My next question has to
do with customization - character customization - not at the creating
a character level, but like with socketing and gem socketing. I think
you guys really created something that was very interesting for
players that allowed them more customization for their character after
the initial creation process. Are you looking to introduce some more
types of those elements in Wrath of the Lich King? I don't know if
you're just gonna introduce more gems, or more socketed items, or
something completely different. Are you planning to do anything like
Kaplan: The biggest
thing in that regard will be Inscriptions, the new profession which is
gonna allow you to modify your spells. That will give players a lot of
customization. There are other aspects too, just the new talent
trees and being able to spend those points again. Then there are some
sort of fluff things like the barber shop, being able to change your
hair, change the way your character looks.
Legacy Items; we haven't really talked about those in the past. We are
planning to do certain types of items that essentially bind to your
account, so they're deliberately created as twink items. So you might
be able to find one of these items when you're doing an endgame
instance, or a raid, or something like that, and you might get an item
that binds to your account and then hand that off to your other
characters, but it does have to stay within your account. So you can be
deliberately overpowered for a low level character to help level up or
Does it go server to
server, or is it just on that one single server?
A concept artist's
depiction of the Death Knight.
Chilton: Yeah on
that server. You have to still be able to physically give it to that
character, or mail it to them, or whatever.
New battlegrounds - are
there going to be any introduced?
Chilton: Yep, there
will be a new battleground. Set up as sort of an attack-defend
scenario; features siege vehicles, and destructible building components.
One of the executives at
THQ - I think it was last month - said he believed WoW had peaked and
from here it was all downhill. I'm sure that was somewhat wishful
thinking on his part, but what do you think about that statement?
sides have to attack and defend.
Chilton: I think
With the Death Knight's
DPS and tanking ability, how will Warriors and Paladins continue to
have a presence in groups and raids, since there are going to be so
many Death Knights when the expansion comes out. There's gonna be like
8 million of them running around.
Community Team Member: I don't think anybody
actually knows where the peak is. We won't know until we
Chilton: 8 million
level 55 Death Knights; there won't be 8 million level 80 Death
Knights. Well, I think in a lot of ways you can actually make the same
comparison to Warriors also, as a hybrid DPS/Tanking class, but that
doesn't mean necessarily the Paladin has no role in tanking. I think
it's in terms of the way we set up their tanking niches. We're kind of
designing the Paladin tank to be the best AE tank, and we're designing
the Warrior to be the best sheer mitigation tank, and we're designing
the Death Knight to be the anti-spellcaster tank.
Why'd you decide to make
another tank class?
At the same time we want those lines to be blurred enough to where in a
5 man run you won't notice a difference, or all of them should be
viable for a Heroic run for example. But at the cutting edge of the
competitive endgame, when you kind of cross into that spellcasting
boss, you'll probably want the Death Knight to tank it, for example.
Chilton: Well, we
felt like that's where the biggest need was, as far as the whole
looking for group activity. We felt like the Death Knight both fits the
kit of the Northrend expansion, and also fills the biggest need. Seems
like most often people are looking for a tank, and then possibly a
healer after that.
Going back to daily
quests really quick, you said that you want to introduce a lot more for
the expansion and have them there at launch. Is this for leveling as
well as max level, for just max level, or what?
actually experimented in the build. We're trying it out and having some
Daily Quests in the level-up experience, which is something we have
never had before. We want to make sure it plays out as a cool bonus if
you happen to be in the area, but not as a driving force to keep you in
the area. So we're gonna keep a real close eye on that in the Alpha and
the Beta to make sure that you're not hovering around one area just
because there are dailies there. But we are gonna try new things with
I remember elite classes
as something that were mentioned back in beta, and then on the upcoming
features page since that was launched.What took so long? Is it going to
take four more years to see the next one?
Chilton: It could, I
don't know. We'll have to see how the Death Knight goes in terms of how
well does it slot in with the overall kind of scheme of the classes.
Really what's taken so long is that one of our core values is we have
distinct character classes, and I think on some level the original idea
of Hero Classes and have all this kind of forking Hero stuff that would
go on, like each class could go on to become one of multiple Hero
classes was... that was kind of what our imagination was before we even
shipped the game, but the realities of "Ok now that the game has
shipped, we have to maintain the integrity of the game and make sure we
don't screw it all up over night by tripling the number of character
classes in the game all of the sudden, or even adding two or three of
them at a time. So really looking, now that we've had a couple years to
look at how WoW character classes play out, we don't feel comfortable
adding several character classes to the game at once.
Can you tell us a little
bit more about the PvP vehicle system, or the vehicle system in
general? I saw a little bit of it from playing, and it's pretty neat,
but how is that going to work in PvP and how's that going to work just
in the general world?
So with the Death Knight there's a very specific role we want it to
fill, and we feel like it fits the kit of the expansion very well so
we're doing that, and kind of watch and see how it plays out. If it
doesn't cause huge problems for us, then in the future if it feels
like, hey there's a need for some other kind of hero class to fill this
particular role, or we have this really cool idea for this Hero class,
and we do, there are several different hero classes that we have
different ideas for. The time might be right again to
introduce another one. But how long that might be exactly, I don't know.
right. So, the vehicle system we're in the process of integrating
physics into it. We'll have a variety of different vehicles and they
have different kind of handling characteristics. Some of them are
one-man, fast-moving Forsaken Catapult kind of thing, or the lumbering
Demolisher that packs more of a punch but doesn't move as quickly or
turn as quickly. We have different dynamics going on like that.
We have flying vehicles,
kind of like as flying machine that's light and fast, kind of like a
bomber where one person drops bombs and the other guy is flying it
around. What we do is integrate them into Lake Wintergrasp and the new
battleground in a way where, what we'd like to achieve is that
everybody feels like they have a chance to use vehicles, but not
everybody is in a vehicle all the time. So we want it to be pretty
fast-paced, we want players to be in a vehicle and blow each other up,
be out of a vehicle and fight normally, go back to using a vehicle, etc.
So we want players to mix it up quite a bit; we're hoping to keep the
action pretty fast-paced, trying to keep it pretty simple to get a
vehicle, and pretty accessible. Because it can also equalize the
playing field between if a player doesn't have very good PvP gear, once
he's in a vehicle his class and his gear don't matter anymore. So it
gives him a shot to have a lot of fun and participate on a meaningful
level without having all that.
Okay so Death Grip being
able to pull mobs and players to you. You also mentioned that knockback
effects can affect mobs in the expansion. Is that kind of hinting that
other classes may be able to do it too?
Tom Chilton, Co-Lead
Chilton: It's quite likely that somewhere for a couple different classes
we'll probably make use of the knockback mechanic. You can
probably expect that.
With Naxxramas moving
into Northrend, do you guys have any plans to makeover any of the older
pre-expansion dungeons, and move them up to level 80? I wouldn't mind
doing Blackwing Lair again.
right... exactly. Heroic version of them, etc. We do still have ideas
for doing that, but it just comes up to when the time is right. We've
definitely thought of it as the way to add endgame 5-person content in
subsequent content patches. The idea is definitely possible, but we
don't have any specific, kind of concrete, yes this is when this patch
In this expansion you
seemed to place a lot of emphasis on your environments, making them different elevations, putting lots of different environments in a small space. Why'd you decide to go down that route
instead of having an expansive zone?
Chilton: Well, it
all comes back to our original kind of WoW level design philosophy as
far as varying the environments and keeping things interesting for
This seems more extreme
than The Burning Crusade
Chilton: We actually are trying to push it more. We feel like the
landscape has to feel cohesive; you should be able to look around and
not feel like it was just a kid with a paintbrush. But at the same
time, within that, we really want to vary the environments as much as
we can get away with, because otherwise the environments will feel
oppressive, monotonous, and it just starts to get boring to see the
same things over and over. And it gives the world a better feeling of
being alive and dense.
With all the changes
you're introducing - 10 person instances for every raid instance - can we expect a similar shift for the Arena and Honor systems, where
the Honor system is basically the equivalent of 10 person, and Arena is
A lot of games out there, they have kind of big open landscapes, and it
always kind of felt like there wasn't anything going on in the world.
So we feel like it's important to make sure that every little nook and
cranny where possible feels like something kind of carefully detailed.
the itemization is going through some changes to reflect that. The way
we have it set up is, the highest end of the Arena gear and some of the
Honor gear that has Arena requirements on it will actually be
equivalent to 25 man raid instances. So when Season 1 starts for level
80 Arenas, the best stuff that has really high rating requirements,
kind of like what you're seeing for the Season 4 rating requirements,
will mirror the 25-man Naxxramas quality. Then we'll have a middle tier
that's below that, that has lower rating requirements and is much
cheaper, but it parallels the 10 person raiding quality. And then we're
also going have a tier below that of PvP gear, that has no requirements
at all, and it parallels the Heroic dungeon quality gear.
When the Reputation
system for PvP Battlegrounds was first implemented, I remember
everybody in my guild being very excited to go out and get this
reputation. Within one or
two weeks it devolved into a 'Korean leveling grind' where they weren't
even concerned about the PvP anymore, they just wanted to get in and
farm the team. I'll be honest, I haven't played WoW in about a year,
but the people I've spoken to seem to maintain that that is still the
So we do plan to start out with multiple tiers right out of the gate,
and we're going to make sure that the best stuff also feels, from PvP,
kind of equivalently difficult to get as the best stuff from PvE. So
we're trying to equalize the balance a bit better.
certainly not with Reputation. The Reputations for Battlegrounds don't
really do almost anything anymore. They just get you a title. But you
can make the argument that it's that way for Honor now, where players
will try to do Battlegrounds very repetitively to try to maximize their
honor-per-hour. We've done a few things over the last year to try to
mix that up, for one the introduction of the Battleground Daily Quests,
so that it can be very beneficial to go in there and do your one
Battleground per-day because you get a whole bunch of extra bonus Honor
for doing it and some gold. Then any subsequent Battlegrounds you do
are worth the normal amount of Honor.
What tier level is the
equipment going up to in the next expansion?
So we're trying to do things like that to help the more casual players
who don't want to feel grindy or don't want to be compelled to grind,
to help them get the rewards they want by spending a little bit of
time. So we'll probably do more of that kind of thing in the expansion,
also I think a lot of it is that we have to make sure to vary up the
We're adding another Battleground with Lich King and we're also adding
Wintergrasp, so those are almost like adding two new Battlegrounds
there. The more different places and ways people play, the less grindy
Chilton: Well, it'll
start off at like tier 7 quality gear, or tier 8. It depends on whether
or not you consider Sunwell to be sharing another tier of gear, and
then Ulduar beyond that will be another tier of gear. There are even
tiers within that for the 10 and 25 person.
Something that just
popped into my head regarding the 10 and 25 for each raid instance. Are
you concerned that guilds at the cutting edge will put together 10
person groups just to learn encounters, and then take that knowledge
into the 25 person instances?
While the art is shared between the 10 and 25 person instances, there
are color variants of it, so for example you'll be able to see the
difference, but thematically it's the same. Also the sets within that
tier, within that instance, work with each other. So a lot like right
now the Season 1 Gladiator, Season 2, Season 3 are all part of the same
armor set, you can mix and max the pieces and still get the set
bonuses. That will be the case for 10 and 25 man instances, so with
Naxxramas 10 and 25, if you have the leggings from the 10 man zone and
the chest piece from the 25 person zone, you'll be able to wear them
together and get the set bonus.
Chilton: Yeah, we
have talked about that possibility. One thing we're also talking about
doing - we haven't finalized it yet - but one possibility would be
that the instance actually has to be defeated by somebody on that
server in 25 man mode before it can be unlocked for 10 man.
With of course some kind of fail safe, so that if some amount of time
goes by and it still hasn't been beaten, it would unlocked for the 10
person anyways, just in case there doesn't happen to be a guild on the
server that's capable of doing the content. That is definitely a
concern we're actively talking about how to approach.
The thing that perked my
ears up the most during the demonstration this morning, was that the
Arthas encounter would not be patched into the game until the end of
the Wrath of the Lich King cycle. Does that mean we might see the third
expansion announced before players are able to fight Arthas?
Your Death Knight
will probably need to fight through the Nexus at some point in time.
Chilton: It would
definitely be in a patch that happens before the third expansion. But
the idea is that it would be the final patch before that expansion.
So you also, in the
presentation, talked about different kinds of raids and loots that
would be dropped in 25 man versus 10 man. Do you think there's going to
be any kind of backlash from people that enjoy doing 10 mans more,
since there's gonna be better loot in the 25 man raid, or are they just
gonna be content with the situation?
Oh I see... before he actually dies. Not likely because it tends to be
those patches come out far enough in advance of the expansion launch so
that if players haven't beaten it, it's because we mis-tuned the
encounter in some way, and we get that fixed pretty quickly. Some good
examples would be Naxxramas. It came out several months in
advance of The Burning
Crusade launch, and it was a huge, huge raid instance, but
players still got through it and killed Kel'Thuzad. A good chunk of
guilds were able to do that before the expansion launched.
Chilton: Well, you
can argue that that's kind of the case already. Zul'Aman loot isn't as
good as Black Temple loot, so I don't think it violates our
expectations too much. As long as they're getting content at the same
time as the 25 man raids are getting content, then I don't think it's
too much of a problem. When Ulduar is opened up for players they'll be
able to do it in 10 man very quickly thereafter, and the same goes for
subsequent raid zones.