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Blizzard talks procedural and player-created content in WoW

Nagrand in Draenor
In an interview with Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Lead Content Designer Cory Stockton spoke about the challenges of producing content fast enough to keep up with the rate at which players consume it. Aside from their desire to move up to yearly expansions, one of the things they have had discussions about is adding procedurally-generated content to the game.

"People just burn through our content so fast, if we could build enough content, we would," Stockton said. "Procedural content is totally something we've talked about." However, he was quick to point out that randomized content would not replace any of their handcrafted content.

Cory Stockton
I think what we'd like to do is say we can still have our seven or eight dungeons, but then over here we've got some crazy procedural supplement. Maybe the dungeon is random, maybe the boss is randomized with different [abilities] – how ever we could do that. But I think that'd be a cool supplement to the handcrafted stuff. Because I think that's what sets us apart.


Having dungeons or scenarios change up slightly every time you enter them could certainly make re-running them a little more fun. You could speculate all day about what they could do with this -- alternate paths through a dungeon, dynamic events, randomized trash and bosses, environmental gameplay, and much more.

Player-created content

Currently, player-created content in WoW is limited to UI addons, but what if that was somehow extended to in-game content? While this is not something presently on the table, Stockton suggested that player-created content could be the next evolution of procedural content.

Cory Stockton
Procedural is the only thing we've really talked about, and I feel like that has to be the next step. We have to be able to make that kind of content, and then offer up the tools. But obviously Blizzard has a very strong history of [user-created content]. I mean, things like the StarCraft II editor are all about that. So I think that would be a natural step.

Blizzard certainly has experience supporting player-created content in their RTS games, but this type of content in a MMO is a completely different animal. Anything player-created would probably have to be separated from the normal progression aspects of the game to prevent anyone from cheating the system. Both procedural and player-created content are things present in other MMOs on the market, but this is uncharted territory for WoW and adding such a feature would be no small task.

It's difficult to predict what WoW will look like beyond Warlords of Draenor. Maybe we'll all be playing someone's custom WoW tower defense map in a few years, as crazy as that may sound. Even if these specific ideas never come to fruition, it's nice to know Blizzard is thinking big. You can check out the full interview here.

Filed under: News items

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