Paul: I’d like to go back in time to January 2015, and that was when we started working on professions for this new super secret expansion we were working on at the time called Legion, and we already knew at that point we wanted professions to be more than just a bunch of recipes.
We wanted a lot of extra stuff to do, and we were pretty sure that meant quests, but what kind of quests? Just regular old quests, quests where you craft things, frustratingly difficult quest where you chase a moose all the way across Stormheim? We didn’t know yet.
So we said let’s just pick one or two professions, and we will build prototype questlines on top of those, and we will just hammer on those until we see what feels good, and the two we chose were Blacksmithing and Mining.
BLACKSMITHING & MINING
Paul: So for Blacksmithing, we tried a bunch of things. Actually, it took us a little while, but the structure we ended up happy with was pretty simple, fairly linear. It started in Azsuna, because remember this was two years ago, before we even had the concept of scaling zones.
Azsuna was just the level 100-102 zone, ended in Suramar, centered around the hub of your trainer in Dalaran, thought you a bunch of recipes along the way; and we thought that structure felt pretty good. So then we moved on to mining and then we tried something a little different. It’s more organic. You’ll be out in the world mining, and maybe you find a cool rock, and bring it back to your trainer, and they teach you how to mine that rock more efficiently, or you will be out mining and a creature shows up and they attack you, or they teach you something about mining right out there in the field. We thought that felt pretty good too.
So now we have got these two prototypes under our arm. Let’s move forward and build the rest of the profession questlines for our primary professions: the alchemy, herbalism, skinning, tailoring, so on.
Now at this point we have already got a couple more systems coming online in Legion, and it’s going to be a little bit later in 2015, and we realized we have a quest problem. So your quest log… it is already got your zone quests in it, and that’s normal. But now it is also got this Order Hall questline, and this Artifact questline, and the Illidan questline, and two different profession questlines, and they are all pulling you in different directions, and commanding your attention.
How overwhelming would it feel if you actually had to deal with six different profession questlines? We determined that would be too much. So how are we going to give you that extra content, extra stuff to do for the secondary professions without overloading your quest log?
Paul: For fishing, fishing hardly has any quest at all. Your progression as a fisher is done by collecting rare fish, filling up achievements, and then eventually unlocking and upgrading the fishing pole artifact Underlight Angler. Fun fact about the Underlight Angler… it started its life as a joke.
Someone in the artifact meeting said something along the lines of: “I just figured something out. Fishing poles are weapons. Artifacts are weapons. We should make a Fishing Pole Artifact;” And we heard it, we went: “Ohh, that’s awesome!”
We could never do that, of course, but like cool joke though. And then someone else brought it up again, but more seriously, and we started talking about it and said: “Well, what would that even be? Is it an engineering thing? Is it demonic in origin? Is it from the Titans?” … and as we started talking about this in front of Owen, and the other design leads, and art director, and game director, we were all kind of surprised when nobody said: “No, you can’t do that. It is too silly.” So we made it, and we were really glad we did.
On the subject of fishing, we also wanted fishing this expansion to be more of a community experience. So we added a Dalaran fishing raids. This was something that was intentional, we were hopeful that people would figure out that if you have more people fishing together in this one particular area that it would be more lucrative for everyone involved. And yeah, you guys figured that out pretty much day one. We saw these fishing raid groups showing up in the Group Finder. So good job!
In contrast, there was actually another type of fishing raid that showed up in Legion, and that was the Garrison Fishing Raid. So what happened here, if you’re not familiar (sounds like some of you are. At least one person is) is that due to unforeseen interaction with the new looting rules in the new expansion in the old area of the Garrison, you could get super rare fishing items, things which would normally take a couple dozen hours or more to earn in just one or two hours of fishing in a 40-man raid inside the Garrison.
But this was not intentional, and then it happens, and we were freaking out a little bit. We were running to each other’s desk that morning saying like: “How can we stop this? Who knows what’s going on? We need to protect the value of these rare items. Can we hotfix this?” — and the answer was: yeah we could.
So we put together a hotfix, and we are ready to fix it, but before we push that button, we stopped and said: “You know what? … people are playing together in their Garrison, they are forming raids to go fishing together. There is something really cool, and like MMO-ie about that.”
So yes, it is actually really important that we do protect the value of these rare items for the people who spend a lot of time earning them, and are proud of that; but people are playing together and having fun, and that’s really kind of the most important thing here.
So we let it slide at least until Broken Shore came out. Garrison fishing raids remained. And we carried that philosophy forward too to other exploits that showed up later with mining and herbalism which required you to play with other people in kind of a fun way. We said we can hotfix this right away, but let’s let people keep mining basilisks just for a little longer.
Paul: So moving on to our next profession cooking, cooking (much like fishing) has confusing response–
(audience “Boo” at the sight of Nomi)
….Ok. Cooking (much like fishing) has hardly any quest at all, so cooking your progression is done through work orders through your Sous-Chef Nomi —– so a couple things…
(audience laughs and applauds)
I am not sure what you guys are even– laughing at.
We all troll about Nomi. Well… a couple things. I think most notably he gave you a reason to check in at Dalaran every couple days, which is something our game needed, and continues to need. What could have been better about Nomi? Well, the system was a little opaque.
I think it wasn’t always obvious what you had to do to progress, and there was one other thing I was supposed to say about– right, right. He is a horrible chef, and he burns all your food. So fun story about Nomi: while we were building him, we were putting together his recipe tables, which recipes go where, we knew pretty early… okay, it feels bad and broken. If you don’t earn any recipes you just get that empty loot window.
So we said: “We know what to do. We just put in a grey item, we’ll call it badly burnt food (kind of a joke).”
This recipe didn’t work out but you can sell it for gold. We could have named this item anything, we could have called it kitchen scraps, failed recipe, tasty kitchen leavings, but because of the name of the item you get the impression that Nomi is this really bad chef, can’t control the temperature of his ovens, and that really wasn’t actually our goal.
So again, we said we know how to fix this, we can just change the name of this item, but by the time we were able to do so, Nomi had actually become really recognizable for being a bad chef. People are making jokes and memes about him, and it felt like it could be a trailer that we could just roll him back to being the boring chef he was intended to be. So yes, now Nomi is a bad chef, but that also means he just has a lot of room to grow.
Paul: Okay, let’s move on to some of the new systems we added. First: professions for Legion and what we think worked well about them, and what could have been better.
So first, gathering nodes, mining and herbalism nodes are now shared up to 10 people can hit them. We think these felt really good. Thank you. They feel natural, you are not competing as much with other players. I know people at Blizzard who after they are done with their normal raids, they go on herbalism raids together. That’s just like beyond rad.
What could have been better? Skinners did not get to participate in this new shared resource node system, and in fact, the experience of being a Skinner may have gotten just a little bit more painful in Legion because due to our new tapping rules you can have a situation where someone who isn’t even in your party helps you kill a creature.
That’s good, but then they fail to loot the corpse, and that means you can’t skin it. That’s bad. So don’t worry skinners. We have got you. We have a fix planned for that particular issue as well as a ways for you to have a more shared resource system in the future. In the meantime, everybody else please be kind to your fellow skinners, and just loot your corpses, and all will go away.
Paul: Next we have recipe ranks. So we added the ability to have 1-star, 2-star, and 3-star versions of certain recipes in Legion; and we felt this felt pretty good too. Even after you have learned all your recipes, you could still progress within your profession. You could still have something to look forward to.
What could have been better? I am not sure we actually got our tuning right. Ideally, a 1-star recipe is really easy to earn, anybody can do it, 3-stars are pretty hard to get, and 2-stars land somewhere in between. Where we ended up was a lot of our 1-star recipes were gated behind a long questline. Maybe a little bit too long, and then a lot of our 2-star recipes were just on vendors in Dalaran, and where they probably would have been better served out in the world in treasure chests, and creatures, and dungeons, and so on.
Lastly, the Obliterum Forge. This is a new system we added to allow you to upgrade the quality of the gear that you craft, and this did pretty much everything we expected to. We saw a lot of people unlocking the forge, trading bracers in order to do so, a lot of people crafting Obliterum, buying and selling Obliterum, and applying Obliterum to their gear. The word Obliterum is just really fun to say.
What could have been better? The actual experience of obliterating an item probably isn’t as rewarding as it could be especially for small thicket items like Level up gear, individual potions. That’s not the most satisfying click in the game and maybe something which could get better in the future.
So the future. All across the World of Warcraft theme (Ion talked about this a little bit yesterday), we have this really big important goal of making sure this expansion stays vibrant with patches and content. Stuff to do. That holds true for professions as well.
We really want to make sure that crafting and gathering remain viable throughout the lifetime of this expansion. You have already seen in the patch 7.1, we added new recipes, we added the blood trader, we increased the Obliterum cap up to item level 855 (so you can get your crafted gear up to 855 now).
In our upcoming patch 7.1.5, the Obliterum cap is going up again: now to 865, so the crafted gear continues to get better. There is more new recipes showing up. There is going to be a new questline for Blacksmiths to unlock some forgotten weapon Transmogs, and we have more plans for Patch 7.2; and the patch after that and after that and so on.
So by the time this expansion is done, if you’re a gatherer, it’s possible you might not even be gathering from the same gathering nodes anymore. If you are a crafter, you can look forward to new gear, new consumables. Maybe. Just new ideas we have thrown around. Not a promise, but an idea. Maybe even crafted legendaries.
The future is really fun to think about. Really exciting to think about, but unfortunately this is supposed to be a retrospective. So I’m going to give it back to Jeremy Feasel to close this off. He is going to talk about my favorite kind of quest in the world: World Quests.
Next: World Quests
|BLIZZCON 2016 WORLD OF WARCRAFT: LEGION DESIGN RETROSPECTIVE PANEL TRANSCRIPT|
|Early Development||Demon Hunter: Behind the Blindfold||Artifact Weapons||Legion PvP Goals|
|Legion Professions||World Quests|