Patch 5.4 - Developer Interviews
Siege of Orgrimmar
- Siege of Orgrimmar has a little bit of branching in paths and ideally raids in the future will have more, allowing you to skip a boss or do bosses in a slightly different order.
- The first three or four bosses shouldn't be too hard for most raiding guilds, allowing them to have bosses they can use to gear up with as they progress.
- The heirloom weapons that drop from Garrosh are personal loot in Flex, Normal, and Heroic difficulty.
- The first heirloom weapon that drops for you will be for your current loot spec, but after that you will get one at random.
- The heirloom weapons are also intended to make Mists of Pandaria a little more alt friendly.
- Proving Grounds was originally targeted for the Mists of Pandaria launch, but kept getting pushed back until there was enough time to finish it.
- For Patch 5.4, Proving Grounds remains targeted at level 90 players learning new roles.
- As long as Proving Grounds works out well, it could be used as a lower level training environment in the future.
- Proving Grounds could even be used to replace item level as the gating requirement for Raid Finder or other things that use matchmaking.
- Proving Grounds won't be perfectly balanced for every class and spec, so it shouldn't be used as a class or spec ranking tool.
- Most guilds should be able to make progress in Flex difficulty.
- Scenarios might be a useful place to apply the Flex scaling tech in the future, scaling from 3 to 5 players.
- Any other content that doesn't need very tight balance is also a good candidate for scaling. This means heroic raids are not a good candidate.
- The idea of scaling raids past 25 players has also been considered, allowing you to scale up to a higher limit like 30 players.
- Connected Realms will be merged in groups large enough to come to a good population level. This could take anywhere from two realms to many more realms.
- Connected Realms will be rolled out slowly to make sure everything works well. Blizzard will start with a small pool of realms and ensure that the tech and gameplay works properly before adding other realms.
- Everyone will be able to keep their player and guild names. Sever names or other indicators will be used to differentiate between identical names from different realms.
- It is easy for your character's level to advance much faster than your profession skill level. Fixing this will take a significant amount of developer time, as what to do with all of the recipes have to be considered.
- Future expansions will make leveling professions a little bit nicer, similar to the mining and herbalism changes.
- Swapping professions is somewhat painful now, which is something that can be looked at in the future.
- The developers have to strike a balance between making too many changes and making the necessary changes.
- There are a lot of players that want changes to improve their class, but there are also a lot of players that don't want any changes because they don't have time / don't care to relearn their class or spec.
- Valor Points will not be converted to Justice Points for Patch 5.4. "Players who want to stockpile their 3,000 Valor before Patch 5.4 hits will be able to do that, and probably should start thinking about that."
- Trinkets that relied on the ICD were becoming boring, so RPPM was an attempt to make trinket procs a little bit more random and interesting.
- The changes made to RPPM and Haste will hopefully address the issue of procs on pull and other issues with the new mechanic.
- Casting while moving is a complex problem, as the game works better when there is less casting while moving, but being inactive when movement is required is a problem as well. Allowing players to do lower damage while moving is a decent solution to the problem.
- The developers will watch carefully and make sure that Flex does not feel too mandatory.
- The heirloom weapons on Garrosh are a reason for players to keep coming back and killing him, even when a new expansion is approaching.
- The tech is in place to be able to change how flex encounters work for each additional player that is in the raid. Some things like NPC health or damage scale well and can easily be changed per player, but generally things that don't scale well like the number of adds just change for every few people that are added to the raid.
- Removing the item level restriction on enchants was done to make the process of preparing an item for use simpler, eliminating one of the research steps that needed to be done.
- Proving Grounds will give players an opportunity to try other specs and see if they enjoy them without impacting other players. By the time you have gone through to gold with a spec, you should be ready to queue up for things and play decently.
- Proving Grounds has a lot of potential and can be expanded upon if it is well received by players.
- Garrosh has been built up over several expansions from a smaller character to the final raid boss of an expansion. Arthas was cool, but people already knew a lot about him because he was from Warcraft III. For the final raid boss, the developers want players to really want to kill him. This requires players to know what he has done in the past and why you are here killing him. The team has worked hard to explain over the past few patches what Garrosh is doing to Pandaria, why it is so bad, and what his plans are for the Horde.
- It was a tough decision to destroy the Vale permanently in Patch 5.4 rather than doing it as a phase or part of the raid only, but it really adds to the impact of the patch.
- The devs are happy with how the legendary item system worked out, and Cory wouldn't be surprised to see them continue with the same kind of system. However, this doesn't mean they won't do legendary items the old way ever again.
- The future of the in game store items that appeared in the store is uncertain. Those kind of items may be popular in Asia, but may not be very popular in the US/EU. They will only be added if it feels right for the game and is the right thing to do, so the items may not even make it into the game.
- There aren't any plans for class specific quests in the near future.
- Achievements will be the only reward for Proving Grounds, as they are mostly aimed at learning new specs or challenging yourself. They are fun on their own.
- The DotA Battleground could happen, but may never happen. It isn't being worked on anymore.
- There will be a smaller pre-expansion event patch, but anything beyond that is not set in stone. Patch 5.4 is the conclusion of the Pandaria storyline.
- Battlefield: Barrens was pretty successful and the developers were happy with the outcome.
- Timeless Isle is intended for exploration, looking for rare spawns, and taking place in events, so there are only 2 daily quests on the island. It should feel less like a grind than anything that has been added recently.
- One of the downsides of the new talent system is that it is challenging to provide something new and rewarding every time someone levels. On the upside, the decision process for returning players is much easier and the choices everyone makes are more meaningful.
- Passive talents that gave you something like 1% hit just weren't exciting or interesting, especially as they had almost no impact on the leveling process.
- Connected Realms has been in development for a very long time. They could have just merged servers in the past, but that wouldn't have been the right solution for the game.
- Connected Realms is a big piece of tech for WoW and it will grow and get more features over time.
- As far as future additions to the pet battle system, the system may not need more qualities, pet levels, or changes to the core dynamics.
- People enjoy pet battles as they are, so in the future more content will be added. This includes more pets, pets with unique abilities that are strong against new pet trainers, more pets from bosses, more pet battle quest lines, and other content.
- There might be some changes made to Orgrimmar over time, but there won't be any dramatic changes right away.
- Players aren't directed to everything on the Timeless Isle via daily quests so that there is more of a sense of exploration and discovery.
- The Timeless Isle armor being looted in a random way from chests is a departure from the normal slow grind towards a guaranteed item to go along with the other new things being tried on the isle.
- Flex difficulty will open at the same pace as the Normal difficulty raid.
- The Kor'kron Dark Shaman cosmetic armor will drop off of mobs in Flex, Normal, and Heroic difficulty Siege of Orgrimmar. The armor already existed for NPCs, so adding it is a cool bonus for Shaman. We may see more in the future if a similar situation arises.
- In order to avoid achievement bloat, achievements that are split between 10 and 25 man will only be added when the split is important.
- Throne of Thunder added more individual responsibility for the success of a raid, especially on fights like Lei-Shen. Going forward, this will continue to be the case.
- Thunderforged and Warforged style items are likely going to be the solution for addressing the lower popularity of 25 player raids in order to avoid making 25 player raids feel mandatory.
- Normal difficulty raids and scenarios are good candidates for applying the Flex tech to in the future, but Normal raids are tuned tighter than Flex, so this isn't a promise at all.
- There will be some kind of content and event between now and the next expansion, but the patch number isn't determined yet.
- Blizzard is still working on new character models, with more on that sometime in the future.
- Addressing the limited storage isn't going to happen in Patch 5.4, but is still on the list for the future.
- Skills on your bar that you have to keybind and rarely actually use are the prime targets when and if the developers address ability bloat.
- Adding another Annual Pass isn't planned, but it still a possibility.
- The cosmetic minor glyphs are working out well, and more will be added in the future. It might make sense to increase the number of Minor Glyph slots at some point.
- Being able to form PuGs without addons or third party websites might be something nice to add in a future patch.
- Rewards are still formulaic and not exciting enough, especially when it comes to rare spawns and quest rewards. This is something that the developers would like to address in the future.
- Patch trailers could be added to the game itself in the future, but there are some things that would need to be addressed first. The trailers are created to get people excited about a patch, so they feel a little bit more like an ad than other in game cinematics, so things might have to be done a little differently.
- Connected Realms will be used to help out lower population realms, not balance the factions on very high population realms. However, in the process of grouping low population realms, faction balance will be taken into account as much as possible.
- Connected Realms will roll out fairly quickly after Patch 5.4 is released, similar to the release timeline of Cross-Realm Zones.
- There may not be any realm specific things like achievements, leaderboards, or forums going forward. (See the full question below)
Patch 5.4 / The Past
- Lesser Charms or Spirits of Harmony aren't very likely to become Account Bound before Mists of Pandaria is over.
- Timeless Isle can serve as a foundation for the way that the developers approach creating re-playable content in the future.
- The removal of Have Group, Will Travel worked out well, making the world feel more alive.
- Another alternative to creating PvP crafted sets would be to segment players more by their gear level, matching you against players with similar gear.
- Removing the daily quest cap made players feel like that doing all of the daily quests available was mandatory.
- Daily quests may return in the future, but not to the extent of the Patch 5.0 daily quest options.
- Permanently damaging the Vale was the right thing to do and addressed the concerns of players that want a more dynamic world. Phasing wasn't practical because of how the zone was initially designed.
- Patch 5.4 won't show the results of the ongoing war in the world, but there is an event between 5.4 and the next expansion.
Horde for Life
- Developing WoW with countries that have poor network connectivity in mind is part of the reason why you can play WoW relatively well on a poorer connection.
- Making the game feel like you are playing locally by compensating for latency on the client and server end has always been an important part of development.
- Fixes that took days in the past now take a matter of hours thanks to the advancement in how patching is done.
- Whenever new features are added, people on older hardware are kept in mind to make sure the game is playable for them still. It is a painful process to maintain that kind of compatibility, but Blizzard doesn't want people to be unable to play the game due to new features.
- The BMAH has been successful at giving players that are focused on earning gold items to purchase, such as mounts, pets, transmog sets, and other things. It was also useful in phasing in access to the Brawler's Guild. There aren't any changes to the BMAH planned. It isn't decided yet if new locations will be added outside of Pandaria in the future.
- CCP allows players to run somewhat more freely with the economy, but Blizzard is interested in making sure that no one has a severe impact on other players.
Experiments and the Economy
- The Guardian Cub was an experiment in allowing people to sell an item purchased with real currency for gold. If it would have been hugely popular, we might have seen more things like it. Playing with an established economy is dangerous though, so the devs are careful not to do anything major.
- There are currently no plans to directly sell gold to players. It wouldn't be popular with players or good for the game.
- The new items added to the in game store in Patch 5.4 are really only targeted at Asia as time saving conveniences. Blizzard definitely doesn't want to venture into the pay to win territory or change the current business model. It is an experiment, similar to the Guardian Cub.
- At one point in developing the water effects for Cataclysm the oceans were 3D, moving up and down and side to side, but it looked odd with characters swimming in it. Having the waves move players or making them less visible under waves didn't work out well, so the team went with a 2D water surface with a ripple effect.
- Vashj'ir made it difficult to place spells in a 3D environment. There was also an underwater wave effect that gave some people motion sickness, which was addressed by making the effect less pronounced in the center of the screen.
- The expansion ends on a high note for the Alliance. The full story has not yet been told!
- The population targets for Connected Realms are between an average and full realm, providing enough players that you can do PuG Flex mode raids from trade chat or see a real population in the capital city, but not so many people that you have a login queue.
- Reducing the number of buttons is a goal, but that has to be balanced with changing classes too much.
- Many players will be happy that they don't have to worry about Readiness anymore, but other players will miss it.
- The base healing spell that healers are supposed to use until they gear up enough to have a significant amount of regen and throughput might not have a role in the game anymore. They are situational after you are no longer in greens and blues.
- Mists of Pandaria removed some abilities, but ended up adding some of them back because of player outcry and legitimate concerns.
- One of the mistakes made when doing a pass of abilities in Mists of Pandaria was removing very situational or fun abilities. For example, Eyes of the Beast doesn't take up a keybind or important action bar slot, but it is something that players miss now.
- Players often ask for new abilities so that they are on par with other classes. For example, Paladins got a Kick like interrupt that they didn't have a few expansions ago, but maybe every class doesn't need an interrupt / disarm / silence.
- Every time the level cap is raised in WoW, the devs feel like players are owed some new spells. It wouldn't be any fun to go 5 levels without adding new spells.
- Trying to get rid of a lot of the silences didn't work out well, as no one was able to stop the healers. Changes to instant casts and silences are better suited for an expansion rather than a mid expansion patch.
- There have been significant improvements to the PvP gearing system. The goal going forward is to make sure the best PvP gear comes from PvP and the best PvE gear comes from PvE. A little bit of crossover is fine, but no high end PvP player should feel like they have to go and farm for a certain item from PvE to remain competitive.
- The Crowd Chose You!!! buff was added to shut down the really long drawn out fights in a reasonable way. The devs don't want players to change how they play arenas based on this buff, so if it has a detrimental effect it will be modified or removed.
- High King Mekkatorque will come and clear a large number of troops in the Barracks section of the raid, while the Horde actually has to fight through them.
- Nourshen has a Proving Grounds like component to the fight, as individual players must go through a role dependent trial at a certain point in the fight.
- It is important that players feel like their actions matter in raids, not that they are just cogs in a machine. At the same time, you can push this idea too far when a single individual can wipe the raid or the fight requires every person to master an individual check. A good example of this is Heroic Dark Animus or Thaddius. Ideally a raid leader could choose the stronger players in the raid to handle the responsibility of the individual dependent mechanics.
- Riposte was added to compensate for the weaker Warriors and Death Knight active mitigation mechanics compared to other tanks. It also helps to equalize tank damage output in the short term.
- In Cataclysm, building a legendary out of drops that came on a predictable schedule every week removed some of the excitement from getting a legendary weapon. Legendary weapons in the future will likely be distributed similar to older legendary weapons and less like the Cataclysm legendary weapons.
- If the devs were to use scaling to allow players to run older content at more appropriate item and character levels, it would not impact players who enjoy soloing old content.
- There is also a difference between the nostalgia of older dungeons and raids and what it would be like to do them again as part of the core game. People think back to the fond memories from BWL or Molten Core, but it doesn't mean that it would be fun to do with a group regularly anymore as an incentive activity.
- Heroic Scenarios worked out really well both in terms of the content and how they work, requiring you to find friends or other players to do the content with rather than just queuing.
- Blizzard would like to get back to a place where mechanics matter a little bit more, as there is a big audience for that type of cooperation in smaller organized groups.
- Mists of Pandaria was the first push to appeal to more casual players and it was very successful. If they had not done so, the game would be in bad shape.
- The audience has changed since Vanilla, so players wanting the game to stay the same wouldn't have had the same fun gameplay even if it did.
- Mists of Pandaria had a lack of new experiences for the hardcore audience, which is something that will be focused on in future expansions.
- It might make sense for WoW to go free to play at some point, but there is a lot of risk in doing so. Some games double their audience, but some don't or even if they do, the increase doesn't last after the initial interest wears off.
- An item level squish is likely for the next expansion and is already being tested internally.
- Timeless Isle will hopefully help to combat the feeling that you are wasting time if you aren't going to an NPC with a quest marker.
- Many things that are sold on the website store eventually will be sold in the in-game store. Right now it is inconvenient to buy a mount off of the store, as you have to leave the game and go to the website, and go through the purchase process.
- The in-game store could be added for mounts and pets in the patch between Patch 5.4 and the next expansion.
- The cosmetic helms that were added to the store sold well, but more cosmetic items may not be added in the future. Items that you purchase from the store should never compete directly with items from raids.
- Items added in the future will likely be more "fun" items like a Halloween costume or cosmetic themed gear that won't be like anything from a dungeon.
- Adding the Pandaren was more controversial than expected, but the players who actually played the expansion really liked the expansion and felt it really had a soul.
- Part of the reason for the decline in subscriber numbers is that the game can only change in evolutionary ways, not revolutionary ways.
- Diablo III is actually the game that had the most impact on WoW, other MMOs don't really make much of a measurable impact.
- The team size has increased 40% and another 40% increase is planned, which will hopefully allow for a new content patch every month, a new raid tier every three to five months, and an annual expansion.
- It is likely that there will be other things that connect World of Warcraft and Hearthstone, other than the Hearthsteed Mount.
- More people are doing arenas on alts thanks to the changes made in Patch 5.3.
- The first time you queue for an arena in a group you will have to select a role, which will prevent people from randomly inviting you to a group and queuing.
- There needs to be a good in-game system for finding other players for cross realm things like dungeons, raids, and PvP. This is something that is being discussed for a future patch, but for now OpenRaid is a good alternative.
- 97% of arena games last less than five minutes, but less than 1% go for 25 minutes. The Crowd Chose You!!! will help to address this problem, but if it has a negative impact by changing how people play, it can be adjusted or removed.
- Arenas had become too bursty recently, so this patch significantly increased Base Resilience. Resilience being on gear rather than having a high base resilience caused new players and alts to have trouble in PvP that came from having no resilience.
- The ArenaLeague tournament and the pick and ban system is something the developers like a lot, but it's unlikely to be implemented into the game. The devs also want to help support player run tournaments as much as possible.
- The tools for tracking win trading have improved significantly over the past few patches and the devs are will continue to improve the tools moving forward.
- The Rank 1 titles will still be given in 3v3 and 5v5 in the next season, but may change in the future.
- The 2v2 bracket is still a very popular bracket compared to 3v3, so it doesn't need any extra rewards right now. Most players that are doing 2v2 are interested in gear and not so much titles.
- Seasonal based achievements are a good idea, but they need to be added in a way that doesn't contribute to achievement bloat.
- There isn't as much motivation for socialization anymore. It would be nice if the game had better ways of finding friends and guilds!
Swifty and Hotted
- Twitter is a very useful tool for understanding what player concerns are out there. It is also a nice way to let players access the developers.
- Arena teams had become a barrier to letting people play arenas. Being able to play with anyone at any time will be nice for players.
- Having one pool of players will help queue times for many players and increase the amount of competition.
- Solo queue for things like random battlegrounds puts you with a group of people that feel disposable, as you will never see them again. The other players almost feel like a tool for you to get your reward rather than people you can make connections with. This leads to poor player behavior. That being said, there may be room for a player that is honor capped and wants a higher level of play from a solo queue. This could be something like Heroic Battlegrounds, which would be for players who have the full honor gear set.
- 1v1 arenas aren't likely, but solo queuing into 3v3 or 2v2 arenas might be something that could be done. Dueling is fun though, and a nice community building activity. Resetting cooldowns after a duel and things like that have been on the todo list for a long time.
- Recolored gear might not be an exciting enough reward, but giving high ranked players more powerful gear isn't a good solution. More cosmetic solutions might be the right way to go. Mounts are expensive to make, as they take almost as much time as a set of armor.
- It would be nice to see how long a player has been playing without inspecting them (Playing since Vanilla, BC, WotLK, Cata, MoP...), but how to do that is still undetermined.
- The PvE trinkets added every tier are somewhat bursty, so making them scale down below the PvP trinkets ilvl and reducing their magnitude and proc frequency should make them less desirable.
- The Conquest cap changes may have been the biggest factor in the increased arena participation this season. It may not be that more players started playing, but at least more characters took part.
- A lot of the lower and mid ranked players stopped playing arenas at some point, but making it easier to gear up alts and adding more rewards that are attractive to players who are no longer playing arenas.
- A lot of players respond to changes in patch notes, but don't actually go on the PTR and test the changes!
- The Horde version of the cinematic after Garrosh will show the process of the Warchief selection. The Alliance version will be slightly different.
- Adding a fourth talent spec is not planned, as it is already very difficult to balance the existing specs.
- The technology for scaling up old content is mostly in place now, but the devs haven't come up with a good rewards scheme for scaled up old dungeons and raids yet. Today, players can go back and solo old content for transmog gear, but if they were going to go back and do it in an appropriately sized group, they would expect something useful other than transmog gear.
- Having only one race for both factions allowed the team to focus on making the one new race really great, rather than having to split time between two new races.
The Starting Zone
New Player Models
- Blizzard isn't ready to show off any of the new player models yet, but hopefully will have an announcement soon.
- One of the human models was changed six years ago and there was a large uproar over how the eye blink changed.
- Changing the player model risks causing players to no longer feel attached to their character.
- Upgrading player models has never been done successfully in an MMO.
- The engine is about 12 or 13 years old now, but has been improved constantly.
- For a long time it was mandatory to maintain the same visual look across all hardware, but recently they have diverged from that idea, allowing the team to do some nicer things at the higher end.
- The last two expansions increased the minimum requirements on the boxes, but the team still tries to support the hardware from older minimum requirements.
- Switching to another existing engine wouldn't make a lot of sense, as the WoW engine has been optimized for certain things that aren't supported well (or at all) in off the shelf engines. For example, moving to an engine that used more dynamic lighting and bump mapping would also require reauthoring most of the existing textures that have been created over the years. This would take a very long time and come at the cost of new content.
- There was a bug at the Mists of Pandaria launch that made it harder to interact with objects the longer you raided, which is something that the developers noticed during their own play time and were able to fix.
- The systems have been improved to where downleveling your character to play with a friend that is leveling is technically possible, but there aren't any announcements to make.
Vanion - Gamescom Roundtable
New Character Models
- The character models are roughly 20 or 25% done.
- It is unlikely that all of the new models will be released at once. The ones that are done will be released and then more will be added throughout the patch cycle.
- The new Garrosh model has a lot of bones and facial animation that could be similar to what we see in new character models.
- Garrosh also provides a nice test case to see if players want their character to look like that.
- The new character models are being worked on very carefully to avoid changing how the characters feel, especially the animations.
- There is a lot more to animate now with beards, ponytails, and hands with actual fingers. The animations have to have the same emotion as the old models, but just look better.
- The new models and animations are compared to the old ones at weekly art meetings to ensure that they feel right.
- The new toy items added in Mists of Pandaria take up a lot of inventory space, so they are high on the priority list of things to remove from player bags. Heirlooms are next on the list, followed by tabards, but there is no solid timeline on when this will be available yet.
- Spectator mode for raids and arenas isn't likely for the near future, as it would require a lot of tech and there are other more high priority things that need to be done first.
- There are no major changes coming to holiday events, just the usual yearly updates. Almost all of the events have been updated in the past and are in a good place now. Time would be better spent adding new content to the game rather than changing up Hallow's End yet again.
Patch 5.4 / Siege of Orgrimmar
- Garrosh has a Heroic only phase in the burning Stormwind Harbor.
- Players invest a lot of time into the last boss of an expansion, but the awesome gear that they got is replaced fairly quickly in the next expansion. The heirloom weapons from Garrosh are an attempt to compensate for that, as they will usually be the best leveling weapon you can get.
- Moving Dalaran to use in the Siege of Orgrimmar was considered, but it would have caused serious performance issues for many players. It also may have reduced the impact that players had as far as feeling like heroes. Players should feel like they were the ones to defeat Garrosh, not that Dalaran showed up and they did the job.
- The team considered changing racials in Patch 5.4, as a lot of the top guilds are switching to Horde. The impact it has on the game is limited to a handful of guilds in the world, so changing it for everyone because a handful of guilds feel that the Horde racials will make the difference in PvE ended up not being worth it.
- Racials are really supposed to be a flavor thing rather than something to balance the game around, so it isn't likely that we will see changes in the near future.
- During Cataclysm there was a revamp of the graphics system by adding shadows to the game, which required raising the ambient light in every zone, as the shadows made it too dark. This resulted in the night time having more ambient light than it used to.
- Patch 5.4 will have a test case for darker nights in Orgrimmar, Stormwind, and Vale of Eternal Blossoms.
- There isn't as much competition with Challenge Modes as the developers had hoped.
- PvE competition is a great thing to have in the game. World Firsts are nice, but they happen once in a patch cycle. It would be nice to see some of the Challenge Mode concepts in raiding, but just speed clearing the raid might not be the right thing.
- There will be another pass of the Valor system in the next expansion, but you shouldn't be able to cap Valor by just doing a raid that week.
- The Valor system is intended to get players to do a variety of content that they wouldn't normally do, but there has to be a balance.
- An idea for the future is adding a system similar to the Conquest catch up, allowing players that return to earn more Valor to catch up to everyone else. Not having to log in every single day might also be something to look at.
- The idea of Heroic only bosses is nice when they fit the story of the raid, but Ra-Den wasn't executed as well as it could have been because all of the testing was done internally. We might see another one in the future, but first they have to figure out a better way to test the boss.
- The team doesn't think that a small amount of players getting a legendary cloak after working towards it for an entire expansion will be a problem in the long run.
- The developers are happier with Mists of Pandaria than they were with Cataclysm.
- Cataclysm did a good job improving the old world, but there wasn't a strong endgame. Mists of Pandaria made a point of adding more and better quality endgame content.
- Mists of Pandaria was slightly weaker thematically, as there was no big looming end of the world disaster, which is something that players seem to really enjoy.
- People spent a lot of time in Shattrath, Dalaran, and now Shrine, but Cataclysm didn't add a new city or continent to call home.
- Redoing classic dungeons to make them into Heroic Dungeons was a nice concept that came out of Cataclysm, as they have been very popular and fun to create.
- In Cataclysm Thrall felt like the hero, but players just felt like they were helping him, rather than also being heroes.
Progress on the Next Expansion
- The concept artists, environment artists, and the level design team are the first groups to start working on a new expansion.
- The encounter team is the last team to move to the new expansion, as they are still finishing up Patch 5.4 and doing the final tuning.
- The release of an expansion partially depends on how long it takes to build and add quests to the new zones. This is why the final patch of an expansion usually doesn't have a lot of content that involves the exterior level design team, as they are already working on the zones for the next expansion.
- The Timeless Isle is off of the coast of the Jade Forest and is made with art assets from the Jade Forest, but presented in a completely different way. This allowed the team to add a new area without slowing down the work on the next expansion.
- The Burdens of Shaohao came from a part of the company that normally doesn't work on things like that and already has a lot of commitments, so there is no solid date for another similar series yet.
- The traditional player housing in MMOs isn't very interesting, maybe with the exception of Ultima Online. This was because you owned part of the world, making the area have real value. The idea of having an instanced chunk of the world that is decorated inside and no one will ever see isn't interesting, so housing in WoW would have to go beyond just visual customization with some gameplay elements or something else actually interesting.
- Offline progression for WoW could be interesting, but all the game has right now are things like daily cooldowns for some professions or the Tiller's farm.
- Revamping Fishing has been on the to-do list for years now, but it keeps getting pushed back.
- The guild level system already has some nice perks and the devs weren't able to come up with enough good perks to add more guild levels in Mists of Pandaria. Adding more levels also requires more achievements and other items, as well as making all new guilds level even more to get all of those perks.
Convert to Raid
- Siege of Orgrimmar begins in Pandaria so that you don't just end up going back to Orgrimmar in Patch 5.4, but instead experience a story that leads you there.
- Gamon is one of the more notable things in Orgrimmar, so he got an achievement: Gamon Will Save Us!
- Valor gear originally was added to complement normal difficulty raiding and filling in for bad luck. The Valor gear continued to work like that for normal difficulty raiders, but for players that just do LFR, it replaced the gear that dropped in LFR. Most of the gear that was best in slot for players that only do LFR was just purchased off a vendor, which isn't very exciting.
- The devs try to attract players to higher levels of difficulty by adding new things, rather than taking away old things. The new things that are being added aren't essential. People that don't manage to kill Garrosh on Flex, Normal, or Heroic and don't get their heirloom weapon will still be able to level just fine.
- Every spec in the game can get Gold in Proving Grounds for the appropriate role. Not every spec will be able to get deep into Endless. When comparing performance in Endless mode, it may be best to compare yourself to other players of the same class and spec rather than everyone.
- There are some players that won't do Brawler's Guild because they don't want to have other players watching them make mistakes.