Eurogamer: So in both those cases, it's about something that runs contrary to expectations...
Samwise Didier: Yeah. We don't want to do something like have our Orcs be super good guys and paladins, that totally goes against what people think Orcs are. We just want to push it a little bit in our own direction so it has our own feel and flavour to it.
Eurogamer: In StarCraft II and Blizzard's other RTS games, you've got some tension in the art between having a really clear zoomed-out display, and a distinctive character to the designs - how do you balance that?
Samwise Didier: All the art in Starcraft II is going to be viewed in the top-down, three-quarter view, so we really put a lot of focus into the silhouettes of the units from that angle, so they're very distinct and iconic. Then we try to keep the detail level a little bit lower - bigger shapes, not as much little dots, nuts and bolts and all that on the metal. That's partly why a lot of our characters are a little bit bigger and over-proportioned, because when you look at it back from how we play, it needs that little bit extra.
Eurogamer: It must have been quite a challenge then to move to World of Warcraft - bringing the view right down, putting the player on the ground in the same world.
Samwise Didier: A lot of the guys really loved it because they could start doing the detail. But we still tried to keep a lot of the basic philosophies the same. Not too much detail, rely on nice big shapes or big swatches of colour, because when you're playing in WOW and characters are far away it's still nice to see that silhouette that you recognise: "Oh, that's a warrior or a druid." Especially in the later part of the game where you have the distinct armour sets that people are wearing.
Eurogamer: Another unusual thing about the games you work on here - whether you're talking an MMO like WOW, or a probable eSports hit like StarCraft II- is that they're going to be played for a really long time. Certainly it's the case with the first StarCraft - it's still going after ten years.
Samwise Didier: Yeah, that's amazing to me.
Eurogamer: So how do you ensure that stuff still looks good years years down the line? Is it fair to say it's because Blizzard places more emphasis on art than technology?
Samwise Didier: We push the technology enough so we don't look like we're behind the curve, but we don't want to make it so advanced that there are people who can't play it.
Another thing that helps out is the art style - it's sort of like if you look at an old Disney movie. It still looks good to watch because it's not a realistic movie, it's a cartoon, it's something drawn. A lot of the big 3D animated movies that come out now still aren't as cool as when Disney was still doing hand-animated things. There's something about a cartoony kind of style that never loses its look, it's always going to look cool.
I think ours doesn't really have a distinctive time style, it's just the Blizzard style. I think that's helped us hold up. I'll look at Warcraft III and go, eugh, that's low-polygon, but it still has a good feel to it.