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Legacy Items Unveiled - Page Two

Updated Mon, May 12, 2008 by Cody Bye

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 that?

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.

Tom Chilton: 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 whatever.

A concept artist's depiction of the Death Knight.

Does it go server to server, or is it just on that one single server?

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.

Kaplan: Both sides have to attack and defend.

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?

Chilton: I think it's inaccurate.

Nethaera, Community Team Member: I don't think anybody actually knows where the peak is. We won't know until we get there.

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.

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.

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.

Why'd you decide to make another tank class?

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?

Kaplan: We've 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 the dailies.

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.

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.

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?

Chilton: Right, 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.

Tom Chilton, Co-Lead Designer

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?

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.

Chilton: Right, 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 will happen.

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 players.

This seems more extreme than The Burning Crusade was.

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.

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.

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 25?

Chilton: Certainly 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.

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.

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 case.

Chilton: Well, 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.

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 content.

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 it feels.

What tier level is the equipment going up to in the next expansion?

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.

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.

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?

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.

Your Death Knight will probably need to fight through the Nexus at some point in time.

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?

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.

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.

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?

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.

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