Mists of Pandaria: Interview mit Game Director Tom Chilton [Quelle: Blizzard]
buffed: We had a chance to play the Monk and noticed he's doing auto attacks. So you went back to the auto attack combat model?
Tom Chilton: Indeed, the auto attack is back. We gave the no auto attack idea a good college try. But at the end of the day we didn't feel that it was working as well as we'd hoped. Pretty recently we put the auto attack back in - like a week or two ago - and are still getting a feel for the contrast. We think not having auto attack was a cool idea, but we kept ending up in one of two different problems based on the fact that we needed to have some kind of basic attack. One problem was that if that attack was completely resource free, it meant your character was GCD-locked the whole time. If your GCD wasn't going, you were doing something wrong. It also created a lot of situations where players had to do a lot of mental math, like: "well, my ability is going to finish cooldown in half a second - is it smarter for me to use my no-cost ability and then my other ability, or should I wait?" We ended up freezing up a lot in "what's the right answer here?" situations.
If the ability had a cost we ran into a situation where you could have periods of doing nothing. Which introduced these slightly weird delays where your character was just standing there and you're like "come on, do something".
buffed: So for the Monk it turned out to be better to go back to auto attacks, and maybe give it a try again next expansion?
Chilton: Maybe. There may be a way to pull it off in a way that feels really good in the context of World of Warcraft RPG combat - but so far we haven't found it.
buffed: We've also seen the Lorewalkers who seem to stick to Pandaria at the moment. Will they also cover the old world?
Chilton: At the moment they're just for Pandaria. It would be very cool to expand that through the world in general, but we only have so much time to spend on it.
buffed: We learned that the first raid tier will have three raid dungeons with 14 bosses - so basically like in Cataclysm's first tier.
Chilton: Maybe even a couple more bosses. That would be the minimum number of bosses. It looks like it will probably be more than that. But we're exploring different ways to split them up. Whatever the total number of bosses ends up being - they would certainly all be there from day one, but we might do some sort of unlocking mechanism where you actually have to progress through different sets of the bosses.
buffed: That's interesting. We were under the impression that sort of unlocking was abandoned quite some time ago.
Chilton: I think one of the main reasons that we abandoned raid progression as a series of tiers you have to go through was because it was very hard for players who had not been raiding from the beginning to get into it. But now that we have raid finder which will be present for all the different tiers, we feel that players will essentially have the ability to catch up to their friends or their guild. I think that opens us up for the ability to have the raid tiers actually be a true progression.
buffed: The number of instances and bosses remind us of the first raiding tier in Cataclysm. And that tier turned out to be nasty particularly in heroic mode because boss difficulty varied a lot. Guilds would end up switching instances constantly during progression because after they killed a heroic boss in instance A the easiest next boss was in instance B after which you might go to a boss in instance A again, and so on. Are you planning to prevent that this time?
Chilton: For sure - I think that's a good example of how to do it wrong (laughs). In retrospect I think what is painful there is if you go from a tier that has lots of bosses to a tier that doesn't have a lot of bosses. So for example you had the whole first tier of Cataclysm dungeon bosses, and then we introduced the troll dungeons - and because we were trying to turn that into its own gear tier with higher difficulty we went from having this suite of seven different dungeons down to only having two different dungeons that you're running over and over. And that feels really crappy. So we're not going to do that again.
What we plan to do instead is that we will add to the tier and advance the entire tier if we go about doing that kind of thing when it comes to dungeons. Something that's also important to us with our raids is that we maintain a higher total number of bosses throughout the expansion from tier to tier. So you aren't going from that opening tier of - let's say - 16 bosses all at once to six or eight bosses. That's where we feel we can break that first set of bosses into a couple of tiers. So you would have kind of an introductory tier and then potentially a full tier of 10 to 12 bosses after that. Then, with the first raid patch, you would get another 10 to 12 bosses. And then another 10 to 12 bosses. We want to keep that boss count feeling really good, and then I think we can also potentially do the progression.
buffed: We also heard that you want to adjust the patch cycles. Does that mean more patches?
Chilton: Yep, that is the idea. I think the right interval for raid tiers is about every four months. If you're talking about a full tier with 10 or more bosses then four months feels about right. But we want to make sure that we have content patches in between them. Our intention is to have staggered content patches and we're actually evolving our team to have separate groups. We have a team that's creating the raid and major progression content. But we also have a team that's going to introduce more scenarios, more content to the existing tier in between those. So hopefully what that will mean is that hopefully we will be able to get content into the game up to twice as quickly.
buffed: So we have 25 man raids and 10 man raids - and with the addition of Monks we have 11 classes. 10 man guilds are forced to leave at least one class sitting out, which brings back the discussion about possible 15 man raids which has been brought up on several occasions in the past. Is such a raid size still out of the question?
Chilton: It is for Mists of Pandaria. If I were able to go back in time and reconsider the number of players that we had for WoW raids in general, I would consider a 15 person format. But I don't think it's the right thing for the game now because for guilds that are currently doing 10 person raids it means they suddenly have to go out and find more people to raid with. And guilds that have 25 would have to come down to 15 - if you assume that we would only be doing 15 player raids.
buffed: But it is an option for the future?
Chilton: Well, if I could go back in time - which I am currently unable to do - I would consider it (laughs). I mean, never say never - I can't say for sure whether or not it would be something that we would do in the future. It doesn't seem likely right now, but I've been wrong on that kind of thing multiple times in the past.
buffed: Coming back to raids - will we see more fights like Ragnaros where the heroic mode is significantly different than the normal mode?
Chilton: We definitely still expect to support fights where the mechanics are different. Ragnaros is an extreme case where the difference is an entire phase, and certainly not every fight is going to be taken to that extreme. I think a lot of fights will have the slight differences to mechanics or an additional mechanic, and overall the numbers being a lot higher - but for end bosses I think you can expect us to go reasonably far with it. I can't commit to whether every fight will go as far as Ragnaros did, but we'll see.
buffed: Will there be a new Caverns of Time instance?
Chilton: Not on launch, but it's certainly a possibility for the future. In fact we have actually gone back and created a map for the Caverns of Time. So if you die you actually have an idea which portal to take (laughs). So the Caverns of Time is still important enough for us to go back and make that map (laughs).
buffed: So what about a new troll dungeon? We had one in every expansion.
Chilton: Yeah, it really is a tradition and there certainly is an opening for it since the Zandalari trolls have an island off the coast of Pandaria. They have been there for a long time and were actually actively a servant race for the Mogu thousands of years before. They are in the process of trying to resurrect the Mogu emperor - the original ancient fallen Mogu emperor - because they want his help to reconquer the island. So that could end up involving some sort of troll instance, but it's not completely determined yet.
buffed: Are there any news on the account wide achievements and on how that system is going to work?
Chilton: No new news other than that we're still pursuing it. Work on it hasn't been completed, so it's impossible for us to say with absolute certainty that it will happen in time. But we're still making progress towards it.
buffed: Back at Blizzcon 2011 you mentioned a MOBA style battleground planned to take place in Azshara Crater - as far as we've seen that's not in the game anymore?
Chilton: We're still pursuing it as an idea. We know at this point that it will not make the launch content for Mists of Pandaria. It requires new tech for our AI for us to be able to actually pull it off well. So until we get that AI tech, we aren't able to actually make it happen. So, hopefully not long in the future.
buffed: Some of the recent MMO releases brought new features to the genre that seem like they are basically state of the art right now, area looting being one example. Are some of those features coming to WoW as well?
Chilton: We will indeed have area looting with Mists of Pandaria. I actually think that it creates a pretty cool pace for combat. Some of our classes have developed mechanics where you really want to stay on a roll of moving from one creature to the next. And constant looting really feels like it interrupts that flow. I also always found that for ranged classes it doesn't feel like a good pacing to have to run up and loot every time you kill something. It feels more clumsy than we want. So it's nice to be able to kill a lot of things from range, then run up to the nearest one, loot it and get it all.
buffed: Can you tell us how many new ranks are planned for the guild leveling system or do you have any examples for new perks?
Chilton: We actually don't plan to add more guild levels with Mists of Pandaria. We aren't necessarily going to do that with every expansion. But we do plan to revise some of the perks that we feel didn't work out as well as we'd hoped and introduce some new perks in their place.
buffed: Thank you very much for your time.