BlizzCon 2016 World of Warcraft: Legion Interview

Legion interview — Dperchonok (Blizzplanet reporter) interviewed Michael Bybee (senior game producer) and Brian Holinka (senior game designer) to discuss details of the upcoming World of Warcraft: Legion Patch 7.1.5, Patch 7.2, and Patch 7.3.

 

Transcript

Danny Perschonok with Blizzplanet. I am here with Michael Bybee, and Brian Holinka. I know you work on PvP. Why don’t you talk a little bit about Tarren Mill and Southshore back. What was the decision about that, why is it exciting?

Holinka: We saw how Brawls work in Hearthstone, how Brawls work in Heroes, and Overwatch, and the fact that it brought like this fresh content to the game it’s something that’s a bit whacky, and it brings something different for a little time, and then goes away. We thought if we are going to Brawls for a while, what would it be like? And of course, Southshore vs Tarren Mill was our 10th Anniversary battleground. So it’s almost like an experiment of Brawls in WoW.

So that’s why: “Why don’t we do that?” It’s just one of them. That’s good. One down, and then we thought:”Why not bring some other cool ideas we had?” So we created these cool Free-for-All arenas with World Quests in Legion, and one of them you ride goats and wolves and whatever, and knock people off with the goat-charge; and another one of them is in Eye of the Storm and everyone else is ripping around knocking each other off the side.

We can do easy stuff like Temple of Kotmogu, where people just instantly rides when they die, and things like that. So it just allowed us to say well if it’s only around for a week, then we don’t need to worry about balance. It doesn’t need to be like super-fair. It can just be a thing that: “Hey, man, it was really crazy! Provided a lot of spice to the game.” So it was a great idea.

 

 

Blizzplanet: Are Brawls going to be like a weekly event?

Holinka: Yea, our current plan is to do a week on, and a week off. Brawls are there available through the week and anyone who plays it, because so many players have different game schedules. We figured we schedule it for 7-days and we get everybody; and then we wanted to go away a little bit, so that players–

 

 

Blizzplanet: So it is not continuous, there will be gaps between each one?

Holinka: That’s right!

 

 

Blizzplanet: Will there be quests around any of that?

Holinka: We are considering about doing more PvP Free-for-All World Quests, and those will just generally fit into the World Quests paradigm already; but the rewards will feel separate from the World Quest system.

 

 

Blizzplanet: You just mentioned Micro-Holidays. Can you talk about the decision process of like how that came to be and why people should be excited about that; and also how will people be able to keep track of them and whatnot?

Bybee: Micro Holidays will show up in the Calendar like other holidays. They are intended right now to be a one-day event. As Ion mentioned in his presentation, they are not going to have permanent rewards tied to them, so you won’t feel like: “oh, I missed Boat Day, and that feels really bad because I missed Boat Day.”

The intent is more like: “Hey, you are playing right now. This is Boat Day. You know? I’m going to do something different. I am going to go out to this place that I haven’t visited in a little while, and then I’m going to experience something with other players, and have something that I can’t usually have in World of Warcraft.”

So the intent is really to make these a little bit more casual, some more serious– like the Ahn’Qiraj Remembrance Day, but a lot of them are really fun, and just something else to add to the world that players could experience for years to come.

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Blizzplanet: So these are going to be patched in at once so that people can look at the Calendar and see– “Cool, I know where these are, I want to make sure that I see these,” or is it going to be like a steady flow, month-to-month? What’s the plan for that?

Holinka: We will do the earlier ones, because from a development standpoint they need to be in before they happen, but it is not guaranteed that a full-year will be in on Patch 7.1.5. So the ones that need to be in there between 7.1.5 and 7.2 will definitely be in there.

 

 

Blizzplanet: Are they going to be permanent though? If it happens this year on this day, it will happen again next year?

Holinka: That’s the intent. Permanent as anything in World of Warcraft is.

 

 

Blizzplanet: Are they going to be unlocked account-wide, or are you going to have to do them on a per-character-basis (for the Class Mounts)?

Holinka: It will be going to your mount collection, so if you have other classes of that type, it should be available to you, but obviously it will be restricted by class.

 

 

Blizzplanet: You have talked about Class Halls. I think it is one of the coolest features of the expansion. Definitely it’s done what Garrisons didn’t do. It feels like you have a community. It’s really awesome how that’s worked out. How can we see the Class Halls connecting with what is going to happen in 7.2 in Tomb of Sargeras? Are we going to have quests to finish that of, or how is it going to work?

Bybee: The storyline of the Class Halls actually ties right in into Tomb of Sargeras content. Ion mentioned that in his presentation, yesterday.

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Sorta the high-level stories that we got to beat them in the Broken Shore, and now we are going back to the Broken Shore– and the way that we are doing that isn’t with the Horde and the Alliance this time. Actually, getting those Classes to band together; and they are going to form a new sort of Council: The Armies of Legionfall. So you are going to be doing quests for the Army of Legionfall. If you are a mage, you are going to see maybe more of your class. Maybe your mages will be the guards of the Armies of Legionfall. You will be able to unlock really cool class specific stuff that only appears in the Broken Shore, and is tied in your class; but you will also be able to do stuff for other classes. Maybe you will be able to get troops or other materials from those other classes; and you will start getting to be able to see this interaction. It’s really going to be fun.

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Blizzplanet: It sounds awesome. Talking about Legendaries, can you talk about the decision to make Legendaries so different than they have been in the past. It’s basically just random drops at this point, and you are not working toward building something; but we have the artifacts, so we are building and progressing our artifacts. Legendaries are very different to what you have done in the past.

Bybee: A lot of times we are thinking about rewards like that. We are thinking about how it fits in a lot of the ecosystem. Legendaries in the past had sort of a prominent position. You didn’t have artifacts, and also in raids– a lot of people of players were also working like: “I gotta get my Legendary ring;” but this time we had artifacts, and the way that system is designed is you are constantly working toward building up your artifact, and some of the things Ion announced yesterday for Patch 7.2 are additional traits for artifacts, there are going to be additional plans for the future, there is a lot of great future for this system, so we had a spot in our (sort of) loot ecosystem, so we wanted something else.

The other thing is we wanted to make it exciting to see a drop and “Hey, I got this legendary, and I have never seen this. It is so incredible! Wow!”

I know in my guild, when someone starts getting legendaries they are like: “Holy crap! I got a Legendary! I am so excited!”

So recreating that excitement has been very fun.

 

 

Blizzplanet: Yea, it definitely feels like a drop experience that we haven’t had in quite some time. You know what I mean? You get to a point where you got another Epic, OK what’s the item level? Now this is like: “Whoa?! Now this is something actually rare, and meaningful!” So it’s pretty fun.

Bybee: Surprising. Fun.

Holinka: I think having the restriction on a number of Legendaries is very important, because it can become really easy that we now found the slippery-slope of Orange is the new Purple. Purple is the new Blue.

 

 

Blizzplanet: Yea, everyone has one. So obviously at the end of the panel, yesterday, you kinda dropped the whole Argus thing. I don’t think it was super clear what this is going to be (I know you probably can’t talk too much) is it a Patch 7.3 thing. Are you saying it is going to be like a cliffhanger, or are we actually going to Argus this expansion? I mean, what can you talk about this?

Holinka: We wanted to clarify that that was a Patch 7.3 thing. Not a “What’s next” thing.

Bybee: In 7.3 [we are going] to Argus.

Holinka: Bring the fight to them.

 

 

Blizzplanet: How big a patch 7.3 is going to be? Are we expecting just as big as any other point patch in the past with raids and quests and all of that, or is this supposed to be a little more a smaller patch to tie us over to what is next (aka the next expansion)?

Holinka: We can’t go into exactly what is in 7.3 right now, but like 7.1.5 is kinda a smaller patch. 7.2 is a bigger raid content patch, and 7.3 is going to be more or similar– (I don’t want to say like it’s exactly the amount as in 7.2 or anything) but that’s more along the lines. It’s more like 7.2 than a smaller patch.

 

 

Blizzplanet: It is substantial patch.

Holinka: Yea.

Bybee: The bottomline is that we have got a lot of plans for 7.3, so we are excited about that, but not ready to talk about it.

 

 

Blizzplanet: I didn’t think you could talk that much, but it’s pretty exciting to see that little teaser Argus. Alright, this is going to change how things are going to be. We have got big characters like Illidan, Maiev, and Khadgar. Can you talk a little bit about their role in the Tomb of Sargeras? Are we going to be fighting alongside them like we have in the past? is it such a big raid, or are they just going to be there in the sidelines?

Bybee: They are definitely going to play a big part. Illidan is going to be a huge part in that patch in the continuing story of Legion, and we have got a lot of plans for him; and players are doing it right now, there is an extension to the Illidan story that just came in Patch 7.1, and there will be more of that which players are going to do in 7.2.

 
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Tomas Hernandez is owner of Blizzplanet.com since 2003. I post news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film.

Blizzplanet is a leading fansite covering news about upcoming Blizzard Entertainment licensed products. I also post previews and reviews. I have interviewed book writers and Blizzard game developers.

I was previously an employee of the OGaming Network (2003), and IncGamers (2008-2010). I was a guest newsposter for GosuGamers (World of Warcraft) a few years ago and for Diablofans.com (formerly Diablo3.com)

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