How to make a Cataclysm • Page 2

We meet the men tearing WOW to pieces: world guru Alex Afrasiabi and systems legend Greg Street.

Eurogamer: You told us that you decided to cut the Path of the Titans because you want to avoid over-complication of WOW. But how do you balance that against players' desire for new stuff?

Greg Street: Oh, that is probably the hardest part of my job. We have players who've been with us for six plus years, because they started in the beta, who want something new, they want to see different things.

And then we have new players, particularly younger players... A lot of the original WOW players came from other MMOs, and now we're getting new players who've never played an MMO before. They may have played console games, and to them even mastering mouse movement is really difficult.

And then to look at all this, I mean it's just a gigantic game, so it can be very intimidating. One of the core Blizzard philosophies is concentrated coolness, so we're trying to make sure we have a small number of things with a lot of depth, rather than just kitchen-sinking, throwing in lots and lots of stuff.

Eurogamer: That must be quite a management job on a game that's now almost six years old.

Greg Street: It is, and the Path of the Titans is a great example where I think there's a really good core idea there, and I think someday we can pull it off, but we just weren't happy with the direction it was going.

It felt like we were going to have to explain it a lot, players were going to be confused about how it worked, it was going to have some unintended effects... Like, it looked like we would encourage players to get to level 85 as fast as possible. Some people are going to do that anyway, but it's not really the goal to have players skip through the levelling process.

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We'll see where we are in a few years and maybe bring it back, but...

Eurogamer: Is there a particular class that you thought needed an overhaul more than the others?

Greg Street: I think the Paladin is one I'd say probably needs some of the most work, it got a lot of work in Lich King but it's still not quite there. Each individual role, the damage, healing and tanking all have problems, in some cases they're over-powered but a little simplistic in other cases, so we definitely want to address that. Without changing - you know, it's a very popular class, I think it's our most popular class at the moment, so we don't want to make it unrecognisable either.

Eurogamer: Are you going for an overall change in the tone of the game?

Alex Afrasiabi: Absolutely. That's a challenge with making an MMO, right? Because if we don't do things like a Cataclysm to the old world, for the most part, the world stays static. Things don't necessarily change, NPCs don't age, events don't ever pass.

It's definitely going to be a different story, but I think in a good way. Cataclysm represents two things, the physical destruction and upheaval of the world, but also political upheaval. There's a lot of things changing.

If you step into Westfall for example, you actually see a Westfall five years after the Defias Brotherhood has been defeated. Northrend took its toll on the Alliance. They put a lot of time, effort, money and resources into winning this war against the Scourge and the Lich King, and that had an effect back home.

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We actually see that a lot of the poor and the destitute and the people who came out of jobs because of that, or the haggard war veterans, ended up migrating into Westfall and there's all these homeless citizens that are uneasy about what their future holds. It actually has an interesting quest line that I think leads into some pleasant, interesting surprises for that zone and for the Defias.

Eurogamer: What kind of percentage of the old-world quests have been changed?

Alex Afrasiabi: So - here's a number for you. Wrath of the Lich King shipped with about 1000 quests, a little over. Cataclysm will ship with... we're tracking to ship with over 3000 new quests.

Eurogamer: And how many have you lost?

Alex Afrasiabi: Quests? Or brain cells? Ha ha, no. We've lost quite a few. A lot of zones had complete redos. If you look at the 80-85 game, that's probably around 1000 quests, and the rest of the 3000 are in the old world. So it's significant.

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