MMORPG recently sat down on March 15th with World of Warcraft’s Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street and were able to extract some more information from him that some of the previous interviewers had yet to get.
Ghotscrawler states that patch 5.2 is probably the biggest they’ve ever done in the history of WoW. Not only that, but it’s an attempt to bring back some old players by moving the game’s style a bit towards its roots. This was done by actively trying to encourage world PvP by not allowing flying mounts in the Isle of Thunder and Isle of Giants. The warring between factions, players included, is a build up to 5.3.
Major changes in 5.2
The new use of open-tagging is meant to get rid of the boring part of waiting around for the player who first tagged a mob to kill it then waiting for that mob to respawn. It might be implemented fully for all mobs in the future, but for right now, it’s just for bosses.
Related to tagging, the new health scaling system that was put in in 5.1 is meant to make boss fights take a bit longer in order to give them a more epic feel instead of watching them quickly drop for looting.
In 5.2, another location, the Isle of Giants, was introduced but its existence was downplayed. This hush hush was done on purpose. It was done in order to make the isle a bit mysterious and as Ghostcrawler puts it “hearkening back to old WoW where there were these areas that were just kind of out there and you weren’t directed to go there, but it’s there… if you want to explore and see what’s in store.”
The idea for Isle of Giants’ lack of flying mounts came from the world boss Galleon. With Galleon, players fly around in order to avoid the mobs around him. In Isle of Giants, players can’t fly, so, they must battle through the elite mobs in order to get to the rares they want to fight.
In Vanilla WoW and Burning Crusade, questing sucked, but combat made up for it. In Wrath and Cataclysm, questing became the focus and the original sense of danger and suspense from combat disappeared. MoP is meant to bring those two things together and make combat much more interesting for players again.
Sticking to the core
When designing content, the developers consider three groups of players: the loyal core-group, the potential new players, and the players that might want to return. It’s possible to make content that appeals to one group, but not the other two. When deciding what to go with, though, the dev team sticks with the core base, even if it means content will not appeal to new players.
There will never be a complete change to the core mechanics of WoW. New bosses or side features can be quite revolutionary, but the core gameplay itself will never change due to not wanting to betray the loyal part of the player base.
World of Warcraft is unique in that it’s an MMO that can still use the nearly extinct pay to play subscription system. Even though most MMORPGs on the market are now free to play with cash shops, Blizzard is not moving to this yet due to it not being as lucrative as their current system. This may change in the future.
The development team can sometimes get jealous of new MMORPGs that come out with incredible features. Although they wish they could implement into WoW many of the cutting edge features of some of the more recent MMOs, this is oftentimes not possible due to not wanting to ruin the game for the core base.
In terms of housing, there are two major problems facing the development team. The first problem is art; implementing this system would require them to create a lot of content in order to provide tons of customization and rewards for the players. If they did not do this, having one’s own house would not be very meaningful.
The second problem when it comes to creating player based housing in WoW is that it isolates the player. If you had your own home to go to with your own personal mailbox, auction house, and/or professions trainer, you would most likely never be out in the rest of the world, making it a very desolate place.