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BlizzCon 2018 Mamytwink Battle for Azeroth Interview with Jeremy Feasel and Tina Wang
04.11.2018 um 21:41
Developers Jeremy Feasel and Tina Wang sat down with the guys from the french fansite
and provided an interview talking more about the future in Battle for Azeroth! Below, we have highlighted important points and transcribed the interview. Jeremy Feasel, also known as Muffinus, is a Senior Game Designer for WoW, and Tina Wang is an Environment Art Supervisor. This interview was done in conjunction with Nexos, a polish YouTuber.
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This interview was originally done in French and translated by our localization team.
Consider reading the full interview in French at the Mamytwink website!
N'Zoth will be discovered during the Crucible of Storms raid - A whole piece of the Old God is exposed behind the Shrine of the Storm!
Wintergrasp is coming back as an Epic Battleground!
The picture of Sylvanas wielding Xal'atath is intended and a very important future point in the storyline.
There are plans to make your choice between Sylvanas and Saurfang matter more.
Both factions will receive different World Quests and even new spells during assaults.
The devs are still planning the inner workings of Nazjatar, but they are taking inspiration from beloved areas such as Timeless Isle and their rares.
Nazjatar is going to be the bigger zone of 8.2. Mechagon will be a smaller zone with its focus on the Megadungeon.
You will need to take a ship to get to Nazjatar.
The Megadungeon in Mechagon will have special loots that will make players want to come back.
Splitting the Megadungeon into two wings, like it was done with Karazhan during Legion, will happen in a future patch.
The Island Expedition's AI was improved to more likely behave like players and be used in Battlegrounds. Just like players, the AI likes to jump a lot!
Devs will further explain Island Expedition rewards in a future post.
Heroic Warfronts will focus in group gameplay and immediate response to the enemy's actions.
PvP Warfronts are currently not planned, but it is an idea the dev team discusses consistently.
PvP Zone Objectives (like the PvP towers in Terokkar Forest) are scheduled to make an appearance in Nazjatar.
There will be new systems added in 8.2 to help you gain reputation with the Nazjatar factions.
The dev team loves using Heritage Armor questlines as a way to improve upon the lore of a race!
If it were by Muffinus, all announcements would involve Gnomes.
What is the story behind the Crucible of Storms raid?
: After the Battle for Dazar'alor, Nagas will resume their assaults on the coasts of Zandalar and Kul Tiras. We will be sent there by the King or Warchief to find what's lurking in the Stormsong Valley. I'm not gonna spoil it for you, but the story ends with weird gigantic eyeballs! The Crucible of Storms is the first proof both factions have that dark powers are agitating below the seas. The Horde and the Alliance notice that a whole piece of N'Zoth is behind the Shrine of the Storms.
: How surprising, an Old God beneath an area where my buildings are ornated with tentacles! (laughs)
One of the key features of patch 8.1 is Assaults. How do they work? Can you defend your faction in War Mode?
We really want to use assaults to put the spotlight on War Mode's strengths. So instead of having them scattered around continents and separate players, assaults are different. If the Horde is attacking Tiragarde Sound, the Alliance defends, and each faction has different World Quests in the area. So it's totally possible to defend your faction and at the same time drive the opposing faction's players away. Various components and spells unlocked during World Quests can also be used against NPCs and players! We want to make sure that assaults really feel like an attack from a faction in an enemy area. In the Alliance, you'll see dozens of Horde soldiers arriving through portals. They're here to complete their quests, but also to keep you from dealing with your own business.
From an art point of view, we put several ambient elements in place to make this war spirit feel more real.
: We're talking about vessels exploring the skies, cities catching on fire, or the Horde piloting a huge Iron Star towards the gates of Boralus to blow the city's fortifications away.
In patch 8.2, Nazjatar takes its inspiration from several old quests zones like the Timeless Isle. Can you tell us more?
: Of course! We're still thinking about the detailed inner works of Nazjatar, but I can give you an example. One of the things we love on the Timeless Isle is the rares. Some appear very rarely and drop awesome loots. Some require the player to do something special to summon them. That's the kind of things that inspire us. That allows you to be in the area and sometimes be surprised by an event you weren't expecting. A very rare enemy arrives and everyone in the zone will gather and fight this rare.
With Nazjatar and Mechagon, can we say that patch 8.2 brings two new areas into the game?
: I consider Nazjatar to be a big zone. There is a lot to do. Mechagon is smaller and more compact. There is stuff to do but the area is focused on the Megadungeon.
: Environment-wise, Nazjatar is something unique. Vegetation is very diverse. We have corals, thermal chimneys, algae forests.
It's also the first time we see actual Naga architecture.
: In Vashj'ir, it was mostly Elf architecture! Here we'll have ruins, bioluminescent abyssal buildings, for example. Nazjatar is really the heart of the Naga culture.
We're talking about Nazjatar, but where is the area exactly?
: Far away in the depths of the Great Sea (laughs). You need a ship to go there!
Mechagon has the second megadungeon implemented in the game, after Karazhan. What was the community's feedback on the dungeon? Will Mechagon be similar to Karazhan?
: We really wanted to make another megadungeon. The community gave us a lot of positive feedback on Karazhan. They loved having a huge place to visit that isn't a raid. But the main lesson we learned with Kharazhan was the time needed to complete the instance and the item level on the drops. Mechagon will have unique loots, just like Karazhan, but you'll want to come back, even after the next raid. The community has also appreciated that we separated the instance in two halves in a later patch. We're planning on doing the same thing for Mechagon.
Regarding the Island Expeditions, how did you develop the AI? Are going to use it for other activities like raids?
: The Island Expeditions' AI is a true experience, and at the beginning of its development, we tried implementing it everywhere. For example, we asked ourselves what would happen if a boss used the AI, then groups of 10 NPCs for example. One of the things we wanted to do at the beginning was testing the AI out and fix its bugs. So what we did was sending two groups of NPCs with the AI in the Arathi Basin. For a while, we looked at them running, take resources, fight. So we asked ourselves what we could do to make them behave a little more like players. We got the feedback from several employees. They told us that the AI should follow them when they would jump off a cliff using Slow Fall. Thinking about it, it's true that it's what the players do! (laughs) What we were told the most was that the AI should jump. Players jump all the time. So we created a variable we could use to adjust the "jumpability" rate of the various NPCs. In the end, it's the main aspect that differentiates you from a mob. Then, we told them to disengage from a fight, and we put them on the islands. But it was so much fun making them play in the Arathi Basin. That's why in patch 8.1.5 and forward, you'll be able to play in Battlegrounds against AI-controlled enemies! The system was born only recently and it's going to be very interesting to see where it will lead us.
The rewards system on the Islands is quite mysterious for a lot of players. Can you give us details regarding it?
: I can't really give you details on how exactly loots are distributed in Islands. But know that for us, it's a very interesting experience. It's something closely linked to the Island Expeditions. But I can't answer the question "how to obtain item X?". We are thinking about some ways to answer this question. You'll know more really soon!
Several graphical options have been tested but never went live. What about those?
: In Battle for Azeroth, many graphical enhancements have been deployed, without players noticing. I'm thinking for example about the new weather system. Today, artists have control over the weather and particles. This allows us to create specific climate conditions on the Islands for example. When you play through the Siege of Boralus, the sky is full of embers and ashes, for example. More recently, we made an enhancement that greatly improves the graphics processor unit's management, we put a lot of effort into it and are really happy with the results.
Players have been quite disappointed in the Warfronts when they noticed it was nearly impossible to lose. You announced Heroic Warfronts during the What's Next Panel. Can you give us more information?
: I've already seen players lose a Warfront!
: It happened when people with a very low item level could queue for them, they used to get pulverized. That's why we set a minimum ilvl. We think there is some space for more high-level activities in Battle for Azeroth and Warfronts are the perfect environment for that. If you look at the Warfronts' gameplay, there are multiple points on which you can lose. You can lose territories, fights, get pushed back and even lose. The goal of Heroic Warfronts is to force people to play as a group and coordinate their actions. We want that in Heroic mode, players talk to each other and put a strategy into place to spend their resources, and help their NPCs. If you summon a Water Elemental, you must escort him so it doesn't get killed right away. If you see a bunch of enemy units, you must go back to base and defend it. That's the kind of things we want to bring forward, and believe me, it drastically changes your gameplay.
The Warfront mechanics take direct inspiration from Warcraft III. Did you already think about a PvP Warfront? Or put these mechanics into a future Battleground?
: That's a good idea and we talk about it quite often. Warfronts have never been thought about as a PvP feature, but the idea comes back regularly, enough for us to talk about it. But I have nothing to announce on that matter. I really like the idea that you'd go gather wood and get ambushed by surprise.
In the past, several zones had points of interest that were PvP objectives. Do you have something similar planned for the future?
: One of the things we currently talk about, because it's not sure that the idea becomes a real thing, is to have "old school" PvP objective the like of Auchindoun's in BC. It would be a recurring event during which Nagas would take control over the continent by taking three towers. That causes terrible effects and you feel that Azshara's eyes are everywhere and she tries to take the control back. The idea is that all players gather around the towers to kill the Naga. This creates a group activity and an interesting world even. But for players in War Mode, we thought "imagine if players can also take control of the towers". Wouldn't that be cool? The more points your faction controls, the more War Mode bonuses you get. That gives a huge opportunity for your faction to take the advantage on your opponents. That would be quite similar to the system in place in the Hellfire Peninsula. Here's another source of inspiration when we talk about Nazjatar.
Do you plan on adding a new PvP area like Wintergrasp in the future?
: These areas are amongst the Epic Battlegrounds. Speaking about Wintergrasp, it will soon become an Epic Battleground. We will then take as much feedback from you as we can to see how stuff will go around.
: I really hope that with Assaults we'll see War Mode come back with force. With bonuses, you'll want to enable War Mode, and stop the opposing faction. I bet we'll see huge battles, just like in Wintergrasp.
Let's talk about lore. In the conference about WoW's future, you've shown a picture of Sylvanas wielding Xal'atath, Blade of the Black Empire. Why, and how?
: You'll have to be patient to know it! (laughs) It's something very important and I don't want to spoil. You'll have to experience it yourself.
In patch 8.1, you have the choice between betraying Sylvanas and rally with Saurfang, or stay true to Sylvanas. How does that translate into the game? Will this choice have consequences on the story?
: You'll see! We have plans.
It's very difficult to give choices to players in an MMO. But here, it's the occasion to try something brand new.
In Battle for Azeroth, the story is very important. How can you match the story features, gameplay and lore?
: In patch 8.2, we will put a lot of new features into place. But the story must follow and be coherent with what we want to do. One of the features we want to develop is an escort system. As you've seen, we'll have new friends, sea giants, gilblins, etc. We'd like players to be able to bring them with them, have them gain levels and discover their story. In fact, that gilblin isn't any gilblin. He has a story that you'll have to discover in the time spent in Nazjatar. We want to create quests bound to specific characters, chests, all of that, to relate the story of these characters. For me, pieces of lore can really be a reward for doing something correctly in game.
And we can use story as a feature to enhance gameplay with things like Heritage Armor!
: Exactly, Heritage Armor (like the Sin'dorei or the Mountain King set) are a lot of fun for us. They allow us to go back to the past to relate stories that go out of the beaten track. The idea is to tell ourselves "if you had to tell a story about the time when you were a baby Tauren in Thunder Bluffs, what kind of story would that be?" Quests have a close link to the race's identity.
: What's interesting for artists is to be able to work on a race. Because an armor for Taurens won't suit Blood Elves. That's something we love to do!
What are your inspirations for the Nazjatar zone?
: There are a lot of sources of inspiration for the Nazjatar zone. Subnautical life, of course, but also the architecture, Naga, their shapes and colors.
We've also studied the Warbringers: Azshara cinematic a lot. The idea is to create something new, because it's the first time we go into the actual Abyssal Depths. Usually, we're stopped by fatigue! (laughs)
One last very important question: Horde or Alliance?
: Since I started playing, I'm a Gnome Mage. And I had the chance to make all announcements in relation with Gnomes. For the Alliance!
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