Exclusive Interview with Greg Street

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5.1 came with two more factions and a few more daily quests. From now on we should expect only daily quests when a new factions is going to be introduced? Are there going to be some Scenario/Dungeon daily quests in the future?

GC: We know one of the biggest risks of dailies is burnout. You can only kill 12 Mogu so many times. We want to keep adding new dailies to keep it as fresh as we can, but that doesn’t have to mean it’s always in the same way or the same amount. For instance the 5.1 factions don’t have as many dailies per day as Golden Lotus and Klaxxi, which keeps it from feeling like we’re just doubling the number of dailies with every patch. With the expansion-launch factions we could have more available, but the new factions have a number of dailies we think is a more reasonable for a later patch.

We would consider scenarios and dungeon dailies, but there already is some motivation to do scenarios and dungeons every day and we don’t want to make them so attractive that there is no motivation to do the outdoor quests at all.

The idea behind Brawler Guild is pretty cool, and is nice to keep everything “hidden”, but I notices some people complaining about queue times for it. Are there going to be more arenas added for it?

GC: Brawlers’ Guild is a new kind of feature for us. One of the designers got excited about the idea, and a lot of other developers pitched in to make it happen. The vision of the feature though was that you go to this secret underground location in the cities and participate in a series of fights. We weren’t trying to recreate an instance experience – the game always has ton of those. We wanted combat, that you could see, to be frequently occuring in these areas. We understand that it would be more convenient for players to be able to burn through all of the fights as quickly as possible without having to worry about the inconvenience of other players. That’s just not what the feature is supposed to deliver. We like that players take their turns. It helps build up some of the excitement. We don’t think queue times are something we need to jump at and design a solution for, because it’s such a new feature it’s obviously going to be busy. Also one thing people may not know is that they’re prioritized in the queue if they haven’t fought that day, which means longer queues if they wiped and are looking for another shot. Like I said it’s not intended to be something to burn through in a single day, and that’s just the mentality a lot of people go after things with.

Regarding Brawler Guild again, if you go there as a group you can benefit from all the group buffs. Is this intended, because those going alone will have a big disadvantage?

GC: It is intended to be solo content (perhaps with a few others cheering you or the crocolisk on). If players aren’t being restricted to the solo limitation, then it’s probably a bug that we’ll fix, depending on the severity of the issue.

As it is now, it will take about 6 months to upgrade your gear fully. Is intended not to have all the gear pieces fully upgraded?

GC: We’re constantly trying to develop content faster, and I believe 5.1 was our fastest first expansion content patch – and 5.2 isn’t far behind. When you know content is coming soon it tends to deincentivize going for current upgrades because you know something better is right around the corner. If you aren’t an obsessive min-maxxer then you may decide that upgrading a peice like a bracer or belt just isn’t worth it if the next tier will be happening soon, and hopefully the tiers won’t be very far apart. Because of that the goal is still getting the best items you can, but it isn’t then this hardline division, and is instead a more consistent progression from patch to patch and expansion to expansion.

It's been mentioned numerous times that Blizzard wants to reward 25 man raiders for the extra effort required, any update on this? As far as I know there were/are some tests on the Asian realms…

GC: It will be interesting to see how EU and NA players respond to the Asian model, but really we weren’t trying to use Asia as an experiment. We were trying to provide what a lot of the players there say they want. Remember that the payment model there is pretty different from what EU and NA players are used to, which inherently effects how they digest the content.

As far as 25-player raids go, we absolutely want to offer some compensation for their increased logistical complexities. We don’t think that just having 25s offer higher ilevel rewards is the right answer, because then it just makes all of the 10 player guilds feel like they have to ramp up to 25. There isn’t an easy answer to the problem, but we’re going to keep working on it. We like 25 player raiding – in some ways it offers a better experience than 10s — and we don’t want to see it go away.

We can upgrade the quality of our battle pets now, which is great, but how about some pet gear?

GC: The original design we presented at BlizzCon had pet collars and gems for those collars. We pushed off that part of the design because we felt the feature already had plenty going on to the point of risking it being overwhelming. Once players get more comfortable with pet battles and it feels like they are starting to run out of content, we’ll evaluate whether bringing back the collar or if a gear idea makes sense.

How come the Brawler Guild is located within the main cities? I know you like people to be active in as many areas as possible. For example the Farm and Daily Hubs are great points of interest and it keeps the players scattered around Pandaria.

GC: The vision of the feature felt like it made sense to take place in an urban environment. They are underground fight clubs that would spring up in the dark underbelly of the cities. There is still a lot going on in Pandaria, the changes from Cataclysm as far as getting people out into the world appear to be pretty successful. We’re not in danger of players abandoning the new continent.

It was recently announced that some transmogrification restrictions are going to be lifted in the future. Can you explain more about this?

GC: Our plan (and like any long-term plans, it might not come to fruition) is to allow main-hand and off-hand items to be transmogrified to each other. We are also going to allow weapons that use the same animations to be used. This means specifically that one-handed axes, maces and swords can be transmogged to other one-handed axes, maces and swords and that two-handed axes, maces and swords can be transmogged to two-handed axes, maces and swords. In addition, staves and polearms can be transmogged. So for example you could have a one-handed axe look like a one-handed mace, but not a polearm look like a two-handed sword. We will probably continue to relax restrictions over time. It’s one of those things where we can take one misstep and never take it back, so we’re being pretty cautious with how we altar the transmog rules.

Golden Lotus is pretty much mandatory for players who want to gain reputation with Augustus Celestials and Shado-Pan. What’s the reason behind it?

GC: Both Golden Lotus and Klaxxi have a lot of quests per day, and the number grows over time in the case of Golden Lotus. We didn’t want players to feel compelled to do all of those quests AND do August Celestials and Shado-Pan, grinding away like crazy for weeks, and then run out of things to do. We just wanted to pace them out a little more. As we’ve said a little recently, we think we overdid the daily questing design just a bit. There is a razor’s edge between optional and mandatory, and the daily model leaned a little bit too much to the latter when players felt like they had to max quests every day in order to hit Revered as quickly as possible.

Lore-wise: Undercity was taken by the forsaken a long time ago now. Alliance did nothing to get it back. Why are King Varian not advancing and retaking the homeland? Yes, he is running a big campaign in Pandaria now, but I think the forsaken are pretty weak at the moment.

GC: Varian actually did make an attempt once already. Players who have played through Western Plaguelands since Cataclysm can see the result of a failed Alliance campaign to retake Lordaeron. Sylvannus, partially because of her activities in Gilneas, had just become more powerful than anyone expected. Players might also want to check out „Edge of Night” the Sylvannas short story written by our own Dave Kosak, where she (slight spoiler) has a vision of the Alliance rolling through Andorhal and up into Lordaeron if she’s not there.

For the moment, Varian is already having to fight in Pandaria, while seeing Kalimdor slowly slip through his fingers, so there are only so many places the Alliance forces can be at once. One imagines that in the King’s mind, once he wins Pandaria and reverses the Horde’s advances against the night elves and Theramore, that he will turn his attention once again to the fallen human city.

As a final question, if possible, what should we expect from Black Prince future quests?

GC: Wrathion is very much planning for a long term battle. The current „squabble” over Pandaria is just a distraction that he wants resolved as soon as possible, with your help, to focus on things he believes really matter. Players can expect for Wrathion to call upon them every content patch, at least in this expansion, in return for increasingly more powerful rewards.

Why is Dark Intent inferior to Arcane Brilliance?

GC: We balance class buffs around the whole class, and not 1:1 skill comparisons. Arcane Brilliance provides spell power and crit, but warlocks can also bring the Stamina buff in addition to Dark Intent.

Comparing horde racials with the alliance ones, and seeing how some top guilds switched to horde, we can say horde is once again one step ahead.

Can we see some racials fixes in the future?

GC: The design intent for racials is to provide a small amount of flavor and not be the major motivation for picking a certain race. Keep in mind that top guilds are trying to conquer raids as fast as possible, meaning they are approaching the encounters with much less powerful gear than the encounters are designed around. In that environment, every tiny bonus out there counts. They’re going to be doing things that even the higher tier progression guilds that are playing and gearing normally don’t need to consider. If we see more mainstream players swapping races just for racials, then we’d likely take action.

Sha-Touched sockets are going to be for weapons only? Because some Heroic Elite weapons are better than Sha-Touched ones.

GC: I believe the only weapon in contention is Regail’s Crackling Dagger. Very few guilds will have access to the heroic version of this weapon. It’s possible some casters in normal may use this weapon instead of a sha-touched one, but we think that will be short-lived until players get farther along the 5.1 quest chain. We don’t think there is much danger of raiding players ignoring the legendary quest line.

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  • Zaknafein

    You forgot to ask him how awesome i am!