Wildstar’s art director shares his opinions on the near constant comparisons of both game’s visual styles.
If you happen to read any article about Wildstar on any games website, inevitably enough the comments field beneath the story will be flooded with readers making comparisons between Wildstar and another colourful and cartoony MMORPG, World of Warcraft.
You’d think these comparisons would frustrate the considerable talent at Wildstar’s developer, Carbine Studios, as they’re putting in every effort possible to differentiate their sci-fi property from Blizzard’s fantasy title, but according to art director Matt Mocarski the comparisons are actually “flattering”.
We asked the former cartoonist and storyboard artist what it was like to have his work continually compared to World of Warcraft and his answer was refreshingly honest.
“This is me being very sincere. In one part, and even when I think it’s meant as a jab, I actually find it [comparisons between Wildstar and World of Warcraft] flattering because WoW has been out for 9 years now, right? And there’s still people playing it, and it’s still a beautiful game. Sure it’s dated, but it has lasted nearly a decade and people still love it. The art has evolved over time, but Blizzard created a great foundation for a style that could last that long, because it’s about the craftsmanship and the art of it, not the latest new graphics or high-tech tricks,” Matt explained in an exclusive interview with GamerZines.
But surely these comparisons between Wildstar and World of Warcraft diminish the impact of Carbine’s work? Not so according to Matt.
“The first thing I think of is, well, we have a style that’s unique to our game and it should last for a very long time. The second thing is I think in the mind’s eye they [WoW and Wildstar] look similar, but if you put them side by side you’d actually see the differences. Even when we started developing the style, I’d play our game and think, man this is reminding me of World of Warcraft. Then I’d go home and play WoW and realise our game is nothing like it!”
“Wildstar is more cartoony, more exaggerated and more colourful. The only similar technique that we use is that we hand paint our textures, but our textures also have normal maps, full specular maps, shaders etc. Our characters involve a lot more poly[gons] and our armour sets are geo-based so we aren’t just skinning sets onto characters’ bodies [like in WoW].”
Matt explained to us that while Carbine Studios has harnessed inspirations from all different sorts of media when developing Wildstar, including children’s cartoon shows, comics, films, sci-fi and manga, he still thinks they landed on a style which is unique to their game.
“Our style is different, but I think the goal is when we found an art style that we liked, we put the blinders up a little bit. You can’t be too reactionary. The funny thing is a lot of people compare WoW to our game, but I thought that more people would mention Team Fortress 2. Some people even mention Ratchet & Clank, and we didn’t even think of that!”
“So [the comparisons] don’t really effect me that much, I hope that people can look past them. I hope people don’t say, “Oh it’s just a WoW clone” and don’t even give Wildstar a shot. It’s almost like Coke and Pepsi, they look like the exact same soft drinks but when you taste them they are completely different.”
Having played Wildstar for a considerable amount of time now, we can safely say that Carbine Studios’ debut is much more than a just WoW clone. This MMORPG is bursting with character and innovative gameplay systems which other studios have yet to implement such as more action-orientated combat, paths, warplots and a sci-fi universe which has more in common with Firefly than it does Azeroth.
Expect more coverage about Wildstar over the coming days, including more from the assuredly lovely Matt Mocarski.
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