Blizzplanet member @Handclaw interviewed Tom Chilton to discuss details of Warlords of Draenor, ranging from the PvP-focused Ashran to the Garrison. A transcript will be available at a later time.
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GamesCom 2014 Warlords of Draenor Tom Chilton Interview
Handclaw: Hello, I’m talking to Tom Chilton from Blizzard Entertainment, and today we’re gonna ask some questions about Warlords of Draenor. So, first, question. Before and during beta Garrisons changed multiple times.
Handclaw: What didn’t work? And what did you learn from the experiences?
Chilton: So, I would say the thing that was mostly not working was that originally we had expected to have all the buildings affect your Garrison missions. But as we were playing the Garrisons it became very clear that we wanted the buildings to have more of an impact on our regular gameplay out in the world. So one of the things that we did was to try to make sure that all the buildings, or at least most of the buildings have an impact on your gameplay experience in the world. We also wanted to tie in the Garrisons more into the storylines than we originally had. So, that’s a lot of ways Garrison’s changing. I can see where another element would be that we found that we wanted give players a lot more of their choices earlier on. At first we thought of it more as the leveling up experience would teach you how to play the Garrisons, and then you would have much flexibility at the end-game. So we realized that players wanted flexibility far earlier. So, even within the first hour of playing the Garrisons you really start to— you open up the ability to build whatever building you want to build.
Handclaw: So, what does the future of Garrisons looks like? Do you have any certain plans to expand the Garrison gameplay?
Chilton: Well, the Garrisons I think are getting really close at this point. The next beta push is going to see, another set of changes that increases the functionality of some of the buildings. For example, we’re working on the Gladiator Sanctum, which is an arena where if you have that Gladiator Sanctum you’re going be able to do quests to defeat and beat players, turn in broken bones to get rewards. You’ll also be able to target a specific race that the nemesis of, like for example Gnomes or something like that and if you don’t like Orcs or types of Orcs whatever, you can target Orcs and kill Orcs and then get rewards as a result. And then finally there’s the battle royale event that we’re calling it, which is a giant Free-For-All, and if you win that, you get access to special armored outfits that you can’t get any other way. Such it’s one example of how the next push will have some more functionality built-in that doesn’t exist right now. But, I think we’re getting a lot closer.
Handclaw: So next up let’s go to Ashran. So, Ashran has this heavy ancient Ogre empire theme. Why are the Horde and Alliance fighting to conquer Ashran and its secrets?
Chilton: Well, it‘s very strategically positioned off the coast near the dark portal. The Horde and the Alliance are both very interested of course in preventing the Iron Horde from completing the dark portal and charging through Azeroth. You start off the expansion with basically a desperate suicide attempt to cross through the dark portal and temporarily sabotage it. You actually use the giant canon the Iron Horde is about to take into Azeroth to damage the dark portal. That buys the horde and alliance some time, but they’re going to need a more permanent solution and until they find a more permanent solution for dealing with the horde, they wanna make sure that the dark portal doesn’t get built back up. So both horde and alliance are very interested in this great strategic location.
Handclaw: So, Ashran has also undergone some changes. What can you tell us about the different builds, and what is your current goal with Ashran? Will there be any changes in the future beyond the Launch?
Chilton: Well I think you can expect that there will be changes to everything until the moment we launch. Hahaha! So, we’re the kinda company that is always making changes, and then we try to have it all ironed out by the time we launch. So I think that the changes will probably get smaller and smaller over time. But at this point we’re feeling pretty good about the direction of Ashran is going. We think it’s getting to a very good spot. Where there’s a lot of stuff to do on Ashran. A lot of players from the Horde and the Alliance are likely to be there and spend some time there, and engage in the activities that we have. So, as we keep refining exactly how the points of interest work in Ashran, you’ll see us make some gameplay changes here and there into that. But, overall, it’s really coming together.
Handclaw: So one general question what, now the Horde has a new warchief. Warchief Vol’jin. But he’s back in Azeroth. So do you have any plans for him?
Chilton: Well, he’s busy running the horde. Haha, so he currently has a meaningful role in the kind of storyline, the overall storyline. Although we don’t use him all that much in the actual events happening throughout Draenor. Because he’s not one of the one’s that comes through with everybody else. So he’s not very much in the foreground. He’s a very significant character in the meta. A lot like Sylvanas, who’s also a significant character, but in this early part of Draenor we don’t see a whole lot of them.
Handclaw: But given that Garrosh is been replaced, and back in the vanilla WoW he gets several appearances; but for Vol’jin now replacing him, how do you think it will probably work out?
Chilton: I think it works out well. We’re definitely going to see more of Vol’jin. It’s just that we can’t fit every character into everything that’s happening all the same time. Haha.
Handclaw: Now, that one thing I want to ask you… back at BlizzCon there was already also, kind of heirloom storage?
Chilton: Well, we’re actively working on that system for content patch, hopefully. So you know, we still have a long way to go for that system in terms of finding exactly how it’s going to work and doing all the technology to actually make it work. So it’s very difficult to know exactly when it will happen. We’re hoping that it will be in one of the content patches and it’s pretty hyper-ready force. So, we’ll see.
Handclaw: Well I will include one question you likely hear all the time. The same thing about tabards.
Chilton: Right. Yeah, tabard storage.
Handclaw: So will it work the same?
Chilton: Yeah, we might do that at the same time or it might be handled separately. Not sure yet. It could go either way, just depending on the details of how the transmog revamp goes. So we’ll have to wait and see.
Handclaw: So during development there was a patch zone announced, Farahlon. Now it’s unsure if you’ll go with Farahlon or Ashran, Tanaan Jungle. So, what can you tell us?
Chilton: Well, we’re gonna have to wait and see, because we have ideas about what Farahlon is, but we don’t know whether in the course of this expansion whether or not players are going to actually go there. We referenced it in a few areas, for example, there’s a Garrison mission where you actually send some followers to go try to find Farahlon. But, we don’t know yet whether the content will be relevant to the expansion, so it’s possible the players won’t end up going there. We’ll have to see.
Handclaw: So there were certain changes concerning a long time ago and you decided to go with Ashran. So maybe you could share some information why Bladespire and Karabor didn’t work.
Chilton: Right, Right. So, Bladespire and Karabor are very large areas and one of the things that we found as we were doing our testing of Garrisons and how all that would work and doing our testing of the sounds was that we needed to be very careful about what exactly you could do in your Garrison that was city-related, because there’s some things that felt cool and natural versus what things you expect to do in a capital city-type of environment. But the reality was that because there were things that were being split between the Garrisons and the capital cities, and these areas (Bladespire and Karabor are huge. I mean, they’re massively huge) that the amount of stuff that there was to put into these wasn’t very significant.
If you are comparing the interior area of the Shrines — the Shrine of Two Moons, for example, in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, and the amount of stuff that there is in that and you compare the interior size of the Temple of Karabor; they don’t match up very well. So the space ends up being actually not a great gameplay experience because you have to run massive distances to get from, for example, the auction house to the bank, wherever. So these are things that we have to factor in to the usability of the area and even though they’re cool looking set pieces, they don’t actually necessarily translate into good cities.
Handclaw: So my last question is, there’s much diversity with the followers, now we know how it’s supposed to work with the Garrison, but do you think there is some way how you’d like to expand it?
Chilton: On the Garrisons specifically or the followers?
Handclaw: With the followers. One of the followers.
Chilton: I feel like the followers, there’s a good amount of depth to them in terms of, there are a lot of different characters, different races, a lot of different abilities and traits they have. We have the different quality levels like common, rare and epic. So there’s a fair amount there already and I know that we will probably do more things with Garrisons in general, like some of the things that we were talking about are patches. You might be able to upgrade your Garrison to a fourth tier, to open up more building plots. We also might add some new building types like an aviary — for example. But we’re kind of waiting to see how things play out before we decide whether or not those are actually good ideas. They might actually end up being very bad ideas. Hahaha.
Handclaw: Ok so. Thank you for your time and for the interview and let’s see how Warlords of Draenor shapes out.
Chilton: Alright. Thank you.