WordPress spam filter swallowed (I think) my comments over at Lum’s blog, so I’m going to save them here, nyah, nyah!
It’s undeniable that DAoC has some of the best art I’ve ever seen in a mmorpg. In many cases far superior even to WoW, even if crippled by some overall carelessness and things too rushed out and approximate. But what is sure is that they have some GREAT talent. And that kind of talent is inestimable as you just cannot find it easily.
I don’t remember anything particularly great in ToA (but I also never went too far), but I was definitely impressed by what the artists did with Catacombs and all that came after it.
I praised DAoC’s art in many occasions, even if I don’t exactly know who I’m praising. Maybe it’s that guy (Mat Weathers) Lum is talking about, maybe it’s someone else, maybe it’s the whole art team.
I know I am easily amazed by smaller details like this, this and this. That’s some magistral work on those textures. Definitely not something you see often. And remember that at least one player stopped there to stare in awe.
At the beginning the art style was a bit too generic and not particularly inspired, but with the time it became much more consistent and today the quality of the art is the very LAST problem that DAoC and Mythic have. Maybe some approximate execution and lack of polish, but the overall quality and skill that the artists have shown is simply awesome.
The same for Warhammer. The art in Warhammer is already head and shoulders above WoW’s character’s art. Without a doubt. Mythic has definitely the potential not only to be on par with the quality of the other game, but easily suprass it. Also because they are building a PvP game, so they need again to consolidate the space and not make an infinite number of zones. The initial screenshots shown were a bit deluding, in particular because of the lightweight atmosphere they chose compared to the more harsh and worn look we were all expecting for that setting, but with the time things seem improving and even for Warhammer it looks like that the quality of the art will be its last problem. The dwarf model is still the one I like less as it is too imprecise and undefined, but what they did with the orcs and goblins seems very good. And I do hope that a particular attention goes into giving them unique and appropriate animations.
Give a look for example at this orc in shiny armor. That’s the idea I have when I think to inspired armor that fits the setting. That’s why I CANNOT HATE MORE the direction that WoW is taking, with all those goofy, exaggerate, plastic armor pieces that Blizzard started to patch in post-release. Imho the equipment of a character should be defined exactly in the game world. It’s not a model and a color/texture. I want to know the material it is made of, I want to know where it came from, I want to know the utility of it. I don’t mind some exaggeration, and I love how each item has an unique look that is suddenly recognizeable, but if you compare that orc from Warhammer to whatever you see in WoW nowadays you can easily understand why I’m starting to love Warhammer’s art direction and hating the path that WoW is taking now.
That orc in that page is awesome. the model is detailed enough, the textures well done and every piece of the equipment fits perfectly the setting and it is suddenly recognizeable. It looks great and it looks unique. I just love it and I hope that for the whole game they stick to that style (and I want to see what they do with Chaos).
But this is also why browsing through my old screenshots in DAoC and looking at the progress in Warhammer makes me feel furious. Because Mythic has and still is wasting the so great resources they have. Wasted because of the not so great design. They have great artists, but terrible designers (and a crippled client).
And the result is that those great resources they have are NEVER put at a good use.
DAoC had and still has the numbers to be the best, and yet it has to struggle in the relative mediocrity.