How World of Warcraft Was Made - USgamer Feature
USgamer has posted a truly impressive history of World of Warcraft, spanning 20 years of development. Their comprehensive article on the game's development includes numerous interviews with Blizzard employees, including Game Director Ion Hazzikostas and former Lead Systems Designer Greg Street.
Click here for the USgamer article!
The article spans not only every expansion, but also the development that took place before the game shipped. Below we've posted some interesting tidbids from the article, but you should definitely check the full article for many more details, organized by expansion, including the talent tree revamp, changes to dungeons, and class design.
On early class design:
"In Warcraft 3, even our heroes only had four abilities. In World of Warcraft we were going to be making these classes with 30, 40 abilities. So we couldn't take a Mage, who might be inspired a lot by the Archmage of Warcraft 3, take their skillset and say, 'Okay, well now we've got an RPG class.' It just doesn't work like that," says Pardo. "A lot of times what we'd do is take spells and abilities from multiple heroes within Warcraft 3 and merge them into a singular class. A really good example of that is the Shaman in World of Warcraft, where we put the totem concept. But if you look at Warcraft 3, are a Witch Doctor concept and kind of a Troll thing.
On Molten Core and no beta testing:
"They came up with the idea of Molten Core, which is based around a lot of content and art that we already had. They figured out a way to do a full-blown raid dungeon just using or mashing up stuff that we already had. Obviously it's very much a version 1.0 of WoW raid game, but back then we were definitely learning what a WoW raid looks like. It was very experimental because we didn't have the ability to put it into the beta, because it was coming in hot. So really, I almost look at our early raids like beta versions of what eventually raids turned into."
On Ghostcrawler innovating how developers interact with community:
"I think for a long time, Blizzard didn't know quite what to make of that," he said. "Never quite figured out if it came from like my bosses or came from the community team-there was a concern that it was making the community team's job harder, because now players didn't want to talk to them because they didn't have the answers. At some point Blizzard made the corporate decision that we're not going to have developers posting on the forums anymore, just Community members. And so I stopped at that point. Fortunately for me, Twitter became a thing around the same time, so I transitioned pretty smoothly from the Blizzard forum account to my own personal Twitter account and kept up the conversation.
On Abyssal Maw, the cut raid from Cataclysm:
"The Abyssal Maw was fun. I remember we were blue skying that one. There were a lot of high-concept ones, but that was cool because we actually ended up working with engineering. We wanted this kind of underwater feel and this idea of water being parted where you see a wall of water that was held back by magic. We did a conceptual piece and have a cool engineering department; they're oftentimes inspired by art. So they ended up developing this cool new water shader that we utilize and now have within our tools moving forward," remembers Lo.
On marketing issues with Pandaria:
"It was honestly challenging," said Hazzikostas about the expansion's reception in the community. "The team felt like we'd made something great. And I think in retrospect players agree, but there was definitely-understandably-this initial dissonance. Like, 'Wait, pandas? That's just like kiddie stuff. I don't get it.' In terms of lessons learned, it's tricky because I think we made a great expansion overall. What do players expect to see from any Warcraft expansion and how can we make sure that what we're presenting really matches those expectations." "
Why Ghostcrawler left:
"They're some of my closest friends and I love the team. It was a decision that took months to make. At the time, kind of the direction was, 'We're really worried about returning players and the more class changes we make the harder it's going to be for returning players to be able to jump back in.' Looking at this wish list we had, like the Priest Chakra ability was kind of lame and we had big plans to fix it," he says.
"All of a sudden, Nope, Chakra has to stay. Everything has to stay. We're going to make super-minimal class changes. And even if that was the right thing for the game-you can argue maybe it was or maybe it wasn't-as a developer that just didn't interest me," Street adds. "Ultimately I started talking to Riot. It was a company that really emphasized talking to players. I was always swimming upstream, whereas at Riot that was something they loved. So it just felt like a natural fit for me."
On Legion's fast-paced content:
"Looking back at Warlords or looking back at Mists, there were very long gaps between patches or content updates within an expansion," says Hazzikostas. "That was the main thing that I set out and prioritized fixing for Legion. I think I'm very, very proud of what the team was able to accomplish, delivering a series of patches and content updates just a couple months apart in a pretty regular cadence throughout 2017 into the beginning of this year. Having the shortest gap between the final raid and the next expansion that we've basically had in my memory."
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