Dragonflight Group Interview with Ion Hazzikostas - Design Goals & Lessons Learned, Player Housing, Dracthyr
Our sister site Fanbyte was part of a group interview with Game Director Ion Hazzikostas which answered many questions about Dragonflight! Topics includes the Talent Trees, design goals of the expansion, lessons learned from Classic WoW and Shadowlands, player housing, Dracthyr and much more.
Questions from this interview were asked by
Dragonflight Expansion Reveal
Encrypted Dragonflight Build
Dragonflight Memes Roundup
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Preorders Not Yet Available
Art and Visual Updates
Gray and White Transmog
Tuskarr Otter Mount
Evoker Class Color
More Dracthyr Customizations
Dracthyr Customizations and Animations
Primalist Tier Classes
Primalist Tier Set Concept Art
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Dragonriding Replaces Flying
Reputation from Renown
Mythic+ Dungeon Rotation
Old Dungeons in Mythic+
Dragonriding Replaces Flying
Dragonriding Flying System
Dracthyr Evoker Class/Race Combo
Dragon Isles Zones
Customizable UI/HUD Overhaul
WoD PvP Gearing Returns
Profession Systems Revamp
Talent Tree FAQ
Talent Tree Redesign
Talent System Revamp
Leveling and Chrome Time
Trasmog Common-Quality Items
Solo Shuffle Covered to Rated Solo Queue
WellPlayed Interview - Dragon Riding Customization
Hazel Interview - Renown & Accessibility
Judgehype Interview - Pre-Patch, Mythic+
AusGamers Interview - Exploration & Dragonriding
IGN Interview - Master Loot, Great Vault
Dragonflight Group Interview with Ion Hazzikostas
Here's a brief summary of some of the key takeaways from this group interview.
Blizzard has learned that barriers that try to dissuade activity essentially just become annoying hurdles that players have to overcome in 2022 that players just overcome. This has influenced the design of Dragonflight as players now play video games differently in 2022.
Talent Trees will include Covenant abilities and even Shadowlands Legendaries. What will show up there will be influenced from the community as we continue to Alpha.
They're looking to convert Solo Shuffle into a Rated Solo Queue with rating and rewards.
It may be possible for Dracthyr to become other classes in the future, but that's not where the story is starting in Dragonflight.
Player Housing is discussed a lot, and there's interest in it. They're excited about it and hope to deliver it at some point but it's not part of Dragonflight.
Design Goals & Lessons Learned
You mentioned previously how players have changed the way they play games, how has this directly affected Dragonflight and alt-catch up in Dragonflight?
On the alts front in particular, it's really an extension and continuation of some of the philosophies that we've talked about a lot in Shadowlands Patch 9.1.5 last fall and carried forward into Eternity's End. The way we originally conceived so many of our WoW systems and investment choices as things that existed on a character level, what is your character's journey through the world. Increasingly what we've heard from our players, particularly as they play more alts, no it's me, the player behind the keyboard, it's my journey and I've already done this thing once on my Warrior and making me do it again on my Mage, okay it makes sense for my Mage to have that journey but I the player don't want to repeat because I enjoyed it the first time and don't want to do it a second. That's really taking a step back and re-examining a lot of what we do and through that lens, has led to allowing skips, opening up options and turning things that are mandatory on your first character into things that you can choose whether or not you want to do on subsequent characters and we want to carry all of that forward into building Dragonflight from the ground up. So things like access to content and cosmetics and utility, all of that feels like it should be account wide. Linear narrative arcs are best experienced the first time, if you want to replay them on other characters, great, but we don't want to force you to do that in order to access content or other key rewards or systems. The thing that remains a core character thing is gear progression, getting your items, leveling that up, mastering your role, mastering the gameplay of that class to earn better and more powerful rewards. All the rest, we're shifting increasingly towards an account-wide space.
Other way I think in terms of how players play games in general, there's no question that min-maxing and internet resources and seeking out the solved right way to do things is what's increasingly expected at all levels of gameplay, even by players who self identify as casual will still go to Icy Veins, go to Wowhead to learn how they should be playing and we always need to bear that in mind when we design any of our systems. I think when we create the talent system, having seen how a whole new generation of players played through out 2004 Classic talents or 2007 Burning Crusade talents, we understand that this isn't really about asking you with the expectation that you're going to figure out how to play your class and come up with your own unique playstyle. Some people will enjoy that, but they're frankly a minority. A lot of people are going to go and read goodies and see what the pros are doing and see what experts in PvP or Mythic+ are doing and be inspired by them. What we want to still make sure there's room for is customization and most importantly flexibility in switching between different gameplay modes. I think the past, World of Warcraft very often relied on friction to lock people into choices or maybe not firmly lock but discourage people from switching because there was a cost you would pay. Looking back at the old school talent system from Classic, the escalating respec cost was one of the thing that inspired our approach to things like respeccing your Azerite Armor or switching Covenants or whatever else in recent expansions, but what we saw was that when players played Classic in 2019, they just farmed up the gold and respecced constantly and felt like they still needed to be optimal in whatever they were doing. They didn't pick a Hybrid build that was sort of ok at PvP and at raiding, they switched between the builds that were best for each and what was meant to dissuade activity, just became this really annoying hurdle that you had to spend extra often unenjoyable time to clear and so recognizing that that's how players are going to approach those hurdles, they're not going to turn away from them, they're going to do whatever it takes to go over them even if it makes the game less fun, well maybe we should build fewer of them. So our Dragonflight talent system will have multiple loadouts that you can customize and lock-in in town. You can have your Mythic+ build, your PvP build, your Raid DPS build and just swap them on the fly when you're out in the field, obviously not while in the middle of combat but otherwise without restriction, without an escalating cost. Play the game you want to play, the way you want to play it.
What ended up being known as “borrowed power” tended to be additional endgame leveling mechanics. If you’re moving away from that, what do you have planned for endgame this time around?
At its core, gear, customizing that gear, upgrading that gear. I think the way the game plays out right now in Shadowlands, in Eternity's End, in Zereth Mortis. We didn't really add new Renown levels or traits to unlock on your Soulbinds, but the progression feels pretty good, pretty robust. Players have goals to work towards and I think in terms of novelty, there's going to be a whole lot to play with just from the talent system and the fundamental changes that brings. As we move on, I think we have hooks in place in our Talent system to potentially explore other avenues once we're really kinda happy with the foundation that we've built. Such as for example, we could conceivably have some additional talent points that could be earned post max level within the expansion, that's not something we're going to do right at launch but in later patches, it certainly is an option that's on the table for additional progression and customization that isn't borrowed power but is just yours and your character's powers. Or alternate abilities for itemization to hook into the talent system, kind of like we saw the Relic do for the Artifact system in Legion or like how old school Diablo II items might give you +1 rank to a specific talent, our system is being built with those hooks in place so that we don't want to overcomplicate things at the start but we also want to make sure there's a lot of room for growth and depth in what we're building.
How much of the success of WoW Classic has influenced Dragonflight?
I alluded to this a little earlier, but some of it is the evolution of the Talent system and kind of realizing a direct comparison of the direct strengths and weaknesses of how modern players played through the 15 year old system versus what our current Shadowlands era system was doing and helping guide us towards what hopefully is the best of both worlds that offers the depth and customization of the original system and the flexibility that players have come to embrace in the Shadowlands system. Again, as I was mentioning earlier, players play games differently, players play World of Warcraft differently and the exact same data and the exact same designs led to one type of behavior 16 years ago, lead to different behaviors today. Back to 2005, touched on this earlier, it was exceeding uncommon for you to respec a lot. People would sometimes, I remember myself, I would wait for a Patch because Blizzard would clear my talents for free because gold was so scarce, people didn't know how to make it as well. The idea of spending 25 gold just to move a couple talent points around seemed insane and so you used hybrid builds, you used a build that had talents that did nothing for your current activity was, because you also wanted to jump into Warsong Gulch with that same build. It's not how people play the game anymore. Same system, same talents, the level of knowledge has risen, community expectations have changed, and people now know how to make the gold and they go do it, but they also respec regularly and they flask up and use all the consumables that are available that in the past were just high-end luxury things that few people even imagined you would use on a regular basis. That's one of those ways where we have literal proof that same game, different outcome. In a sense, a lot of the time we would wonder pre-Classic, how much have players changed and how much of it is we changed this aspect of a game and should we turn back the clock. Should we bring back these old systems and would they play out the way they did back then? This helped answered some of those questions. I think hopefully, where that leads us is trying to pull in the best of all of these elements and trying to create systems through our profession rework that recreate or try to recreate some of the notoriety and reputation that you might have as a crafter on your server. As being the person on your server who had the Arcanite Reaper plans or the enchanter who had mastered all the enchants and had the best enchanting rod and everything else that people would seek out because they knew that they were the best. Well, our communities are larger, things are more varied and complex in terms of gearing paths, but is there a way that we can chase that reputation, that social interaction in our professions today, that's the sort of thing that Classic has helped us inspire.
The progression of some story elements was locked behind Renown in Shadowlands. Has this idea been abandoned?
I wouldn't say we've abandoned it completely. There's different approaches to different types of storytelling, sometimes it's reputation, sometimes it's the passage of time, sometimes it's nothing at all and it's just how quickly can you play through the story. I think with most narratives we try to create, there is value to pacing particularly since it's a shared experience. In other media, there's the Netflix style binge-able series, where it comes out and you can sit down and watch all 8 episodes and be done with it versus the weekly episodic one. If it's the binge-able version and you haven't finished yet or you haven't had a chance to yet, like you're not all the way through Squid Game, you just avoid the internet, you avoid spoilers, you avoid discussions there. In World of Warcraft, that's not really possible. There's a community that experiences stories together. When major events happen like the attack on Ardenweald and Sylvanas' fight with Tyrande there or us rescuing Anduin from the clutches of the Jailer and learning things about the nature of how to thwart the Jailer and so on and so forth. You can't hide from that, you're experiencing it together. So we want to be careful to not have a story that if you didn't blast through it all on the first day, it feels like you missed it all and have nothing to look forward to anymore and you're hiding from spoilers as you're playing the game and trying to talk to other people about WoW. At the same time, we also don't want you to always feel like there's stuff I want to do but I guess I have to wait until Blizzard lets me do it or lets me access the next chapter of this thing. I think we're leaning away from timegating as an overall structure, but I think it still has its place. We want to strike a balance where you can dig into the depth and politics of these centaur clans at your own pace and see where that leads and there's deep stories there for you to uncover as you see fit but then when it comes to a major campaign narrative: villians, heroes and so forth, that's going to have a certain weekly cadence to it. Sometimes, that'll also compliments the raid not being open yet or this portion of the raid hasn't become accessible yet, so that itself has a time requirement as well.
Strong socialization requires a bit of friction, and that’s clear win in Classic. How do you take those learnings and bring them to modern WoW, without losing the player that only has an hour a night?
I think to some extent it ties back into the question about whether or not we'd do matchmade Mythic+ and why we don't. I think what we've tried to do is try to offer options and offer incentives and reasons. If you want to do the hardest raid content out there, you need a 20 person raid group. That does require some commitment and there's some hurdles and organizing one of those requires recruiting and keeping a balanced roster versus Normal or Heroic, it doesn't matter if you have 12 or 27, you can just jump in and get it done. But the reward for that is prestige, it's getting cool achievements and mounts, and some of the best loot around, but it's not the only way to play and it's not the only way to access the content. I think we've tried to make sure that we're not excluding people saying you can't PvP or you can't do dungeons unless you can sit in town and find a group or you have a social network, but there are reasons why if you're open to it, it should be good and it should be rewarding and hopefully we can encourage people and make it safer. A separate piece of this discussion is ongoing efforts to fight toxicity in game and to generally make players more likely to have positive experiences interacting with others as we encourage them to explore part of the magic of MMOs. At the end of the day, if you want to play World of Warcraft on your own and explore this vast world, it's a game that's always supported that from 2004 onwards but there's so much out there, so much unique enjoyment to be had by cooperating with or cooperating against in this shared multiplayer world and that's something we're always going to try to encourage.
Talent Tree Rework
How much will players be able to fill out the talent tree? Will it be eventually be full like Artifacts?
There's definitely a level of choice, probably in similar ratio to how talent trees played out in Classic. Though we have a different system with both spec and class trees and two types of points, so that you can make choices about how you want to perform your role more effectively and then separate choices about utility and hybrid options because we know that if we ask you to choose between more DPS or a better Blink or Frost Nova or something, you're always going to pick more DPS. With artifacts in Legion, we made it so eventually you could fill out the entire tree in part because there wasn't a smooth respec system and the intent was to make sure that you didn't have this analysis paralysis where you could make wrong decisions because in the long run is was all going to even out. Whereas with talents, a big portion of what the system is about is differentiation. It's setting yourself apart from other players of the same class and spec and being able to tailor yourself to your preferred playstyle and preferred activities and the system we're imagining is one where you likely at end game have different loadouts and one build you use to run dungeons, and one build you use to run PvP or raids and you set them up in Towns and swap between them freely on the fly as it suits your activities.
Is the goal of the new Talent Trees to bring back abilities that have been removed in the past?
It's an option. We've done a fair bit of that in recent years separate from the Talent Changes, hearing feedback on things that were pruned in Warlords or Legion of things that were missed whether its Alter Time for Mages or whatever else and finding ways to bring those back. The Talent system is more about creating a stronger, more interesting deeper foundation on which to build our class and spec gameplay and less about overhauling the existing gameplay of a given spec. In Legion, we set out to rebuild a lot of our specs from the ground up. Here, I think we're pretty happy with how most specs play and what we're hearing from our players is they're pretty happy with how most specs play. We're not asking people to relearn what a Beast Mastery Hunter means or an Outlaw Rogue means, if you like your rotation and you like your moment-to-moment gameplay, we want to make sure that you can largely recreate that via a series of choices within this new system, but you'll have other options, other customizations, other hybrid options available to you that previously were closed off by the row-style talents in the past.
When do you get a Talent Point for a specific tree?
There's two types of Talent Points, there's class points and spec points. The tree on the left is your class tree, which you will see no matter what your spec is -- all Druids have the same Druid tree, all Mages have the same Mage tree. Then your Fire tree, you'll only see if you're a Fire Mage, your Restoration Tree you'll only see if you're a Restoration Druid. As you level up, there is a schedule that we have laid out on our end of which type of point you are going to get at which level. I'm going to make up numbers here but at level 37, you might get a Druid points, at level 38, get a Resto point, at 39 and 40 Druid points and 41 and 42 Resto points. The key here is over the course of your leveling points, you get a certain amounts of each, but you're choosing to spend them across separate ecosystems. I think that was one of our big learnings from seeing how the Classic talent trees played out and the question we kept running into is, there are right answers here, there are mathy answers and players are always going to take the throughput options, the option that increases their damage per second, healing per second, survivability as a tank over that little bit of utility, that extra distance on blink or the reduced cooldown on interrupt or something if we put them as head-to-head choices. So, let's not. Even in the Hybrid sense, there's a cool fantasy that we want to chase and recapture of the idea that you're a Ret Paladin, but are you Ret/Holy vs Ret/Prot, well if you could be just Ret/Ret and just really good at damaging things, you're going to do that. I think, we're creating more interesting and nuanced decisions spaces by separating out the types of trees.
Has the team started thinking about ways to repurpose Covenant abilities?
Eagle-eyed observers may have noticed that the Convoke the Spirits icon in our sample talent tree that we showed off. That is accurate, that is going to live there. Whether its Covenant abilities or even some Shadowlands legendaries are something that we're looking to roll into the Talent system. What are the greater hits there? What are the things that feel like they just are cool parts of the class going forward and what other things people are happy to leave behind. That's something that once it's all out there on Alpha, we'll be listening and I'm sure that we're going to iterate on further as we go from there.
How will Dragonflight handle Chromie Time?
Our current plan is to rescale all of the existing expansions including Shadowlands from 10 to 60 so that its come out of Exile's Reach or play the starting experience of your choice and then pick any of the single expansions that you want to play through and that will get you through to Dragonflight.
Are there any plans for when there are inevitably too many levels once again?
It's something we're discussing, we know that in the year 2030 or something we'll be back to be well into three digits and what does that means and how do we avoid having the same problems. I don't think 70 is too big a number and I think the changes that we're making to Chromie Time in Dragonflight to make sure that at the end of the day, you can pick up a character, you could be a brand new character to World of Warcraft and play through a single expansion, get caught up to speed and jump into the new thing, that's already a vast improvements over the disjointed world that we lived in in the past, where the increasing level cap meant you were just jumping between more and more disperate settings in the roughly the same amount of time. I think eventually, I'd love to find the perfect solution there. We've definitely tossed around the idea of what would it look like if we stopped adding levels or if we did level-less expansions but levels do a lot for us and for every RPG, there's a reason that they're a tried and true method and it's a straightforward increase in power, new stuff to look forward to, now new talent points and so saying we're just going to stop doing that would raise a lot of questions that we would need to find satisfying answers to but we keep talking about it, but in the meantime, we also want to focus on making sure that the experience you get tomorrow is as good as it can be, and not necessarily hamstring that for the sake of solving the 6 years from now problem. 6 years from now doesn't matter if this year isn't fun.
Are there any new PvP features in Dragonflight?
This presentation today was not a complete exhaustive list of everything that is new or changing in Dragonflight, just kinda the biggest beats. On the PvP front, a couple of the things that we're working on. First off, probably not a huge surprise to a lot of folks who follow our discussions of this, the Solo Shuffle Brawl that we introduced recently in Eternity's End. Setting it up as a Brawl was always meant as a little bit of a test run to try it out, get feedback on it, help refine the queue system and so forth but it's something that we want to convert into a rated mode in Dragonflight so that if you want to solo queue and have a competitive PvP experience where you're matchmade based on rating and you can earn progress, earn gear and participate and compete that's something we want to offer there.
We've also been taking a close look at how PvP gearing in general works and think there's things that we're happy about with the way that Conquest has played out and the return of PvP vendors there, complimented by the Vault but we've also heard a lot of feedback about how gearing and item level tiers play out later in a season especially and while upgrading your gear with Conquest, that feels like a good fit for taking that gear into raids and dungeons and kinda suits the PvE side of the game, that much granularity actually can feel counterproductive in PvP. We're thinking of getting back to a system where all Conquest gear just scales up to that PvP item level ceiling regardless of your rating. Once its Conquest gear that's the best stuff for PvP period and then upgrading it and progressing through the ranks from Duelist, Gladiator, and so forth is raising the PvE item level to let you bring it into other high-end content if that's what you want to do. We think that it'll make for a better, more skill oriented competitive experience on the PvP side.
It was mentioned that Dracthyr's Bronze magic could have a Hastening Effect. What does this mean?
It's little bits of time manipulation whether that's light versions of a Bloodlust or Power Infusion type effect or even on the healer side, effectively rewinding or turning back time to undo recently sustained injuries. I think that's a type of healing magic we haven't had a chance to explore yet and where some unique mechanics for Preservation Evokers could arise. There's mostly Green/Bronze hybrid on that side and if you the green side of it, it's more traditional dream restorative magic, not too different from what we've seen Druids do, but there's a lot of really exciting opportunities on the Bronze Dragonflight side to just realize new mechanics.
Many players have commented that there has been a stale healer Meta for multiple raid tiers until this tier. With the addition of Evoker, what steps are you planning to take to ensure that all healers are unique and are valued in groups and high end content?
As always, the answer there is differentiation. It's thinking about damage profiles, thinking about some of the utility that they have, whether it's cooldowns or extra stuff like Druid's Stampeding Roar or Life Grip or other tools that they bring to the table that encourage a varied roster. Now, as a we increase the number of healer specs, not everyone can be represented even in larger raid sizes, we don't expect you to have 6 or 7 healers, but you should always be happy and grateful and think about "okay cool, it's a good thing that we have this", because this brings us a useful tool that helps us on these types of encounters. We're going to see at the very very high end (the MDI in dungeons, the World First level in raids), people have multiple geared alts, we won't always see that diversity because they're trying to solve for a narrow problem posed by a single encounter, where it may be we want 3 Paladins and 2 Disc Priests or whatever because that's what this encounter demands, but across the board, across an entire raid tier, across the range of situations imposed by dungeons, we want to make sure that healers feel viable and feel valued, and that's an ongoing exercise for our combat team. Our goal first and foremost is to make them fun and flavorful and give them unique tools and the next and final steps as we go through the later stages of beta, will be tuning, really figuring out exactly whether they need an extra tool or whether they have one tool too many to make sure they're not overshadowing other healers in seeing how they fit in the meta. We want to start off with well, we want to make the thing fun and cool and then move on to solving the balance problems. I think if we're overdoing the latter from the start, that can hinder our ability to really just make something that is exciting from the first minute you play it.
Will the Dracthyr be able to use black magic?
The Black Dragonflight is certainly part of Dragonkind and while they have some nefarious history with Deathwing and his descendants, Wrathion is a good ally of ours, and there's subtle differences between the Black Dragonflight fire and the Red Dragonflight fire, but I think Dracthyr Evokers are uniquely gifted in being able to harness and channel the power of all of the aspects and all of the flights, so all of them will have a place in some form.
Will Empower spells make it to other classes?
Maybe eventually, anything is possible. For at least for Dragonflight, that is a Dracthyr Evoker specific mechanic. It's not something that all of their spells will do, but the key signature abilities that they have, I think the most natural one being imagine a literal Dragon's Breath where the more you inhale, the more you build up, the more powerful the energy you release is going to be. A simple way of thinking of that is, imagine a skill which has a variable cast time of 1, 2 or 3 seconds, you can choose whether or not you want the 1 second version or the 3 second version. The 3 second version might have a longer range and leave a lingering DoT on everyone that you just incinerated, the 1 second version might be something that you can pop off quickly and get back to moving around. Each will have their use and upsides and downsides and it's something that you in a very organic way that a good pairing of mechanics and fantasy can decide on the fly.
Will the Dracthyr be able to become other classes in the future?
It's definitely possible down the line. I think it's exceedingly unlikely that any race other than Dracthyr could ever been an Evoker because you need wings, you need the ability to literally breath Draconic energy to perform any of the abilities. The Dracthyr that we're meeting are all Evokers because that's what they were created by Neltharion to be. That is their unique gift, they can channel the power of all the Dragonflights and this is who they are. Now as they emerge in Azeroth and integrate with the Alliance and Horde over time, could they learn to pick up an axe and be a great warrior, quite possibly, but that's not where their story is starting in Dragonflight.
Are the profession changes robust enough to be a complete alternative to the normal PvP/PvE content?
They're intended to be quite robust. They're focused on the Dragon Isles version of these professions and there's a tremendous amount of additional depth, customization, specialization, progression to them. Individual professions will have their own specialization or talent trees, even moreso than back in the day where if you were a Blacksmith you could be an Armorsmith or Weaponsmith, but here you can be an Armorsmith who further specializations into making Helms and further specs into bonuses to types of them or advantages in crafting them in a way that sets you apart from your fellow crafters, whether its being able to provide something that is a particular interest to your guild and your friends or on the marketplace, a competitive niche, where you can corner -- like you're the helm crafter that everyone comes to on your server because everyone knows that you make the good stuff and there's someone else who specialized in gloves or something else. For a lot of people who already play the economy, and hang out and deal with the auction house as almost like a full time gameplay style, we want that level of depth and more for Professions, so our hope is that we'll see folks who are spending a lot of time hanging out in the Crafting areas applying their trade and picking up Work Orders, making gold and skilling up on the side as they do that. I don't know if it would fully supplant wanting or needing to venture out into the world, you need to gather your reagents from somewhere. While a lot of cool stuff will be craftable, many of these things may also use materials which come from out of the world and from dungeons and elsewhere. Something that's really exciting that we can do with the new cooperative crafting and Work Orders system is the ability to have bind-on-pickup reagents that you can bring to a crafter and have them use to make something for you. So you might clear a dungeon or a raid or something in the outdoor world or kill a rare mob and get a frame or get something that could be forged into a Helm or Sword. You may not have the skill to do it yourself, but you can take that Bind-on-Pickup thing that required participating in some content overcoming some challenge, or accomplishing something -- take that thing to a crafter, give them a nice tip, maybe provide the materials or they provide the materials and have them make you something cool. So it's a whole layer of engagement and interactivity on a social level for professions and it's something that we've always really wanted to capture.
How are the Gathering Professions impacted by all the changes including the new Quality system?
We want to add depth to gathering as well, though not quite as much there. There isn't necessarily the same multi-tier specialization of you're really good at picking this particular herb. I think there's a bit less fantasy there and also, we want part of the choice that you make when picking your professions could also be to some extent, how much depth you want, how deep you want to go. The stats that were mentioned in the Deep Dive presentation earlier today are going to apply not just to crafting but also to gathering. If you're wearing a special set of gloves, if you've skilled up more, you may be able to gather more of an herb or of an ore or do so at a higher level of quality that will help provide inputs into potentially making better stuff. So there's extra depth there, extra interactions but think not quite as much as you'll see for Blacksmithing or Tailoring.
Player housing is something that many players in the community have asked for. Has there been any consideration of this?
That's something that certainly gets discussed around the team a fair bit. There's interest in that and even when it was little things in the past like the farm in Pandaria, players have jumped at the chance to feel there's a portion of the world that they can call their own and customize in any way. It's something we still are excited about, still hope to deliver at some point. I think every expansion we have the conversation internally on what are the set of features that make sense for this expansion and whether we want to really focus our art, resources, engineering and everything else . Player housing is something that we would still love to realize one day, but it's not part of Dragonflight. That doesn't mean the dream is dead, it's something that still gets discussed a lot.
Which old, fan-favorite systems do you see coming back? As an example, there’s the Garrisons.
Not for Dragonflight. The ones we laid out today are our major focus, but I think there's a piece of Garrisons that scratched a little bit of that itch that players have in mind when they think about Player Housing. There's a range of general spaces that we're eager to explore in the future, but we've learned over the years that it's better to do a few things well then to do a lot of things in kind of an incomplete manner. We're really focusing on talents, UI, profession, our new class and Dragon Riding, alongside the beautiful world of the Dragon Isles itself and trying to really make those the best they can be, but we're always going to be listening when it comes to pieces of the game that people would like us to revisit or should come to World of Warcraft in the future.
Are the Dragon mounts just used as a mode of transportation or do they have gameplay attached to them?
Your Dragon companion is tied to the Dragon Isles, you can call upon them there. They are a native denizen of the Dragon Isles and as you strengthen your bond with them, your ability and their ability to fly for longer and faster and farther will improve. Having this system that spans the Dragon Isles is both a way to get around but also opens up a lot of exciting opportunities for content. I think we've only started to scratch the surface of that in our initial launch but we want to do more down the line. Things like little race events, if you remember how back in Burning Crusade in Netherwing ledge there were series of races that you could go through as you were trying to earn a flying mount there, we can do the new 2022 version of that with this system and more.
In addition to the UI updates, are there any other accessibility updates?
Out of the box, customizability and being able to move things around and adjust scale of things by default without using addons, I think is an improvement. We're always looking at the addon community as a source for inspiration and trying to understand ways in which we can better serve our players with our default experience. We also have ongoing support and improvements to the support of our controller APIs, which I know a lot of players who can't necessarily use a traditional mouse and keyboard setup, are able to take advantage of in order to play the game with alternate devices. That's an ongoing process, I don't necessarily think that there's a specific piece of our Dragonflight revamp that's aimed at that, but it's something that we're continuing to incrementally consider and improve in all of our patches in all of our updates to WoW's UI going forward.
Has there been any further thought to Mythic+ queueing?
No current plans to add matchmaking to Mythic+. I think we want to continue to improve our Group Finder to let players find others who have similar goals, motivations, gear, interests and all the rest. The goal isn't for it to be painful, but there is something important to that social experience, even the light social experience of someone putting themselves out there, saying they're looking for a DPS to run this key, reaching out and getting invited to the group. Particularly for content that is meant to be challenging, that's meant to have the potential for setbacks, the potential for failure, I think making sure that players can align their expectations and goals going into the group is a really important part in having everyone have a satisfying experience. it's one of the reason why we added options to the Group Finder recently in Shadowlands to let people specify whether they're looking to complete the key to get Great Vault progress and some loot, or they're looking to time the key to push rating and level up more. We want everyone to be on the same page there. I think that's how we continue to approach it and one of the big differences between M0 and Heroic dungeons is Premade group activity versus being able to push a button and getting a random one. The level of participation in Mythic+ far exceeds any other premade group activity required in the past. We've looked at player enthusiasm for the way that's been playing out and just try to see how we can make it better rather than fundamentally changing it.
Old Raid Content
Will people be able to solo Mythic raids in Dragonflight?
Yeah probably. Not trivially, but yes. The way this generally works and I know we've kind of confused it a bit with squishes and offsetting multipliers to counteract those squishes, it's ultimately the product of your power growth as a player, through gear, through levels, through other things. Over the course of a given expansion from start to finish, as you get 10 levels and you get 150+ item levels of gear, you probably get at least 4 times as powerful, in terms of total stats, hit points, DPS and so forth. If you compare the numbers players are putting out in Sepulcher today to what they were doing in the 9.0 Pre-Patch at level 50, you'll probably find that it's about quadruple. Two expansions later, you're like 4 times 4, 16 to 20 times more powerful and that means that you can now go and solo stuff that required 20 players 2 expansions ago. One more expansion and now you're like 80 times more powerful and that's the part where you can go in and destroy stuff, but there's that middle ground where it's like mechanics don't kind of matter, the raid wasn't trivial for 20 people back then, you might have the power of 20 people but that doesn't mean you're going to walk in and one shot Mythic bosses or anything and as players reach that point, we definitely go back in and make adjustments to old encounters where there are mechanics that forcibly required multiple people or that will frustrate if you go there solo and this is around the time when we'd start taking a look at 2 expansion ago to smooth out some of those rough edges.
What are some examples of the Community Council's influence on Dragonflight?
I think most recently over the course of the Eternity's End PTR, in our last Shadowlands update, we changed a number of things like how Flying was earned and unlocked, how the ability to make the second universal Covenant Legendary was earned, what the requirements were and all of that was the direct product of feedback from how we had it initially on the PTR and players noting that it was going to cause frustration for their playstyles and they felt like they were going to have to do content that they preferred not to do. They were going to feel like they were on a clock in terms of needing to get this by a certain date, and so those changes were a direct result of that conversation and I think we're really happy with how it's all played out. The last few weeks, the Community Council has been relatively quiet just because Shadowlands is out there and we have talked through most of the changes in Eternity's End and we all knew we have some big announcements coming up, we'll have a lot to talk about soon but there wasn't much to discuss until we got past .
Any changes to the Transmog system?
Ongoing expansion and customization of it is something we are looking to do certainly by Dragonflight, possibly before then is rolling a lot of the white and grey quality items into the transmog system so that you can choose from a lot of simpler, humbler civilian attire-type looks. We want to keep adding in more options for customization and self-expression.
What is the name of the Statue boy?
I don't know that off the top of my head, he is affectionally called "Rocky" by some of our team, just as Zekhan was "Zappy-Boi" for a while. I will dig into that and see if we can make it clear.
The name of the stone watcher in the cinematic is "Koranos ".
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