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Design Insights with Ben Brode - The Dark Side of Releasing New Content

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Dev Interviews
Gamereactor recently published an interview from Gamescom. The highlights are below, but be sure to watch the full thing for additional context.

General
  • The team is never sure if they are giving out too little, enough, or too much information.
  • When sharing new information, the team has to consider if they are setting themselves up for trouble later on if they end up unable to do something they talked about previously.
  • They have been trying to tie expansions together better, rather than having disconnected chunks of content. This is why Garrosh led us into Warlords and Gul'dan led us into Legion.
  • Once the team had settled on the concept of Legion, they couldn't think of a better time to add Demon Hunters.
  • The Tomb of Sargeras was the anchor for the Broken Isles. The places and cultures related to it were then considered. The Tomb was a temple to Elune, surrounded by Night Elf civilization. That felt like a good direction to go, especially after all of the Orcs.
  • The complaints about Orcs didn't go unheard, but the team knew a change of pace was coming with Legion.
  • The art team does a great job of designing art that captures the fantasy of each expansion. This time, there was the expansion reveal art, Illidan fighting Gul'dan, and some more art for Blizzcon. All of this art together defines the iconic look for the expansion.
  • The team is looking at all of the player feedback to see what players are most excited about and affirming that they are on the right track.

Development Timeline
  • Legion had been worked on for over a year before the announcement.
  • The idea for Legion is several years old. The team was planning out several expansions and trying to decide the order of Legion and Warlords of Draenor back in 2012.
  • There were already two zones in production at last year's Gamescom.
  • The team is already well in process on the expansion after Legion.
  • The internal alpha is still ongoing at the office in preparation for beta.

Quantity and Quality of Content
  • Subscriber numbers will always fluctuate. The team tries to focus on making sure that players are happy, having fun, and excited about the game.
  • When players feel like the team isn't doing a good enough job delivering content, the rate of content being added, the quality of content being added, or the type of content being added, that is what the team will focus on.
  • There are a lot of things that influence subscriber numbers and some of them aren't under Blizzard's control.
  • It is hard to look at World of Warcraft and say that the game isn't big enough or doesn't have enough stuff. It is a question of how the team uses the existing stuff, how replayable things are, how the progression and reward systems line up to create a satisfying experience, are players social enough, is there a good mix of single player and social activities. The way content is used is more important than the quantity produced.
  • The team is committed to quality, but it can't come at the expense of quantity and getting things in player's hands. If the team is spending a long time to make something perfect and players are starving for content, that isn't doing the right thing.
  • The team needs to give players a reason to keep playing the content that they enjoy, as well as giving them more to do.

Progression
  • Progression is a huge part of the game. When progression is done well, the game does better and people are happier and having more fun.
  • Players often say they have the most fun during the start of the expansion when there is so much to do. After that the progression options narrow, as the main focus is on increasing your item level. Artifacts are an alternative path that keep things interesting and relevant.


Blue Tweets
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Please stop making digsites that are split in 2. Make them one big area, because this kind of thing...
FYI, this is a bug that is new to 6.2.2 - definitely not intended. http://t.co/fgy6KA7YAj (WatcherDev)

Are shipyard equipment plans now account wide? My most recent arrival in tanaan seems to have some unexpectedly unlocked.
They are indeed. (WarcraftDevs)

Ghostcrawler Tweets
Ghostcrawler still occasionally talks about WoW. Remember that he no longer works for or speaks for Blizzard.
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
I really have hard time believing that throwing money at artists won't solve the art issue. Even with high standards ..
Recruiting is a slow process as long as you value your company culture. Money can only speed that up so much. (OccupyGStreet)



Heroes of the Storm - eSports Site
Blizzard has launched a dedicated Heroes of the Storm E-Sports website, with schedule and news posts about the competitive scene, and a video explaining how the 2015 World Championship is structured.





Diablo II Development Recap
US Gamer has a nice interview with some of the Diablo II developers about the time they spent developing the game and Patch 1.10.

This article was originally published in forum thread: Legion Dev Interview, Tweets, Heroes eSports Site, Diablo II Development Recap started by chaud View original post
Comments 85 Comments
  1. Jokerfiend's Avatar
    Legion had been worked on for over a year before the announcement.

    No excuses then. Wait...
  1. VanillaCream's Avatar
    They somehow managed not to give one straight answer to any of the important questions, that's quite impressive.
  1. Rawrajishxc's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Jokerfiend View Post
    Legion had been worked on for over a year before the announcement.

    No excuses then. Wait...
    lol A year working on it for a bunch of I don't knows and not sures on half of their new features and designs.
  1. Polarthief's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Vidget View Post
    They somehow managed not to give one straight answer to any of the important questions, that's quite impressive.
    They've done that for years now. It's not really impressive anymore, just expected.

    I'm tired of hearing nothing about Legion though, I want to hear what else we'll be doing, what other features and content will there be? So far it's more or less the same as WoD, with less Garrison crap and more monotonous grinding for the Artifact. Like yeah the traits will be cool and all, but it's not going to last me a year or two, and if they TRY to stretch it out for the entire expansion, about 99% of players will end up getting bored and burnt out of leveling the damn thing, especially when you have to level 2-4 of them if you want all your specs to have their maxed Artifacts too.

    When sharing new information, the team has to consider if they are setting themselves up for trouble later on if they end up unable to do something they talked about previously.
    Oh, did they finally realize that all the hyped up bullshit for Warlords that never got added didn't work? Yeah you sold ~10M copies, then you lost half your playerbase in a measly 6 months, and you got another 6-12 months to go until your next expansion drops with ZERO content being added in between that time period.
  1. Arvandor's Avatar
    "The art team does a great job of designing art that captures the fantasy of each expansion..."

    what was it for wod?

    crap look with shit brilliance?
  1. Cavox's Avatar
    I honestly don't care about what lies and generic PR talk "devs" dribble during their interviews.
    They repeat pretty much the same shit before each expansion and we end up with 2 filler x-packs now.

    B-but it's all right as long as it was a "learning experience" for them, right?
    Sure, and having 4 years of the game with plummeting playerbase and so fucking uninteresting story about Mary Sues defending the world with the power of friendship is small price to pay for that.

    At this point I'm not even compelled to buy Legion. NOTHING they showed so far has as much as rised my eyebrow thinking "it looks fun".


    Also HotS an esport?
    lol... or should I say "LoL".
    You have to tripple that prize at least to make people interested in your oversimplified MOBA.
  1. UcanDoSht's Avatar
    Why even release another GamesCom interview 1 months after the GC? And why do they have different information than the 20 interviews we heard directly after the GC? Not like this interview contained much besides more evading of real concerns.
  1. Antermosiph's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Cavox View Post
    I honestly don't care about what lies and generic PR talk "devs" dribble during their interviews.
    They repeat pretty much the same shit before each expansion and we end up with 2 filler x-packs now.

    B-but it's all right as long as it was a "learning experience" for them, right?
    Sure, and having 4 years of the game with plummeting playerbase and so fucking uninteresting story about Mary Sues defending the world with the power of friendship is small price to pay for that.

    At this point I'm not even compelled to buy Legion. NOTHING they showed so far has as much as rised my eyebrow thinking "it looks fun".


    Also HotS an esport?
    lol... or should I say "LoL".
    You have to tripple that prize at least to make people interested in your oversimplified MOBA.
    I think he worst part on HotS is how horribly balanced and absurdly snowbally it is. No way something like that could be a serious E-sport...
  1. Vaeladin's Avatar
    Quality MMO-Champion comments.
  1. kamuimac's Avatar
    The team is already well in process on the expansion after Legion.
    and hype train for legion not only died by started to rot - this sentence means legion will be exact same shit as wod - they said exact same thing about wod and how did it end up ? utter shit.

    instead spend next year polishing legion and adding content to it they will be misguiding everybody with elusive "we work on next expansion already" - nobody cares about next expansion we care about legion so it doesnt end up being complete garbage like wod.

    When players feel like the team isn't doing a good enough job delivering content, the rate of content being added, the quality of content being added, or the type of content being added, that is what the team will focus on.
    hahahahaa bull f.... s.... - we have been telling them for past 3 years about dungeons and we didnt get any new after launch

    There are a lot of things that influence subscriber numbers and some of them aren't under Blizzard's control.
    ye duh ofc there is and main this which influences it in wod is absolute total lack of content
  1. Ferbian's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by UcanDoSht View Post
    Why even release another GamesCom interview 1 months after the GC? And why do they have different information than the 20 interviews we heard directly after the GC? Not like this interview contained much besides more evading of real concerns.
    TIL GamesReactor = Gamescom.
  1. mystery8's Avatar
    When they say they're already well into development on the next expansion, it worries me a bit that they're going to cut Legion short too.

    I realize there's concept art, ideas, lore stuff, etc. that is being fleshed out now for the post-legion expansion. But I also remember that a lot of content got cut from Warlords so that it could be released in a timely manner and then they tell us that many people were already working on Legion before Warlords release. People that could've helped keep that Warlords content in?

    I've lost a lot of faith. My concern is that Legion will come out with like 80% of what we expected, we'll get a patch or two and then sit back and wait for the next expansion again. When they said t hey wanted faster expansions I thought that meant the big gap between the last content patch and the next xpac was going to shrink. I didn't think they'd just cut out a bunch of content and just leave that gap there.
  1. Spirthealer's Avatar
    All blizzard is left with is, trying to cover there ass with, ow we can't tell u much because we like to scrape content and u don't like been F'ed over when we ask for me money and give less content each X-pack ..... Blizzard trying to lie again...
  1. Draculla's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by mystery8 View Post
    When they say they're already well into development on the next expansion, it worries me a bit that they're going to cut Legion short too.
    They´ve already confirmed during last Blizzcon interviews, that they are heading into 2-patch expansions rather than do 4 patches. They´ve said that making another raid will take 10 months of time and that will slow down development of the next expansion. So We will wait 14 months or more for another content if there will be 4 patch expansion. It´s sad but true
  1. Polarthief's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Antermosiph View Post
    I think he worst part on HotS is how horribly balanced and absurdly snowbally it is. No way something like that could be a serious E-sport...
    Lol, you just described every MOBA ever.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draculla View Post
    They´ve already confirmed during last Blizzcon interviews, that they are heading into 2-patch expansions rather than do 4 patches. They´ve said that making another raid will take 10 months of time and that will slow down development of the next expansion. So We will wait 14 months or more for another content if there will be 4 patch expansion. It´s sad but true
    What I don't understand is why it's still taking an obscene amount of time to release the next expansion though. If Legion is to be assumed a Q1 release, that's ~7-9 months after Patch 6.2, and if it's a Q2 release, that's ~10-12 months!

    PS: There's no way for a Q4 2015 release. You're on drugs if you think it's happening, or it'll be VERY rushed and unfinished (even moreso than WoD was).
  1. Rioo's Avatar
    Wow that was a lot of words not saying anything really.
  1. Polarthief's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Rioo View Post
    Wow that was a lot of words not saying anything really.
    Are you that surprised though? Blizzard's simply gone too corporate. Sad but true and everyone needs to realize it or they're gonna be upset forever.
  1. Groldon's Avatar
    We just dont have the resources guys
  1. mystery8's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Draculla View Post
    They´ve already confirmed during last Blizzcon interviews, that they are heading into 2-patch expansions rather than do 4 patches. They´ve said that making another raid will take 10 months of time and that will slow down development of the next expansion. So We will wait 14 months or more for another content if there will be 4 patch expansion. It´s sad but true
    And I'd be okay with that if those patches had a bit more substance. Patch 6.1 and 6.2 weren't very impressive. I'd also be okay if there wasn't the huge gap between expansions. I "finished" Tanaan Jungle within a month. I haven't downed Hellfire Citadel on every difficulty or collected every single battle pet and achievement, but those aren't really what I'm looking for. I like doing the pets and achievements on the side when waiting in queue.

    In previous expansions Alts were what usually kept me going at this point. But I don't even have fun doing those anymore. The artifacts in Legion might make me more interested in playing my alts though.
  1. Roudene's Avatar
    The team is already well in process on the expansion after Legion.
    They haven't learnt the lesson.

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