Monday, October 18, 2010

Cataclysm cinematic: I’m not as floored as I’d like to be

Blizzard took me a little by surprise, releasing the Cataclysm cinematic one week before Blizzcon. Considering how thin the program looks on the WoW side, you would have expected them to keep whatever suspension they could find. But since they’ve decided to run a TV commercial this week during a football game I suppose they came to the conclusion that they could release the entire cinematic as well.

Excitement
So what do I think about it? Well, to begin with I think it’s not entirely easy to make a fair and “objective” evaluation of this little piece of art. Most commenters at WoW-Insider and MMO Champion are super excited, and I can’t help wondering if this excitement isn’t as much about the movie as such, as it is about the fact that the expansion finally is approaching. After spending over a year in the chains of ICC we’re about to break free from the frozen throne and see something else. The very thought of it is cataclysmic.

We WANT this expansion to be everything we dream of so badly, that I think it might affect our judgment a little bit. And you know… there’s no spice in the world that can be compared to hunger. Even something as plain and unsophisticated as a hot dog will taste like heaven when you’re walking home from the movies at 11 pm in the evening.

I’m no different to anyone else in this aspect. A part of me just wants to join the choir of enthusiasm, singing the praise of the new badass dragon and the world that is falling apart. I can’t wait to see the new Stormwind, I can’t wait to see what terror Deathwing will bring over the world. This is a fantastic teaser and I want more!

Not floored
But if I try to beyond this and look at the cinematic as a piece of movie, I’m not quite as floored as I’d like to be. Don’t misunderstand me: I don’t think it’s bad, on the contrary. Blizzard has the muscles to maintain a standard that few other game producers – if any – can dream of. On a scale from 1 to 6, with 6 as the top grade, I’d give it a 5. So keep this in mind now that I’m about to talk about what I think they could have done better.

I appreciate the glimpses from zones that are redone, the bursting dams, the water flowing, the fall of the goblin statue. I especially like the end where the fire dragon comes cruising in over Stormwind, spreading death and destruction.

However, I don’t feel it in my stomach. I feel distanced as my mind calmly notices that this will be yet another advertising campaign with a male whiskey-dark deep-in-the-throat voice, like in 99 percent of the other commercials. I know people like to hear those voices. It sells for some reason. But doesn’t it get just a little bit old?

As I see the fire dragon flying up and down from the sky, I find my mind wandering away to the Lord of the Rings balrog at the bridge scene in Moria. I suppose there are only so many ways you can illustrate the concept of an evil fire creature? His gap was scarier though and more convincing. For some reason they’ve given Deathwing a severe form of underbite, which makes it a little bit hard to take him seriously. Maybe he should se a dentist?

Lack of people
I think the main problem with the cinematic, the reason why it fails to shake me up properly, is the lack of characters in it, apart from Deathwing. There are falling towers and exploding ships and statues blown into pieces. But where are the inhabitants of Azeroth? Even if the heroes were gone to Northrend, there sure must be some civilians around who will suffer from this terror?

They did a fantastic job creating and showing those landscapes, no doubt about that. But the question is: why would you care about them if they’re apparently empty? For all we know the dragon could roam about in a nature reserve for endangered species after everyone had evacuated the space.

Where are the victims? Where are the people who return to pick up the fight? What’s my role in this?

I want to be touched, and I’m not. I want to be scared, angry, upset, challenged, urged to bring out my dagger and my wand and join the good forces, trying to save this world once again, because there are people and creatures there who I care about.

It takes more than badass effects to make a good movie. You need to tell a story as well. And in order to do that you need some people, not just buildings and rocks.

So 5 out of 6 will be my grade for this movie.

Once again: Blizzard is great at doing this kind of things and I really appreciate the effort they’ve put into the cinematic. However, there’s always room for improvement, reasons to stretch ourselves and look for ways to become better. They’ve still got some things to work on in their storytelling, and I’m sure they will in their next cinematic and in the coming motion picture. Otherwise they wouldn’t be Blizzard.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

This cinematic blew me away! I've watched it several times now, and I always get chills at the end. I believe part of the reason it (as well as their other cinematics) has such a great impact on me is because I'm seeing parts of an epic story I've only read about come to life.

I've read almost all the Warcraft novels. I remember reading about Deathwing having those metal plates fastened to his body. Seeing that in the video brought back to mind many other incredible related stories and their characters from the books.

I've said it before but it's worth repeating: If you really want to enrich your gameplay, read the novels. And, I'd start with the latest and most relevant: "The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm" by Christie Golden.

Jen said...

I'm underwhelmed too. The animation was better than I was expecting it (especially the last part), but I can't get myself actually excited about it. Maybe because I don't really care much about the lore... (Although the flaming dragon graphics are *amazing*.)

Also, I would suggest the opposite of what Anonymous said: don't read the novels. I lost a couple of days of my life with one of them and it was the worst written book I ever had the misfortune of getting my hands on. Looks like Knaak's "fame" is well deserved. My boyfriend read a non-Kraak book and he said it was just as bad so... yeah. I'd rather read the summaries on WoW Insider or something.

tufva said...

The books I've read so far were not very good, but I enjoyed them because I like getting more insight into the lore and mythology of the world. But yes, do not expect stellar writing or anything. :-)

I liked the cinematic, maybe I missed something but I could have sworn it said somewhere that it was only part of it that was being shown now?

Agree on the armour-plated underbite though, makes him look less intimidating actually.

Gevlon said...

Maybe dying people (even if they are animated orcs) would not pass the "12+" rating and you know, Blizzard wants every warm body to buy it.

Once more the lowest common denominator won.

Redbeard said...

Like I said over on Rhii's post, it didn't really move me. Yeah, seeing the wave heading over Freewind Post and Booty Bay was interesting, but that's about it.

I already know what will get my juices going in Cat, and that's Camp Taurajo. And that slaughter has nothing to do with Deathwing at all.

I also must agree with Gevlon; if you put bodies in there, it would be difficult putting it on television.

Anonymous said...

Funny you added the balrog reference; i just yawn whenever i see yet another monster standing, roaring with arms spreaded and leaning head forward.

Dwism said...

It is not "some football game" It is Vikings-Cowboys. Two of the middle-americas biggest football teams. For that weekend, for that month that game was the one big event that most of america watched. (it was the *wrong* game though, because it was boring as hell, but that was besides the point).
So marketing wise, that was second only to thanksgiving sunday Football, and at a fraction of the price.
Plus it served to get people pumped for Blizzcon.
If the big launch video was revealed BEFORE blizzcon, imagine what they will reveal AT Blizzcon!!
...How can the masses not get excited about that?

The video in itself is not that specatular, but you have to remind me: Where are the common folk, the heroes of Azeroth in the Wrath trailer? Isn't that just the Lich king an some zombies?
Why is this weaker?
Could it be, that a certain little gnome has gotten world weary waiting for the actual expansion, that nothing can get her chering and excited?
If so... Welcome to the club.

Syl said...

I never thought of the balrog once - some of you are just way too LotR-influenced I think! ;)

I love the trailer, it's badass and doing what it should do. it's way too short to tell a story, trailers or teasers don't need to do that for me, that's the expansion's job really. I would have loved it to be longer, but these rendered trailers by blizzard have become so spare the past years that I'm glad we got any at all.

Ratshag said...

Since we see a minion gettin' chucked inta the lava, I ain't buyin' the "no deaths fer tv" arguement. Is prolly more like "10,000 buggers fleein' in terror be more expensives ta animate than is worth."

Me, I enjoyed it way more than the Rash of the Itch King cinematic.

ShiftyWizard said...

My first impression of the trailer was that, however shiny the graphics, there was something flat - however I couldn't put my finger on what it was. I think you have nailed it though - Deathwing's rampage through the curiously vacant world has little emotional impact.

Actually, I tell a lie- my first impression of the trailer was that Deathwing sounds like someone doing a parody of Gravelly Voice-Over Guy - "PAAIN..... AAGONY...." (cut to image of man holding his head) "buy new Panadol Extra for fast effective relief!"

Kinda spoiled the gravity of the rest of the trailer...

Prelimar said...

the trailer is fantastic, in my opinion. i also read somewhere that there is more. if you're feeling underwhelmed, consider that this is just the FIRST commercial. they might have a follow-up that shows more.

i think that if you gasped and felt anything during any of the scenes (loch modan! that wave in booty bay!), then the mission of the ad was accomplished: you're not seeing people in the video because WE, the players, are the people affected. i am readying my spells and making sure my staff is at the ready. deathwing will PAY.

Bri said...

I can't help but think what Blur Studio would have done with this, after witnessing their incredible SWTOR "Deceived" and DCUO "Who Do You Trust?" cinematics.

Don't get me wrong, I think Blizzard did an amazing job, technically. I just don't get all goose-pimply watching it.

SpiritusRex said...

I guess I'm less critical (or jaded ;p) than you and a lot of your guests - I found that the trailer did evoke feelings of anticipation. But, perhaps you are right, maybe it was akin to a person who's crossed a desert and first sees the sea.

In any event, I'm trying to shake off the cloak of cynicism that I've borne upon my back since Arthas made me trek into the freezing nether regions of Azeroth. Perhaps I will be finally be able to get some warmth in my toes - albeit at Deathwing's expense.

As far as the books, while they are not literary masterpieces, I think they have broadened my immersion in the game. There's all kinds of subtle references throughout Azeroth that ties a lot of "it" together for me. Further, I'm not sure that if one didn't read the books they would understand the reference to the blackiron plates literally holding Deathwing together (cross-marketing at its best).

As far as the regular citizens of Azeroth, I can pretty much assure you that if the world around me was undergoing a cataclysm of this sort, I doubt that I would be outside. I'm pretty sure I'd be hunkered down inside someplace - I mean the last time we all went outside to see what was happening, we ended up having to kill a metric shit-ton of zombies.
Burn me once, shame on you; burn me twice, shame on me!

Shintar said...

Hah @ the comment about the voice. My first thought was: "Arthas? Is that you? Oh wait, it's Deathwing, they just sound almost the same." -_-

Seeing the tidal wave over Booty Bay and Auberdine getting swept away definitely invoked strong emotions in me, but I agree that it't strange that the world looked so empty. Nobody at the zeppelin tower, really?

And some bits were just a little confusing IMO: For example I knew about Deathwing being covered in those special metal plates, but why did he get more of them now? As Spiritus said above, this whole bit must be completely lost on anyone who hasn't read the books anyway.

Also, if Deathwing's mere flying past is enough to cause that much destruction, I'm not sure how we're supposed to do anything about him. Sounds more like another job for someone's pet NPC than a good raid tbh.

Larísa said...

@Anonymous: I’ve read a couple of novels and it certainly added a bit of flavor to TBC to have seen the Stormrage brothers in action. The literary qualities were so and so though to be really honest. I love the Fantasy and SF genres, but Knaak isn’t what I consider a “good” author. Anyway: maybe I should give that Cataclysm book a chance, even though I tend to wait until it’s available in paperback format.

@Jen: To read or not to read.. yeah that’s the question  As I said I don’t think the cinematic is BAD, on the contrary it’s good, but not good enough to floor me.

@Tufva: Hm… I haven’t seen anything about a continuation, even if it would be awesome if there was one. Nothing like that is mentioned at Blizzard’s own websites.

@Gevlon: Maybe. Or maybe it’s just more expensive and harder to animate.

@Redbeard: Yeah. I wasn’t moved either. Which doesn’t mean that I’m dismissing it all as crap, far from. I just notice the lack of emotions.

@Anonymous: well, I guess many of the monster types that have been around in the genre are getting a bit old. Is there perhaps a limit of how many “unique” styled monsters you can make?

@Dwism: I thought it was Tottenham-Milan, playing REAL football. But maybe I’m getting something wrong there. You’ve been Americanized during your visit over there!

Hm… You might be right about the lack of civilians in the wrath trailer, I don’t quite remember now. But I DO remember it as having a way more personal touch. Maybe you can’t get that intimate with a dragon? They’re just too distant to what we are?

@Syl: I see LotR everywhere I’m afraid. It’s a side effect from reading it once very three years as a minimum.

@Ratshag: Yeah, I figure that could be one of the reasons.

@Shifty Wizard: Those voices are so used and misused that I must agree that it’s getting harder to take them seriously. For my own part I think mysterious female voices are as good for setting the atmosphere. Think LotR (oh, I mentioned it AGAIN

@Perlimar: It’s possible that I’m less overwhelmed since I’m a TBC player and therefore not quite as attached and familiar with the old vanilla world.

@Bri: yep. WTB more goose bumps.

@SpiritusReex: You have a point. It makes sense if the habitants are taking cover somewhere. But still… they could have shown that in a picture. And isn’t it a little strange that they won’t tickle our anticipation and excitement showing an inspiring animated worgen?

About being jaded and critical: I really did my best here not to sound like that. I know how it triggers all sorts of strange reaction from people. Once again I say that I even if I’m not floored, I basically think the cinematic is good.

@Shintar: Oh dear. There are more logical flaws than I thought of. I think we’ll do wisely to avoid looking too closely to it or think about it deeply to be honest. The more superficial our look at it is, the more can it keep its magic.

Stumps said...

@Dwism - I'm fairly certain Larisa was referring to the fact that the new trailer will air in the UK on Wednesday evening during the coverage of Inter Milan vs Tottenham Hotspur ;). Real football rather than rugby with 3kg padding strapped to each player /grin

Suteisi ♥ ステイスィー said...

I agree with you 100% on this! I think the cinematic looks great but it's definitely lacking the characters / heroes / victims. I think it would have made ALL the difference!

Dwism said...

@stumps and larisa:
http://blue.mmo-champion.com/t/27292690039/tivo-alert-cataclysm-tv-spot-debuts-10-17/

I just read the blue tags. and *everyone knows that the Eu ones do not count.
Besides they just picked some daft european sport that almost coincided with the big US one. That is why the US was Sunday, and the Eu on next wed.




*may not be true at all

Gronthe said...

I had two thoughts, one of which I share with you. Where are the people? Is the Cataclysm just about the reforging of the earth? But lives change when the world shakes, and I didn't see any lives affected. The graphics were amazing, but I kept thinking "is this it? is it done?"

The second thing I thought was this: I know it's a fantasy and all, but even in the game world we know, I wonder how someone with a frostbolt can defeat a being as powerful as one who can rend the entire planet. Get together some people in toilet paper, a few others wrapped in cow skin, and a few with some form of metal protection and we're supposed to defeat Deathwing? He just ripped the world in half, we can beat him?

Maybe level 85 toons will be able to do the same when we all get there, but for now I know I'm scared.

Prelimar said...

i had another thought or two, too:

1) i'm a TBC player, too. i missed vanilla. still, i've spent plenty of time in booty, ashenvale, loch modan, and stormwind to have strong feelings about seeing them torn asunder.

2) i forgot to mention in my original post that, as a life-long tolkien geek, my first thought of deathwing in the air was NOT the balrog... it was SMAUG, the great and terrible. (or possibly Glaurung). : )

Larísa said...

@Prelimar: Ofc, he's way more Smaug than anything! It's just that watching a cinematic, I suppose movies are more top on mind than books. But that will be changed in a not too far distant future, I hope! I look forward in equal amounts of expectations as fears. Just like the last time. Considering it's in the hands of Peter Jackson I'm hopeful though. Think he did a good job with the movies, considering how hard the task was.

Elleseven said...

I think they really missed the mark by not showing any characters too. How epic was it seeing the NE turn into a kitty in the original or the BE priest reviving the orc in the BC trailer. Those trailers are what made be want to try WoW in the first place. Having never played a mmorpg before that, I really thought my character would look just like that. ;)

Tesh said...

Speaking as an animator (who worked on a crowd-heavy short film for my senior project in 2003), I'll heartily agree with Ratshag. Just from a production standpoint, crowds are a HUGE time and money sink for relatively little payoff.

On the voice, I think it didn't quite fit. It sounded more like Movie Voiceover Guy, not what I'd have thought Deathwing the Doom Dragon would sound like. No biggie, just... odd.

I do wonder, though... if he has to have armor bolted onto him, what happens to it when he takes human form? Sure, you can hand-wave it as "magic", but then, why bother bolting it on in the first place? Low-tech + magic + shapeshifting = weird logic.

Dariush said...

I have to look at this trailer side by side with the BC trailer to really judge it. And in this case I find Cataclysm lacking. (I didn't look at the WotLK trailer because Arthas may just be the lamest villain of all time). BC told a story of a brooding, outcast tyrant. Then it cut away to some action sequences highlighting new changes in BC before Illidan returned in his dark splendor to issue the challenge "You are NOT prepared!"

This trailer drew you in. Made you feel as if you were directly being challenged. The cataclysm trailer lacks that intimate personal feel. I feel more inclined to buy up personal property to sell to displaced orcs and goblins than to go out and challenge Deathwing.

Dariush said...

As a follow-up I think a vastly more compelling movie could be made by focusing on the undead/worgen war effort, showing battles between undead hunters and worgen while siege engines rained down fire around them.

Finally Deathwing would emerge in all his Cataclysmic glory, shattering the world and showing both sides what Total War really meant.

Steve said...

I liked it as a standalone video.

It's left to be seen in what context we'll see this in-game. It's possible it'll just be the opening cinematic after we install the expansion. Or it could be a cinematic that actually plays in the game after some other in-game engine cut scenes that cause it to make more sense.

It could even be something that plays at the conclusion of the 4.0.3 event(s).

Talarian said...

Rumor has it that Chris Metzen, Grand Poobah of Lore for the Warcraft franchise, is the VA for Deathwing. He's also confirmed as the VA for Varian Wrynn, Deathbring Saurfang, Algalon, Ragnaros, and Thrall, and a few other unnamed bosses according to WoWWiki. With so many voiced by one person, no wonder they all start to sound familiar.

Pascal said...

I liked the lack of people. It seemed to create the feeling of impending doom, of chaos raining down on the lands. But it left it up to us, the inhabitants of Azeroth, to determine our reaction to it.

Pascal said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPBvFXf9Q2U&feature=player_embedded

Somebody posted that over at my house in response to Deathwing's voice. Seems somehow fitting.

Prelimar said...

@ Larísa (with apologies to everyone for diving deep into OT territory) but i am feeling quite confident about the new movie(s) as well. also, if you have never listened to the podcasts that the Tolkien Professor makes, they are fantastic. i wish i could've taken these classes and gotten credit for reading Tolkien when i was in school... http://tolkienprofessor.com/

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you, I watched the trailer and I felt "that's it? where are the people?"

It lacks... life.

Yes, the original WoW cinematic, remember, Dwarf hunter with the bear, NE druid, Undead Warlock etc.? It had "action", it wasn't just static blowing up stuff. The TBC one, with Blood Elf devouring Mana Wyrmling... Hell, everything even the Wrathgate one is full of people. Maybe you won't see blood and gore and guts spilling on the floor, but you have the feeling of being there.

In the new Cata cinematic I had the feeling of being far away...

Syrien said...

I wrote a bit much text, sorry! TL;DR version: it totally needs more gnomes!

Larísa, I think you're touching something important when you answer @Dwism that "Hm… You might be right about the lack of civilians in the wrath trailer, I don’t quite remember now. But I DO remember it as having a way more personal touch. Maybe you can’t get that intimate with a dragon? They’re just too distant to what we are?"

I don't think it's as much about the nature of dragons as about Blizzard making a choice to tell a different kind of story with Cata than with TBC and Wrath. We've now had two expansions with the main villain being a guy who's arguably a victim of making bad choices when only given horrible alternatives (the burning of Stratholme is a great example - Jaina and Uther left, but they did not have a solution that would save the people of the city either). Add to that that the other main new raid of Wrath (Ulduar) had guardians of great power corrupted by the old gods - then telling the story of the corruption of Neltharion the Earth-Warder getting corrupted and turning into a villain might easily sound a bit like a repeat performance.

Regarding the master himself (Tolkien), dragons is maybe one of the places where WoW lore differs most from his world. As I understand him, his dragons are essentially evil (or at least only caring about themself)(Unless you count Melkor/Morgoth as corruptor of all his minions, but a dragon is as evil as Sauron, which is at very dark shade of grey indeed). Alexztrasa is very hard to imagine in the Tolkien setting.

I think the storytelling choice of making Deathwing a "force of nature" is a good one for the overall story, but it leaves him as a rather flat character. They could have made him manipulative and evil, but again they are partly trying not to repeat themselves I think (Illidan not being seen in TBC much by many players lead to Arthas showing up a lot to manipulate events as you lvl in Wrath). Besides, subtly manipulating your way out of Deepholme doesn't work with the whole sunder the world thing.

In the end, I quite liked what the cinematic did show (the wave over Booty bay was my favorite moment), but it did not tug any emotional strings. Gnome victims would totally have helped.

Naithin said...

Completely agree, Larisa. I did a similar post, albeit of a shorter and far less eloquent variety.

In brief, I wish the cinematic had been more akin to the BC one. It included Illidan sure, it gave him some decent 'Badass' time, but also featured PC's.

I would've been content with more in the way of either PC or NPC though, for instance would've loved to see a CGI version of Thrall at the Maelstrom.

Nonetheless, despite my disappointment over what the video COULD have been, what it actually IS wasn't.. /terrible/ either.

Larísa said...

@Suteisi: Yeah, actually you wouldn’t need all of it. Just ANY other character in picture than the dragon would have helped a bit.

@Dwism: Traitor! But then on the other hand Danes never knew how to play real football. /hides

@Gronthe: That is actually also true. But sometimes very small creatures do amazing things with big dragons. We saw it in Wrath, where we for instance used chains to catch Razorscale. We just have to forge bigger and stronger chains this time?

@Elleseven: Yeah, I looked back to the previous trailers and I think every one of them were more touching than this one, even not necessarily more technically impressive.

@Tesh: Shapeshifting 2.0, reinforced with some gnomish technology (they were mc:d and had to let go of their secrets)? I don’t know. There’s surely some explanation beyond what our little minds can grasp.

@Dariush: Yep, something along those lines would have engaged me a lot more. Some nice classic camera switching perhaps. “meanwhile” on another place in Azeroth… And WOAH the dragon appears… Something to scare you up and make you involved.

@Steve: Hm….No one would be happier than me if there were other cinematics around to complete the picture. But as it is now I’d vote for the first alternative. This is most likely the opening cinematic.

@Talarian: Oh dear. That explains a bit, doesn’t it? I wonder what the reason is. Is CM an exhibitionist who wants to be everywhere? Or was it a cheap solution?

@Pascal: It certainly leaves a lot to your own imagination. Maybe a little bit too much imo. I would have needed at least a hint that there were real people there who were affected by this catastrophe.

And I giggled at that video link. It fits well indeed!

@Prelimar: I’ve never heard of tolkienprofessor. Got to check that out. And there’s no reason to apologize for being OT when I think about it twice. Actually that’s the entire idea about this inn: to provide a space where we can associate wildly and talk about stuff that’s on our mind and get away with it.

@Anonymous: Yep. We’re watchers, not doers. I guess… you could explain it by that we weren’t actually there, we were in Northrend and then this happened… but it still doesn’t explain the lack of people. As far as I know of a few civilians stayed behind.

@Syrien: Don’t you ever dare apologize for writing too long comments! There ain’t such a thing as a too long blog post in my world, and that goes for comments as well.

It would have been totally awesome if they had included a gnome now in the time of the retaking of our city, but I suppose it was too much to hope for. Not cool enough in the eyes of the younger target audience, I suspect. But at least they could have included… something. How about the worgen? I figure they would have made great animations. But alas – not.
@Naithin: Your post was wonderful and I hadn’t seen it before. That’s the great thing about commenting, you help people find their way to your blog!

mediocrepriest said...

I felt the same way Larisa did, and was completely underwhelmed (in fact, I would give the trailer more like a 3 or 4 in the 6-point scale). Then I read the comments here, and thought maybe I was just beeing too critical, so went back and re-watched the trailers for BC and Wrath.

Those were just a lot more immersive, a lot more personal. Someone before mentioned that the BC was challenging YOU personally ("You are NOT prepared!", before it became a joke, was actually a good line), and for the Wrath one Arthas is again mocking you for thinking you can solve things while holding onto your values (which he had to give up to solve his issues).

For this one, it's just a sequel of nice pictures, but really no emotion, no connection, no real sense of panic (and I am a vanilla player, so yeah, I can definitely recognise Freewind Post, Booty Bay, Auberdine and the Dam).

A friend of mine noted that the only silver lining may be that maybe Blizzard put less effort into this cinematic to the advantage of the cinematics in-game - it appears we will get cinematic intros to many of the zones. Let's hope so!

infomatic said...

I liked it quite a bit, but it was much better with the sound off. Deathwing's voice was really disappointing — I agree that the whiskey-voice has been terribly overused — and his little speech wasn't particularly impressive either, except for the last sentence.

I'm not sorry at all that the spot focused on environment rather than personalities, though. A couple reasons:

1. What's changing? Azeroth. The planet, not the people. The whole point of the expansion is ripping up the landscape and putting something new in. How people react to those changes is also a story, but it's the next story, not the first one. Also, if this is the last time I'm going to see Thousand Needles or the Stonewrought Dam, I want to see those things, not a bunch of scared-looking orcs. The orcs will still be there in December.

2. Individuals have always been a weak spot for Blizzard — the strength of the game has always been its immersive environment, not writing or interactions with NPCs. I've never been particularly taken with any of their characters, so I wouldn't have any interest to see Jaina's reaction to an earthquake. Moreover, getting naturalistic emotion out of this sort of animation is hard, even for studios that specialize in it. I've got my doubts that Blizzard could have managed it well.

I can see ways Blizzard could have gotten around it -- zoom in a little closer to Freewind Post so you can see the Tauren facing the coming waves, for example (again, they'd have to face away from the camera, because there's no way the faces would look right.) That'd give at least give some personal impact of the disaster. But overall, I agree with the large-scale approach they took with this trailer (bit I'm hoping for a second one.)

Oestrus said...

See, I enjoy it more when it's actually a cinematic, like the Burning Crusade one.

I didn't like the WoTLK one, because of the awkward way the characters were made of polygons and it looked like they took actual toons from the game and placed them into it. It didn't feel cinematic enough, it didn't feel thematic enough. It just felt very... cut and paste.

This one felt majestic, it felt edge of your seat. I remember watching it with a friend, who does not play the game and even he was like "Whoa!"

Color me excited! :)

Colie said...

I liked the cinematic trailer... it got me uber excited for the expansion!

Carra said...

Blizzard are the kings at creating cinematics. One of my favorite gaming moments is a cinematic from the original Starcraft game twelve years ago. It was just so awesome to see how they created these so realistic looking badass clips that I wished they made a full movie out of it.

But this clip? It doesn't make my stomach ache. It's definitely not as good as the Lich Kings one. That clip had a dragon freezing people! A badass villain! This one? A dragon. Yeah, never seen that before.

Nils said...

This cinematic has brilliant graphics quality, nice sound and lacks any kind of story.

All words are just ramblings .. whom is Mr. Deathwing telling this? Us ? Very credible.

Why doesn't he destroy Stormwind, while he's at it?

Isn't he supposed to be bigger?

If I had created that cinematic I had explained what Deathwings history is!! 99% of players do not know. Then I had tried to explain why he is mad now and who are those people that put the armor on his body (seems to hurt) - and why they do it. Are their other people that fight him?

This is not an emotional story, but a mad fiery dragon flying and landing on Stormwind whithout destroying it for some reason.

It many ways this cinematic is characteristic for WoW.

PS: Would also have been interesting to include the Alliance/Horde and the conflict - but perhaps that is covered by in-game introduction into the races.

Nils said...

Also, please have a look at
this:

The WotLK cinematic is way better in my opinion - also much better than the classic/TBC cinematics.

Following this logic, I cannot await Cataclysm .. .. :)

Lady Erinia said...

I dunno. I was a teency bit underwhelmed too. I thought we would have seen some inhabitant misery as Deathwing shattered the world. Alas. Still going to look forward to the xpac and hope that there is something more to the cinematic.

nD said...

I agree with you Larisa, the cinematic was cool, but it didnt make me very excited about playing it. I remember watching vanilla WoW's trailer, and there was a scene with a mage throwing/casting this massive fireball, and I was like "woah I so want to do that". For some reason Blizzard has moved away from that, focusing on the main 'villain', in both LK and Cataclysm.