BlizzCon 2014 – Overwatch Origins Panel Transcript
This is a full transcript of the Overwatch Origins panel held at BlizzCon 2014. Among the panelists were: Chris Metzen (SVP Story and Franchise Development), Jeff Chamberlain (VFX Supervisor), Jeff Kaplan (game director), Bill Petras (art director) and Arnold Tsang (Lead Character Concept Artist).
Presentator: Welcome to the Overwatch Origins Panel.
Metzen: Whattup, BlizzCon?
Kaplan: What’s up everyone? We are pretty excited to be here today. Yesterday, we had a big panel here on the stage with me and Chris where we talked a lot about: What is Overwatch?; and got heavily into the gameplay and we talked a lot about what the world was, but what we thought would be really cool for day two is to bring these guys up and talk more about was the inspiration behind Overwatch and the why of Overwatch.
So I want to introduce you guys to the panel here. I feel very honored to be sitting amongst these guys here so to my direct left is Jeff Chamberlain.
Jeff is the guy who directed the Overwatch announce trailer that you guys saw yesterday so I thought it was amazing–
Metzen: … and for the purposes of continuity, you guys remember Jeff’s work: he directed Wrath of the Lich King trailer, my son…. Jeff is old school Blizzard.
Kaplan: … Burning Crusade, Heart of the Swarm, that was all Jeff. Then we have as you guys may or may not know Mr. Chris Metzen, the creative director of Overwatch and pretty much everything else at Blizzard — so you guys know about Chris.
Really excited about the next guy over there, that is Mr. Bill Petras. Bill is the art director of Overwatch and Bill is also the original art director on World of Warcraft.
Metzen: If you guys ever enjoyed the original World of Warcraft, you are pretty much moving through Bill’s paintings.
Kaplan: Last, but definitely not least, is the lead concept artist from Overwatch, Mr. Arnold Tsang. He’s the guy who drew the amazing characters you see in Overwatch, so give it up for Arnold.
Petras: Hey, guys!
Kaplan: I’m going to kind of ask these guys questions and we are going to talk about the different things that are going on in Overwatch and why we came up with these ideas, we’ll have time for questions at the end — so don’t worry about that.
I want to start with Bill and Chris; so in a lot of ways when we flashback to the year 2002, we are all working on Warcraft; and when it came to that vision of Azeroth, I really feel like it was a Chris And Bill world. It was like Lennon And McCartney, and we have reunited you guys to build a new world. So why don’t you talk about what was it like back then, and what is it like now being reunited working on a new Blizzard universe?
Petras: Well you can probably guess working with Chris is a lot of fun; one thing working with Chris especially really brings a lot of the inspiration out in the art team. Chris has a real passion for art and creativity and he really seems to drive the artist to do better and better; and a real inspiration for the team. So even back on early Vanilla WoW it was the same thing. On Overwatch it’s the same again.
I think my personal favorite part of working with Chris is when Chris gets really excited about the art team, when the artists and developers turn around and excite Chris; and Chris runs around the hallway excited and it’s just really funny; that’s my favorite part, it’s watching Chris getting excited through the office and just give us the high fives during the day; that’s my favorite part.
Metzen: That was really awkward. You are not awkward; it makes me feel awkward. It’s funny. Bill and I go back a long way with Jeff Kaplan. We spent a lot of time building the original World of Warcraft and it was while coming back together for this thing; and what’s it been? Thirteen years and we just kind of fell back into our rhythm and it was just super fun and the process of seeing a lot of these maps and these world locations come together and the particular way Bill leads the team in the color values and the way the lighting kind of builds volume in any given scene; and I’m like “holy cow, we’re right back into the mix.”
“It’s a Bill Petras world” — which was super fun just to get back into rhythm; and honestly Bill and I both are really standing on the shoulders of a genius. We’re kind of hanging around the neck of a genius: Arnold Tsang.
You guys have seen the art at the beginning of the trailer, that’s kind of Arn’s house style so we’ve really just been trying to keep pace with Arn and we’ve really been enjoying this new art style, this fresh new take; I mean how many of you saw that trailer yesterday? How many of you guys have played the game so far this weekend? Awesome.
It’s pretty fresh like– it’s Blizzardy, but it’s kind of this new thing and really between Arn on the character-side just kind of producing that vision, and Bill on the world-side and really everything else. This new thing has happened that we are really enjoying let alone the way that translates into the 3D cinematic space it’s just like we are on this new visual adventure; do you guys want to weigh in on that.
Chamberlain: When we started out the cinematic process usually you look at the art in the game and the art in the cinematic and there’s a little bit of difference there and I think that just goes back to many years ago when game graphics weren’t that great at all just because of the technology so we wanted to do something way higher-end; so when we got to this, obviously it’s a reset for us and we can do something new so we were very enthusiastic and inspired by Bill and Arn’s artwork.
We just wanted to replicate what they did, not necessarily make it in a different world, but replicate that same look; but have that fine-tuned cinematic quality to it so that’s really inspiring and awesome to work with that.