How to make a Cataclysm • Page 4

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

Greg Street: Our design for Lich King was to give players a lot more flexibility, both in terms of the classes that they brought and whether they preferred to do 10 versus 25.

The problem was the way we set up the rules, we were actually encouraging people to run both 10 and 25 every week, which just got to be a little draining. It's fun to raid once a week, it gets a little old if you feel like you need to raid four, five, six nights a week in order to do a 10 and a 25 of some of these longer dungeons.

So our new model is: you pick which you like the best and you just stick with that.

Eurogamer: You've got a similar thing going on in the new PVP system, where you're encouraging choice between Battlegrounds and Arenas. But isn't it sometimes trying to dam the tide? There seems to be a desire among players to absolutely maximise everything they play in the game. Can you stop them?

Greg Street: Well, they're gamers, so they're trying to game the system. They're kind of trained to do that. So it's up to us to put in a system that rewards the kind of behaviour that we want players to do and that a lot of players would prefer to do. So for example, we're putting caps on the amount of the highest-level PVP and PVE currency that you can earn in a week.

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Alex Afrasiabi: I don't think there's anything wrong with min-maxing. I don't think anyone will make that argument. Min-maxing's part of this genre, part of gaming actually, it doesn't have anything to do with MMOs. I play Mafia Wars or anything on my iPhone and I have this natural tendency as I evolve in the game to try to maximise my playtime and style.

Where it does become a problem is where what we call 'degenerate gameplay' evolves. Where something like a Coliseum situation comes out, where we provide a lot of options for the player, and in order for the player to maximise, they have to ride all those options... It actually does wear and tear them down, and eventually they start to feel badly about what they're doing. And we don't want that.

Eurogamer: On the PVP side, Battlegrounds are a major new focus... What do you think the impact is going to be on the Arena scene? Might it be diminished? Because currently a lot of people play Arenas just because it's the route to the best gear.

Greg Street: Oh, I think that's totally right. I think it will get the players out of Arenas who don't enjoy Arenas, who are only doing it for the gear, and give them another alternate way to acquire that gear. So I think in that sense it will be healthy for the game, because we won't be forcing people to do something they're not really having fun doing.

Eurogamer: It strikes me that the PVP side of the game is one that's always in flux, that's always there but not quite there. There's been nothing quite like the big steps that WOW has made in raiding. Do you think you're ever going to be able to make that leap in PVP?

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Greg Street: That's a good question, I mean, WOW was never designed from the ground up to be a PVP game in the same way that, say, StarCraft II is designed to be a PVP game. I think if we had done that, I wasn't even here, but the designers would have made some very different choices in terms of how they set it up and structured it.

It's just a lot of fun, I think, and it'll be even more fun when rated Battlegrounds are in, but... We're not really trying to push every player into PVP. We're kind of OK with PVE being more popular and PVP having a smaller audience, as long as there are players that are enjoying it and feeling like they're getting their money's worth out of it.

Eurogamer: Have you put a lot of pressure on yourselves for the next expansion?

Alex Afrasiabi: Eh, you know. We'll take them as they come. It's certainly... they're always different in some form or another. We'll see. I feel great about this expansion and I have no doubt that the next expansion, whatever that might be, is going to be just as awesome if not more awesome.

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