notice between the last 5 games & expansions that the main thing that happens is greater detail. While you say the changes are “less and less significant,” in a way that implies that they’re slowing down, I have to disagree with you. The point of CGI cinematics, IMO, is to bring what can be done with some mouse clicks and entered data to “living invisible,” meaning you can’t tell the CG from the real. They’ve been able to do this in movies, but only in mixed media cinema (CG SFX), though they have gotten closer, e.g. “Final Fantasy” and “Beowulf”. (Note: Not perfect, just closer to “living invisible”.) It is the details that make the difference and help bring some things to life.

    I think what Blizzard may be running up against in the subtler changes, too, are technology, time, monetary, and manpower issues. How much data is required to display just those few seconds of cinematics? How much will fit on an average gaming PC hard drive? How long does it take to craft those cinematics? How long are people willing to wait for a 45 sec. movie that has nothing to do with the direct gameplay? How long are people willing to wait for the next game or expansion? How much gameplay data vs. cinematics data should be used? And, there are plenty more bits that need consideration in whether or not advancement is made in graphics for cinematics.

    Just my thrupp’ny bit.

    • I partly agree with you. But I also agree with [GAS] in the fact that there’s a big leap in the cinematics from the first two or three games to the las ones. But the difference between the last ones is barely noticeable.
      It has changed deeply from a bunch of slow-moving cartoons, to a CGI animated character that looks pretty real in the last few years. And then it stopped at that!

      I wonder when we will get to the point of playing a game like PES (Pro Evolution Soccer), and feeling like it’s the real deal. Real people. Real environment! That’d be sweet!

      • I remember being amazed at the cinematics in Warcraft 2 when it first came out. Now they look pretty ridiculous. I think by the time we get to life-like video games, it will be amazing for a while, then it will just become the norm. In this age, the only amazing thing is the one that we just saw, then we’re off looking for the next best thing.

  2. I do agree that the changes get subtler, but aren't those the changes the People (the gaming population, not-yet-gamers targeted by marketing execs, people who just like cutscenes, etc.) want, graphically speaking? I notice between the last 5 games & expansions that the main thing that happens is greater detail. While you say the changes are "less and less significant," in a way that implies that they're slowing down, I have to disagree with you. The point of CGI cinematics, IMO, is to bring what can be done with some mouse clicks and entered data to "living invisible," meaning you can't tell the CG from the real. They've been able to do this in movies, but only in mixed media cinema (CG SFX), though they have gotten closer, e.g. "Final Fantasy" and "Beowulf". (Note: Not perfect, just closer to "living invisible".) It is the details that make the difference and help bring some things to life.

    I think what Blizzard may be running up against in the subtler changes, too, are technology, time, monetary, and manpower issues. How much data is required to display just those few seconds of cinematics? How much will fit on an average gaming PC hard drive? How long does it take to craft those cinematics? How long are people willing to wait for a 45 sec. movie that has nothing to do with the direct gameplay? How long are people willing to wait for the next game or expansion? How much gameplay data vs. cinematics data should be used? And, there are plenty more bits that need consideration in whether or not advancement is made in graphics for cinematics.

    Just my thrupp'ny bit.

    • I partly agree with you. But I also agree with [GAS] in the fact that there's a big leap in the cinematics from the first two or three games to the las ones. But the difference between the last ones is barely noticeable.

      It has changed deeply from a bunch of slow-moving cartoons, to a CGI animated character that looks pretty real in the last few years. And then it stopped at that!

      I wonder when we will get to the point of playing a game like PES (Pro Evolution Soccer), and feeling like it's the real deal. Real people. Real environment! That'd be sweet!

      • I remember being amazed at the cinematics in Warcraft 2 when it first came out. Now they look pretty ridiculous. I think by the time we get to life-like video games, it will be amazing for a while, then it will just become the norm. In this age, the only amazing thing is the one that we just saw, then we're off looking for the next best thing.

  3. I think the reason the differences aren’t so noticible anymore is because of how good they already where back in 2002. Any person with eyes is going to able to spot a detail jump between unique textures and pixelshader version the graphics of 1995.. However as graphics get better and better (and approach closer to a level of reality in terms of detail), the human eye simply can’t notice the subtle little improvements.

    Basically, when something looks almost real, there’s not much else you can do to improve it. I think we’ve come to a point with a graphics capabilities where we can make cinematics that, with the proper ammount of detail, could seem real — our next major improvement should be getting graphics powerful enough to allow us to play in that detail. (I know many people are more than satisfied with their PS3s and 360s – but watch the HD WoTLK cinematic and tell me honestly that you’re not interested in playing a game with that level of detail).

  4. I think the reason the differences aren't so noticible anymore is because of how good they already where back in 2002. Any person with eyes is going to able to spot a detail jump between unique textures and pixelshader version the graphics of 1995.. However as graphics get better and better (and approach closer to a level of reality in terms of detail), the human eye simply can't notice the subtle little improvements.

    Basically, when something looks almost real, there's not much else you can do to improve it. I think we've come to a point with a graphics capabilities where we can make cinematics that, with the proper ammount of detail, could seem real — our next major improvement should be getting graphics powerful enough to allow us to play in that detail. (I know many people are more than satisfied with their PS3s and 360s – but watch the HD WoTLK cinematic and tell me honestly that you're not interested in playing a game with that level of detail).

  5. I’d love to see a similar compilation of the changes in gameplay over time. CGI cinematics are one thing, and they’re a big part of what hooks new players into trying a game, but gameplay and game graphics are what keeps players there. It would be very interesting to see the changes over time.

  6. I'd love to see a similar compilation of the changes in gameplay over time. CGI cinematics are one thing, and they're a big part of what hooks new players into trying a game, but gameplay and game graphics are what keeps players there. It would be very interesting to see the changes over time.

  7. We NEED a Warcraft movie. Perhaps creating a separate department for CGI development. I understand the constraints of the project, but even if it took 7 years, I'd be more than willing to wait. Also, I'm loving the gamer/philosophical comments here.
    P.S. I would LOVE to play a game with graphics like Wrath or Cata.

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