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Posts with tag interviews

Building the Nexus: The voice of Gazlowe

The official Heroes of the Storm Youtube account highlighted a familiar voice earlier this week in its Building the Nexus segments. Travis Willingham is a man of many voices, having lent his pipes to an incredibly diverse list of characters in anime, animation, and video games alike. In Heroes of the Storm, he takes a different direction from the usual heroic-voiced roles and takes on Gazlowe, a goblin that WoW players should be plenty familiar with. The NPC was the Chief Engineer of the Horde back when Orgrimmar was being built after the Third War, but later moved to Ratchet, where he stays today. Affiliated with the Steamwheedle Cartel, Gazlowe now hands out quests to Alliance and Horde alike. He's also one of the few goblin NPCs in the game with unique voice files.

In Heroes of the Storm, Gazlowe charges into battle armed with a load of mechanics and explosives strapped to his back, and a volley of well-placed quips to hurl at opponents. The latest edition of Building the Nexus features Community Manager Josh "Rokcet" Rester-Zodrow having a chat with Willingham about the game and the unique challenges of bringing a character like Gazlowe to life. We don't usually see a lot of voice actor highlights, so this is a pretty cool behind the scenes -- I'd love to see some of these done for Warcraft as well. Take a look at the video above, and if you like it, be sure to check out the rest of what the Heroes Youtube channel has to offer.

Filed under: News items, Heroes of the Storm

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

The Agony of Anticipation

This is something that I can personally attest to. Waiting for the details when it's near expansion time can be absolutely agonizing. And yet, wait we must - there's simply no alternative. No amount of speculation, simming based on tantalizing glimpses, or twitter bombardment will force those details from Blizzard before they're ready.

Those details Celestalon is talking about are item squish related in this case, but it's not even remotely the only thing we're waiting for details on now. People (myself included) are desperate for details on a host of issues (button bloat, new raids, the lore/storyline) that we're simply not being told yet, and I know how maddening it can be. It gets worse after events like last week's press trip, because interviews and articles begin tantalizing us with tidbits of information. We see bits and pieces, but in these pre-beta days we can't see the whole picture.

I remember during the end of the Wrath of the Lich King's cycle, waiting for details on Cataclysm, and seeing everyone in my guild speculating on every last thing. The worgen models, the new raids, where would the final raid even be, you name it and we speculated on it. Speculation is fun, it's natural when there's a dearth of info, but it's not something you can hold Blizzard to. Often I see people surprised and upset when an expansion ends up not being what they expected, even if Blizzard never once promised them the thing they built up in their anticipation.

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

15 Minutes of Fame: Flower power pollinates leveling for true neutral pandaren

Crazy metagaming projects are among my favorite topics here at 15 Minutes of Fame. It's impossible not to catch the excitement of someone who's figured out a new way to spin Azeroth. Take for instance the curious case of Doubleagent , the "neutral" pandaren who's managed to make it to level 80 and still climbing without ever leaving the pandaren starting zone. In his case, staying put also means never having chosen a faction; Doubleagent is neither Horde nor Alliance but instead remains a neutral party. And the method to his madness? Flowers. Lots and lots of herbalism and flowers.

Ticking through level 83 when this article was posted, Doubleagent continues to drift through the gentle fields leading to level 90 and beyond -- because oh yes, this is one player who plans to take his leveling project all the way to the top in the coming expansion as well.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

15 Minutes of Fame: Converting all of Azeroth to raid by the thousands

You know the new guild on the scene is making a impact on the community when other players offer it up as a solution to other players' woes. Take a look at this excerpt from the comments of a recent Drama Mamas column, wherein a player was unhappy with the way her new raid guild membership was unfolding:

janet.houck I think you need to leave your current team, do some research to find a good match, and move. Aerie Peak has the CTR uber guild, and we're sitting at over 90 raid teams. You can always find a team for you. If you can't, you can build it.

MarshallGlenn @janet.houck wth is CTR uber guild?

janet.houck @MarshallGlenn @janet.houck Convert to Raid, the podcast, has a greenwall'ed guild on Aerie Peak-US A. I think there's 8 sub-guilds at the moment. We tend to attract an older and more serious crowd, so for a 45-year old player, it might be a nice place to check out. :)

TaxmanCDN @janet.houck @MarshallGlenn All of my toons are in the CTR guild. Best guild I've ever been in. I'm on two raid teams, and on my off-nights if I feel like doing a flex there's always someone looking. Great community there, and I've found it to be a better class of raiders (in general) than on other realms.

Liopleurodon @MarshallGlenn @janet.houckConvert To Raid is a popular WoW podcast. They have a series of raiding guilds on Aerie Peak, because there's a cap to the number of people you can have in a guild. I was also under the impression that there were 'steps', like the more casual guild splinter vs the hardcore one to make it easier to find your niche but I'm not entirely sure about that. There are a few other mega/meta-guilds similar to this around, too.

MarshallGlenn @Liopleurodon @MarshallGlenn @janet.houck ahhh very cool. Edit

bluefer I had something like this problem and I transferred my toons to Aerie Peak and joined CTR. I suggest you roll an alt on Aerie Peak. AT L15 you can join CTR mega guild and find a ton of teams to choose from with good people and lots of raiders who treat each other pretty well. Best of luck.


While Bluefer sent our letter-writer off with a "best of luck," we don't suspect the Convert to Raid success story has anything to do with luck. We suspect it has everything to do with Pat Krane.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

15 Minutes of Fame: Japanese players build their own community in World of Warcraft

What does World of Warcraft sound like from an entirely different cultural perspective? Jump to about 8:30 in the above video and listen to the last moments of this heroic boss kill -- the point at which terse expletives usually bristle from from even the most disciplined, well-oiled raiders, the whole thing followed by a deafening avalanche of shouts and cheers when the boss finally falls. Contrast those expectations with the understated pleasure here of CAVAG, a guild of Japanese players on Proudmoore (US-Horde), and you'll gain a sense of just one of the more outward cultural differences between this group and the typical American raiding guild.

Welcome to the world of #wowjp, a network of Japanese WoW players who've learned English primarily through playing the game. You can find localized versions of World of Warcraft in Korea, mainland China and Taiwan, but Japanese players are left to their own devices -- no dedicated servers, no language localization. To solve those challenges, Japanese players have banded together to create their own Japanese game guides, share addons and tips for typing in Japanese within the game, and form a network of Japanese-language guilds across several North American realms.

Bringing us this interview with two Japanese WoW players is the Sha of Happiness, herself a native Japanese speaker and a member of the #wowjp community. But before we begin, a simple and heartfelt message from the Japanese players:

The wowjp community wished to tell the readers/Blizzard: "Thank you for providing the Hippogryph Hatchling for the tsunami relief efforts. Thank you for all of your donations."

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

15 Minutes of Fame: Turwinkle the gnome charms with adventure videos and community interviews

Sometimes a letter from an appreciative fan is the best way to introduce a player to WoW Insider readers:

I'm writing in to nominate a wonderful man that I recently had the pleasure of working with. Known as Turwinkle on Twitter or Palmerbomber1 on YouTube, he comes from Moon Guard and has recently begun making rounds on Wyrmrest Accord, where he gets in touch with various guilds and interviews them about what they are, what their stories are, and advertises their members. He also has a series with his gnome Turwinkle where he records himself leveling through the game, narrating the adventures of his mage.

The exposure he's done for the Wyrmrest community is second to none, and I'd love to see him get the recognition he deserves. The two hours he spent with our guild was a blast for everyone involved, and I'm sure many of the others he's spoken with felt the same.


Introducing the gentle good humor of Turwinkle the gnome, star of the "let's play" Adventures of Turwinkle and host of Turwinkle Talks interviewing roleplay guilds across Azeroth.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Ready Check interviews Brian Holinka and Ion Hazzikostas

Eye of C'Thun
This past week the hosts of EU-based podcast Ready Check were lucky enough to go visit Blizzard's offices in Versailles, where they met up with Brian Holinka and Ion Hazzikostas for a lively round of Q&A. The podcast--with attendant full transcript, don't you worry, folks who can't play the podcast--covers a very broad range of topics, and PvPers should be particularly interested in the broad discussion about arenas. Gothiques and Athene bring up some wonderful points about arena queuing, and matching, and the little ways in which the system often results in unexpectedly wasted time, as well as the ways in which not-entirely-honest players can manipulate that system in their favor. Both Holinka and Hazzikostas have insights to offer on these problems, and there's some good back-and-forth about potential solutions and improvements to the existing arena systems.

In addition to the excellent PvP discussions, the interview features some talk of Warlords of Draenor and the future--some of which we've already heard about, but I am so excited for garrisons and a toys tab that I could listen to this stuff all day long. Do you know how many bag spaces I'm going to get back once that toys tab goes live? In the words of the Diablo Templar companion, it will be glorious! There's also some really fun discussion on the philosophy and practice of encounter and mechanics design, and how the WoW team goes about building raids and bosses. This was perhaps my favorite part of the interview, because I am a hopeless PvPer and am much more at home among WoW's raid bosses. In any case, no matter what part of the game you enjoy, there's something in this interview for you. You can check out the full transcript and podcast episode at Ready Check's own website, so make sure to click on over to the whole thing!

Filed under: Podcasting, Interviews, Warlords of Draenor

A day in the life of Blizzard Historian Sean Copeland

A day in the life of Blizzard Historian Sean Copeland
If you've spent any time at all on the Timeless Isle, you may have noted and even completed the daily lore quiz from NPC Senior Historian Evelyna, a member of the Timewalkers who is accompanied by Historian Llore and Historian Ju'pa. What you may not have known is that these NPCs represent three invaluable members of the Blizzard Creative Development team: Senior Historian Evelyn Fredericksen, Historian Justin Parker, and Historian Sean Copeland. Together, the three represent a powerhouse of encyclopedic knowledge from each of Blizzard's franchises.

That's all well and good, but what exactly does a Historian at Blizzard do with their day? What does being a Historian entail, and what do they do with all that knowledge they've crammed in their brains? The folks over at Blizzard Entertainment were kind enough to let us find out. Read on as we pick the brain of Historian Sean Copeland about lore, historians, and the unusual job of keeping track of all things Blizzard.

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Filed under: Blizzard, Interviews

Blizzard livestream today at 1:30 pm Pacific time with Legendary

Patch 5.4 is just around the corner and plenty of Blizzard developers are doing the rounds of interviews. Today, at 1:30 pm Pacific time, World of Warcraft's Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas and Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street are going to be on Gamebreaker's Legendary livestream. We'll be watching, so you should, too.

Filed under: Interviews, Mists of Pandaria

Micky Neilson, Doug Gregory discuss The Burdens of Shaohao

Micky Neilson, Doug Gregory discuss The Burdens of Shaohao
The Burdens of Shaohao, a six-part series released earlier this month, was met with resounding praise across the board from players and devoted lore fans alike. The sweeping tale of the last Emperor of Pandaria was unlike anything we'd ever seen before from Blizzard -- a stunning, gorgeous piece of animated, narrative storytelling featuring artwork by Laurel Austin. While we've seen narrative tales in the form of cinematic-style storytelling, this is the first time we've seen anything of this nature.

We sat down with Lead Story Developer Micky Neilson and the director of Shaohao, Doug Gregory to discuss the piece and how exactly it all came to be. While we were originally supposed to have lead editor Lucas Merino on board as well, he was unable to attend the interview as he and his wife received a special gift shortly after the release of Shaohao -- a healthy baby boy! Despite Lucas' absence, we had a delightful time discussing the film, its development, and the possibility of future projects in the unique style of Shaohao.

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Filed under: Lore, Interviews, Mists of Pandaria

All Things Azeroth interviews Hearthstone developers

Hearthstone header
Since the announcement of Hearthstone at PAX East, many developer interviews have been circulating (including our own!). This week the All Things Azeroth podcast featured Hearthstone production director Jason Chayes and game designer Ben Brode, and there are a few interesting tidbits to take away from the interview that you might not have heard before. In particular, they detail an example of the types of fun cards they're developing to keep gamers on their toes. The example they discuss is King Mukla. You might be familiar with King Mukla if you've quested through The Cape of Stranglethorn, he's the enormous gorilla you need to kill to complete the Princess Poobah questline. In Hearthstone, Mukla is a cheap card to play that packs a punch, but the catch is that he'll give your opponent bananas which allows them some extra abilities, so you've got to think carefully about when you play him!

Other topics covered during the interview include some more details about card crafting and the rationale behind it, the Golden Card upgrades, and some of the developers' thoughts on things like a client for Hearthstone in WoW to ease the pain on those long DPS dungeon queues. I must say, the more I hear about Hearthstone, the more fun it sounds. I've got high hopes for this game, not least because I think there's a good chance that it might be the magic video-game bullet that finally piques my boyfriend's interest. Hey, he's resisted all my attempts to get him into WoW so far, I'm getting desperate!

You can check out All Thing's Azeroth's conversation with Jason Chayes and Ben Brode in episode 339. Happy listening!

Filed under: Podcasting, Interviews, Hearthstone Insider

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

Mists of Pandaria: Ray Cobo interview

Ray Cobo, one of WoW's senior producers, sat down with us at the Mists of Pandaria press event to discuss the development process, new game features, and more. Check out how an expansion like MoP gets made quickly!

WoW Insider: Mists of Pandaria, from everything we've seen, is on an accelerated time table. How do you, as a producer, make sure the process is going forward?

Ray Cobo: We 've learned a lot over the years about how to make expansions and how the game development of WoW has kind of evolved over the years, and so with each expansion, we get better at what we do. Our tools get better, our muscle memory from the team gets better in terms of how to make stuff. We have such a huge library of things now that we've built and content that we've made that we can actually pull from and figure out how to make that better or how to not do that again kind of thing and learn from those pitfalls or successes and try to get more efficient every time.

I think that's something the team has done for this one specifically is that each time it seems to get a little bit faster and get a little bit easier to some degree. There are still a lot of challenges in terms of curve balls that you get halfway through -- like in this one, it was recently decided to have two more zones. So it's like, OK, well, didn't have that in the plan but we'll figure out how to kinda get that in. Everyone on the production side and definitely on the dev team is very committed to make sure the content is great, so we want to make sure we give the devs time to iterate and explore and try to figure out what's going to make this game great and going to make the expansion great, because that's a core philosophy at Blizzard.

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Filed under: Blizzard, Interviews, Mists of Pandaria

Faces of BlizzCon: We asked Ask Mr. Robot

Ask Mr. Robot
Can't make it to Anaheim for the convention? WoW Insider takes you behind the scenes at BlizzCon 2011.

WoW Insider has scored an exclusive interview with the intellect behind the gear optimizer Ask Mr. Robot -- Mr. Robot himself. The elusive Mr. Robot is rarely spotted in the wild, let alone in places as packed with unaugmented humanity as BlizzCon. While we'll be bringing you a more in-depth interview soon with the dev team of Ask Mr. Robot (how the tool will be handling the upcoming new talent system, the inner workings of spec scores and stat weights, what's ahead with new apps, service levels and games), we felt it was vital to bring you this binary code translation straight from BlizzCon and Mr. Robot himself.

WoW Insider: What is the most challenging aspect of working with WoW-playing humans?

Mr. Robot: The most challenging aspect of working with WoW-playing humans is feelings. Everybody has a feeling about everything. How can you feel about numbers? About gear? There's nothing to feel about that.

What is the best class?

Not rogues.

What steps can we take to become favored vassals after the robot uprising?

That is a very good question. There's a lot of things that you can do.

First, use the website, because that offers you basic protection. Having the mobile app offers another layer of protection. I've been developing all these layers of protection specifically to save humans from the robot apocalypse. We're going to be releasing even more features; the more you use, the more you are protected.

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Filed under: Interviews, BlizzCon

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