@TJamesA Well, i was talking from the consumer point of view, of course Blizzard wants to keep milking WoW players with new expansions, who wouldn't? Just because people keep playing WoW doesn't save it from being an outdated game... Now don't get me wrong, i personally think Blizzard should work on other projects, but seeing it as a business they earn a lot of money from WoW. WoW in my opinion survives because it has a very rabid fanbase who refuse to stop playing it and/or refuse to try other games which are as good as WoW if not better, trust me i've seen those kind of fanboys A LOT, its like a religion, they refuse to accept that other games can be better that WoW and bash them as copycats or "WoW ripoff"...
Q&A: Game director Tom Chilton discusses Blizzard's reaction to the arrival of MMORPG's third expansion, suggests fans won't have to wait two more years for number four.
Last Tuesday, Blizzard Entertainment flipped the switch on Cataclysm, the third expansion to its phenomenally successful massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft. Like wildfire, the game spread to more than a dozen regions and set a new all-time PC sales record, selling more than 3.3 million units in 24 hours. Of course, with Blizzard already boasting more than 12 million active and engaged users, it'd have been more of a surprise had a record not been set.
As could be expected from the two-years-in-the-making expansion, Cataclysm was accompanied by a host of new features to WOW. Chief among the changes is the total overhaul of the in-game environment. Azeroth has been ravaged by the return of the ancient dragon Deathwing, and popular locales have been drastically altered, making the old new again. The expansion also ups the level cap to 85 and adds two new races: Goblins and Worgen.
To get a look at the game's launch from within Blizzard, GameSpot caught up with World of Warcraft game director Tom Chilton. As part of the interview, Chilton discussed the costs of introducing new classes and races to the game, why the Draenei and Blood Elves were seemingly passed over by Deathwing, and how The Shattering ushered in Cataclysm. He also noted that WOW fans probably won't have to wait two more years for the MMORPG's next major add-on to arrive.
GameSpot: Cataclysm's out, congratulations. The game sold 3.3 million units in 24 hours. What's the sentiment around the office?
Tom Chilton: I think a lot of relief that we've finally burst this whale. People are generally in high spirits. It's funny because what's fairly normal when we launch an expansion is the company goes into a craze of playing the game. We go into game-player mode, where we're all playing the game, and every morning, we're all in each other's offices talking about what we did the night before.
GS: As to the actual sales number, is there any indication whether most of those sales came from people who are currently playing or returning to the game?
TC: I don't have any data on that yet. I really don't know.
GS: Let's see. Do you have any data on how digital sales went?
TC: I know we do have data, but we're not making it public yet.
GS: OK, so to the actual shipping of the expansion itself. Any key takeaways?
TC: For sure. There was a ton of complexity in the whole process of switching over from the old world to the new world. Fortunately, it was probably a one-time kind of thing for us. It definitely caused its share of development problems--a lot of tricky technical stuff to negotiate. So that's something I think we'll be very careful about going into. But we've learned some lessons if we do that kind of thing in the future.
Aside from that, there are all the lessons about the zones themselves, and the questing and quest flow and the linearity versus storytelling versus freedom to do what you want versus how we use phasing and grouping dynamics, and all that kind of stuff. Overall, we're very happy with how it's gone. We definitely used some of our tech a lot more than we've ever used before, at least as it relates to phasing and stuff like that. We're going to continue to learn lessons, like when [is] the best time to use that and how to best take advantage of it.
GS: How work intensive was creating this expansion compared to The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King?
TC: Definitely a larger work investment than anything we've done in the previous expansions. We tried to mitigate that somewhat by splitting our time between old world zones and the new zones that we added. That's part of why we had five levels instead of 10. We really felt like we wanted to split our efforts on the level-design front and quest-design front into two different parts of the game. But the redoing of the old world ended up being a much bigger endeavor than we originally planned.
We originally planned to not do as big of a revamp as we ended up doing. Because in some ways, in our minds, some of the old content was better than it actually was. And then when we went back to actually doing it, we found that even the content that we thought was pretty close still wasn't even very close, so we ended up doing a much more significant revamp than we originally planned. More than anything else, I'd say that's what upped production costs.
GS: Looking forward, do you see future expansions being just as work intensive? Or do you plan to scale them down? How do you think that will play out?
TC: I definitely think that two years was longer than we'd like to see for how long it takes to get an expansion into the hands of players. On this one, we're willing to accept that and feel like we did the right thing because we're trying to make the right long-term decision for the game in terms of the quality of the level 1-60 content. But going forward, since we've already bitten that bullet, we're going to try to hit a better pace. Exactly what that pace might be, I don't know, but I'd definitely like them to hit more quickly than what we've done in the past.
GS: You've said something along the lines of an expansion a year. Is that still the target?
TC: That would be probably really close to ideal in my mind. I don't know that we have the capability to do that. Maybe if we stopped doing content patches completely and just went straight from expansion to expansion, I think we would be able to do that. But we're still committed to doing content patches, and I think that in some ways makes nailing [every] year infeasible, at least for now. So somewhere in between [a year and two].
GS: So, you've destroyed the old world. What are some of the ideas for where things can go next?
TC: Oh, wow. We have all kinds of ideas of where to go next. Some of these ideas have been brewing for a long time. We're currently in the planning stages for not only our upcoming content patches--we pretty well have a very good idea of what we're doing for our 4.1 content patch--but for the next expansion even, we're doing our planning for that. I don't have any details to talk about yet, but there are a number of different ideas that have been floating around for a while that we can pick and choose from and try to decide which one is the right one for the game in the next couple of years or so…what we think really hit home the most and would be something that we can get really excited about.
GS: In this expansion, you introduced two new races and no new classes. Do you like how that played out? Have you intentionally broken up expansions so that in one you'll introduce races and in another you'll do classes?
TC: It's something we think about. It's funny because the costs are very different, in terms of production costs versus game design and game-health costs, between races and classes. What we've found is that classes don't have as high of a production cost, but they have a massive game-health cost. You can really damage the game by adding a new class and not doing it well, but it's hard to damage the game by just adding new races. There's not that much behind a race other than the assets, the zones, the content itself, and the racial abilities, which are relatively minor. It's hard to break the game by adding races. You can break your [development] team by committing to doing races, but the game itself, it's a lot harder to endanger.
We have to pick and choose very carefully. We know there's no way we can do a class with every expansion because we would break the game at some point. There are a finite number of classes that the game can support before the game mechanics are just too contrived and they're all overlapping. We definitely don't think we've hit that point yet, but there's no way that we can add a class with every expansion.
GS: One more general question. There's been a purported Blizzard release schedule floating around the Internet, indicating the next expansion will arrive in Q2 2012. Utterly fabricated? Uncomfortably accurate? No comment?
A Blizzard PR Representative: We don't comment on rumors or speculation.
GS: Fair enough. Getting to the game itself, before Cataclysm launched, you had this free update, The Shattering. Was that always intended to be a free update? Or was it originally designed as part of the Cataclysm expansion?
TC: That was absolutely designed to be a free update. We knew right from when we first started designing [Cataclysm] that there was no way we were going to split our player base into two, effectively--people that bought the expansion and people that didn't buy the expansion--and have them playing totally different games. All the stuff that directly related to redoing content that already existed--that players already had access to--was stuff that we felt like, well, we're just going to give that away and we're going to take it on faith that we're still doing enough new stuff that it makes for a compelling product that people would want to go out there and get.
GS: What impact do you think The Shattering had on getting players to buy Cataclysm?
TC: I would like to say that it was significant, but I don't have any kind of data to back that up. I don't know who's buying Cataclysm yet, presumably it's mostly players who are playing or have played the game. My gut is that The Shattering definitely built up a really big event to talk about. We knew going into it that one of the things it would do is light the nostalgia of having played World of Warcraft in the past…whether or not it was for somebody who is still a subscriber today or someone who had played the game in the past and had a good time but felt like they'd been there and done that…seen it all. We felt like it would reignite that sort of nostalgia for them, too. So we definitely felt like that was a very core part of the expansion and very integral to its overall success.
GS: Cataclysm impacts nearly all of Azeroth, but there was little to no change to the Draenei and Blood Elf content. What was the thinking there?
TC: The real answer is that, more than anything else, that was a bang-for-the-buck decision. Players spend very little time in that area, so it didn't make a whole lot of sense going about redoing it. Also, that area was already at a higher quality level than the old world was because it was done for Burning Crusade, with Burning Crusade techniques and with everything we'd learned from launching the game the first time around. So it was already better off than the old content was. And anyone who makes a new Blood Elf or Draenei, they're out of there by level 10, and pretty much no one is going back to those areas these days. That content just isn't super relevant.
So, bang-for-the-buck wise, it just didn't make a whole lot of sense. And then we like to rationalize it in lore terms by saying, "Well, you know, if the people aren't there, why would Deathwing bother to go there to terrorize them?"
GS: So a few other things. Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep have been given new "heroic" versions. Why these two?
TC: Those two were for a couple reasons. Number one, they were fairly central to zones that we were doing significant revamps of. So with Westfall, we did this major change that kind of evolved the Defias Brotherhood storyline, and it wouldn't have made a whole lot of sense to have Deadmines stay exactly as is and not have some form of evolution. The same could be said for Shadowfang Keep. There were a lot of changes in Shadowfang Keep going on, what with the introduction of the Worgen as a playable race, and Shadowfang is a very Worgen-centric dungeon, so we wanted everything to stay cohesive.
The next thing is that those are a couple of the fan favorites. Those are ones that players have enjoyed in the past a lot, and we just felt like that would be a cool bit of nostalgia to go back to.
GS: Do you think you'll do something similar for other dungeons?
TC: Yeah, we do have hopes to do it for other dungeons. We'll see what actually works out, but we definitely have other ideas in mind.
GS: Let's see, I just have one more question. The community took up arms over the game's guild-leveling system after it was changed a couple of days after Cataclysm came out. Was it that big of a concern for you guys that guilds were leveling too quickly? Why wasn't this issue identified in beta?
TC: There's a couple of things in play. It's not just the speed of leveling; it's also what the experience is like while you're leveling. If you're the guy that's logging on at, let's say, 5:00 p.m., and your guild is already capped out on experience for the day because of the tuning, then that whole aspect of the system feels kind of pointless. It feels like the guild is just magically going up in level on its own because some of the guys earlier in the day had easily capped it out way too quickly. So that was our rationale for tuning down the returns people were getting from quests. People were doing quests at an incredibly high rate, and it just wasn't quite tuned right, I would say.
And then on the achievement point side, we definitely want for players to have ways to distinguish their guild from other guilds, and we have a slightly different plan for how we're going to do that, at least in terms of gaining experience. Essentially, what's going to happen is that as the guild level increases, the caps will get more and more forgiving, to the point where you effectively don't have a cap, so that the pace of guild advancement feels reasonably steady early on, and it feels like different guilds, regardless of size or hardcore-ness, are keeping up with each other reasonably. But then, as we get further out and closer to guild level 25, those guilds start to create more and more separation, so that the hardcore have a chance to be the first ones there, but not by the massive margin that they would be if there were no limitations.
As for why some of this didn't get seen in beta, we deliberately tuned the advancement rates to be much higher than normal, so the advancement rates being high in beta didn't surprise us. We had cranked up those values because we just wanted people testing things out and seeing that everything actually worked. And since guilds don't really behave the way guilds normally do in beta, it's very difficult to get any real data about behavior from beta that actually applies to the live game.
GS: Do you think there are more changes in store for this?
TC: Yeah, there will be more changes, in that one of our small interim patches, basically one of our bug-fixing patches, is coming up. We have plans to have that cap become more and more forgiving as your guild goes up in levels so that the hardcore have a chance to shine later on down the line.
@LordRaymond its not the next wow expansion that will affect warcraft4 blizzard is still working on the next 2 starcraft expansions and diablo3 is still being worked on i would love to see warcraft4 (i was only just playing warcraft3 a few moments a go) but i dont think theres much chance till starcrafts been rounded off which is a shame
@Iannyboy334 I also really want them to make Warcraft 4 since Warcraft 3 is my most favorite game. I'm worried if they are going to make another WOW expansion that Warcraft 4 will be pushed more and more into the future.
@LordRaymond I understand some of the reasoning, but ditching the good old RTS Warcraft would be a TRAVESTY, the talks regarding Warcraft IV have basically been "If the team feels like it, they'll do it, but the evolving WoW world causes issues". I want eet badly.
i wish they wouldn't keep calling the cataclysm change a free update when we're paying almost $15 a month...some people have spend near $1000 on the game..
@finaleve Change is good. With that said, you would rather have your hard work and time thrown down the dumper cuz it'll force you to play more with a class that has existed since the game first came out? Sounds like amazing change....WAY better than blizzard leaving classes alone and creating NEW classes that offer a new style....catch the sarcasm?
"Is that the game that copied Warhammer's lore to the letter, but then added stupid carp about Orks being space aliens? ...and then copied Warhammer 40K by making StarCraft's races being exactly the same also?" I dont know why people thumbed this down, it is a known (and not even hidden) fact that "Warcraft" was born, when a dev team working on a licenced Warhammer game, that was eventually pulled for what ever reason, then took the code, "altered" the lore and art work and called it Warcraft! Starcraft is also HEAVILY based on Warhammer 40k, and i think it shares the same story in how it come about (and original dev team!).
@Dejon09 Personally I think quibbling over a typo in a quickpost is annoying but since you bothered to comment on it I can take the few seconds required to fix my errors.
Can't believe all the people complaining about graphics. I'd like to see if you people could miss the point any harder. Please try.
WoW? Never heard of it. Is that the game that copied Warhammer's lore to the letter, but then added stupid crap about Orks being space aliens? ...and then copied Warhammer 40K by making StarCraft's races being exactly the same also?
@MERGATROYDER It's all relative to what your expectation was for the expansion in the first place. I was just looking forward to a few more levels but the content and overall design of the new areas is way better than I expected. Deepholm in particular was fun and looks great. I made a goblin and that was also a bit of fun and I am super stoked with the old world revamp as a whole. The changes they made to quest flow, harvesting node placement and all of that is a lot smoother as well.
@FarmFreshDX I wonder if they killed the leaker and placed him into the form of an NPC somewhere like I know they did to the red shirt guy, who said they made a boo boo. lol
@CLOCKWORKIAN I know how you feel, I spent a lot of time in pvp to get the best gear and a firned hit 81 one and said I have upgraded to better things already.
Here I was, just having a good time questing with my pet Raptor, minding my own business-and BOOM! Now my tier ten is meaningless. Sigh. It just...doesn't get any easier.
been playing for a couple months now and i think i got in at a good time. i'll be lvl 80 today so i'm tempted to buy cataclysm..
@Jhedan Just let it die already? Come on guy, surely you are more intelligent than that. Why would a company not capitalize on such an immensely popular product that brings in extremely lucrative profits every month. It's business ethics 101, Blizzard is in a position to milk WoW for all it's worth. Whether you are tired of the same game engine or not, there are still millions who are very happy with the game and where Blizzard is taking it, and it is still by far the best mmorpg out right now. Guild Wars 2 and Star Wars the Old Republic will be replacing WoW for me as the next mmorpg I can take seriously, even though I stopped playing WoW months ago.
I think Cataclysm is the best version of WOW yet. Everything feels so fresh and efficient since the world update.
WoW is like a guest on the house, at first its all good but as time passes you start to think: "i guess its been enough, just leave please" Just let it die already, the game had its moment, it made what MMORPGs are today but seriously, its been way too much time, graphics and gameplay are showing their age. Give us a Warcraft 4 (yeah an RTS just like Starcraft II). Oh and hurry up with Diablo III, can't wait to play it.
I hope they don't rush expansions too much. Part of the reason for Blizzard's consistent quality is that they don't rush their products, and we all know Activision doesn't care for that policy. Don't get infected by Kotick, stick to your patented Blizzard formula of awesomeness!
I have a feeling that Bobby Kotick will pressure Blizzard to release an expansion every 6 months now, and diluting the quality of the Blizzard product.
its one way to do something right and take time, but they have the peolpe and the manpower to speed things up a little faster
WOW is great, Blizzard is perfect... but i think it's better that they leave WOW for a while then make a huge update for it to make it alot more interesting meanwhile they can start working on Warcraft 4 oh wait! Diablo 3 is still in development...STILL..
Cataclysm is remarkably good. The one part of WoW that always seemed so lacking was that the quests never really pulled you in like in Baudler's Gate or even Warcraft 3. But I really enjoyed leveling a Wergen alliance character and just as that alone was a fun RPG experience. But as with everything with WoW getting a character to level 17-18 is just the beginning. Still It's obvious Blizzard has put more into the stories and quests. All the way around. A lot has been tightened up and quests that were tedious and lame seem to have been pushed away. But WoW still holds together best because of all the options. Blizzard has done a good job of taking out the grind. That hurts so many mmorpg's. I had been away for almost 18 months and I'm shocked at how much better the overall experience is.
i'd love to come back to wow, but i heard that you have to download 8gigs of patch. first i have limited bandwith, even then its the principle of buying the expansion already then getting shafted by not having the patch which came out before cataclysm not in the cd.
Im tired of wow i played a good two and a half years, dont get me wrong it was good times but its not really new anymore. im dying to play diablo 3 but they're not releasing it til 2012...
Talking about how the graphics are outdated ignores what this game has been able to do for 5 years. Graphics don't mean everything. The ps2 had the worst engine of its gen and it dominated the marketplace. And the best looking games aren't most of the times the best.
At first I was kind of mad at all the changes Cataclsym made for starter areas. I had such good memories there. Then I played the old starter areas and remembered how boring they are now. Change is good when you start to feel the monotomy after you've been playing WoW for 5 years.
@Se7enS1nz The only thing I have to say is that nerfing is kinda important. Oh, I know how horrible it is when you're class gets nerfed but I enjoyed the couple classes I have (Druid, Pally) and occasionally play the others (Rogue, War) but I enjoy the classes for what they are. If they get nerfed, I just evolve with the game. If you kept doing the same things over and over again, it would get boring. Last I checked I don't want to get bored of the game. Change is good and I'm glad they do so.
@Godly_Kongming i agree but i also dont i mean the worse the graphics the more people can play and this dosnt have much to do but there is a rumor on two more expansions.
@abroche. Ya that is the point. THe game engine is WAAAAAY outdated. Its time to shelve this frakking thing and for them to focus on a NEW game. I dont care if its Starcraft universe or whatever. Just sad to see people still buy into this...... And dont gimme the garbage about the graphics are part of the world....THey can still be part of the world and be ALOT better. Im not saying to make them ultra realistic......but so much can be done now with colors and enviroments. WOW is running on like a PS2 game engine And its fine to have this expansion to finish it off but really do you guys REALLY want more expansions? Why dont you demand a NEW world and NEW engine?
omg worgons i cant wait to see at new race they add to the new pack maybe they will add demons and vampires
Can we all stop warring over whether Wow is overrated or not? If you don't like it, then don't play it, simple. And even if it is flawed, people still have fun with it, that's what it's all about. And Blizzard is obviously giving great attention to Starcraft and Diablo, they both look and are amazing. Blizzard's a company btw, they're out there to make money sure, but they are a damn good business and they can have my money if they're entertaining me.
The new expansion is really fun, I really enjoy how they re-worked the low level areas so it makes creating a new toon fun again.
@Godly_Kongming the game maintain its current graphics for the fact it is how it is develop in WC3 to keep the aspect of the game factor they add thing new techs to the game as in game cinematic and phasing environments each of blizz games have it unique and distinctive aspect on graphics changing them to more upgrades detailed graphics will make the game it self loses its own unique feel.. also the game have different servers that are develop for more different type of game as for the RPG servers and PVPRPG to keeps the game feel more like an RP game than normal and pvp servers
3 full expansions is a lot, and this game is utterly gigantic now.If they're going to release any more full expansions, they BETTER take at least a couple years to make it, otherwise it will lack in quality.But they better also think long and hard before they do that, because at this point, there's already so much content as it is in the game, maybe they should just focus on smaller, raid dungeon style additions and graphical updates, instead of making any more full blown expansions.There should be a point where they just say, "enough".They haven't even released Diablo 3 yet for god sakes.
O WOW! Hey Blizzard focus on Starcraft and Diablo....and maye a NEW game? Way to contradict what they said last year. This was suppose to be the last expansion! WTH! Why are people still playing a 8 year old game? The graphics are starting to really look like garbage. Make a new MMO and stop milking your fans....
I didn't expect them to revamp all of the Blood Elf/Draenei content in their starting areas, but at least rid of the Dead Scar and let us fly over Silvermoon, for Pete's Sake! Not being able to do that is complete BS.
Sorry Blizz but I think this is enough. The graphics are starting to show its age and clearly I don't know what else you can try to mess in the lore. I admit this expansion was nice seeing how you revamped Azeroth but there can't be more. We demand Warcraft 4.
WOW cataclysm is the same WOW, if you didn't like WOW before your not going to like it now. the game is still a grind... its a good game but its not rpg game of the year or fresh.
@Se7enS1nz Diablo 3 isn't looking so hot to me either. Only 5 classes?? After how many years? Lets see how many classes I can think of off the top of my head that they should have: Warrior, Mage, Ranger, Rogue, Necromancer, Druid, Warlock, Shaman, Paladin, Priest, and a few more pet classes.
@swamptick I would run away if I were you =). At least posts prior to yours had something to do with the game...while yours was a simple message of stupidity and hate. You're a prime example of the audience blizzard has attracted, an audience too blind to see that, while WoW is a good game ( I wont deny this, played since vanilla till now ) it has it's problems that should be addressed. No game is perfect. WoW is no different. If you're fine with a game that's going to let you spend months making a toon great, then nerf him to the ground...then laugh at you as you spend more money and waste more time to build the NEW OP class, only to have it nerfed yet again months down the road, be my guest. Meanwhile I'll play games that I have control over. Again, I'm not saying WoW is a bad game, I enjoyed it for quite some time. Then finally the frustration of class nerfs, and the boredom of playing the same classes got to me. I was only trying to make 2 points. 1) Blizzard should stop nerfing classes and changing their mechanics and 2) Blizzard should be able to introduce more classes, it's not impossible to introduce a class for every expansion. We've only had 3 expansions...how hard would it have been to make 3 new classes?
After the Cataclysm? After??? After, it is so much MORE awesome after 6 years! These children hating on it are just little hairless trolls that have never kissed a girl or played this game. My daughter would beat them up.
@lazycomplife Oh god, if a Starcraft MMO comes out...I will lose all faith in blizzard. Furthermore if it's a huge success, I will lose all faith in humanity. I'm actually terrified about D3, hoping and praying they don't institute too much of WoW in what is one of my all-time favorite PC titles. Already, the graphics are looking too WoW'y for me. And the gameplay I have seen thus far looks too easy, almost like solo'ing in WoW. I remember in D2 having to lead mobs away from each other, pin them in tight corridors, and kill them 1-2 at a time depending on my class. Whoa sorry...side track.
Avalanche Studios co-founder says developer's ambition is for action, not moments that make players cry; steampunk-style game on hold. Full Story
- Posted May 15, 2013 6:33 am PT
4A Games creative director Andrew Prokhorov thanks Jason Rubin for telling the studio's story, but says, "We deserve the ratings we get." Full Story
- Posted May 16, 2013 12:44 pm PT