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Mists of Pandaria Interview with Rob Pardo
We had the opportunity to talk to Rob Pardo (Chief Creative Officer) at the Mists of Pandaria Launch event.
Originally Posted by Blizzard EntertainmentQ: Mists of Pandaria just launched, how are you feeling?
A: Very excited, it's pretty awesome to get the next World of Warcraft expansion in the hands of the players.
Q: It's almost 8 years old; are you finding it increasingly difficult to add players and get new players?
A: Not really. I do think that you see less new players, but at the same time there are still a lot of people out there that are still playing when the game has been out so long. I think you might even start seeing another generation of players start coming in to WoW.
Q: Does it get easier to develop more expansions as time goes on?
A: It never gets easier to make games. We always say, "Making games is hard, and the next expansion is going to be just as hard as the one before that, which is just as hard as the one before that one".
Q: What is your favorite feature of Mists of Pandaria?
A: Pandas. How can that not be your favorite feature? We have been wanting to add Pandaren to the game since before World of Warcraft launched, ever since Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne when we added the Brewmaster. We knew that one of these days we were going to put Pandaren into World of Warcraft.
Q: If you had unlimited resources and unlimited funds, what would you add to World of Warcraft?
A: That is an interesting question. I think if we could just wave our magic wand it would be really great to up the graphic fidelity of the entire game and get it up to where the other games are at these days. I think World of Warcraft ages really well, but it still ages. I think people would be really excited if we were able to bring that up to modern day graphics standards.
Q: You have improved Battle.net considerably over the past year. Do you feel that you are done with the upgrades, or do you have more plans to upgrade the platform?
A: I don't think we will ever be done with upgrades. Battle.net has been around for about 15 years now. It's something that we are always going to be adding to. As new technology becomes available and as other platforms add things, we are always going to add features to stay cutting edge with our own platform.
Q: How did the design philosophy of online gaming change over the past years? I assume the players today are very different from the ones who played 8 years ago.
A: Yeah, I think the biggest thing is you are seeing online games really become popular. I think if you look back when World of Warcraft came out, a lot of people at the time felt like "This is going to be a niche game. How many people have constant internet connections and want to play a game all the time on the internet". I think that obviously has been proven to be false. Nowadays with the explosion of social gaming and mobile gaming, pretty much every game nowadays is online in some way or another. I think you are seeing players that now expect it rather than it being a bonus feature on the back of the box.
Q: The beta test for Heart of the Swarm started a few weeks ago, do you think the expansion will be enough to bring back players who left a while back?
A: Yeah, absolutely. I think a lot of people that may have left earlier in Starcraft will want to see the next part of the trilogy. In the very beginning we designed Starcraft 2 to be this big and epic trilogy that allowed you to play through the entire storyline. For the multiplayer focused people we are obviously adding a lot to the game. If you look back to the original Starcraft, it hit its stride after Brood War. Hopefully we can do the same thing with the Heart of the Swarm.
Q: People are still wondering what the Titan project could be. Do you know when we’ll get more information on the subject? How many people are working on the project at this point?
A: Titan? What's that? It's still moving along. I don't want to get anyone's hopes up that it is around the corner or anything, it is a very big project, it has a long way to go. I don't really know when we are going to start releasing more information. We are definitely in the middle of development at this point. The team is over 100 people now.
Q: I heard a rumor that you have been developing it for six years now, is that correct?
A: I'd have to think about that one. I guess it depends on how you look at such things, because when we first started the team, we started really small. We start with a couple of people and talk about the concept and draw some concept art. It definitely has not been in core development for that long. I'd say core development was closer to four years, but even that was with a smaller team.
Q: Diablo 3 sold very well but received mixed reception at release because of various problems. Blizzard worked really hard and greatly improved the game over the last few months but do you feel that the launch was rushed? Would you hold it a few more months if you had to do it again?
A: The tricky thing about the Diablo 3 launch was the new codebase. Diablo 3 was a whole new engine and Battle.net had just done a new major revision. It is very hard with the way that we launch games with millions and millions of players to test it. We had hundreds of thousands of players in the open beta without a lot of problems, but when we launched the game we had ten or twenty times that amount of players. Lots of things show up with that many players that don't show up with one tenth of them. I'm not sure holding it back would have uncovered a lot of those things. If you think back to World of Warcraft it was very similar. It was a whole new engine and battle.net platform, so it took us a while to plug all of the leaks and get the game completely stable.
Q: Players keep asking again and again when we will get updated player models, is it still on the list and do you have any idea when and how you'll release those? How big of a challenge is it?
A: It's still on the list. It's not something that we are looking at doing really soon. It's something that our art director has been doing some R&D on and we have been talking a lot about. The challenges... How many player models do you upgrade? Do you upgrade them all at the same time? Do you do them over time? There's also the issue of, do we up the system requirements? Do we make it part of a patch? Do we make it part of an expansion? There are lots of unknowns still out there, but it is something that we would really like to do.
Q: One of the biggest problem after Wrath of the Lich King was the 1 year gap between the last patch and the new expansion, causing a lot of players to leave. The gap was slightly smaller after Cataclysm but still significant. Are you working to reduce it further or do you think you're in a good spot now?
A: I think we still have to find a way to get content out faster. Ever since we shipped World of Warcraft, we have been going about half as fast as we would like to go. There's a lot of different reasons for that. A lot of people suggest hiring more developers. Well, we are very picky and it takes us a while to hire developers that really add to the content of the game. Also, over time it has gotten a little bit slower to make content we have made the content more complex. Our encounters got more complex, the art is higher resolution, even our quests have had a lot added to them. As we have added people, we have added quality rather than to the speed of the content. It is something we need to really try to do better, and hopefully we can do that with the next cycle.
Q: Now that we're a few months away from the release of Diablo 3, can you tell us how the real money auction house worked out for Blizzard? Are you happy with the feature and how it was received by players? Would you consider adding the same feature to new games, or even existing games?
A: I would say that internally the way we look at the feature right now is mixed. I think it was really a big experiment and it is something that I think has done really well in some ways and in some ways has really changed the game a lot. I think it gets to be a very complex answer, because there is the component that is the real money auction house and there is the part that is the auction house.
When you see a lot of complaints on the forums, they are talking about how it has gotten so easy to skip to the best items in the game and how it devalues your progression or advancement. A lot of that would happen with any sort of auction house, even if you are paying gold you have that same sort of feeling. You have to separate that from the real money component of it, which also has its own unique issues.
Anyone that plays the game now looks at items with a dollar sign attached. With all of the different games out there that have microtransactions that is more acceptable, but in some peoples' minds it has damaged the purity of the game. One of the main reasons why we did it is that we knew there was going to be a lot of third party auction sites out there. We felt like it is already going to exist so we would rather give players a more safe and secure way of doing that. I think in that way it has been successful. We are really talking a lot internally though about the right way to evolve or iterate on the auction house.
Interview with Team FS, First Level 90
FS of Ravencrest was able to reach level 90 within a few hours of Mists of Pandaria release, but was then reset to level 87. Athene was able to talk to someone involved with the effort about how it worked and the community's reaction.
There are free character transfers away from several high population realms. (US and EU)
Originally Posted by Blizzard EntertainmentRealm Queues
Or considering you're the largest MMO in the entire world, you could upgrade your servers? Disgusting idea, I know.
Money doesn't buy infinite technology. I hope this is understood. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Spec Specific Quest Rewards
What's the point of this? I don't understand why I can't do my questing as ret but still gear up my prot/holy sets on my pally, or work on my druid's tank gear while questing as balance. Would it be so hard to allow access to all gear that would be appropriate for your class, instead of just your spec, instead of making people respec every time they turn in quests?
The goal was to make choosing rewards a bit more streamlined, so that each reward that you see when you turn in a quest is potentially good for you. After all, as you're leveling, it's not a bad idea to pick up gear that makes your leveling spec more powerful. It's also worth noting that the more powerful rare-quality items awarded by major capstone quests will usually offer you choices that include all the specs available to your class, since we figured that those items would probably be a bit more permanent. If we offer epic quest rewards at maximum level, those too would most likely offer a variety of spec options.
If you're experiencing any issues getting a healing or tanking set together, there are vendors in Jade Forest, Valley of the Four Winds and Townlong Steppes that sell sets of armor, so you can 'catch up' on pieces you might have missed. There's an emphasis on healing and tanking in those sets too; though they're a bit weaker than the quest rewards that were offered in previous zones so that they don't render quest rewards inconsequential. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Pet Battles Forum
We've just opened up a Pet Battles forum here- http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/7388394/
We felt it might be nice to have a go to spot for everyone to discuss their teams, tips, and tricks. Feel free to head over there for all of your Pet Battle Discussions and enjoy! (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Cross-Realm Zones in Mists of Pandaria
Just to follow-up, we're looking into reports of any unexpected behaviors with the Cross-Realm Zone sharing to make sure there aren't any from how the intended design should be.
As always, the feedback has been appreciated from everyone.
I did verify that it will most likely pull players to the highest level person's realm/realm type. Though there are potential exceptions that could affect it. We're continuing to monitor feedback and should we have anything more to share, we will. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Some things are handled server-side, some are handled client-side. Can't hotfix a client-side issue as that requires a new client build.
This pretty much sums it up. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Originally Posted by Blizzard EntertainmentI don't want to sound like an asshole here, but statistically speaking, "my friends and I feel X" is not the same as "everyone feels X."
But it is suggestive of same. Equivalent statement to “preliminary data suggest ___, which warrants further examination.”
Also a common argument, but when scientists say that, they *have* data but are being cautious. Anecdotes are not data.
Agree, but it’s not black and white. Between unknown and known is a vast middle ground where we may guess.
Totally agree. A great part of this job is making calls with very little information, with all the risk that entails.
Also especially misleading in WoW since virtually all the discussion takes place in little echo chambers.
So, so true. We even catch ourselves forgetting that sometimes.
We're working hard to restore the Pandaria soundtrack to the iTunes Store; it was up briefly, then iTunes pulled it for a meta-data tweak. Audio quality is not affected for those of you who managed to grab a copy before it was pulled. I hope iTunes reposts it ASAP!
Does Lead Systems Designer mean Pet Battles are in your jurisdiction as well? I would assume so, but I figured to check.
Pet Battles are an unusual feature in that so many people worked on them. They are without jurisdiction.
Any plans to make the black market AH a part of the remote ah? Just seems like it would help encourage more bidding this way.
We'll see, but at the moment we like the potential for PvP on PvP realms outside of the Black Market pavilion.
Can we do Challenge Modes Cross-realm?
You can do Challenges w/ Real ID/BattleTag friends. Notice the asterisks by names on the Realm Leaderboard.
I'm not sure I like the trend of the 'zerg'. I miss the old days of CC and letting the healer get mana before the next pull.
Not going to be able to zerg unless you're capable of gold attempts. It's not the concept. CC, good pulls & play are priority.
I hope that is the way it will work. I got really tired of healing pugs that zerg. Can't heal without mana people!
Well, there's no LFD either. Ideally your group isn't so random it's considered a PuG, even if formed through public chat.
Will there still be an advantage for raiders in raid gear for challenges? I would love to focus on cmode but have no time to raid
No. Unless they're at hit cap and you're not. iLvL will be scaled down to heroic dungeon blue level. Set bonuses deactivated.
I remember reading trinkets will be enabled. Will proc/use effect power be scaled down as well?
If you guys add more dungeons in patches... I think it would be a great idea to add more gold tmog. Like maybe weapons? Recolors?
That's certainly a possibility if the feature ends up being really popular.
"Guild" run is defined as 80% of raid, so 8/10 for 10 man and 20/25 for 25. But what is a guild run for world bosses realm firsts?
8 members. Good luck!
Is there any chance we can get a search feature for mounts like there is for battle pets? i have 100+! hard to find the right one
Working on it for 5.1.
What are population imbalanced players supposed to do on a pvp server. It's so bad on Sargeras horde can't quest
We might offer faction-specific transfers in the future. Right now we're focused on realms w/ queues.
Both character level & how many people from each realm are in the group seems to matter when selecting the realm in a cross-relam party.
Correct. And what each realm ruleset is. That has priority in the algorithm over level/realm.
Many MANY thanks for all the kind words as Mists goes live! I'm thrilled to be a part of such an amazing team. Jade Serpent guide you!
Jade Serpent's statue kinda blew up. It the best guide?
Kinda says a lot about her that she still gives the player a chance after that
Monk (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
Can you give us PVPers some light on the incredibly OP monk 4pc set bonus 'touch of death'? I have concerns.
If your health is that low in PvP, the monk was going to kill you anyway. One of those bonuses that sounds more OP than it is.
Paladin (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
Do you have any reports of threat issues, or any plans underway to modify current threat levels? Primarily in Paladins
We have received very little feedback that threat could be a problem. What's up?
Rogue (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
The best rogue ever swapped to warrior is this what you want all rogues to do? is that the secret?
Works both ways though. Will it make warriors acknowledge they might be fine for PvP? Unlikely.
What does it matter if the best rogue ever switched to warrior. maybe warrior suited his playstyle better?
I haven't asked him, but I certainly haven't stuck with the same class for 8 years. Players sometimes over interpret omens.
Warrior (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
Execute still hits ridiculously hard. Many warriors were asking for it do be nerfed.
Are they stupid? It's a finishing move for a reason
We totally agree it was puny in Cataclysm. It isn't in MoP and it won't be even with this change. We have a lot of room still.
Blizzard Devs Discuss the Mists of Pandaria Release
Blizzard Entertainment Chief Storyteller Chris Metzen and World of Warcraft Art Director Chris Robinson talked about Mists of Pandaria on the night before release.