BlizzCon 2016 Blizzard Publishing Panel Transcript

World of Warcraft: Chronicle Vol. 2

Cate: Alright, thank you very much Micky. Now we move to Blizzard staff writers Matt Burns and Robert Brooks, who also work 10 feet away from me, here to talk to us about World of Warcraft: Chronicle — a history of the story of Warcraft told over several volumes, you have fans here. Now Volume One was released earlier this year, rave reviews flew off the shelves, New York Times best sellers list. So volume two which is scheduled to come out next year is about as highly anticipated as anything we’ve ever worked on. No pressure. So volume two will be the definitive history for how the Horde built the Dark Portal to Azeroth, the formation of the Alliance, and the First and Second Wars. How do you decide what makes it into the history and what gets left behind? This is a question for both of you.

 

Matt: Oh man, that’s tough. We’ve had to make some really difficult decisions just recently, actually. We probably made the hardest choice we’ve ever made and we decided to leave out this epic millennia-spanning backstory of Hogger. So that was that’s very difficult, but honestly there is so much story drawn from the games to the books to the comics that we really have to take everything on a case by case basis, and ask ourselves if the characters and events we are talking about, if they have a big enough impact on the overall story to tell them. We really want Chronicle to be something you can go through to get a general overview of the history. You can think of it as a spiritual successor to the old game manuals. So sometimes we use those as a meter to gauge how deep to dive into the subjects that we’re writing about.

 

Robert: Yeah, and one of the things that we were really focusing on is finding the events that had major ripple effects across the entire Warcraft mythology, something like as big as the Titans taking out the old gods, it had both good and bad points to it, didn’t all go according to plan and those ripple effects and the consequences have been felt all across Azeroth for a long long time, and you get to point out where those things connect. That helped us focus on what was important.

 

Cate: Alright, good answers. Sure no one will be angry at anything you leave out. Alright, Matt let’s dig a bit more inside on what’s going to be in volume two. That’s going to start at the very beginning of Draenor, its ancient peoples, and the role that the Titans played in its earliest days. Tell us the process for writing that lore.

Matt: Well, for Draenor we had a few goals. The first was, we wanted to start from the beginning. The earliest age of history, and we also wanted that to feel very different from Azeroth. So one example of that I can give is about elementals. On Azeroth, the elementals are very chaotic and aggressive, on Draenor we decided to make them very passive and subdued. Another goal was really digging out the unknowns of Draenor’s past, stuff like the Apexis Arakkoa, the ancient Orc clans, and the ancient Ogre empire.

These are things that people knew a little bit about, but we hadn’t really explored in-depth yet, so we wanted to do that. So those goals really informed our writing process as did all of the lore released with the Warlords of Draenor expansion and a lot of the books we previously published. We basically used those sources and we work backward filling out the empty areas of history. It was kind of the opposite of how we wrote Volume one, but I think it worked out really well for Volume two.

We also have some art here today. So this is a piece of art from Chronicle Volume two, and it’s done by the very talented artist Abe Taraky, and if you remember from Warlords of Draenor, there were two factions called the Primals and the Breakers. Well, these two characters are basically the progenitors of those two factions. These guys are huge show, as big as mountains. The rocky character is named Braund, and the plant character is named Boton. So long long ago, they waged this war for control of Draenor that would really establish the different races, cultures and ecosystems that we saw in the game. So that’s a little hint of what to expect in Volume 2.

 

Cate: I can’t wait to read it. Thank you, Mr. Burns. Actually, I have read it. I edited it. That’s why you were giving me shade. Now we are going to move to Mr. Brooks, going to dig a bit more into Volume 1, specifically Ancient Kalimdor. How much of that history was new Lore, and how much was a matter of tying together existing threads?

Robert: Most of it was just saying clearly what had already been either hinted at or implied or talked about in-game, or in our extended fiction. We just needed to connect all the dots, make sure it felt clean, and everything. There were no big gaps in between story moments. A couple of times we actually did find a gap that just it felt like the story wasn’t connecting as well as we really kind of hoped it would.

So we would go back to the drawing board and pitch to the game team how it might have gone down since we hadn’t actually said in the past what explicitly had happened. I think the big one was up on the, we have a slide here, Mr. Lei Shen from Pandaria, particularly how he died in our mythology, because you guys playing Mists of Pandaria, you know he was resurrected by the Zandalari trolls, but we never explicitly said how he had died.

 

There had been talk internally on the game team that probably he had died of old age after failing to reverse the curse of flesh, but we haven’t explicitly said it, and didn’t really account for anything like why it took so long for the Zandalari trolls to try to resurrect him.

So when we looked at the book and we saw, it just wasn’t fitting as well as we wanted to. We ended up pitching to the game team something a little bit different. Maybe elation being the Thunder King, being the owner of Titan power on Azeroth, decided that all Titan artifacts and creations also belonged to him. So maybe he went to his next door neighbors, the Tol’vir in Uldum, and said: “Hey, guys! I own everything in this place now, because I deserve it,” and they told him:”Go to hell.

Not a great thing to tell the Thunder King to go to hell, so he leaves; but he comes back with his giant army of Mogu and his Zandalari buddies to basically do a death march straight into Uldum and take it anyways; and the Tol’vir, they knew they couldn’t win this war, so rather than fighting an actual battle, they just turned on the Origination device, which nuked pretty much all of the land in the area including Lei Shen, and his armies; and the Zandalari leadership throwing both of those empires into disarray and leaving the land barren; which when you walk in there Cataclysm is what you end up seeing, and that was a little bit more dramatic, it was a little bit more fun, and the game team ended up liking it. So it wrapped up a whole bunch of things and yeah that was one of the examples of something new that we came up with for the book.

Next: World of Warcraft: Traveler

BLIZZCON 2016 BLIZZARD PUBLISHING PANEL TRANSCRIPT
Warcraft: Lord of the ClansStarCraft II: The KeepWorld of Warcraft: Chronicle
World of Warcraft: TravelerStarCraft II: EvolutionPanel Q&A

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