Exclusive GamesCom Tom Chilton Interview - Archaeology Details and More!
Lots of interesting new Cataclysm-related information has been revealed in extensive interviews performed the
convention in Germany, and we're ready to add to it with an exclusive fan Q+A interview with World of Warcraft Lead Designer
courtesy of our friends at
! We've got a full transcript of the interview to share with you guys which you can check out after the break!
For all of you
folks out there, I've summarized the majority of important details of the interview:
When will Cataclysm be released?
"It'll be the first Tuesday after it's done." Seriously, though, they want to shoot for a 2010 release but there's still a few months of development / polishing yet.
Will we ever see the Path of the Titans?
Not in Cataclysm (of course) but it could always see a conceptual revamping and return in a later expansion.
Extensive Archaeology details!
Zones will featured specific Archaeology digsites that can be tracked on the map
Players can navigate to the digsites and use their Survey Tool to triangulate the location of a buried artifact
Once the location has been discovered, the artifact fragments can be discovered and re-assembled
Artifacts will each have extensive lore and can reward achievements, vanity items, etc. - but nothing game breaking or necessary.
Archaeology intended to be a fun mini-game style profession available to everyone and for everyone to enjoy!
So many post-BlizzCon changes to Cataclysm! What happened?
Sometimes the state of the game depends on how much is actually designed before it's announced at BlizzCon (and when exactly BlizzCon takes place). A lot of what was revealed at BlizzCon were some "first pass" conceptual game designs and were still very subject to change.
Are there still areas that Blizzard is not happy with in Cataclysm and still wants to change?
World PVP areas are incredibly hard to design and balance during the testing process due to varying conditions, so Blizzard is still trying to properly balance and execute their intended concepts for these zones.
Will we ever see 'Classic' servers?
Probably not. They just don't work out in the long run.
Does Blizzard plan on revamping any other old world raids? Or dungeons?
We won't see any revamped classic raids in Cataclysm, we'll
get Heroic Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep at launch, and Blizzard has been keeping track of loads of changes they'd like to make to old dungeons (a few have already been made, check out our recent
blogs) so anything could still happen!
Why did Blizzard change Tree of Life?
They wanted the shapeshift to feel special, and for druids to be able to enjoy other aspects of character customization - not a very convincing argument considering ferals are still in feral forms all the time and boomkins are still giant chickens, but I'm probably just biased cause I'm a disgruntled tree.
Everyone else be sure to check the full transcript below to read Tom Chilton's detailed responses on these topics and more!
Full Interview Transcript
Question: We asked something about the Path of the Titans you're not implementing - are we able to see it in a future patch or something?
That's still a possibility - I think that we're always going to come back with each expansion probably and try to - I don't think it would be a patch feature, it would probably be an expansion feature - but with each expansion we try to evaluate, you know, what things can we do or should we do to make character customization more interesting, and there may be a point in time in the future where that becomes the right thing to do. So, its definitely a possibility and I'm sure we'll talk about it again when we're talking about our next expansion feature set. But what decision we'll come to, it's too early to say.
Question: Were you actually suprised about the amount of stuff that you changed after BlizzCon? Is Cataclysm kind of like an unusual expansion because you have more stuff you were rethinking than usual?
I do think the Cataclysm is a very unusual expansion and sometimes we'll see that happen based on when in the product cycle BlizzCon happens to fall. So if sometimes it falls in part of the product cycle when we're very early in the decision making and we really don't know much so we don't really say a whole lot. Or, it happens kinda like with the last BlizzCon, it happened right at the point where we thought we had a really clear idea of what we were going to do but we hadnt actually done most of the work to design out those ideas yet, and inevitably what happens a lot of times (and that's why at BlizzCon we always say 'this could all change *laughs*) because we hadn't actually really done all that design work to really figure out, "Ok, exactly how's it going to work?" and "How's it going to play out?" and "What's this really going to do?" - that was really like our first pass at the design. So what we shared with people was, "Here's what we have for our first pass at the design," so it is an unusual expansion in that when you look at BlizzCon versus now there are definitely significant differences between what we talked about and what we ended up doing.
Question: Are there still any areas in the game that like, countless sleepless nights where you're like "I'm not sure if this was the right decision, maybe it should change forever!" or are they pretty much all done now?
Yes, I would say that we really still haven't really figured out the world PVP zones like Wintergrasp or Tol Barad. I think those are probably some of the most difficult design challenges that ther are in multiplayer games, in trying to figure out how the sorta open-world PVP meaningful objectives are goign to work, because you have so little control over the conditions of the battle in terms of you don't really know what the populations are, you have to account for different populations on different servers. You have to account for that the fact that maybe 20 people will show up, maybe 100 people will show up and just the behaviors of large groups of players interacting with each others is very hard to predict ahead of time so that's definitely one of those areas of the game that has always been like, "How do we really make this actually deliver the fantasy that players have in their minds of how it's supposed to feel and how it's supposed to play out?"
Question: What's up with the archaeology? Will there be some dungeons where you have to do stuff to open up new doors and areas and levels? It isn't implemented yet in the beta as far as I know.
It will be implemented in the beta very soon, possibly even in the next beta patch - either the next one or the one after that. We have it available in our internal builds now. The way it works is that its a secondary skill, much like Cooking or Fishing or y'know, those types of secondary skills - and once you train it, the way it works is for any zone that you're in you can pop open your map and you can see on your map where there are any kind of Archaeological Digsites. For any Archaeological Digsites, you can go there and you can place a Survey Tool. With your Survey Tool it will tell you, "Oh, there's an archaeological artifiact somewhere in this direction and at this approximate distance - close, medium distance or pretty far." At that point what you do is you find another location to do a survey from, and so you slowly but surely triangulate in on exactly where that artifact is and then you dig at that location and you recover the artifact. So, as you get better as a player at doing Archeology, you'll zero in on those locations more quickly, you'll figure out how it works and you'll get to understand a bit better about, "Oh ok, this is how I quickly find it and *boom* I know where it is!" because its in a completely random location in that Digsite.
At that point, once you've gotten that item it's really, it;s like a collection minigame. You're just trying to collect all the different parts for different raical artifacts - you're trying to collect all the different troll artifacts, the different gnome artifacts, all the different dwarf, etc. etc. By collecting them all, not only do you get stuff like achievements but you also sometimes get kinda fun toy items - you get items that are entertaining but aren't ever really character power items that you have to have in order to do maximum DPS or healing or tanking or whatever. Because its a secondary skill and we know everyone can have it, we are designing it as mostly as a fun secondary ability that you do for it's own sake and just to discover things and learn more about the game's lore - because all of these artifacts have lore associated with them - and just to kind of collect things and get some achievements and get some fun toy items to play with.
Question: What can you tell us about the guild system and how far advanced it is now?
Well, what we're seeing in the beta now probably like 50% there - 75% there - and there's still some work to do and there's still going to be a lot of polishing and bugfixing before it's ready for players on a live server. Most of the concepts are there at this point and a lot of the UI is functional, things like the Guild Perks are in and mostly working, so it's coming along - it's making very good progress. Some of these things will be sorta hard to get large scale feedback on because, y'know, there arent like - a lot of times guilds cant transfer wholesale onto the beta because of the way the beta invite system works, so some systems like that are always harder to design for and test because of the inherit ways that the beta tests work.
Question: I was wondering because earlier you mentioned the beta has being going well for some time and you've got valuable feedback from beta, do you have a better understanding now about the actual release date frame?
We do. It'll be the first Tuesday after it's done. *laughter*
Question: -- Because I think I was reading a statement from one of the inteviews you did yesterday where you said you still have a couple of months?
Yeah, there's still some things we have to finish implementing, like rated battlegrounds. Archaeology will go into one of the next patches, also. We're kind of at the tail end of finishing the features set and finishing our core implementation. After that, we'll have a couple of months of fixing bugs and balancing and tuning and polishing and then we'll likely be ready. So, we are shooting for this year, but exactly what month that will fall into - can't say yet.
Question: I had a question about the Archaeology, because you said something about vanity items? Do you have an example of such an item?
Sure, for example, I believe there's a gnome artifact that's like a clockwork pet - stuff like that. It's not all pets, that's just one example. There's a lot of stuff there.
Question: I had another question about the old instances, because we're going to be in Azeroth and see all those old places, are you going revamp more of the dungeons or zone - like maybe Ahn'Qiraj?
Well, probably not the old raid zones. We're definitely not going to be touching the old raid zones, at least not for Cataclysm release - it's always possible that we'll go back and do things in the future. But we are going to be taking a look at Shadowfang Keep and at The Deadmines, there's work that we are going to be doing there and then other dungones will be sometimes changed a little bit - like we have plans for improving Maraudon, along with some other dungeons - Wailing Caverns, stuff like that. We have a pretty big idea of like, "These are all the changes we'd like to make!" but we'll see on a case-by-case basis how many of those changes we actually get to make. Sometimes it may be a lot, sometimes a little, sometimes nothing - we'll see.
Question: You said something about Heroic versions of older dungeons like The Deadmines - right now in the beta there's only the normal Deadmines...
Correct. Those have not been implemented yet, we still have plans to do the Deadmines and the Shadowfang Keep Heroics and depending on what week you ask me in it sometimes looks like its going to make it in in time for Cataclysm ship, sometimes not, so - we'll see, I think currently we think it will. *laughs* But next week I might have a different answer.
Question: And that's going to be for level 85?
Question: You said its hard to test like guild systems because not the whole guild can transfer and all - how fast will you react when you have the game out and you see "Oh, we've forgotten something important!" or "Something doesn't work!" - how do you make sure that it doesn't happen?
Well, you can never really make sure that it doesnt happen. In fact, it will happen - I guarantee it will happen to some extent and we have a pretty good hotfix process for fixing really important things on the fly very quickly. We sometimes even turn around a client patch for emergency fixes within a day, and hotfixes we'll do those any time in the day - day or night. So, hopefully anything we've missed in testing we'll still be able to react to. With any big complex system there's always something that gets missed and you just have to be able to respond to it quickly.
Question: The whole topic of classic servers has been popping up on the forums, always on yours - I assume with the release of Cataclysm there's this huge wave of nostalgia here because you can't play in the old world anymore. Is this something you might consider doing after the Cataclysm launch?
Currently, my answer would be probably not. The reason I say that is because any massively muiltiplayer game that has pretty much ever existed and has ever done any expansions has always gotten the nostalgia of, "Oh God, wouldn't it be great if we could have classic servers!" and more than anything else that generally proves to be nostalgia. In most cases - in almost all cases - the way it ends up playing out is that the game wasn't as good back then as people remember it being and then when those servers become available, they go play there for a little bit and quickly remember that it wasnt quite as good as what they remembered in their minds and they dont play there anymore and you set up all these seervers and you dedicated all this hardware to it and it really doesn't get much use. So, for me, the historical lesson is that it's not a very good idea to do *laughs* - it's a great idea to talk about.
Question: So basically, your advice would be if you want to experience classic - do it now! You still have a good couple of months left -
Exactly, that would definitely be my advice.
Question: I just have one very specific question - the tree form of the druid, we were very surprised that you're going to put a cooldown on this skill. Are the moonkins going to face the same story? *Tom laughs*
I honestly don't know - that's really something the class team is going to decide, and there are a lot of times now that class decisions happen without my direct input - that's just the nature of the way it works. I can't have the direct influence on every single decision that gets made, so I have to trust the people that are in charge of that kind of stuff to make the right decisions and I'm sure they have their rationale for it, so I don't know whether or not it will happen to moonkins - maybe, maybe not? *laughs*
Question: But you don't know why they changed tree form and the cooldown?
From what I understand, from what I recall them telling me, it was because they felt like - they wanted to, they're trying to steer a little bit away from "no matter what druid you are you're always in some form, that isn't a human form" because we miss out on a lot of gameplay, for example you miss out on armor customization like the armor art, all that kind of stuff. Like, we create all these druid sets *laughs* in every single patch and nobody really ever looks at it, because everyone's like a cat or a bear or a tree or a boomkin. There's a little bit of that, there's also a little bit of that they're trying to find a way to make it more interesting so that you're not just a tree all the time, so that it feels like something special. There are a variety of different reasonings behind it, but it seemed to make sense.
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