American Chopper star on why his wild World of Warcraft mash-up makes sense

Paul Jr. from popular Discovery Channel reality show says he was challenged creatively like never before for special Azeroth Choppers promotion.

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Custom-made Choppers from renowned bike designer Paul Teutul Jr. of Discovery Channel reality TV show American Chopper fame are coming to World of Warcraft. If this week's announcement caught you off-guard, you probably were not alone. We caught up with Paul Jr. himself and Blizzard today at PAX East to try to make sense of it all.

"For us it's not new, because what we are to companies like Blizzard is outside-the-box marketing. Everyone says 'How does this make sense?' and through content we make it make sense," Paul Jr. said. "For me, this is a better fit than some of the stuff that we've done that has been very successful. What I like about this is it activates the fanbase, and from a creative standpoint, we're able to build something that can bridge the gap between fantasy and reality. Nobody is doing anything like that out there."

"I had total creative freedom, and that's crazy" -- Paul Jr.

Paul Jr.'s New York-based custom-bike shop Paul Jr. Designs will create two real-world motorcycles to represent the in-game factions Horde and Alliance, and this project will be documented in a seven-episode web series that starts this coming week. At the end of the series, fans will get to vote and a winner--Horde or Alliance--will be named. Players of the winning faction will receive the bike--for free--in the game, while the other faction will be left in the lurch.

Speaking with GameSpot, Paul Jr.--who also created a custom bike for Gears of War 3--said Blizzard never attempted to rein in his ideas for what Horde and Alliance bikes could look like. He said this level of freedom is unprecedented for such a well-known and valuable brand like World of Warcraft.

"I had total creative freedom, and that's crazy. [Blizzard] definitely had more control over the editing side of things, but from the standard of what these looked like, they trusted me. Of course, I'm listening to the wisdom from the guys who have created this world because that's where I'm going to pull some of my ideas from. But at the end of the day, I'm the guy making all the final decisions. And that makes a very special relationship."

"Nobody else is going to do that out there. That's a very unique situation. Blizzard, as in many of these big companies, they do not give up this kind of creative control and so that's fun to watch," he added. "When it comes right down to it, for them to let that go and let me take control and trust me, it's unheard of; nobody does that."

" We try to find creative and super-talented people and empower them to create cool things" -- World of Warcraft designer Brian Holinka

For World of Warcraft game designer Brian Holinka, allowing creative people--whether it be internal developers or external partners--is nothing new for the Irvine, California developer.

"That's a general theme, though, at Blizzard with our own designers. We try to find creative and super-talented people and empower them to create cool things," Holinka said. "We know this is the best, so why would we get in his way? Let's just tell him what our universe is about and see what they create."

Of course, the concept of motorcycles being in World of Warcraft is nothing new, as vehicles like the Mechano-Hog and the Turbo-Trike are already available in the game. However, Holinka said the new Azeroth Choppers partnership with Paul Jr. is "taking it to a whole new level."

"There was some reaction from players like 'whaaaat'. But the thing is, no, this is very Warcraft!"

Paul Jr. wouldn't say what the Horde and Alliance bikes look like, but he said he was inspired by the imagery presented in World of Warcraft itself. If you think you have an idea of what they might look like, you're dead wrong, Paul Jr. says.

"Anybody who has a conception of what these are is completely off-track," he said. "They are way better than anyone could ever think."

"Some people might take this and go heavy with logos, but for us, everything we do is full integration," he added. "If it doesn't feel like Blizzard made these bikes themselves, then we don't want to be a part of it."

Paul Jr.--who wasn't aware of World of Warcraft (outside of TV ads) until he was approached for the job--said the project for Blizzard was one of the most challenging design endeavors he has ever taken on.

"It was the most work I've ever done in my entire life; I'm not kidding. It put everyone right there on the edge, but I think we got greatness out of it...because they have to be worthy of a game like this."

You can decide for yourself when the first installment in Azeroth Choppers debuts on April 17. You can watch the entire series through Blizzard's website.

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