Alongside my coverage of the Shadowlands event server, I was able to take part in a group interview with Ion Hazzikostas about the expansion and WoW in general. The interview went, round robin style, from one person to the next until we ran out of time. I ended up being able to ask three questions. While there was some very juicy information revealed from others’ questions, I don’t want to steal anyone’s thunder. I’ll let those parties share those answers on their own time.

Here are the transcripts for the three questions I asked Ion and his answers.

Q: One of the things I’m really excited about in the new customization features is how its sort of allowed sub-races of a sort to get in, like Sandfury trolls and Wildhammer dwarves. And then those purple trolls who may be dark trolls or Shatterspear trolls; it’s not clear. But I wondered: it reminded me, in the pre-patch to Cataclysm they added little questlines explaining some of the new race/class combinations. Would there possibly be something similar about, like, Sandfury trolls or high elves in the Shadowlands pre-patch?

A: There are no specific plans along those lines in Shadowlands. Though I think we are planning on just broadly incorporating the range of character customization options for NPCs as well as players just across the world. I think, in some ways we’re frankly viewing this as a bit of a retcon. Like, we’re not going to change existing named, established characters and make them look different. But, walking around Stormwind, walking around other parts of the world, you will see guards and random civilians that have these looks as if they’ve been there all along. Because frankly I think we see this as correcting an oversight on our part, over the years. And just trying to improve representation more broadly. We are custodians of a fantasy universe and a world that we build and we don’t want to not do the right thing because we feel shackled to a decision that was made creatively in a different era that was fifteen plus years ago. Now, as for details of troll clans and dwarven clans and the rest, I think as we have opportunities to do things like racial heritage lines or other race focused questlines, that’s a fun opportunity to explore those areas. But we don’t have any specific thoughts for Shadowlands right now.

Q: At the start of Battle for Azeroth, Uther’s Tomb in Western Plaguelands was completely remade from scratch with new art assets used nowhere else. I thought “ooh, maybe that means they’re going to revisit it the same way we went back to the Broken Shore or Tanaan Jungle,” but then nothing was ever done with it. Was it just a side project? Was it something planned that didn’t go through? Also, now that I think about it, there was also stuff about the Scarlet Monastery. What did happen with all that?

A: Honestly, I don’t one hundred percent recall off the top of my head. I don’t think there’s any elaborate backstory there. I think its quite possible it was a side project. We have a range of everything from interns to personal passion projects just refurbishing old parts of the game. But we knew that, we were already kind of planning ahead at least, you know, an expansion, an expansion and a half, and Uther is a character that actually does play a pretty prominent role in Shadowlands, in the story of Bastion and the kyrians in particular. So, we knew that we hadn’t seen or heard the last of him, which probably had him at the forefront of our minds as we were looking for places to retouch while we were already in and around the area of Lordaeron and Undercity making some adjustments to suit the Battle for Azeroth.

Q: This kind of comes back from my original question; I mentioned offhandedly, on the new character customization. As I said, I really like the introduction of sub-races almost within them. One that I’ve been debating about on twitter, we can’t seem to reach a consensus: the purple trolls. Are they supposed to be dark trolls or Shatterspear trolls?

A: I’m actually not entirely sure on the answer to that. I will check with Steve Danuser, our lead narrative designer and our character art team and I’ll get back to you regarding the specific inspiration for that.

And Ion did indeed get back to me with this answer from Steve Danuser:

“In some cases, the new skin tones represent tribes we have encountered before. In others, they are simply intended to broaden the spectrum of options.”  

Community Interviews

1. The Maw2. Venthyr Covenant3. Odds and Ends4. Interview with Hazzikostas

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BlizzCon 2019 Panel Transcripts
Ian Bates

World of Warcraft Writer and columnist for Blizzplanet. I am also known as The Red Shirt Guy (BlizzCon).