Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New Casting Animations?

One of my favorite unit animations in WarCraft 3 was the Paladin's Holy Light animation. In case you've never seen it, the Paladin raises his hammer high in the air with one arm, and a brilliant golden ray of light comes down from the heavens to briefly envelop the spell's target in its healing embrace. (In other words, it looked somewhat like a golden healing Moonfire beam. :P ) That one animation captured the purity of the Light in such a graceful way that when World of Warcraft first launched I was genuinely excited to see how awesome the spell would look up close and personal.

Boy, was I disappointed. Instead of raising his hammer high into the air to invoke the Light from the heavens and heal himself or his companions, my Paladin (a human male named Ethos, as this was back in Open Beta, before the game first launched) sheathed his weapon, posed himself as if he were in mid-stride of some extreme powerwalk and wiggled his hands about while wearing what looked like translucent tetherballs made into gloves until a brief flash of yellow light obscured my target. I think I sat there shocked for a few minutes, debating whether I should burst into laughter or tears.

Questions filled my head. Where was the strength and purity that was present in the WarCraft 3 Paladin? Why did my Knight of the Silver Hand look like he was some sort of background dancer for a Chris Farley's Motivational Tetherball Sale-o-Palooza commercial? Why did no beam of Holy Light reach down from the skies and bathe my target in divine purity? Did my target just get his picture taken or something?

When the disappointment finally settled, I found myself hoping that the animations would improve as I leveled. Surely such a pathetic animation couldn't be the representation of such an iconic WarCraft 3 spell, could it? They just didn't want to waste all of the awesomeness of the spell's true animation on its level 1 incarnation, right? I'm sure you can guess the answers. :(

Anyway, when Wrath of the Lich King launched, I noticed something interesting as I began doing quests in Howling Fjord. Rather than seeing the same casting animation I had become accustomed to (though never satisfied with), Gryphonheart did something I'd long since stopped expecting—he raised his [Gavel of Naaru Blessings] high into the air as he invoked the power of the Light. While the dinky little flash still doesn't compare to the old beam of heavenly Light, seeing this was still incredibly gratifying.

Now that the awe and excitement has dulled a bit, I'm beginning to wonder...is this new holding of one's weapons while casting phenomenon intentional? Or is it simply some bug in the animation that will eventually be reverted? I really hope that the change is not only intentional, but the beginnings of new casting animation customization functionality. Of course, knowing my luck, the old animation will be back by the next time I log into the game. :P

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