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AusGamers World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Dave Kosak Interview
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 04:16pm 22/03/12 | Comments
AusGamers sat in on a round-table interview with Mists of Pandaria lead quest designer, Dave Kosak, read on for our AusGamers-specific questions regarding their forthcoming expansion...

AusGamers sat in on a roundtable discussion out at Blizzard HQ with Mists of Pandaria’s lead quest designer, Dave Kosak to understand what’s changed -- from a quest, and adventuring point-of-view -- with Mists of Pandaria.

Some of these questions are also from our core AusGamers community, though not all of them could be answered in entirety due to relevance to Dave’s role within Blizzard and on Mists of Pandaria.

AusGamers: From one of our community guys Dave: Why are raid buffs and debuffs still tied to specs or classes? Why not let each player select from a list of buffs and debuffs, or just provide all raid buffs and debuffs to a raid when in the raid instance automatically?

Dave Kosak: Yeah, that’s a very good question for the class designers. We’ve changed our raid buff philosophy over time to kind of keep it more flexible and I know we have a goal... we really want raid composition to be flexible and really to let everyone feel that they’re contributing to the raid, but raids don’t have to have a certain class or a certain spec in order to be viable. And I know that doesn’t quite answer your question properly, but that’s our design goal: we’ve always kind of been changing our buff philosophy to make sure that we hit that goal.

AG: From a quest design perspective, was it a breath of fresh air for you to have a race that weren’t already fully fleshed out in lore; to be able to draw upon and create quest lines?

Dave: Yeah it was a lot of fun. It’s just real fun getting into a new race, and to really not have... you know, Goblin and Worgen existed in a whole bunch of places in the Old World, so it was a little more restrictive (in Cataclysm), so being able to jump into Pandaria and really just create their whole culture... it was so much fun, you know. And so our designers have just been having a blast with it.

AG: Was it difficult crafting end-game content of a compelling nature given that there’s no big boss this time around?

Dave: Yeah, [actually] there are lots of big bosses, there just isn’t one on the cover of the box. Certainly the Mogu are a big threat, and there’s also some stuff we [didn’t show in the presentation], so the Mantid race... that’s why the wall was built -- to keep out the Mantid. They’re a very scary insect race that swarms every generation, and the Mantid queen is possessed by the Sha of fear, right, so one of the raids... well actually a big theme is fighting off the Mantid at the wall and then finally fighting your way across -- and the Sha of fear has completely possessed the south-west zone that we call the Dread Wastes, and fear has completely overwhelmed this zone -- fighting your way into that area beyond the wall and into the Mantid queen’s chambers and ultimately killing her is a very cool progression. She’s a very cool end-boss and it’s one of the big threats in Pandaria.

Another big threat is the Sha itself. The Sha is the physical embodiment of all this negative energy: anger, fear, hatred and we have six Sha, all named, and they all appear in different contexts in the game. [So] the Sha of Fear just causes enormous chaos beyond the wall by whipping the Mantid up into a frenzy. In the Northern zone, in Kun-Lai Summit, world-bosses are back. The Sha of Anger has escaped and a lot of our quest themes in the Northern Zone are themed around anger; this elemental force of anger that’s just loose in the environment. And so we’re not sure of the timing yet, but it’s every couple of hours or so the Sha of Anger just emerges out of the ground -- it’s this big, enormous black cloud of just pure anger with these big claws -- and it corrupts the whole area around it. And that’s a raid boss. You know, you’re kind of questing up there and then this thing can erupt out of the ground and you’ve gotta watch out, you know, step lively; stay out of its way! But you’ll still kind of see anger influencing this zone and then eventually -- hopefully -- you’ll get to come back on a raid and kill it.

So we have lots of big threats and lots of big bosses, just in the box product, that we build up to in the quests and that you’ll certainly encounter in the raids. And then as well we have this sort of undercurrent of this war that’s causing all of this bad energy to begin with, and that builds throughout the patches and that war becomes our major focus and ultimately culminates in that big battle in Orgrimmar, and even the Horde at that point is going to be ready to kick down the doors and cast down Gerosh... so it’s quite a story arc that we’re building.

AG: Have you been worried at all about scaling back difficulty or challenge in the Challenge Zones by not requiring players to go through as any particular group or specific archetypes?

Dave: Yeah, it’s been interesting because the challenge for us... if you have three DPS characters you might not have any healing whatsoever, and that could kind of suck. So we try and do some clever things with the scenarios, for instance, in the Brewmaster scenario the Brewmaster herself will cast out an area heal by herself periodically, so as long as you’re kind of doing your best to avoid some damage, she’ll kind of top you off, which means as long as you’re playing carefully you can do it.

Similarly with not having a tank we have to do interesting things with the bosses kind of moving around doing area stuff so that you can almost kind of swap off with the boss, so we’ve had to do some interesting things but it’s been a lot of fun.

It’s also fun to do multiplayer mechanics that we don’t get a chance to do normally, so, for instance in the Lightning Lager scenario when you get to the end part the Brewmaster plops down a keg and you can use the power of the Lightning Lager; you can shoot lightning out of your hands and the lightning will stun one of the trash mobs, while the trash mob is stunned, another player can run up and just one-shot it; just explode it with one hit. So you can kind of coordinate it, you know, you kind of trade off using your lightning and you can see someone stunned and then just smash it, meanwhile you’re fighting the boss doing big area attacks and avoiding the boss... so everybody’s running around, zapping lightning, doing stuff and just generally working together as a team -- really cool gameplay and we haven’t been able to do that before, so that’s been super fun.

AG: Obviously a lot of what you did here in approaching quest design and adding things like the scenarios and even the pet-battles, are all pretty unique in different games -- were you guys drawing on... well, obviously Pokemon, but other games outside the usual Warcraft design mantra?

Dave: You know, if you just walk around Blizzard at lunch time you’ll see everybody’s playing something. There’s a huge active Blizzard Minecraft community that goes crazy over Minecraft... but definitely any kind of RPGs... obviously the mechanics for our Challenge mode were very much inspired by our love of racing games, like, in a racing game you’ll do the same lap of a track 500 times just because you’re trying to do every corner perfectly and get that satisfaction of seeing that time creep along. That influences us. A lot of games influence us.

AG: With the Pet-Battles it was mentioned that this is the first time you’ve had a mini-game in World of Warcraft. Is it safe to say that it’s an experiment to see how engaged players become, and if it’s successful could we see more mini-games popping up in WoW in the future?

Dave: Yeah, it lets you interact with the world in a different way, and that’s what excites us about it. So we have this huge world, we have all these pets running around, now you can interact with them; you can do something with them. So we’re excited about that and I think if it takes off -- and we don’t expect everybody to love pet-battles, that’s cool -- and as long as there’s groups of players who’re really enjoying pet-battles, then we’ve accomplished what we set out to do. [So] yeah, I think you’ll see more things like [pet-battles] coming in.

AG: Thanks for that Dave.

Dave: Thank you very much.
Read more about World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria on the game page - we've got the latest news, screenshots, videos, and more!

Latest Comments
Posted 07:10pm 22/3/12
Dave talks to us about building compelling quests with an untapped race, mini-games such as pet-battles, challenges in crafting
They really need to sack their publicist. They sure have an odd way of trying to sell this s*** to the average punter.
Reverend Evil
Posted 11:24pm 22/3/12
Nice interview. Looking forward to trying out the pet battles. Should be hilarious and fun.
Posted 02:10am 23/3/12
they talk like that so the kids will like the game so it does not sound boring... lol
Posted 02:37am 23/3/12
Nice interview. If you happen to have another one would you be able to ask if they have any plans for raid locks? I would love it if normal/heroic raids worked like LFR.
Posted 11:03am 23/3/12
I can see that opening the door to huge exploits though, like running 10 man raids with mostly alts and a couple of mains so they get all the gear, then running it again with alts and a couple of different mains so they get all the gear, and repeat as necessary.
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