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BlizzCon 2019 Developer Interview Round-Up

Earnings Call – WoW Classic: Biggest Quarterly Increase in Subs in History

BlizzCon 2019 – Blizzard Watch Interview Recap
Blizzard Watch sat down with Production Director Patrick Dawson, Senior Exterior Level Designer Sarah Boulian-Verrall, Lead Game Designer Morgan Day and Game Producer Shani Edwards to discuss World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. Here are the highlights and new information from the interview:

  • Tyrande’s story will continue. She will be part of the Ardenweald storyline and receive some answers to some questions along with some stuff that can’t be revealed due to spoilers.
  • We might learn more about Elune in Ardenweald.
  • The team discussed what they are imagining for the weekly Mythic+ cache. They mention it involving being able to pick between 3 rewards or a currency as a back up plan in case none of the rewards are wanted.
  • Everyone will be funneled into the same area at the beginning of the expansion, but the team is confident they can handle the server stress this time around.
  • As of right now, Allied Races will not be receiving more customization options with the original races.

BlizzCon 2019 – FinalBossTV/Preach Developer Interview Recap
FinalBossTV and Preach sat down with Ion Hazzikostas and Steve Aguilar to ask some questions about World of Warcraft: Shadowlands and some Battle for Azeroth questions as well! Here is the highlights and new information from the interview:

  • Sockets on Benthic gear was not meant to happen, but once it was live it was too late to stop it.
  • Ion agrees that socket relevance is kind of out-of-hand right now.
  • The art team is incredibly excited about Shadowlands as it gave them a chance to design other-wordly things that don’t exist on Azeroth.
  • Both active abilities from your Covenant are usable throughout the entire game.
  • You can change your Covenant if you regret your choice, but it will be very costly. (Think Aldor/Scryer switch)
  • There will always be a “best” ability to pick for a spec, even with Covenant abilities, but the team is trying to develop the expansion around each Covenant ability being useful in different situations, much like the question of if a specific class is better than another.
  • They don’t want to stack new mechanics on top of the Covenant system like they did with essences and the Heart of Azeroth in Battle for Azeroth. They might add new talents, but are trying to avoid making it more complicated as the expansion goes on.
  • Horde and Alliance are at an armistice. They still cannot party or play together.
  • Anima is used to power your Covenant. There will be a low cap amount that needs to be acquired weekly for optimal power progression, but going above and beyond to collect it will offer utility and cosmetic rewards and not power rewards.
  • The idea for a catch up mechanic with the anima system is placing a returning player or alt into a “catch-up state” until you get caught up, allowing the character to get an entire Covenant talent point from a world quest and such.
  • The team wants you to be able to keep up with anima regardless of your play style.
  • The art team had a really fun time designing Nyalotha.
  • They are still working out how the new customization options will be added to the game, but they are planning a visual update to the character creation system and will add new customization categories as needed.
  • If you want to be optimal you will need to participate in Torghast to an extent. It is where you collect runes for your legendaries, and they want it to provide enough fun replay-ability to make people want to participate.
  • The team wants to work on having more horizontal progression instead of power progression.
  • There is no way to prevent players from wanting to access outside sources to make upgrade choices, but the team wants to work on making sure the power gap of min-maxing and siming is not too large.
  • Tier sets will not be returning in the initial patch of Shadowlands.

BlizzCon 2019 – MrGM Dev Interview Recap
MrGM sat down with Frank Kowalkowski and Steve Danuser to discuss World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. Here are the highlights and new information gathered from the interview:

  • There will be more lore characters that have passed on in Shadowlands that they haven’t mentioned yet.
  • The Venthir of Revendreth have taken advantage of the anima drought and taken their higher purpose and transitioned it to something darker. This will be explored in the first raid of the expansion.
  • The original races will keep the same Death Knight starting experience that exists today.
  • Allied races and Pandaren will have a new sliver-of-time Death Knight starting zone that will show a short intro experience, interaction with Bolvar, and then you’ll be sent off into the world. It takes place before Sylvanas shatters the helm.
  • Horde and Alliance will have the same narrative experience in Shadowlands.
  • The Heart of Azeroth will not continue into Shadowlands.
  • Bolvar will play a major role in the narrative. We will get to find out what the years spent as the Lich King has done to him and his motives during previous expansions. He acts like a guide to us in the Shadowlands.
  • They are still not sure if any of the dungeons will be mythic only.
  • They are still working out the details on reputations in Shadowlands.
  • The anima drought has caused distrust between the different realms of the Shadowlands.
  • The new starting area is off the coast of Stormheim.
  • Familiar faces will be joining us in the Shadowlands.

BlizzCon 2019 – The Lost Codex Developer Interview – Steve Danuser and Frank Kowalkowski
The Lost Codex sat down with Steve Danuser and Frank Kowalkowski to discuss lore and systems in WoW.

  • Aside from major lore characters who died, the team wanted to throw in minor characters and easter eggs from the past such as “someone’s wife in the Barrens.”
  • The team is looking into where to best used the Island AI in the future. Procedural generation is something that is used a lot in Torghast.
  • The storyline of Odyn giving his eye to an entity will be developed in Shadowlands.
  • Through adventuring in the Shadowlands we will find out what the deal Sylvanas made with Helya was and the purpose of the lantern, which might not be what people expect.
  • The team will figure out the best way to deal with unlocking Allied Races with the level squish and act accordingly.
  • If you come across a mortal soul in the Shadowlands that you don’t recognize you will only see an amorphous shape because you have no frame of reference for it.
  • Some Loa that we have lost will see a return in the Shadowlands, and there are some really cool hooks there. We may find out in particular a specific character that is tied to the Loa and trolls and what his role in the Shadowlands is.
  • The team is still trying to figure out the right cadence for how often you can do Torghast.
  • Certain creatures, such as the owl stewards, are native to the Shadowlands.
  • The Shadowlands is specifically made for mortal beings. Demons souls do not go there.
  • New class-race combos are decided on based on the lore. They like having certain races not have access to every class, but there is always the potential to add new ones.
  • The “stay awhile and listen” moments came from the idea that the team wanted players to be able to learn a bit more about certain characters without having to put it in quest text.
  • The initial story of the Shadowlands doesn’t really fit adding Allied Races, but the team is always discussing when to add them and what makes sense for the story.

BlizzCon 2019 – WoW Reddit Developer Interview
r/WoW sat down with Steve Danuser and Frank Kowalkowski for their own interview during BlizzCon 2019! Here are the highlights and new information:

  • The team finds fan reactions to characters super encouraging and it does slightly influence characters in the story provided it still feels like a natural part of the story. (Zekhan)
  • Many people think we only fought manifestations of the Old Gods, but we have in fact killed their forms. Yogg’Saron and C’Thun still have echoes that permeate the world, however.
  • There is a potential for other beings, such as the Old Gods, to go somewhere when they die much like we go to the Shadowlands.
  • The team can take lessons from Classic and see how they might apply to the current game, but in a way that fits.
  • There are many stories that the team would like to dive into, but only when it feels right to the story. Alleria and Turalyon was such an example.
  • The Shadowlands is a huge opportunity to bring back dead major characters and see where they are at now.
  • There are other, unannounced major characters that will make a return in Shadowlands.
  • The team feels that they have a really good story and want to see it through, but knew there would be people on the Horde side that were divided about the direction Sylvanas was going. This is why they ultimately decided to let players pick a side.
  • The reward for Sylvanas loyalists was the one-on-one cutscene you got with her to peek into what was to come.
  • There is currently no version of the loyalist story in Shadowlands, but there could be a branching story with choice in the future.
  • Shadowlands is not the right time for player housing. It’s something they continually discuss and may revisit int he future when it makes sense for the expansion.
  • To enable sharding, the entire way the game puts players into the game had to be rewritten.
  • It is possible to allow players to be logged into Classic and BfA at the same time, but the team is still discussing whether or not to enable it.
  • The team calls retail “mainline” internally or by the expansion name.
  • They want to have a pay off for the Tyrande storyline and have some interesting things coming in Shadowlands for it.
  • When creating new main characters, the team makes sure the player character gets to spend personal time with them so the player gets to know the character.
  • The issue for cross faction play isn’t necessarily the technical aspects, but it uphends the concept of Warcraft.

BlizzCon 2019 – Ion Hazzikostas Interview
BlizzCon All Access interviewed Ion at the end of the day.

  • Evil is a state of mind
  • Sylvanas’s interests aren’t always aligned with the living
  • Going to Shadowlands for revenge is beneath her, she has grander aspirations.
  • The pact made with Helya was part of this, there are dots to connect and hints along the way.
  • If you sided with Sylvanas, you carry those memories with you. Maybe she’ll remember down the line and it’ll influence things.
  • Battle from Azeroth is far from over, we’ve got another battle ahead.

Warcraft III: Reforged Won’t Retcon Story
A recent article from Polygon stated that the Warcraft III: Reforged dev team has decided not to add or lightly retcon the story to give certain characters more time in the spotlight. They came to this decision based on community feedback who loved the story as is. The decision was a natural part of the development process. Click the banner below to read the whole article.