BlizzCon 2016 World of Warcraft Q&A Panel Transcript

This is a full transcript of the BlizzCon 2016 World of Warcraft: Legion Q&A panel. The special-guest panel moderator was WoWHead livestreamer TradeChat. Among the panelists onstage were:

  • J. Allen Brack (executive producer)
  • Ion Hazzikostas (game director)
  • Matt Goss (lead game designer)
  • Alex Afrasiabi (creative director)
  • Chris Robinson (senior art director)


 

Narrator: Welcome to World of Warcraft Q&A.

Panser: Hey guys, you having fun at BlizzCon? Sounds like it. Well, welcome to the World of Warcratf Q&A here at BlizzCon 2016. I am so excited and so honored to be here for those who do not know my name, it is Panser. Although, I guess a few of you might know me as TradeChat from YouTube (ahh, thank you so much!), or maybe from my work with WoWHead, or maybe from the time I was on TV — although that was kind of weird, and I don’t really want to talk about it.

 

Panser: Anyway, you know what I really want to talk about? World of freaking Warcraft. You guys are into that? You play WoW? Okay, well. Oh well, I have been playing World of Warcraft for nearly a decade. In Legion, I am playing a Resto Shaman, although over the years I have played nearly every single class. I have played every role, and I have died to every elevator. So I am sure you guys might be able to relate to that, or it could just be me; but I think we can all agree that this is super exciting and we are all points to greet these guys with our questions.

So let me introduce our panel. On the end there, we have the executive producer of World of WarCraft Jay Allen Brack. Next to him is the game director Ion Hazzikostas. Oh look at you Mr. popular! In the middle there is Matt Goss. He is the lead assistant designer for World of Warcraft. Then the creative director Alex Afrasiabi. In here on the end is the art director responsible for all the beautiful things in WoW, Chris Robinson.

So for those of you who might be unfamiliar with the way this kind of works is they don’t get to pick what to talk about. That wouldn’t be any fun, would it? We are going to pick what they talk about. So we are going to be taking questions from you guys here at BlizzCon in Anaheim, California; as well as from you guys who are at home watching via the virtual ticket because we have the magic of the Internet on our fingertips. Let’s start off today with a question from our audience. You guys might know him from the Realm Maintenance Podcast, what have you got for these guys?

Hi, I play Rogue or Warlock with engineering on Earthern Ring. And my question for you folks is: in 7.2 outside the blazing Obliterum cap, Is crafted gear going to scale up in power level to be more competitive with dungeon drops?

Matt: I mean the short answer is yes, crafting will actually catch up. We are still trying to figure out the right way to do it. We have a couple ideas. Maybe it is Obliterum. Maybe it is a new kind of Obliterum. Maybe it is one that we haven’t discovered yet, but yes we want to make sure that Blacksmith, Tailors, Leatherworking those all can make gear that is relevant at end-game, even in 7.2.

 

Panser: Alright, thank you so much. Our next question is from a World of Warcraft fan from the internet and he wants to know: Any plans to address the issues with low population realms and faction imbalances?

Allen: So we have talked a little bit about this challenge in the past. It is not a great gameplay experience for us to limit the faction of characters that can be created on an individual server, so what we want to do is do a round of connected realms, connected realms are a technology that we have that allows us to combine certain realms into kind of one large or mega realm; and the idea is that we would take certain realms that favor the alliance in terms of size. Certain realms that favor the Horde in size. Kind of combine them, and figure out about what the right percentage is to the best of our ability. So yes that’s something we are working on.

 

Panser: Reorganization. Next question is from someone here at BlizzCon, her name is Tanya.

Tanya: Thank you for Gnome priests and Gnome hunters, and my question is now that the gnomes have been playing with Ally and they are curious creatures — Is there any chance we will see gnome paladins, or also now that we are in the Emerald Dream, maybe some gnomes start experimenting with nature magic and become druids or shamans?

Ion: It would make things almost too easy for the gnome only guilds out there that are trying to do everything with their rosters or just gnomes, I mean aren’t you up for a challenge? Now in all seriousness though, when we come up with our race class combinations, and what works and what doesn’t (we have broadened those a lot over the years), but what we are thinking about racial identity and what affinities they do or don’t have, and we think of gnomes they are handy, has half of the tinkering mechanical side and they have the arcane experimental magical side, things that feel more spiritual or holy aren’t really… they don’t really work the same way with gnomish culture as it is been defined over all. It is not to say that that couldn’t be something that happens in the future, but for now that is sort of where we have drawn the line.

 

Panser: I mean, I guess. We have another question from someone at home, and they want to know about the difference between like PvE balancing and PvP balancing, because it seems like there is been a lot more efforts to balance PvE content as far as classes go, but not as much towards PvP; and the PvP crowd is scary, don’t make them mad.

Matt: So I think we definitely look at both balances and I think what often comes up is PvE DPS numbers or who is winning damage meters or those kinds of things; but I think PvP balance is harder because you have to use more of the class, and it is actually different classes, and they are a full utility against each other, and so we look at user data, we look at what people are playing, what we hear about, and we take all those factors into account and make tweaks behind the scenes; but a lot of those things, I mean the PvP team, if you look at our patch notes (especially in Legion) they have been really responsive to the way the PvP meta is changing, different classes being too powerful or not powerful enough. So we keep our eye on it and we make changes when we need to.

 

Ion: Having for the first time in Legion a separate set of knobs to turn when it comes to individual abilities, as well as the whole honor talent system also gives us a whole set of arrows in our quiver when it comes to solving those problems. As Matt said, we are looking at things like representation and overall compositions. Another factor that comes into play is also something maybe “balanced” quote-unquote in terms of its win-loss rate, but if it is really unfun to play against at least degenerate sorts of matches, that is also another dimension that has to be considered when making our changes. It doesn’t necessarily come into play as much in rating. The dragon is probably not posting on the forums complaining about how boring it was.

 

Panser: Okay, you are going to love this question Alex, you are going to appreciate this. To the floor.

Hi guys, what happened to Med’an from the comic series? Wasn’t he supposed to be the new guardian?

Alex: So what happened to Med’an? Great question. We have danced around this for a long time. How to put this, certain fictions exist outside of the World of Warcraft that we love, but is it necessarily what we would consider canon? So Med’an is guardian. Is it considered canon in Warcraft lore? Which is why for the last five years you haven’t seen a reference to him. So that doesn’t mean that there can’t be a story for Me’dan. It is just not like it was laid out in the comics.

 

Panser: We have a player online who wants to know about artifacts power, and they want to know if you have considered pulling your artifact power on your character so that you could re-use it for other specs, and other weapons without having to level that character up separately kind of for a month to get up to a place where they are viable.

Ion: I mean… so it is got a couple facets there. I think really the problem that it is trying to solve is the desire for catch up on other characters or other specs when it comes to leveling your artifacts. So something that was alluded to in the panel yesterday is a desire to offer much more accelerated aggressive catch on artifact knowledge with further resources in patch 7.1.5 and beyond. So you will be able to — if you are significantly behind the curve on artifact knowledge, you will be able to just purchase those knowledge tomes directly from your researcher for order resources without having to wait 3+ days per level. That is where you can really just get into the fray, get into the thick of things, start leveling your weapons.

As far as off-spec and multi-spec stuff goes, there I think knowledge also does solve that to a large degree. If you have been primarily focusing on one weapon and you have your knowledge levels pretty high, and you have been neglecting your others, as soon as you switch over you are very very rapidly going to be able to get your first couple of gold traits, a couple dozen points, and really get your spec within striking distance of the others. Obviously if you want it to be your new main primary spec, that is a different story that will require a longer term time investment; but the way the whole system is structured, if you switch over and start focusing on… let’s say you are assassination, you want to be outlaw now. You start focusing on your outlaw weapon, a month or so down the line there isn’t going to be a meaningful difference between you and someone who had never even dabbled into assassination to begin with.

 

Panser: So our next question is from Oscar here at BlizzCon.

Oscar, Burning Blade to, shout out to Gorehammer. I have been one achievement away from the salty achievement or from salty title for quite a long time now, will the Stranglethorn Fishing Durby go? And do you have any plans for it in the future?

Matt: Yeah. So Stranglethorn fishing… we had to turn it off, because of some tech things and we are bringing it back in the future. I am not sure if we know when.

Ion: I think aiming for 7.1.5, but don’t take that as a promise. That’s a goal. We were also aiming for 7.1 until two weeks ago, for reference. Basically, the whole tournament was set up around the premise of there can be one winner per realm. The first person in a realm that brings the required fish back in is the winner for that week. Well in the post Legion world of sharding, and the way we had to rebuild our architecture to make things like the smooth Legion launch happen, there isn’t that clear one to one relationship anymore of there is a Stranglethorn and a realm, and that made the entire thing break down in horrible ways that would have been a really negative experience for players. So we are actually looking at when it comes back, it is likely going to be a region wide contest like the Stranglethorn fishing Tournament will be like all of North America, or all of Europe, and it will be the first 100 or let’s say the first 50 (something along those lines) to turn it in will win the prize. That way it also evens things out a little bit if you are in a higher pop realm. You are not going to be disadvantaged in trying to complete it.

 

Panser: That’s encouraging. You are going to like this one too, Alex. And this one is from online and they want to know: Where is Wrathion in the legion?

Alex: So for those of you that played Beta, Wrathion was around. We tried to get him into Highmountain in one of the questlines, and more so he doesn’t fall off. Not that he was integral to the narrative, and we actually ran into a lot of problems with it. There was just time issues timetable issues that we just really couldn’t get to work. So for now he is still wandering Azeroth, and we will see him in a future content update; but for now he is just wandering.

 

Trade: Alright, our next question is from someone here at BlizzCon.

For the last three expansions, it was very difficult to keep up this leveling alts, and as somebody who really appreciates playing alts, it always felt like there is ### behind the rep grinds, or arcane knowledge grinds, something like that. I understand you are making your promo to arcane knowledge, but still feels like a lot of these things should be account-wide.

Panser: Like reputation

Just make it easier for us to play alts, not to put chores on us.

Matt: I agree, I am also a player who plays a lot of alts, and I think we what we try to do is we try to strike a balance between playing your main character or playing a character that you have a lot of progression already in, and also playing the character that you want to progress and having a meaningful progression system there, and trying to take away some of those things that do feel more like a chore or feel like it is not a fun experience to play through multiple times. So I think all those things are on the table. We talked about the artifact knowledge catch up that we are doing in the future which would help with artifacts. I think we are looking at reputation as well. There is some new things in 7.2. We want to look at with reputation for even characters at max reputation. So it is not just as easy as flipping it over and saying like you can unwrap on other characters, but I agree with you. I think in Legion there is so much more content to play through like when I switch to a different character I get a whole new class order campaign and I get a whole new profession questline, which is awesome, but trying to minimize at the same time the things that everybody has to go through.

Ion: I think it is also worth noting, the other side of it is looking at what are the things that are gated behind those reputations? You are talking about one in particular. So in 7.1, we made the attunements to access the Suramar dungeons account-wide. We also made unlocking world quests account-wide. Those are two of the biggest things that made you feel like if you were used to having those things on one character, you have the absolute must-haves on an alt, and it wasn’t an optional thing. So in that world, once you have those things upfront, if reputation is there just sort of measure your progress through the storyline, if you want to play through the second time; or let’s say your main was a blacksmith and enchanter, but your alt is a leatherworker, and so you want to get your Dreamwalkers rep up to get leatherworking patterns on your leatherworker — that maybe another form of progression that isn’t so mandatory or feels like it is crippling your ability to play that character, and so we wanted (like Matt said) strike that balance and draw the line between things that are excluding you, and things that would remove goals, because part of playing and progressing alts is striving towards in reaching goals.

 

Panser: On the bright side, Legion Pathfinder is account-wide. We have another question from online and they want to know: Are any of the other basic race mounts like human horses or forsaken skeletal horses going to get graphical updates the way that we saw tauren kodos get updates.

Chris: So it is really hard to give a definitive yes or no to that, that decision making comes along when we are talking about what is most relevant to the storytelling we are doing at the games. So in the case of Legion we felt like kodos was an example to say we are going to see a lot of tauren, and that is clearly a very tauren-related mount; and in that case, it made a lot of sense to update them along with the tauren updates that we are doing. So in the future, I’d say have hope. Like I said it is hard to say: “Yeah, we are going to do the horse next week, or whatever;” but we are always looking for reasons to go back, and update all the content like that when it makes sense in the new content we are building.

 

Panser: We have got a question from a member of our audience.

Next: Legion Q&A (Part 2)

BLIZZCON 2016 WORLD OF WARCRAFT: LEGION Q&A PANEL TRANSCRIPT
Part 1Part 2Part 3

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