Behind the Design of WoW: Mists of Pandaria

Greg Tito | 14 Sep 2012 18:00
Interviews - RSS 2.0

The Escapist: Is that the kind of thing where you guys can iterate a lot within the team but then you know as soon as it has contact with the larger audience that it's going to change?

Greg Street: It's very hard for us to test PvP internally. We have a lot of internal tools that can kind of do automated testing for things like PvE damage but there's no way to really try to replicate what a Battleground's going to feel like without just getting a lot of players together. We do that a lot but Blizzard only has a couple thousand employees and that's nothing compared to the millions of players who are going to start encountering Monks soon.

The Escapist: So were there things that you saw in the beta that made you kind of change the way you approached the Monk?

Greg Street: Not dramatically. We changed the resource model early on a couple of times. At first we had the the black force and the white force and you'd kind of juggle those two together. But at the same time we came up with a lot of unusual mechanics for the Monk's abilities and we said, "We think the class can either support a complicated resource model or complicated abilities." We went with the abilities because that was something we hadn't done before, where each ability has a weird tweak compared to what players are used to.

The Escapist: How do you think it turned out? What's the thing that you're most excited about for the Monk?

Greg Street: It may be a lame answer but I love the animation. Our animators just went all out coming up with different stances for the damage dealer versus the tank and healer and all the way. When it's combined with the Pandaren model, because they have so many bones in the model to play with, just the way they turn out their wrists when they're deflecting an attack. It looks awesome to watch.

The Escapist: What about the Monk starting area? The starting area was something you guys had done really well for all the previous expansions like Burning Crusade and Cataclysm, so what would set this one apart?

Greg Street: The location was really different. When we did, say the goblin starting experience, we were thinking of those more in terms of advanced players, people who had played through everything in WoW and could handle something different. So the goblin start zone was really unusual. You had your car, it's like a big city there's not just boars running around to kill. We took a little bit of a step back with the Pandaren because we imagined that being a race new players to the game might want to try out. So rather than having a lot of unusual mechanics we based it mostly around the story and the big discovery of the turtle and what its injury was and the really breathtaking vistas around that starting zone.

The Escapist: Was that something that Chris Metzen (Senior Vice President, Story and Franchise Development) came up with? That the whole starting area is on this turtle or was that something that came with the writing of that zone?

Greg Street: That had always been, "Oh, by the way, the Pandaren live on a turtle." That's been around for a while, I don't think that came up as part of Mists of Pandaria but I know Chris Metzen and our lead quest designer Dave Kozac spent a lot of time coming up with the history, the culture and the philosophy of the Pandaren because we had to create a lot of that from scratch. With the previous expansions we had a lot to go on for backstory but Dave, particulary, had to create a whole history and mythology, ten thousand years of Pandaren history. I think it was a lot of fun.

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