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Tom Chilton explains early WoW class balance (or lack thereof)

We see a fair amount of pining for "the way things used to be" in this community -- rose-colored hindsight that is, by all accounts, horribly wrong. Maybe you enjoyed the sense of wonder upon going through the game the first time. That's completely understandable. But no one really enjoyed running Molten Core. Or the old honor system. Or the horrible class balance and several patently useless talent trees at launch.

Speaking of, I wonder if there's anybody that could shed some light on that last bit. Maybe Tom Chilton, the lead Game Director could, in his latest interview on the five-year anniversary mini-site.

As it turns out, Chilton was brought in in early 2004 to work on the PvP portion of the game, but ended up handling a lot more when the honor system was put on hold to handle more pressing concerns, like making gameplay interesting.
"From April until the game shipped, the vast majority of my time was spent working on the design for the auction house, the mail system, and implementing the talent trees for every class. I was the only person available to do that -- our other class designer, Kevin Jordan, was mainly focused on ensuring that all of the classes had spells and abilities up to level 60, and managing the flow of when you'd get which ability. Kevin and I, and Rob Pardo, and Mike Heiberg from the StarCraft team, all worked on that part of the game. It was exciting, but it was weird -- my experience with some of the classes was making a character of that class on an internal server, playing it up to level 10 to get a feel for how the class played, and starting to make 60 levels worth of talents. A lot of my early experience was trying to get familiar with every class."
Kind of explains a lot, doesn't it? Like Lacerate, for example. People who complain about balance nowadays really have no idea how bad it used to be, or how much Blizzard's process for fixing it has improved. Chilton goes into more detail about WoW's early development in his full interview on the Battlecry site.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Interviews

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