Amongst the blog posts discussing Gameplanet’s interview with Ghostcrawler, I completely missed the the fact that there was one with Cory Stockton, lead content designer, as well. (This says something, I think, about the WoW blogging community’s emphasis on game mechanics over narrative and experience, but that’s fodder for another post). I found much more of personal interest to me in that post. For example:
For example, on a quest we might send you to go kill a specific quest mob. When we do that now, we can phase you and have that mob act like you’re the only person there – no other players are visible. It creates a much more customised experience, we can do a cinematic, you’ll get more of an individual set up.
Now, that’s awesome. Quest-specific phasing and encounters? That really opens up the storytelling opportunities for Blizz this time around. They can craft genuinely dramatic encounters with individuals or groups at the end of quest chains that are much more in tune with what we’d see in film or tv as compared to the convention for MMoRPGs.
The fact that the revamped Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep won’t hit until 4.1 is revealed there, too. But I found this revealing:
And a zone that you didn’t see today, but a zone that has had a 95% revamp would be Westfall. Westfall is completely different, huge changes. Almost no quest line is intact because the Defias don’t make sense any more as a threat. Now the Cataclysm is a threat, so things have really changed and all of that will play into the new Deadmines, the boss there and the way that experience is going to happen.
So, there’s going to be a narrative reason for the new dungeons? It’s not just Van Cleef on Heroic? I suspect some people will be disappointed by this news, but I find it rather exciting. Long-term players are really going to get a sense of an evolving, changing world.
And there’s an interesting little hint of a revised strategy for patches:
We actually have a list of old dungeons that are the highest candidates to actually do revamps for. Stratholme’s on that list, Scholomance and Diremaul are there – there are a couple of others that players also really, really liked. So [revamping] those instances are things for when there’s a patch, a gap, and there’s time for us to do it, that’s what we’d fill it with, rather than making entirely new content.
That’s revealing – possibly more so than meets the eye. Can we read a new approach to the patch/expansion cycle in this? They’ve got scheduled time for each patch, and any spare will go on revamping old content to make it relevant again – which must be more time-efficient than starting from scratch. There’s no doubt that accelerating the patch cycle will be crucial to picking up the pace of expansion releases. It may be wishful thinking – but I think I can see something beginning to emerge…