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Posts with tag interview

The complexity of Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm official art
Ten years ago, players told Blizzard that WoW was too simple compared to past MMOs like Ultima Online, EverQuest, and Asheron's Call. More recently, many (including me at one point) said the same about Hearthstone -- that too much complexity had been removed from the genre compared to games like Magic: The Gathering. Today, Polygon posted an interview with Heroes of the Storm game director Dustin Browder. His message: HOTS isn't "DOTA for babies."

"If you come looking for complexity in exactly the same places," Browder said, "you will be disappointed. If you come looking for complexity wherever it may be, I think you're going to be surprised and have a great time."

Blizzard has stripped away many MOBA hallmarks, such as the item store. Browder says that other features make up for this loss of complexity. Talent selection is crucial. Map-specific objectives also play a huge role in determining the course of the battle and require careful strategy to accomplish.

In a video included with the story, Polygon's "MOBA expert" Emily Gera had some further comments on the game: "The masses don't want to play big, scary MOBA games... Blizzard is trying to create a game that has less of a barrier to entry and bypass the classic issue of MOBA games -- that MOBA games are full of jerks... There's a lot of infighting. In HOTS, everyone on the team is in it together."

What do you think? Is HOTS dumbing down the genre too much, or are these the changes the genre needs?

Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

Wowhead interviews Lead Game Designer Ion Hazzikostas

Warlords of Draenor is bringing some big changes to the table -- and Wowhead recently interviewed Lead Game Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas about many of the changes we'll be seeing in regards to raiding, valor, and more. Item upgrades will be going away entirely, and with them, the valor point system seems to be attracting a shift in purpose, although that shift hasn't quite been decided just yet. However, the incentive mentioned during last year's BlizzCon that rewarded players with extra valor for grouping is undergoing a revamp, as valor currently isn't as useful as it has been in the past.

Also interesting to note are the design changes for gear rewards. For the past several expansions, gear obtained from varying levels of difficulty in raids has always been the same model, simply different colors. In Warlords, this will be changed to be similar to what we saw in Burning Crusade -- PvP and PvE gear will share similar models, and the color shift will denote whether the armor was obtained in PvE, or PvP. Raid gear will go back to having different artwork, depending on the difficulty of the content completed -- so players that have defeated the most difficult content will have the snazzy gear to show for it.

While Garrisons are going to be a huge piece of playable content, Hazzikostas pointed out that the feature is in no way mandatory -- the feature is not meant to feel like dailies in any way, and there won't be any sense of obligation to work on them on a daily basis. For those that have waded their way through the daily system introduced in Mists, that should be a relief to hear. Check out the full interview above for more from Hazzikostas -- and keep an eye on Wowhead for a full transcript of the interview soon.

Filed under: Interviews, Warlords of Draenor

Interview: Technical Game Designer Chadd "Celestalon" Nervig talks Warlords of Draenor

I was lucky enough to head over to Blizzard Campus this week to talk to Technical Game Designer Chadd "Celestalon" Nervig. Chadd is a huge part of the class design team, key to a lot of the changes we saw in the recent Warlords of Draenor patch notes, which is just what we discussed. We were also joined by Senior Community Representatives Zarhym and Lore. You can also find a much-abbreviated summary on Wowhead.

Olivia: First up, is there anything you really wanted to clarify and get out there?

Celestalon: I've tweeted about pretty much everything. This was the first version of the patch notes, there have been more changes since then, those patch notes are about a week old or so?

Zarhym: Yeah it's like, tons of changes. [Rygarius] said he had a huge list of changes.

Celestalon: There's another five thousand words that aren't up there yet, which [Rygarius] is working on now.

There have been different amounts of patch notes released for different classes. Paladins have been complaining that they haven't got enough, rogues have been really happy that not much has changed. Is it safe to assume there's more to come? This is just step one?

There's definitely more coming. Like, for example, paladins had relatively few patch notes, and a lot of that is we were relatively happy with how things played out, at least for ret and prot, with the exception of a few things we can solve with tuning – changing numbers. So a lot of what you see in the patch notes now is what we call design changes, so the mechanics that we want to change so we can get to some design that we like.

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Filed under: Interviews, Warlords of Draenor

Dominic Cooper talks about the Warcraft Movie

Actor Dominic Cooper, one of the confirmed cast for the Warcraft Movie, has sat down with an interviewer and discussed the upcoming role. He talks about the difficulty of working within a world that is already so rich in story, so well-known, and already inhabited by so many people. He says, not unfairly, that many people have probably made up their minds about certain characters already, and that that's an obstacle the producers have to overcome.

He also talks about his gaming history, referring to both WoW and Need for Speed, and tells the interviewer how he's played both games and loved them. He goes on to talk about how he couldn't find the time to be sufficiently reliable to commit time to raiding in WoW, and how he unfortunately no longer plays either. Nonetheless, it's an interesting interview, and perhaps a glimpse into the Warcraft Movie world.

Filed under: Warcraft Movie

Warlords of Draenor: Ion Hazzikostas video interview

We already posted one interview with Watcher (Ion Hazzikostas) this weekend, but he also did this video interview with the German language website Buffed.de, and he covers a lot of details not found in the previous interview. So what does Watcher have to say?
  • Level 100 talents are being designed around the idea that one talent can/should be different things to different specs, and this philosophy is being used in redesigning other talent tiers as well. He uses the example of the mage level 75 tier and says they've discussed taking all three of the current talents and making it one talent, which gives you one of the three spells (Nether Tempest, Living Bomb or Frost Bomb) based on spec.
  • The difficulty of Mists of Pandaria heroics was hampered by the decision to not have max level normal mode dungeons, but Warlords will have level 100 normal and heroic dungeons, and LFR in Warlords will not require gear from heroics, just normals. If players want an involved, cooperative challenge, heroic five mans will be more of this.
  • Challenge modes will see one change -- doing the random daily challenge mode quest will automatically give you one epic for completing the quest -- this gear will be as good as or perhaps better than LFR, even before LFR opens, so you can gear up via challenge modes.
  • Highmaul is 'very similar to Firelands' in layout - an open area with several nonlinear bosses that you can clear or skip, and two final bosses that must be completed, while Blackrock Foundry is a three wing dungeon that you can clear in any order you wish.
  • "Gul'dan is not the threat... and he might even be an ally against the Iron Horde."
  • Sha of Anger was the most successful world boss of Mists of Pandaria in terms of the difficulty and experience, and other world bosses didn't quite work out as planned.
There's actually a lot more, so head on over to Buffed.de and check out the video for yourself.

(Thanks to Adam, Julian and Mintie for tips and Susanne Braun for correction)

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Interviews, Warlords of Draenor

Ion Hazzikostas press tour interview with Battlenet.pl

As part of this week's press junkets, Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas (who I may or may not have a shrine to in my office) conducted this interview with Polish fansite Battlenet.pl. There's quite a few interesting details to pour over here. Some standouts I noticed:
  • We're going to see world bosses again, including one described as a giant ancestor of the gronn named a Fomor, with powers over earth and stone. I'm surprised it's named Fomor and not Grom, but the name's mythologically sound enough. I find myself wondering if they're big enough to build a town in, like that dude up there.
  • The first raid open (about a week after Warlords launch) is Highmaul, an ogre raid open in Nagrand. Blackrock Foundry will open a few weeks after that, and LFR will be gated as it was in Mists of Pandaria.
  • We're not fighting Garrosh in Warlords. "Garrosh will be around but I don't think... we have really no plans to fight Garrosh again. That's the fight the players have already had and they have won. I don't think there's really much appetite for Garrosh to be a boss you face off again."
  • Ion mentioned the linear aspect of raiding as the biggest down side of raid design in Mists of Pandaria and that they're hoping to make raids less linear in Warlords.
It's a very informative interview, so head over to Battlenet.pl and take a long read for yourself.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Interviews, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

BlizzPro interviews Helen Cheng and Marco Koegler

BlizzPro has posted their BlizzCon interview with World of Warcraft Quest Designer Helen Cheng and Technical Director Marco Koegler about Warlords of Draenor and the future of WoW. The interview covers a variety of topics about the coming expansion, including why the team decided to return to a ten level expansion curve instead of sticking to the five it has been more recently (it makes for smoother leveling progression, plus level 100 is cool!), how (or if!) the time-travel aspect of Warlords will affect Azeroth itself (it shouldn't, provide we heroes rise to the occassion), and why there aren't any new playable classes or races for this expansion (new character models are resource-intensive).

But those are far from the only topics discussed during the interview. Cheng and Koegler also go into whether or not Garrisons will be character-based or account-wide, and what the different challenges are within either approach. Cheng also talks in depth about daily quests and their history in the game, the shortcomings of that particular design, and how Blizzard hopes to create a more balanced questing experience going forward so as to avoid some of the problems with quests in Mists of Pandaria.

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Filed under: Interviews, Warlords of Draenor

Item Squish extremely likely for WoW's next expansion

Item Squish very likely for WoW's next expansion
Gamescom is drawing to a close, and with it a flurry of developer interviews have been taking place. One which happened just a couple of hours ago was a raiding-specific round table with Game Director Tom Chilton and Lead Content Designer Cory Stockton. One of the questions asked related to the much-debated item squish, and whether we would see it in WoW 6.0. Tom and Cory responded as follows:
TC: "If we don't do the item squish it's going to require a lot of re-engineering of our combat code to actually support bigger numbers. We're getting really close to the point where the code can't..."
CS: "Yeah, the code can't compile the numbers"
TC: "Yeah it can't compile the numbers, so we are testing the item squish internally with the expansion, and I think a good time to launch it would be right before the next expansion so people are already used to it by the time the expansion launches. So, that's the current plan, but we'll see how it works out. I hope we can."
Of course that isn't a firm confirmation, there have been many changes, certainly ones of this magnitude, that have gone into internal testing and not ever made it live. This is no cast iron guarantee. But, the devs mention how their combat code is nearing the point where it can't actually handle the big numbers, and it seems that a full expansion of item level escalation would do nothing to help with this issue. So an item squish certainly seems extremely likely for the next expansion.

Filed under: News items

Greg Street and Marco Koegler Korean Q&A on WoW and its future


Some very interesting things were revealed in this Q&A from Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street and WoW Technical Director Marco Koegler. The interview was conducted in Korea, so there's a bit of down time while translations are being made between interviewers and interviewees, but the hour-long video is worth watching for a few meaty tidbits. In particular, Ghostcrawler has essentially stated that Garrosh will not be replaced at the end of patch 5.4. Oh, his days as warchief will be over for sure, but the patch is intended to end with his defeat at the hands of the players. These actions will set in motion a chain of events which will lead to the new warchief's implementation--but not in patch 5.4. So it seems that the mystery of who will next lead the Horde draws on!

Other bits of information worth noting include the confirmation that patch 5.4 will be the final raid patch of Mists of Pandaria, which leads us here at WoW Insider to speculate on the timeline of the next expansion. Considering that traditionally new WoW expansions have been announced at Blizzcon--still a few months away--and given that the next warchief will not be revealed quite as soon as we expected, it seems reasonable to speculate that there might be a non-raid 5.5 patch in the works to take us through to 6.0. However, there is no mention of that in the Q&A and really, it's just idle speculation on my part. Still, I'm now more fascinated than ever to see what the future holds in store for us denizens of Azeroth! How about you?

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Interviews, Mists of Pandaria

PCR interviews Blizzard Entertainment

battlenet
The UK-based computer trade news outlet PCR posted a quick interview with Blizzard Entertainment on Friday, July 12th. Interestingly, the interview focuses not necessarily on the digital offerings that we come to expect from a computer-based company, but the retail side of the business, and Blizzard's performances in the more traditional market. Blizzard seems to maintain its success in retail not only because of its games' performance history and market momentum, but also thanks to licensed peripherals which help keep the brand versatile.

Probably the most interesting portion of the interview is the sadly brief discussion of Blizzard's POSA (point of sale activation) cards, known as Battle.net Balance Cards. These cards are similar to the game time cards most WoW players are likely familiar with, but rather than add time to your WoW account, they add money to your Battle.net account in general, which you can use to add time to your WoW game or purchase other Blizzard games and so on.

So far, these cards don't seem to be readily available in the US as in the EU, but I have heard rumors of people finding them in GameStop from time to time, so who knows. For those of you who are wary about using a credit card online, or who just might like other options for adding money to your Battle.net account, they might be worth looking into. You can check out the EU Battle.net Balance Card FAQ for further information if you're interested.

Filed under: Blizzard, Interviews

Tom Chilton chats about what's coming in patch 5.3

blizz tom chilton interview wip
We know Blizzard has a lot planned for patch 5.3, which could go live any time now. But to keep us busy while we wait for the next batch of new WoW content, Blizzard Insider has posted an interview with Game Director Tom Chilton. Though the interview mostly summarizes what we already know about the upcoming patch, it provides a great overview of what's coming with a bit of added insight Blizzard's development thought process. Covered in the interview are how the devs felt patch 5.2 performed, the storyline of patch 5.3, PvP changes and the new battleground, new scenarios (and heroic scenarios), gear and the ability to choose which spec you'd like gear for, and visible pet battles.

The patches are certainly coming our way quickly. Are you looking forward to patch 5.3 or still working on patch 5.2?

Filed under: Blizzard, Interviews, Mists of Pandaria

Call to Auction talks economy and professions with the devs

The Call to Auction podcast, which features our own Basil "Euripides" Berntsen, recently had the opportunity to send a big batch of questions about WoW's auction house, economy, and professions to developers Greg Street and He-Rim Woo. The devs gave out some great info, some highlights of which include:
  • There are no plans for a sweeping auction house redesign
  • Due to the popularity of the cooking and blacksmithing catch-up mechanisms, similar mechanisms for herbalism and mining might be on the way
  • The Guardian Cub experiment was just that, and it's unlikely there'll be another item like it
  • Splitting items off of a stack in the auction house is also unlikely going forward
  • It's possible that buy orders will be implemented for high-cost items like Mechano-Hogs, unlikely for stuff like flasks and enchants
  • The mailbox as the AH delivery system doesn't feel quite right and may eventually change
You can read the full interview on the Consortium forums.

Filed under: Economy

GuildOx interviews Ion Hazzikostas

GuildOx interviews Ion Hazzikostas
As patch 5.2 looms ever closer, Blizzard has opened their doors, offering insights into the ideas, plans and processes behind the upcoming patch. WoW Insider's Anne Stickney interviewed Lead Quest Designer Dave Kosak yesterday, and now GuildOx has published their interview with Lead Encounter Designer Ion Hazzikostas.

The GuildOx interview brings up many interesting insights into the new raid, from the man leading the team who designed it. WoW Insider found several of Ion's answers particularly interesting, for example, he indicated that the Dark Animus fight, as pictured above, is probably the most innovative, and we certainly agree.

Ion also has some tips for guilds tackling the new raid:
Take your time, pace yourself, and enjoy the variety of the tier. It's a large one. There are fights that focus on different skills, and if you're struggling with one encounter, it's quite possible that a fight that plays to your group's strengths, and which you'll have a much easier time with, lies just over that hill.

If your guild runs into a roadblock on Normal mode, consider revisiting any 5.0 raids that you never finished, or trying some of the 5.0 Heroics for more gear upgrades to complement the ilvl-522 and -528 gear you'll be getting from your Throne of Thunder kills each week.

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Filed under: Interviews

Interview with Lead Encounter Designer Ion Hazzikostas

At the Mists of Pandaria launch event in Irvine last week, I had the opportunity to talk to Ion Hazzikostas, lead encounter designer for World of Warcraft, about Mists of Pandaria's raids and dungeons, lessons learned from Cataclysm and beyond, and the road ahead.

WoW Insider: State your name and position!

Ion Hazzikostas: My name is Ion Hazzikostas and I am the lead encounter designer for World of Warcraft.

What does that job entail?

I'm the lead on the encounter team, which is self-explanatory; we make the dungeon and raid content, primarily. We're specialists in multiplayer PVE combat. On top of the dungeons and raids, we also help with outdoor raid bosses, scenario bosses, things like that.

What would you say that your biggest goal going into Mists of Pandaria was?

Particularly on the dungeon and raid front, to provide content for everybody, for all kinds of players. And we recognize that there's a massive spectrum of millions of people who are playing and enjoying World of Warcraft - a huge range of skill, frankly, and time commitment, the whole casual-hardcore spectrum people always talk about. And one of the things that we've been doing over the evolution of the game is to add additional difficulties, additional ways of consuming that content. So, you know, we now have LFR, normal, and heroic raids, and now we've introduced challenge modes, a sort of new tier of actually legitimately difficult five-player content. It's one of the biggest differences from Cataclysm at launch; one of the things we heard from people who were in guilds with friends and they'd say "these dungeons are awesome, we're having a lot of fun" ... but the people who queued up in Dungeon Finder would have a miserable time.

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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Convert to Raid talks to Ion Hazzikostas: Theramore, Raiding, and more

Convert to Raid talk to Ion Hazzikostas about Theramore, Raiding, and the LoreAction balance

This Sunday, September 23, raiding podcast Convert to Raid will be broadcasting an interview with Blizzard Lead Encounter Designer Ion Hazzikostas, a.k.a. Blizzard Blue Watcher. Convert to Raid's host, Pat Krane, a.k.a. Zhug, was good enough to give WoW Insider a sneak preview of this weekend's broadcast so we could give you some snippets to whet your appetite!

You guys just released the Theramore scenario, and I wanted to check how the feedback was from the players?

I think we're learning a lot from player reactions to the Theramore scenario. A lot of it is what player expectations were going into it, it was never really designed to be the epic world event prior to the expansion, things like the zombie plague come to mind. It was a story-driven little sneak preview of what the scenario system had to offer, and showing players a glimpse of one of the key events that's going to lead to greater conflict between the Alliance and the Horde... Something we've learned from repeatable content is that players don't always want very lengthy dialogue or cutscenes or cinematics...

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