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Posts with tag tom-chilton

BlizzCon 2010: Tom Chilton interview transcript -- Dance studio still in the works

DirecTV did a surprise interview with Tom Chilton, and there's some interesting stuff out of it. In particular, the famed and somewhat vaporware Dance Studio is still in the works and will be released once they have enough content! This is the first thing we've heard about it in a very long time. A great little surprise for the day! The full interview transcript below and after the break.

Interesting decision to make Tol'Barab similar to the Isle of Quel'Danans. What is your thinking? What is it going to look like?

It's what you'd consider an Alcatraz to be. It's an abandoned island. It's a central hub for daily quests. Really where players are going to be and do their daily activity. On PvP servers it's going to create a lot of friction and action all the time. At the central part of the island, it's going to feel a lot like Wintergrasp did.

Tell me a little bit about Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks is one of our new BGs where introducing. Capture the flag, solid game play. A lot like Warsong Gultch. It's a proven game play style, a lot of people like to capture the flag.

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Arcane Brilliance: Fire mage 4.0

It's Saturday, and that of course means it's time again for Arcane Brilliance, weekly mage column, hero to the downtrodden, vanquisher of evil, dispenser of justice. That's right. By day, Arcane Brilliance is a mild-mannered mage-related wall of text. But by night ... Arcane Brilliance is Deathspank.

Another beta build hit a couple nights ago -- as they tend to do -- and it brought a number of class changes. A quick glance at the new talent trees revealed the expected (some talent position swaps, a few talents vanishing, some tooltip alterations, the occasional loss of a rank here and there) and the ... unexpected. Three changes in the fire tree, particularly, caught my eye:
Yes, the tooltip for Molten Shields really is "Redesign!" With an exclamation point. For emphasis.

So clearly the fire tree is in a certain amount of flux? I became instantly excited. The fire tree, perhaps more than either of the other two trees, really has been due for some focused attention. Then I saw this, from none other than Lead Game Designer Tom Chilton:

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Cataclysm

Tom Chilton can imagine a future where WoW is free-to-play

PC Gamer posted an interview with Tom Chilton where he discussed the possibility of World of Warcraft eventually going free-to-play. He clarified that there are no active plans for this now, but he can imagine a future where it would be possible.

As massively multiplayer games become more mainstream, a common tactic to compete with WoW is to make the games free to play while charging microtransactions for in-game content. It makes games more accessible, and in theory can make publishers enough revenues that they can be profitable. If enough games break even this way and WoW starts losing momentum and market penetration, instead of shutting down, it would only make sense for Blizzard to keep the game available for the residual income. The original EverQuest is still live, for example. Instead of leaving vast empty realms populated by a very small number of nostalgic gamers, however, making WoW free-to-play could keep it residually profitable for longer.

While WoW will undoubtedly lose the majority of the market share some day, this day is not close. Warcraft is past the red-hot growth phase of its life cycle; however, it's still the largest player in the market. Chilton acknowledges that there's no reason for Blizzard to make this change while this is the case: "We're not spending a lot of time thinking about it. It's not something that's a reality for us in the near future."

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Stockton: Max of 6 bosses per raid in Cataclysm

Some very important information was released about Cataclysm yesterday on a G4 Xplay segment, discussing a Cataclysm storyline preview. However, some awesome pieces of news came out unrelated to the story at all. Check out the video to hear Tom Chilton, Cory Stockton and others discuss some pretty cool reveals. The two new important pieces of information were:
  • Auto-quest complete technology: Players are able to complete quests in the field and immediately begin the next quest in the chain, without running back to the quest giver for the next step in the quest, allowing multiple quests to be completed without returning home. Think of it as Archmage Vargoth's staff on steroids.
  • Raid boss quantity limits: Every raid in Cataclysm will have no more than six raid bosses per instance. Instances like Icecrown Citadel and Ulduar in boss number are gone, and the Serpentshrine Caverns/Tempest Keep model is back in. With a reduced number of raid bosses per raid, three full raids will be available at Cataclysm's launch.
Very interesting, especially the capped raid boss numbers. If you never played World of Warcraft during The Burning Crusade, you missed the proto-concept to these smaller, but more numerous, raids. Serpentshrine and Tempest Keep added up in boss numbers to a full 11-12 boss raid, but was separated into two encounters. Blizzard can now itemize across multiple raids instead of just one environment.

Filed under: News items, Cataclysm

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

Tom Chilton retrospective interview on Wrath of the Lich King

There's an excellent interview with Tom Chilton, the World of Warcraft lead game designer, up on GameInformer. Lots of stuff we've heard before, but there are some interesting talking points. For example:
  • They are looking into extending the dungeon finder to 10-man content.
  • Chilton hinted that we may see a new boss in the Ruby Sanctum before Cataclysm launches
  • They have a "general philosophical approach of getting the hybrids to where they're close to the DPS classes when it comes to DPS roles. Otherwise, those specs just turn into joke specs."
  • They feel warlocks could use a boost to their DPS.
  • Tol Barad, the Cataclysm equivalent to Wintergrasp, will be more of a Isle of Quel'Danas style daily quest hub instead of a farming zone.
  • Before settling on death knights for Wrath of the Lich King's hero class, they specifically debated necromancers and rune-masters.
  • They feel that with all the accessibility work they did on end game PvE in Wrath, end game PvP has become harder to get into by comparison.
It's a three page interview, so click through to read the whole thing! What really struck me reading this was that comment about hybrid DPS compared to pure. This "hybrid tax" concept has been harped on by posters on the official forums for a long time now, and this is a fairly straightforward way of putting it.

Filed under: Blizzard, Interviews, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm

Tom Chilton on Cataclysm additions and the upcoming world event

Our friends over at WorldofWar.de (who were listening live to the podcast this past weekend) recently got an interview done with Lead Designer Tom Chilton, and you can read it over on their site right now. There's not a lot of news in there (though Chilton does gush over the Dungeon Finder, just as players have for the past week or so), but aside from the usual player housing deny and the old "we don't know what the future holds" back and forth, but there is one fun thing he reminds us of in the second half of the interview: Blizzard is adding on to the old Blackwing Lair instance in Cataclysm. It sounds like kind of what they've done with VoA: Blackrock Caverns, which we heard about at BlizzCon, will be a new area (supposedly level 85 5-man, though Chilton says "lots of bosses") inside Blackrock Mountain that's connected to all of the Black Dragonflight bosses in Blackwing Lair.

Finally, Chilton sorta-kinda re-confirms that there will be a new content patch before the expansion -- he says it probably won't be a numbered patch like 3.4 or 3.5, but he says there may be some more class balances in there, new Battle.net features, and possibly even a new raid boss. But mostly it'll just be the patch that brings us all of the world events previous to the Cataclysm shakedown that we'll all go through. Sounds like fun.



World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it. Nothing will be the same. In WoW.com's Guide to Cataclysm you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion. From Goblins and Worgens to Mastery and Guild changes, it's all there for your cataclysmic enjoyment.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Instances, Lore, Interviews, Cataclysm

New anniversary interviews in Blizzcast 12 and on the minisite

Blizzard continues to update their minisite -- the latest newness is the posting of a new Blizzcast, in two parts. In part one, Karune of the Starcraft community team interviews Chris Metzen, Rob Pardo, and Samwise Didier about the history of Warcraft as a whole (it's celebrating the 15th anniversary as well this year), and part two has our friend Nethaera talking to J. Allen Brack, Tom Chilton, and Jeff Kaplan about the game itself. As is usual with the official podcast, there's not much new information here (especially if you've already read through some retrospective press), but both interviews are worth a listen (and/or a read through the transcript) if only to hear these guys all in a room together, joking around about old times.

Elsewhere on the site, they've started posting written interviews as well. The first one is with Shane Dabiri, former lead producer on the game, and there are faded-out spots for J. Allen Brack, Tom Chilton, and Jeff Kaplan as well. The other spots aren't revealed yet, but they're supposed to be interviews from the "community," so it'll be interesting to see who those turn out to be. Blizzard, anytime you want to chat with me about the history of World of Warcraft, just drop an email!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Instances, Interviews, Wrath of the Lich King

Tom Chilton talks about the in-game pet store

The guys over at The Instance podcast got a chance to talk to Blizzard's Tom Chilton about the recent decision to sell in-game noncombat pets for real money, and the interview is now up in the latest episode on their site. He talks first about the pets' development, and it sounds like they designed the pets thinking they'd be sold on a real-money store eventually. He says the price point was "arrived at by trying to figure out what it would have to be to make sense for us to spend time working on it." And he mentions the TCG and their loot prizes -- he says those were meant to be a bonus, and they ended up being a roundabout way for players to buy pets anyway, so Blizzard decided to go with this more direct plan.

He doesn't say much about the future, but he does say that Blizzard is planning on doing some "pet and plushie" deals, where you'll be able to buy a plushie from the Blizzard store, and get an in-game pet with it. For the game specifically, he mentions the guild transfer service that's coming (we heard about that back at BlizzCon -- you'll be able to server transfer an entire guild rather than do it account-by-account), but otherwise he tells players that the pet store is just a "side project" -- right now, it's not taking away from development at all, and if it does grow, Chilton says Blizzard would hire more people rather than using current developers. We'll have to see what happens in the future.

Filed under: Items, Blizzard, Making money, Interviews

A WoW player's guide to microtransactions

Well Blizzard has finally done it. After charging only for out-of-game services like faction changes and character customization, with the release of in-game pets on the Blizzard store, they've finally moved on to selling virtual items for real money. And there's a word, dirty in the mouths of some, that's floating around that some of you may not have heard or understood before: microtransactions. We wouldn't blame you -- some of our own staff didn't even know what they were just a little while ago. But with the decision to sell in-game items for straight cash, Blizzard has entered the fascinating and treacherous world of microtransactions. And if you're going to follow them off into this world, you might as well at least know what they're all about.

And so, we're here to help. Whether you've never heard of microtransactions before, you're convinced that they're the devil and that Blizzard has grown too greedy for their own good, or you can't wait to open up your wallet and get a Pandaren Monk to follow you around, let's take a second and look at the history of the microtransaction model, what it means that Blizzard made this decision, and what might happen to the game in the future.

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Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Economy, Making money

G4 talks to Blizzard about five years of WoW

We are quickly approaching the fifth anniversary of World of Warcraft's release (my calendar has it on the 23rd of November), and G4 has gotten a head start on celebrating -- they sent Morgan Webb over to Blizzard headquarters to talk to the team, including Tom Chilton, Alex Afrasiabi, and Jeff Kaplan, about what things have been like in the last five years since WoW's launch. There's nothing super groundbreaking in here, but there is lots of reminiscing about the game's early thinking -- Chilton talks about how dual specs were never even considered as an idea (until they, you know, were) and what things were like in the early post-launch days. Pretty stressful, sounds like.

Afrasiabi talks about how the quest team puts together and tracks all of the game's quests (he mentions both Metzen and the game's historian as the "lorekeepers" of the game), and the fact that they've put together "millions of words" of story and background lore for the game at large. He specifically talks about Cataclysm and replacing questlines, and says that if something does get removed from the game, they're hoping to replace it with something better, but most "fan favorites" will stay. And finally, Jeff Kaplan looks back on the early game itself, from unfinished zones to broken balance to launch day exhaustion. G4 teases something about the next MMO project, but all he says is that he can't talk about it. Oh well -- if we can't look forward, at least we get a nice look back from the folks at Blizzard who've been there since the beginning. You can see all four of the videos after the break.

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Filed under: Fan stuff, Blizzard, News items, Quests, Lore

Ghostcrawler cleans up two dev chat questions

As you probably noticed if you watched along with us, yesterday's developer chat (with Blizzard's J. Allen Brack and Tom Chilton taking questions from Twitter and answering them on the forums) was a little light to say the least. Rather than answer questions about game balance seriously, the devs chose to make fun of hunters taming druids and do a lot of hinting and winking. Fortunately, we have Ghostcrawler -- he's responded to concerns about two of the questions yesterday over on the forums.

The first is in response to some feedback about what the devs yesterday called "binary" hard modes -- they said that instead of providing multiple levels of difficulty (as in Sarth and his drakes), they'd prefer to have a hard mode either on or off (you'll be able to toggle between the two in Icecrown). This relates to what we just said recently, with different types of guilds looking for different types of content to play. GC replies that the "in-betweens" in terms of difficulty will come with later bosses in normal mode -- if you want to play a challenge without stepping into the hard modes, Blizzard will do their best to make sure that the last bosses on normal give you that challenge. Which makes sense -- bosses should ramp up in difficulty as the instance goes along, and no one would suggest, for instance, that Yogg was nearly as easy as Flame Leviathan.

And GC also talked about one of my favorite (and missed) game mechanics: crowd control.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Instances, Bosses, Classes, Buffs

WoW Developer chat on Twitter this Thursday


Community Manager Nethaera announced a short time ago that there will be a developer chat on Warcraft's twitter account this Thursday October 22nd at 3:00 p.m. PDT / 6:00 p.m. EDT. The chat will include WoW's Director of Production and Game Director, J. Allen Brack and Tom Chilton.

We should note the announcement isn't exactly clear that it's these two people exactly, but from what we can tell they're the ones who'll be involved. We're seeking clarification and will update the post when we have it.

This should be quite interesting. Follow @warcraft and @ them your questions. Answers will be provided via twitter and the official forums, and we'll be sure to break down and analyze everything right here on WoW.com as well.

Don't use Twitter? Sign up now and follow @warcraft and @wowinsider for everything WoW.

Filed under: News items

Alex Afrasiabi on Cataclysm and the origin of phasing


Gamasutra has a nice interview with someone on Blizzard's team that we haven't heard from very much before -- Alex "Furor" Afrasiabi is currently a lead world designer for Cataclysm, and while we have definitely seen him at BlizzCon a few times, he hasn't done as much press as, say, Tom Chilton or J. Allen Brack. But here he is on Gamasutra, talking about what Blizzard is doing to the World of Warcraft in the next expansion.

And boy are they doing it. As we knew, Desolace and Azshara are getting revamped completely, while Feralas is in for some questing changes and zones like Loch Modan are seeing some "light" modification. Blizzard apparently looked at each zone and determined where it lay on the list of todos: Azshara is becoming the 10-20 Horde zone and so will get reworked extensively, but Silithus, while it may need work, probably won't get more than a few tweaks.

Afrasiabi also talks about the surprising origin of phasing and Blizzard's philosophy. More after the break.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Instances, Cataclysm

The making of the World of Warcraft

Eurogamer has a nice long look at the early days of World of Warcraft, way before Northrend and Outland and even Molten Core, back when the question wasn't just how big the game would get, but whether Blizzard, a company known for their polish rather than their size, could pull off an entry in this new MMO genre. They've interviewed some of Blizzard's luminaries, and the piece offers a really good look at what it was like at Blizzard even before WoW's release, when they were hashing out some of the ideas and mechanics that have now set the bar with World of Warcraft: the stylistic Warcraft look, and questing as storytelling (originally, they thought they'd only do quests through the starting levels, and then have the game move to a grinding, monster-killing stage towards the end, but players said the game was boring without quests).

There are all kinds of great little tidbits in here: originally, Warcraft III was planned with the over-the-shoulder look that WoW now has, and that's one of the reasons they wanted to create a more straightforward RPG game. Tom Chilton showed up on the team about a year before WoW's release, and to his surprise, the game was almost completely unfinished -- the level cap was only 15, the talent system wasn't implemented, the AH or mail systems weren't in, PvP wasn't in at all (of course, even at release it was pretty barebones), and endgame raiding was nonexistent. Most of the things we think of as intrinsic to the World of Warcraft -- even things like the Horde and Alliance not speaking to each other -- were debated and almost not in at all as they moved towards release.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Instances, Raiding, Interviews

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