World of WarCraft: Cataclysm with Tom Chilton
I may have recently broken my PC cherry by reviewing StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, and I may have even increased my limited knowledge of Blizzard's product portfolio during this morning's Diablo III question and answer session at Gamescom. But facing World of WarCraft lead designer Tom Chilton with trembling voice recorder in hand, I hoped he'd be gentle as I attempted to gather information on upcoming expansion Cataclysm while asking whether it's ever too late to join the Horde alliance?
Hi Tom, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. How are things shaping up with Cataclysm?
Things are coming on very well. We're doing lots more changes for the Cataclysm expansion than we ever have before. There's tons of new content, and lots of revamping of old content to bring it up to our current quality standards. There's still a lot of polishing and the fixing of bugs left to do, but I think it looks like it's all coming together pretty well.
Strong feedback from the community?
Oh, absolutely, we always get strong feedback. (laughs)
Okay, how about positive feedback?
Yeah, definitely a lot of positive feedback. People really seem to like the zones where we've kind of gone back and redone, and also the new content we've introduced. And then there's good feedback on the changes we've made. Plus there's always, you know, pretty good feedback like "I'd rather this be changed like this," and "or that to be like that." That's all stuff we need to hear as part of the process and we need to react to and iterate on.
Can you tell us as a little about the new races introduced in this expansion?
Absolutely. We've got the Worgen and the Goblin races. The Goblins are intended to add the smaller, more comical race to what is normally the big, brutish Horde faction. And the Worgen are the werewolves, the wolfmen, that are kind of intended to do the opposite for the Alliance faction, where they bring the ferocity that the Alliance doesn't have right now. Not only are they intended to counterbalance each other, but also counterbalance the factions they are going to be a part of.
What other major new enhancements and improvements have been made for Cataclysm?
Well, not only do we have the new content that we're adding to the game, to get players from level 80 to level 85, we've also gone back and essentially redone the vast majority of the level one to 60 traits, because over time we've gotten better and better at making more enthralling content and have a greater understanding about what the game's all about and how it plays. We've also, over time, gotten better tools and access to better technology than we used to.
The content we're making now tends to be a lot better than the content we were making six years ago. So, taking this opportunity to go back and redo a lot of that stuff we made six years ago and bring it up to today's quality standards - it should be another one of our major features that's really compelling for players.
We're also introducing new guild and rated-battleground features, which are essentially for players who've been playing the game for a long time. They are new ways for them to experience the game and new ways for them to compete against each other, stuff like that.
What led to the decision to only increase the level cap from 80 to 85?
Any time we raise the level cap, we have to make sure that we also raise it in a way that makes sense for the amount of content we're creating to go along with it. And, in this situation, we took more of a two-pronged approach, where we're adding to the end of the game but also revamping a lot of the stuff we've done in the past.
Because of that we went with adding the five levels instead of adding the 10 levels we've added in other expansions, and then we focused the rest of our efforts on improving that early game experience so not only is it more fun for players creating new characters for the second, third, fifth time, or whatever - tenth in some cases - it's also a more compelling experience for people who haven't played the game before and are starting to get into it.