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Posts with tag quest-design

The Mists of Pandaria that never was

The Mists of Pandaria that never was
It wasn't until after a few weeks of raiding Siege of Orgrimmar that it really hit me: Mists of Pandaria is winding down. Unless Blizzard has a fast one up its sleeve, this is the last tier of raiding before the new expansion, whatever that happens to be. It seems almost too fast, seeing as how we've just hit the one-year anniversary for Mists, but at the same time the faster pace has left me very little time to be bored. Between patches with raid content and patches with quest content, there has always been something to do -- and in patch 5.4, we get not only a new raid, but a delightful island on which to while away the hours.

And I was flying to the Timeless Isle to go farm a rare mob or two when I started thinking about the expansion as it comes to its end. More specifically, the Jade Forest. A lush, tropical paradise the likes of which we hadn't really seen in such scale, the gorgeous scenery and introductory quests ushered players through what ended up being an emotional, gripping, and overall entertaining roller coaster of an expansion. But there's a catch to that. Once upon a time, the Jade Forest wore a very different face -- and had it gone live, Pandaria itself may have looked very, very different to players.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Mists of Pandaria

Patch 5.2 and beyond with Dave Kosak

Patch 52 and beyond with Dave Kosak
Hot on the heels of the official patch 5.2 trailer, we had the opportunity to sit down and speak with one of the developers behind it all. While chatting with Lead Quest Designer Dave Kosak about patch 5.2 and its development, one thing became incredibly clear -- 5.2 is definitely not just a raid and a few dailies. There is far, far more to be seen and experienced in the new patch.

Read on for some of the details behind the trailer released earlier today, the story in the new patch, daily quest development, scenarios, and even a few hints at what's in store for patch 5.3.

Please note: There are a couple of minor spoilers for 5.2 content in the interview. Nothing huge, we promise!

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Filed under: Interviews, Mists of Pandaria

A spoiler-free look at the Mists of Pandaria beta

Are you in the beta for Mists of Pandaria yet? Are you fastidiously avoiding spoilers about all beta-related content? As a site that covers Warcraft news, you'll find more often than not that we have a lot of content up on the site that could be considered spoilers. And if you're someone who's avoiding all that spoiler content, it can get a little frustrating to have to keep scrolling past all that information -- or even more frustrating, dealing with the temptation that all of the spoiler information you could ever want to indulge, just behind that click.

Well, that's not what this article is about. It's about the beta, but it's a spoiler-free look at the beta. You'll see some screenshots, but mostly what you'll be reading is what the beta is like. No spoilers of cool story information or anything of that nature here -- just information on Mists, how it looks, how it's shaping up, and what to expect in the event that you do get a beta invite and would like to indulge.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

Mists of Pandaria Beta: New icons make questing a breeze

Do you remember the times you had a quest in your log that asked you to go speak to someone in particular? Or the quests that required you to speak to or deliver something to several different people? It was almost impossible to track where those people were, since they weren't marked with a yellow exclamation point, and they didn't glitter like most quest objectives.

Well, that issue has suddenly evaporated in Mists of Pandaria with the introduction of a new quest icon. In much the same fashion as the usual exclamation points in blue and yellow (and question marks of the same color), all of those pesky people you have to talk to are now marked by a simple yellow word balloon over their head. But the improvements go further than just that -- quest targets are also marked on your minimap for you with a white word balloon icon, as well.

And if that's not enough for you, there's also a new icon for interactive objects -- a floating yellow set of gears. This seems to be for quests that involve searching for clues or items you need to examine; the gears float over the various quest objectives. Both new icons are bright and easy to see, clear indicators that whatever they're floating over is part of a quest you have in your logs.

Both of these situations are something I'd chalked up to one of those little annoyances that I rarely thought about. But now that I've seen the solution in action, it's elegantly done and makes the entire questing experience much smoother. These improvements are both small additions, but they add so much to the overall experience that you start to wonder how you lived without them. The Mists leveling experience is pleasant so far, but it's the little additions like these that make all the difference.

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Mists of Pandaria: Dave "Fargo" Kosak interview

Dave "Fargo" Kosak, lead quest designer for World of Warcraft, sat down with us at the Mists of Pandaria press event for an interview. We talked about the Horde/Alliance conflict, voice acting, pop culture references, Mists' accelerated production schedule, and more. Check it out!

WoW Insider: I guess I'm just gonna start off with some basic stuff.

Dave Kosak: Basic stuff is good!

Let's start with your overall philosophy for Mists of Pandaria.

Well, we're constantly experimenting with quests, and in Cataclysm, we created some pretty linear zones, as I'm sure you might've noticed. Some really big story arcs and big finishes. Certainly like in Mount Hyjal, we phased a huge amount of the zone, which worked because it was a pretty linear zone. A couple drawbacks, though: It was a shame that on your second or third time through, you had to play it exactly the same way. You know, you kinda lose some of that open-world feeling, you lose a little bit of that exploration when it's linear like that. But we loved the storytelling, so what we wanted to do with Mists was keep that kind of storytelling but make sure that you have the opportunity to go out and explore and experience the expansion differently, so ... let's see.

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Filed under: Blizzard, Interviews, Mists of Pandaria

Dave Kosak talks quest design in Cataclysm

World of Warcraft Lead Quest Designer Dave "Fargo" Kosak posted a long entry today giving a post-mortem of Cataclysm's questing experience. It's a very interesting read for everyone who wants a little insight into the inner workings of WoW's design right now.

Of note is that Blizzard felt spread too thin with the ambitious revamping of the entire old world. That lead to less-than-ideal elements in the current endgame experience, which in turn is a key component of many player's dislike of Cataclysm.

Say what you will about people's complaints, but it's a good thing that Blizzard is able to look at itself with such a critical eye and fine tune its future processes to make things even better.

Some of the key points:
  • The primary goal of Cataclysm was to remake the 1-to-60 experience, keep it relevant to new players.
  • Blizzard is happy with the old world revamp.
  • Blizzard felt spread too thin, which resulted from the total revamp of the old world.
  • The 80-to-85 zones don't feel as connected to each other as Blizzard would have liked.
  • "Phasing is like a story sledgehammer."
  • They want future phasing to not split players up but to provide visual changes only you can see (like in the 4.2 dailies).
  • "Cataclysm was in many ways Thrall's story."
  • Future legendary quest lines will be a lot like the Fangs of the Father quests that rogues are experiencing right now.
  • Blizzard is refocusing on core gameplay mechanics.
The full post after the break.

You can also take a look at our own post-mortem of Cataclysm's zones we did in late 2011.

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Filed under: News items, Cataclysm

Cataclysm Preview: Ashenvale

To be honest with you, I never really cared too much for Ashenvale. I quested there on my first character, and it was a little bit frustrating. I kept getting mauled by these ultra-high-level Horde NPCs whenever I tried sneaking through Splintertree Post. There were a bunch of Alliance NPCs in Raynewood Retreat who had no quests to offer, nothing to sell me and nothing to say to me. The whole zone felt a little weird and creepy. Oh, and there was no volcano. That part sucked the most.

Well, good news. Blizzard just did an in-house interview with Ashenvale quest designers Eric Maloof and Steve Burke to give us all some insight on the changes coming to the zone in Cataclysm. Like how there's a volcano now. A really big volcano.

It sounds like most of the changes involved really play up the Horde-vs.-Alliance aspect of the zone, so it sounds like Ashenvale will be a very interesting place on RP PvP servers. Just think: You could be ganking a gnome priest ... in a freakin' volcano.

The full interview is after the break, if you're one of those people who really likes spoilers. If you don't like spoilers, you should maybe forget that part about the volcano. Sorry.

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Filed under: Cataclysm

Telling a story without quest text

Tyllendel's friend had an interesting reaction to the game when he first played it: he felt that all of the quest text was unbearable, and that he wanted to play the game rather than reading what NPCs told him. We've talked a little bit about this before -- obviously, when Blizzard kicked off WoW nearly five years ago, quest text was just the way quests were done, and while Blizzard has expanded the concept a bit since, it's still mostly the way MMOs work: you go to a character, talk to them, and they tell you where to go and what to do.

But I can see Tyl's friend's point: games are much less about telling these days and more about showing. You might understand how, if you've never played an MMO before, reading the quest text can take you right out of the game, rather than running off with an NPC or having the game show you rather than just tell you what to do. And Blizzard is getting there: later in the thread Slorkuz points out the recent Afrasiabi interview, and talks about how Alex mentions new ways of doing quests. For example, the quest team is trying to do a quest with no text, or direct players' attention without actually telling them, "look here." Text is the easiest and most basic way to help players accomplish goals, but as the game moves on, even the developers realize it's not the most elegant or immersive way to do it.

Filed under: Odds and ends, Quests, Lore, NPCs

When questing is the reward

I've never been a big fan of quests. I've always done them as a means to an end, whether to level up or to earn a bit of Gold. My questing rate dropped considerably once I hit Level 80, with the only quests I did consisting mostly of Wintergrasp dailies and about a week's worth of Ebon Blade dailies in Icecrown to raise my reputation. But the truth is, quests in Wrath of the Lich King have been downright phenomenal. They are well-designed, fun to do, and -- if you actually stop to read the quest text (something I'm often guilty of skipping) -- wonderfully written and filled with story.

I finally got off my lazy butt to do the long Sons of Hodir quest chain, a "necessary evil" to raise reputation with what Alex has dubbed one of the most important factions in Wrath. There was little urgency for me to do the chain, considering I was satisfied with the Wintergrasp shoulder enchants even though they wasted points on Resilience. On the other hand, it became increasingly frustrating for me not to be able to assist my wife whenever her character (often) became the target of merciless gankage. You see, like many parts of Northrend, the Storm Peaks zones where you do Sons of Hodir quests are phased. I simply wanted to get to the point where we would be in the same phased stage, so using Alex's handy guide to the Sons of Hodir quest chain, I set off on what was a surprisingly good and fun adventure.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Quests, Wrath of the Lich King

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