WellPlayed Interview with Tina Wang and Jackie Wiley - Dragon Riding, Dragon Snoots, and Dragon Sheep
Australian gaming website WellPlayed interviewed Dragonflight Associate Art Director Tina Wang and Senior Game Designer Jackie Wiley about all things dragon in World of Warcraft's upcoming Dragonflight expansion, from what it means to rediscover the Dragon Isles, to the insane amount of dragon riding companion customization players will be able to unlock, dragon snoots, and even dragon sheep!
We've summarized some key points below, but check out the full interview on WellPlayed to read more of the designers thoughts and what they are personally excited for in Dragonflight!
WellPlayed Interview with Jackie Wiley and Tina Wang
Dragonflight Expansion Reveal
Encrypted Dragonflight Build
Dragonflight Memes Roundup
Sign Up for Dragonflight Beta
Reveal Livestream Blog
Cinematic Trailer Analysis
Dragonflight Cinematic Reveal
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
Dragonflight Key Art
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
How to Customize Your Dragon
Players won't get just one, but multiple dragon companions, to be used with Dragonriding (it sounds like one of each body type, so presumably four).
As WoW's first ever customizable mount, the intent is to allow everyone to feel their dragon is entirely unique from others, with an incredible number of adjustable parameters, including customizable snoots.
There are four different body types - Classic Drake, Proto-drake, wyvern-like WilderDrake and a dinosaur-like Velocidrake - each with different animations and further customizations.
Customizations vary by body type - WilderDrakes have options for big hairy manes. The Velocidrake can have antlers instead of horns and has the most snoot options.
They all come in different colors and many options will be unlocked by doing content throughout the game.
Snoot is now the official term for a dragon's snout (this is a very important bullet point).
WP: I saw in one of the roundtable developer discussions they were talking about some of the customisation options and they said you have a customisable ‘snoot’?
JW: YES, absolutely, one of my favourite customisations – I LOVE proto-dragons, because of their stupid little arms. They are very important to me, so I love that they can have no snoot at all, just pushed right in with big teeth. Then, there is a snoot that is like, a beak? And then there is a looong snoot. Oh, and there is a pterodactyl kind of drake, a Velocidrake, a different dragonflight –
WP: Like the ones in Battle for Azeroth? The pterodactyl-dragon things?
JW: Oh, those ARE pterodactyls! But they weren’t…hmm. Are dinosaurs dragons? Let’s discuss! I kid, those are more dinosaurs, these are super dragon-y ones. They have these very long beaks, they can have antlers instead of horns – each of the models has unique customisations for that model. They all have different colours, and you can just unlock a ton of stuff just by doing different content in the game.
WP: I am SO pumped to hear proto-drakes mentioned – they are one of my favourite wing-ed things in the World of Warcraft. As soon as I heard I got my own dragon my first thought was how proto-drakey I could make it.
JW: And then there are four different body types for the dragons! You basically have one mount of each, and can customise each of them as you want.
WP: So from an art/asset perspective, does that mean each mount has its own animations as well?
TW: Well, they do have different rigs – so yes, that is true. So with the dragons – I love that you remember proto-drakes – so we have our classic drake body, proto-drake and then these two others. There is a WilderDrake that is kind of wyvern inspired, and has options for manes, whether you want a huge hairy mane or even no mane at all. Then there is the Velocidrake that Jackie mentioned, which is dinosaur inspired. And the huge amount of options for them to change their shape – I think the Velocidrake probably has the most dramatic ‘snoot’ shapes.
WP: I’m glad ‘snoot’ is the official term now.
JW: It definitely is now. We gotta change the internal stuff, so menus say ‘snoot’ instead of ‘snout’.
Dracthyr "human" models are called visage forms, and are how they choose to represent themselves, allowing a great deal of customization.
Visage customization is independent from their dragon form - you can have a pure white or hot pink dragon with a blue/gold visage form.
The Dracthyr also have options to dramatically change their face shapes and over 30 different hair colors, including two-tone, highlights, and unique jewelry options.
WP: I was amazed to see how much the Dracthyr (dragon people) had in the way of customisation. And even surprising things, like how their scale colour can deviate from the main five colours we would expect from dragons in WoW, like seeing a white Dracthyr! And then their VISAGE forms! With incredible hair and jewellery options, it really looks like it will be impossible to find two player characters that look alike.
TW: That’s totally possible. And the fun part about the Dracthyr and the ‘visage’ form is that visage forms are effectively what Dracthyr choose to represent themselves as, right? They are actually dragonkin, but they present themselves in this way and so with that we have allowed them to have so many different options that we may not have offered to a normal kind of character. Their hair colour? There are actually over 30 different hair colours!
JW: …and that’s tops AND bottoms!
WP: Because they can have two-tone hair?
TW: Yeah! You can do two-tone hair, and hair highlight colours you can switch between!
JW: And then the hair even has unique jewellery options between male and females. However many options that you think there are, it’s at least twice that. It’s ridiculous – I spent hours making a WoW character BEFORE this many options, I am going to be ruined with Dracthyr.
Welcome to Jurassic Park
The primary dragon flights left the Dragon Isles ~10,000 years ago, but the place wasn't left empty - several other races inhabit them.
Familiar species include the tuskarr, gnolls, drakonid, dragonspawn, dryads, elementals, and a clan of Centaur.
New faces include
, lava mammoths, and Titanic Watchers like Koranos (
) from the
There will also be other types of dragons present, including stone dragons, thunder dragons, and the Primalists - followers of Galakrond who chose not to side with the Titans.
Although this is our first time there, the Azerothian dragons are also returning, making Dragonflight a story about exploration and rediscovery.
The Explorer's League and Reliquary have teamed up to lead the venture into the Isles, called the Dragonscale Expedition (but that doesn't mean you can't still PvP).
WP: One thing I noticed from the reveal cinematic is that the Dragon Isles are portrayed as a place that was left for ten thousand years, and it’s not so much that we, the players, are just going there suddenly, but also the dragons are returning for the first time. So is the story about rediscovery for everyone involved?
TW: Yahuh. So the dragons left their home and the magic subsided due to the sundering, but there are races and factions that were left behind.
WP: Like Tuskarr! Walrus people!
TW: Yes! Probably the most important ones I think. The elemental giants went to sleep, Tuskarr have been there, the drakonid and the dragonspawn that were left behind to take care of it all. They, and the Watchers – including our beloved cinematic rock man, his name is Koranos – were all left behind to take care of the Dragon Isles. The green dragons left dryads to watch in their stead, the centaur have been there for ten thousand years with all manner of conflict and cultural change, so the dragons are coming back and they don’t really know what state it will be in.
WP: I suppose there are even dragons who have been born since the mass exodus, like Wrathion, so they have never even seen their ancestral home?
JW: Yeah, Wrathion is like…7?
WP: And he is basically dragon royalty. So I can imagine it’s going to be quite an experience to see him going there for the first time?
TW: Absolutely, and the dynamic between the various dragonflights will be a really fun part of that story.
Do Dragons Dream of Dragon Sheep?
The Dragon Isles are bigger than Northrend and features a lot of verticality.
The Dragon Isles were conceptualized all the way back in the original release of World of Warcraft, but never made the cut.
There are even dragon sheep - which are still sheep, but dragony. That influence is
Several areas are tied to specific dragonflights, such as the Emerald Garden and Ruby Lifeshrine.
The campaign begins at sea level in the Waking Shores and ends high up in the mountainous floating platforms of Thaldraszus (future playthroughs will have more
freedom of exploration
By the time you reach those late campaign zones, you'll need to be decent at dragon riding to navigate them - it's a core part of the world design.
WP: I have to say something I am excited about in regards to how the Dragon Isles have been presented, is the verticality of it all. There is a lot of clear UP and DOWN – is that a concept that was established early on?
TW: Definitely. As you know there is going to be a component of dragon RIDING as well, and so we think about the initial starting zone. You start off at this base level, these lush canyons of the Waking Shores, and maybe you see at the top of these giant rock pillars are places you can’t reach yet. The final zone, Thaldraszus, is high up in the mountains with all these floating platforms, so the verticality there is huge. By the time you reach this zone you need to be fairly decent at dragon riding to navigate all these spaces. So that was a core part of the world design. Also knowing that you will be able to reach these speeds that are significantly faster than what you may have achieved in the past – this land is huge, and has these areas of untamed wilderness for you to be able to explore and understand why it is worthy of dragons.
WP: Can we have dragon flight races…?
TW: Actually, yes! So one thing we are really excited about is that we have a content team that is focused on fun, outdoor world content, including things like dragon races. Or, hunting giant beasts in the centaur plains…
JW: We are REALLY excited about that. Repeatable content has always been under the purview of one big quest team, and we love doing it, but it’s nice having more people to make more things and put focus on unique things. We are super excited to have these folks who have been around WoW development for so long and are getting to play with the action figures in new, unique ways and figure out what is fun for players to hop into.
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