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Mists of Pandaria: Factions and Lore
Mists of Pandaria
Guild and General Changes
New Race: Pandaren
New Class: Monk
Talents and Calculator
Dungeons & Raids
Models and Items
Zones and Questing
Player vs Player
Factions and Lore
The lore for Mists of Pandaria in 5.0 will center around the
peaceful Pandaren caught in between the bloodthirsty Alliance and Horde,
as well as fighting off the threats of the Mogu, the initial rulers of Pandaria. War and negative emotions are new to the Pandaren--too many negative feelings will create
, physical manifestations of darkness.
In 5.1, there will be more of an emphasis on the story culminating in the
Siege of Orgrimmar
where both the Alliance and Horde unite to take Garrosh down.
Throughout all this, there's a new set of
friendly and hostile factions
you'll encounter while adventuring in Pandaria. We've datamined some of their
: Playful race of dragon-like creatures in a variety of striking cultures. While a handful have become corrupted, most are friends of the island and serve as companions to the Pandaren. Players who gain reputation with the
Order of the Cloud Serpent
can eventually obtain one as a mount.
: From the press conference--"14 year old boys running around the jungle with Horde machine guns--but monkeys. Nothing can go wrong with this plan." The Horde chooses to ally themselves with this chaotic race of monkeys, which are the bane of the calm
: A peaceful race of freshwater amphibians the Alliance befriends. The pandaren look up to them as a wise, yet overly strict, race of Elders. The upper caste of Jinyu consists of
, who can place staves into the river to learn its secrets and clues about the future.
: Pranksters and embodiments of nature. Many forest sprites’ pranks – disguising themselves as stools to trip people, or throwing fruit and nuts at wanderers – seem harmless, but some have been tainted by the Sha.
: A newly-discovered descendent of Tauren, similar to the Taunka in Northrend. When Pandaria broke up, they were stranded and eventually developed into a visually distinct sub-race. They've been forced out of
by the Mantids and ferociously want their lands back.
: Insect-like creatures that attack Pandaria whenever the new generation hatches. Very cunning both in solo and group combat. The Mogu built a huge wall as defense--thousands of years later, this still needs to be maintained.
: Founded the first empire of Pandaria through brute force and war. They are also skilled flesh-shapers, using this ability to create new races to do their bidding. Overthrown once the pandaren learned unarmed combat--some of their epic temples still remain, in ruins scattered about the continent. They are currently scheming to retake the pandaren empire and mostly reside in the Krasarang Wilds.
: A lizard-like race first created by Mogu flesh-shapers to be smart enough to fight well, but not function beyond that. Some escaped and eventually developed into a fully-functioning race.
: Lethal dark energy--absorbs hateful emotions and easily corrupts those who are unsuspecting. Negative emotions in a physical form. Of course, the Alliance and Horde escalating conflicts on Pandaria lead to even more Sha.
: A race of "evil crazy bunnies." They're a real problem for the pandaren, because they'll eat everything. Blizzard seems to have had some fun with their abilities--a boss virmen, Hoptallus, has
for an AOE and
for a conal effect. Trash virmen in instances carry hammers that players can pick up for more damage.
are a peaceful race of farmers that reside in the Valley of the Four Winds. Gaining reputation with them will grant you a customizable farm.
Based on the data, it appears that you can work with various members of the Tillers individually to gain reputation with them as well, perhaps with special rewards. Example:
The NPCs that you can gain reputation with are: Chee Chee, Ella, Farmer Fung, Fish, Gina, Haohan, Jogu the Drunk, Old Hillpawn, Sho, and Tina.
"A Blue Feather for…" quests
"A Dish for…" quests
"A Jade Cat for…" quests
"A Lovely Apple for…" quests
"A Marsh Lily for…" quests
Other quests that grant Tiller reputation include:
Farm-related items include:
are most likely the faction that will let you raise your very own
mount, after completing several weeks of dailies. They are located in the eastern part of the Jade Forest.
: These Mantid Elders are untouched by the corruption and insanity that has overtaken the remainder of the Mantid Swarm. They seek to work with the races of Pandaria to restore their Queen to glory.
are the shadowy protectors of Pandaria's temples.
defend the temples of Pandaria from the evils of the Sha.
are a mysterious society of Pandaren intending to solve the Mogu problem once and for all. There are over 50 daily quests so far that grant reputation--here's a sampling:
: Caretakers of the mysteries of Pandaria, these brave souls roam the continent, hoping to learn from their history.
At the press event, it was hinted that they would be tied to archaeology. The quests below are tied to helping players learn about the lore of Pandaria by returning fragments from around the world.
The Brewmasters are most likely tied to scenarios, while the two Pandaren factions are for the Alliance and the Horde.
Artifacts in Pandaria
To familiarize players with the new environment, there will be artifacts scattered around Pandaria that players can discover which will reveal Pandaren myths and historical moments, similar to some Archaeology artifacts.
Shrouded in fog since the world was sundered more than ten thousand years ago, the ancient realm of Pandaria has remained unspoiled by war. Its lush forests and cloud-ringed mountains are home to a complex ecosystem of indigenous races and exotic creatures. It is the homeland of the enigmatic Pandaren, a race that celebrates life to the fullest even while under siege by an ancient menace.
The new continent reveals itself to a broken world just as the Alliance and Horde are spiraling ever closer to a war that will consume all of Azeroth. Will the mists of Pandaria part to reveal the world's salvation? Or will the battle to control this rich and breathtaking new land push the two mighty factions over the brink of war and into total annihilation? The answers await within Pandaria's mysterious shores!
Pandaria has been shrouded in a mist. The alliance and horde wash up on the shores of Pandaria during a naval battle. They immediately want it for their own for the war--so they are going to destroy the pandaren to get its resources!
You will choose your faction at level 10 as a pandaren. You cannot go back.
The Alliance befriend the peaceful aquatic Jinyu, while the Horde befriend the bloodthirsty Hozen.
Virmen are a new take on kobolds and you will face them throughout. Instead of candles, they're after vegetables.
Mantids will be an insect race that will be featured in dungeons & raids. They are not like the Silithid--they are intelligent and use weapons.
The Mogu were the original race twelve thousand years ago and they want the island back from the pandaren.
The Sha will be negative energy and it will be a shadow form that players fight; the Alliance & Horde will actually increase this.
Horde Favoritism and the Destruction of Theramore
Theramore may be destroyed in 5.0--which could lead to Jaina reacting in interesting ways and retaliating. There will be other occurrences of the Alliance striking back at the Horde, to balance things.
So, at BlizzCon we provided a few details about a new expansion and how it's going to have an ever-growing focus on the fight between the Horde and the Alliance in the wake of dispelling many very powerful threats to all of Azeroth. Then we find out a vague detail that some sort of unrelenting attack by the Horde on Theramore is to come. The Horde, to remind you, is currently a faction with an overzealous ruler and significant turmoil among their faction leaders; while the Alliance has almost never been quite so unified and far removed from the days of imprisoning orcs.
The first pawn on the chess board of what is to be the story for Mists of Pandaria is being moved, and you're angry at whose turn is first? I only offer that maybe there's a little more to the Horde and Alliance story lines in Mists than an Alliance town being leveled... like the entire expansion story you don't know about yet. ;)
If you wanna make an omelette...
What's the second move? Maybe you can burn down darkshore next, that would be really epic. Perhaps we could for the second move have duskwallow get plagued by sylvanis, she hasn't done anything for a few months. Or maybe we can cut to the chase and burn down the rest of stormwind. That would be really big. Oh the possibilities!
Last time you sold the moving narative thing the only thing that happened is I helped thrall get married. You say one thing, but the only thing that happens is more alliance screwing.
Oh please, work with me here. :)
In Cataclysm, desperate times call for desperate measures. And that impact was not equal and 1:1 as far as Alliance and Horde went. The Warcraft universe, at its core, is based on the rivalry between two vastly different factions. To make sure they have shared hardships -- equal ups and downs at each interval -- is pretty boring and severely limits the character development of the leaders on both sides. And it leaves the story with a lack of momentum for building good content.
The Cataclysm only ignited a new flame between the Horde and the Alliance, as each side approached recovering from the crisis in very different ways. But they have something much more pressing to focus on in this expansion: helping Thrall and the Dragon Aspects kill Deathwing and his followers. They provide the overarching and primary conflict in Cataclysm that needs to be dealt with, not the fighting between the Horde and Alliance.
But once Deathwing goes and a new land of opportunity is discovered, who rebuilds, who explores, who defends and protects their people, and who seeks the pride of a conqueror?
But we already had an expansion of Alliance "pawns" being removed with only one Horde one going away (Tura'jo)... Why did the Alliance need any more motivation to attack the Horde outright? Or are you saying the Alliance leaders are just that temperate?
And my point is what has happened between the Horde and Alliance in Cataclysm is just the very beginning of that story.
What I'm hearing from people is, that Garrosh's Horde is attacking even more Alliance territory and it's not fair. As a player of both factions at level 85 and employee at Blizzard, I just don't fully agree with that assessment. From our perspective, one faction will assault a cherished town of the other faction -- which is also home to a very powerful and honorable figure in Jaina. There's now a conflict presented in the story there to further unfold in the next expansion.
Zandalari and the Mogu
Thousands of years ago, when the Zandalari and the Mogu boasted the most powerful empires in Azeroth, the Zandalari were actually allied with the Mogu. So when the Pandaren revolted against the Mogu, of course the Zandalari displayed their allegiance to their Mogu friends by attacking the embryonic Pandaren empire. Overcoming this threat was to be one of the Pandaren empire's first tests of strength.
After the passing of so many thousands of years, after the mists had covered Pandaria for so long — keeping ancient threats like the Zandalari at bay — Pandaren children have now come to see the mythological Zandalari somewhat like our children see bogeymen. Scary enough to ensure compliance with the instructions and requests of parents, but at the end of the day, not the kind of threat you ever really see with your own eyes and in your own backyard... right?
The place I come from is called New Zealand, and that is how it is known around the entire world. I also call myself a New Zealander, much like the Pandarens of Pandaria. However, the original inhabitants of the place I call New Zealand called (and still call) the exact same place Aotearoa. A place does not necessarily have just one name, and often the name to which a place is referred is a matter of perspective. :)
The misty shrouds that the last Pandaren Emperor used to protect Pandaria from the demonic jeopardy that threatened Azeroth have done a particularly good job, for no troll has been seen in Pandaria for over 10,000 years. No wonder the Zandalari seem like nothing more than freakish figures of fiction to many Pandaren.
Imagine the Pandaren's surprise when the mists collapse and Pandaria's lush forests and cloud-ringed mountains are once more threatened by the ancient Zandalari menace that they had come to see as nothing more than scary savages in some superstitious stories.
So why would the Pandaren accept trolls as allies, with the Horde.
When you play a Pandaren, that choice is yours to make and for your own reasons.
After the mists collapse, of course after 10,000 years the Zandalari are intensely curious about Pandaria, even more so perhaps than the Horde and Alliance are. But is there more to their interest than pure curiosity?
So, just like the Alliance and Horde, they send out their forces to Pandaria. But it would appear they have it in mind to re-connect with their ancient allies, the Mogu. It seems they want to help them retake the land away from the Pandaren and once again bring it under Mogu rule. How very kind of them!
But is their mission to re-establish Mogu rule really so altruistic as that? They seem so desperate to acquire Pandaren territory. What exactly could be their motive, if it isn't just to help out their ancient Mogu allies?
To find out more, we will need to wait a little while longer so we can head towards Kun-Lai Summit and unravel the secrets that are there to be discovered. :)
Um... after 10,000 years and hundreds of generations how do the living Zandalari even have any knowledge of Mogu or Pandaria?
Very good record keeping, perhaps? :)
And, also, if Pandaria was not shrouded before then, shouldn't some Kaldorei records include some mentions of a now missing continent?
Oh, you haven't found those records yet...? :P There's so many books in WoW that you can't interact with. Maybe it's in one of those? :P
Alright, alright, got me there... I just meant, "we" haven't heard/seen a single thing. And I guess no expeditions were sent over there in the meantime either? ;) Or maybe they have, and everything that was (or wasn't) found out about is in one of those unreadable books... *starts to get entangled in own thought threads*
Well I guess that could be explained by, if it had been relevant for characters in the "story so far" to reveal this information to us, it would have been done already. :)
Exclusive Interview with Dave Kosak
Saturday afternoon at BlizzCon, we were fortunate enough to get a one-on-one interview with Dave Kosak, WoW Lead Quest Designer, before his Lore and Story Q&A. Ashelia and Perculia brainstormed some questions together--we made sure to ask him about some of our favorite--and least favorite--questing experiences, as well as how they were handling phasing and truly epic questlines in Mists of Pandaria.
New things we learned from the interview: possible addition of Lorewalker faction (think Pandaren version of the Shen'dralar), quests at level 90 to modify the appearance of mounts, and quest that train players to be better healers or tanks.
Q: It's always been a struggle to make players feel like they truly impact the world. How are you showcasing this in MoP? Do the zones progress and change depending on questlines? What about phasing?
A:One thing we always struggle with--is we have this tool, phasing, but a large problem is that it separates players easily. Phasing, as I tell my team, is the story sledgehammer. You don't need a tool that big. Don't try to layer progression in a way that splits up the world. We're trying to have more questing like the 4.2 Molten Front dailies, in which players progressed in a zone but could still see their friends. In addition, the phasing in the starting zone, as you saw on the demo, is not as extreme as in the goblin and worgen starting zones. For example, the Temple at the center of Pandaria lights up more and more as you find elemental spirits. It's a subtle form of phasing. If we did extreme phasing, players would be lost in such a new zone early on. We're always looking for balance, in ways that don't intrude upon gameplay.
The starting zone is interesting because of how the Pandaren love balance and inner peace--which is new to WoW. It's their survival mechanism against the negative energy of the sha.
Q: As a side note, how is something like an undead or dwarf monk going to work, especially after the Pandaren Monk starting experience is so different? Controversial race/class combos like Night Elf Mages were introduced without much fanfare and didn't quite integrate.
A: It's actually not super complicated--there will be Pandaren representatives, or ambassadors, in the starting area.
Q: In Cata, you removed unique class quests for abilities--such as rogues getting poison out in Westfall by taking a tower. Will there ever be unique and personalized questlines not attached to extreme methods of lore such as the new legendaries?
First off, we love class quests. However, if you do it right, it takes a lot of time. If you look at doing a cool story chain, it's weeks of work. So it comes down to: content for classes, or half a zone. We love the idea, but we're always struggling with how much we can do.
As a side note, the quests for the rogue legendary are very cool--so you're in luck!
Q: In the Q&A, people brought up class questlines. Is there any plan to do quests for upgraded armor, much like how level 60's dungeon sets were upgradable into alternate colors through a complex questline? The .5 armor questline was one of my favorite in the game and class questlines helped players grow.
A: That would be a good question for the item team--they've been exploring many ways for players to continuously upgrade your armor. As for class questlines--we're thinking of implementing Training Grounds Missions--special kinds of missions for tanks or healers to learn your class and see how you stack up. It's thematically perfect. It's also a nice contrast to Scenarios, in which players can group together to quest regardless of the player's role.
Q: Scepter questline was by far the best questline in the game. Any plans to redo it, since it was removed from Cata, or perhaps make a questline that is as ridiciously in-depth, wild, and nuanced--sort of a heroic questline/hardmode questing for players just for the heck of it? Such a questline would be great if
A: We're not sure how it will play out, but there's an idea for a faction called the Lorewalkers. The Pandaren are a race with an amazing verbal tradition--they're storytellers. And the Lorewalkers are bent on exploring the world, finding things and relics, filling out libraries. You won't use this faction to get best-in-slot gear, but in finding and returning books, you'll act out all of the new stories. If you are interested in the lore, this is for you. If you just care about the gear, you can skip them--and it's fine. I'm not sure how this will play out, but I've spent a lot of time--including dressing up as a Pandaren to work--to push this idea.
Q: How do you decide the depth of a legendary questline? Some are really simple, such as Val'anyr, despite how hard it was to get. Meanwhile, Shadowmourne had four rewards and made people a fortune. Why are some less legendary than others?
A: We're always playing with different ideas for legendaries. When it comes down to it, it's specialized content for people that raid. What's the best way to spend our time? We've probably spent a little too much (fun) time on legendary questlines in Cataclysm, but it's worth it for the player--and players that don't raid extensively, can access some of the solo questing options and lore in the early stages of these legendary chains.
Q: We loved the class quest mounts for Warlock and Paladin. Are you ever going to add more quests for mounts--faction or race specific?
A: Going back to your earlier question--probably not specific for class, but we do have ideas for interesting questlines at max level for players to customize their own flying mount. It's always a balance of wanting to create more content that the most players can experience--quests for flying mounts should reach a lot of people.
Q: Are there any plans to redo Alterac Valley with more quests? Some of those quests were truly awesome and it feels like they became obsolete but still lurk around for years now.
A: I don't think we'll revise Alterac Valley anytime soon. This was before my time at Blizzard, but the original idea was that everyone would be questing while PvPing, but that fell short. Eventually people simplified it and found one good way to win. Now, Tol Barad is another example of questing while PvPing that has worked better. We don't have plans yet for an elaborate questing PvP hub at the start of 5.0, but we definitely want to step it up mid-expansion.
Q: Last question: Diablo III made questing completely different. They're different games, but do you plan on giving players more of a voice and involving dialogue more in the game much like how D3 does?
A: One issue with dialogue is that the quest process is iterative. We're constantly changing quests a lot, playing through. It's very difficult to surround the player in WoW with a story primarily told with a full voice. We don't want the story delivered via quest text box--we're instead trying to incorporate lots of the story around you in different ways. Such as via the environment and the new Lorewalker faction.
It's a neat idea though, but full dialogue would slow down the questing experience too much in WoW.
Lore and Story Q&A
The Lore and Story Q&A touched upon many beloved characters, the balance between the Alliance and Horde, and the motivations behind the pandaren.
Acknowledging Tyrande as a badass character that hasn't been fully developed.
Pandaren fight/PvP against each other not out of hate, but like a "martial arts culture that spars for fun."
Alliance will have a quest series, "Trials of the High King," where players become Varian's squire and observe him growing and becoming a better leader.
The transcript is currently collapsed--please expand to read in full.
Q: Putting me in the game was great. Thank you. (Red Shirt guy.) For my question. Anyway, in Gilneas the questlines end with the strong feeling of to be continued... but the only other zone is Hyjal and we did go back two patches later. So does that mean we are also going back to Gilneas.
A: Maybe. We'd love to.
Q: What happened with their bodies? Could we just bring all the dead lore figures back--like Arthas or Illidan?
A: Someone brought up, are you ever bringing back Illidan in the other panel. I think it's likely. We'll have to figure it out. I haven't really thought about it, his corpse is very significant.
Q: What is the motivation for the pandaren fighting each other?
A: Something that's hard to get across is that the pandaren on the turtle are generations. It's a splinter culture. They were the bravest, the explorers--the fighters. They're the ones the players play. I think they would get a kick out of it, no hatred, when they fight each other and other factions. Sort of like a martial arts culture that spars for fun. All the negative emotions and all that negativity manifests in Pandaria.
When a pandaren fights, it's not for vengeance. It's for fun.
Q: Will Chris Metzen be writing again--fans liked his stories!
A: I feel goofy as a writer. Game dialogue is really easy for me, but prose is hard. I enjoy it, but it's terrifying. I write at an eighth grade level. Thank you very much, though.
Q: What happened to Arthas' sister, did she escape Lordaeron?
A: We've been talking about her forever--no current plans.
Q: Why have characters like Khadgar and Rhonin not been present at all in Cataclysm? And please, don't tell me Rhonin is doing his own thing in Dalaran!
A: There are a lot of characters and we try very hard to set up big characters. We don't want to make players have to read outside novels; the games have to stand alone. So a lot of the times we have characters and stories that belong in the game, but we opt not to put them in the game because we feel players would be lost.
Q: Whatever happened to the crown of Menethil?
A: You mean... What happened to his crown, when Arthas stabbed him and it fell off? We'll make it a legendary loot drop. I have no idea who would have it, what would happen, but we'll think about it.
Q: Tyrande was strong in the past as a female leader, but it kind of fell off and she's fallen in the past few expansions. She's just arm candy. What's up?
A: Good point, I see this a lot. Let me just say this: before the questline in Nagrand in TBC, there was no Thrall at all in WoW. He gave you an RFC quest, he was a nobody. It took an expansion or two to build him and make his story thrive. And I love Tyrande, writing her in WC3 was amazing--we just haven't gotten to her yet. Every single one of these characters deserves their story, it's just a matter of time. She's not just a pretty face, she's a badass.
On a similar vein, Jaina needs her moment as well and she will be getting it soon. Guys, though, here's the thing: we LOVE these characters. Whatever, whatever; we love them, we have plans for all of them. Execution just takes time and planning!
Q: Pandarens have no sense of hatred, Pandaria is on a sense of chi--so how can they be a warlock but not a druid? I want to be a bear druid.
A: If that's true, I don't like it. I get overruled sometimes. I'm feeling you. Monday morning we'll yell at the design dudes and see what happens. But Pandaria disappeared before the Sundering, so how could they become druids? So yeah, I think druids are out.
Q: With people removing dragon soul, that means Rhonin never got redeemed and the aspects are still at half power--duh?
A: That was thoughout, you are totally correct. But don't worry, watch how it plays out.
Q: Arthas' mother was mentioned in WC3, what happened to her--was he a momma's boy, did she die or was she killed?
A: We never made it up. Her fate is unknown. We have not talked about it. Though, my impression of WarCraft 3 is that it works better if she was dead... we just don't know how.
Q: Where are the shards of Frostmourne? Did Sylvannas take it?
A: It was not addressed. Some very smart people picked them up and took them somewhere safe, but I can imagine there will be problems someday where someone reforges it or something.
Q: What's Algalon up to? Are there more of his kind? What's up?
A: Good question. The whole storyline with the Titans, who they are and what their plans are--they're massive. They are huge and from somewhere so exotic. It's hard to leverage them into the franchise, but WotLK and Cata had some amazing storylines. It's vital to Warcraft, but we are letting it cook.
On a tangent: I loved TBC's shattered planets in the sky and other issues, but the community and people in the office liked strict fantasy, so when we built Northrend, we focused on traditional fantasy. But there's a part of me, man, that just wants to launch into all the universes outside of Azeroth. We didn't defeat the Burning Legion. I want to go to Argus. How badass would it be if there's a fleet of draenei somewhere? Technically that's Protoss... ... Anyway, there's a lot I want to change and explore someday. But a lot of Blizzard is about traditional fantasy.
Q: Silly quests aside, Frostwolf Clan and the foresaken of Tarren Mill had an interaction in Hillsbrad. It seems unresolved. Do you have plans to resolve foresaken's hatred and issues with the horde?
A: It's a theme we're exploring, the fissures and cracks within the horde itself. It will come around again.
Q: Rebuild the troll empires.
A: The Darkspear are very small. Zandalari will have some huge ties to Pandaria, where you figure out why they tried to rise and band with other troll nations.
Q: Will Mists of Pandaria be dark? I love some funny stuff, but an expansion based off of a joke...?
A: You haven't met them; you haven't seen the bad stuff in their lives. When we created Pandaria, we went back 15,000 years and we explored what was happening. They have a rich, deep history and you will want to check out what their past is. You'll see that they are awesome fighters. They're fun, they love life. They play hard, they live hard, they love life. They also drink hard. But I think you will still be surprised. There's no way we're building an expansion based on an April Fools' joke.
Q: Is Baine Bloodhoof becoming a sunwalker?
A: His story is just beginning... When paladins came up for taurens, people had a fit. As such, my opinion is that I do not think he is. It would not be appropriate. They're just tauren leaders, average tauren.
Q: The books do not really come over--are they going to do that? Like the nature of the aspects and what becomes of them.
A: I can't wait for you to see how the aspects end up. Big things happen in 4.3. Um, I mean, big events transpire. Anyway, we used to try to make things behind, so we wouldn't overload our current quest designers. However, lately we decided to start adding them in real time.
We would like to balance this better, so no one feels ripped off. Again, needing books to understand content in WoW would be unfair to other people. We want components in the game so players can experience it, rather than read it. We love books, though. So we want them to work in tandem.
Q: Does alliance ever get to kick ass? Because horde is amazing.
A: Trials of the High King--we want to have Varian have to do tasks and become an actual important leader who is more in-depth. You will be his squire. You will help him become very awesome. This would be for 5.0/Mists of Pandaria. I think we owe alliance a lot, and they will get theirs.
Q: How many Val'kyr does Sylvanas have? Can she make more?
A: She only has four. She cannot make more.
Q: What's up with the scourge? Bolvar Fordragon is doing nothing? Arthas could have called all the scourge up, but instead they're still hostile and fighting it.
A: The way I'd spin it is that they're autonomous. We're trying to make the scourge fallback a bit, but obviously in-game it doesn't show that in Northrend. But we have not really made any lore about this.
Q: In Gun'Drak, if you look over the cliff there's a wiggling snake tail. This has bothered me forever. What is it?
A: Thrall is leaving Aggra and will start dating Jaina. Um. I don't know what that snake is. It's pretty cool. Sometimes we have no idea where it came from, like... we have no idea.
Q: For an alliance variant to Doomhammer, do Bolvar's longsword.
A: I like that a lot. Adding it to our list.
Q: So how are you doing the leadership for the pandaren? Who is going to lead them? Can Jack Black voice one?
A: There will be a representative, they aren't exactly leaders though. Pandaren were going to be the TBC race, but we pulled back and made draenei. We have been so serious for such a long time.
Concept Art Gallery
New Character Models
Players always ask if the older races will have character models updated.
The biggest thing these Q&As brought out was that Blizzard is done being vague about updated character models. They've always wanted to do it--but they've never actually done it, due to fears about resources and players not receiving it well. However, with the pandaren, it's become painfully obvious models need updating and they need it as soon as possible.
Art Director Chris Robinson spoke on this just moments ago at the BlizzCon Open Q&A panel. It was in reply to an attendee who brought up that, in the art panel, it was explained that the pandaren model has 10 times the bone structures of the classic races, allowing for many more facial animations.
To paraphrase his statement -- which isn't too different from what I've said here on the forums before -- we absolutely plan on updating the existing models. As Chris mentioned, we want to make sure we preserve the look and feel of the original models players have come to know and love, while vastly improving their model and animation quality to be more in-line with the newer races.
We're not going to hide behind the statement that too many players will get mad if we tamper with their models, but it's a concern -- not a concern that's going to stop us from doing it, however. I want to stress as well that it's a massive undertaking to go back and do this. And to a lot of people it's something that won't be considered shiny new content. But not only do we hear the masses of players calling for this update, we really feel it's time to bring them up to par with newer models as well.
The game continues to age, but as we have no plans of slowing down on development any time in the near future, we want to keep updating and polishing it to stand the test of time (again, without sacrificing the look and feel which has brought players in over the years).
Art of Warcraft BlizzCon Panel
The Art of Warcraft Panel at BlizzCon 2011 showcased a fun variety of concept art and really demonstrated how much effort goes into creating an immersive new world.
Tier armor will have secondary animations in 5.0--items like belts and gloves will have distinct movements.
Dozens of new props--from unique boxes to a new language--go into creating a new zone.
Monks were difficult to animate--they needed a distinctive mood, but their animations had to work with both unarmed and armed combat.
The transcript is currently collapsed--please expand to read in full. Lots of great concept art under the break!
11:18AM PDT Concept artist is speaking. He makes the tier sets and is going to tell us his process.
11:20AM PDT It usually starts with people giving him an explanation of what they'd like--and then he's free to go wild.
11:21AM PDT He found tier 10 shaman to be hard, as the original elements were all there. So he had to design a boss that never made it into the game that was a Vrykul. They ended up basing the new shaman set through that.
11:23AM PDT "It's very easy to make a cool death knight...but the paladin and the priest are tough to make tough."
11:24AM PDT "To make a priest set that is edgy is a challenge."
11:25AM PDT He wants to put effects on individual pieces, hang attachments like gemstones/swinging chains, and make animations for each piece so it can be better for Mists of Pandaria's tiers.
11:26AM PDT They got to research and build pandaren from scratch. They ended up studying animal myths from eastern mythology: white tiger, red crane, and jade dragon were huge influences in Pandaria.
11:27AM PDT White Tigers of the North - pandarens that are militaristic. Red Dragons - mages, fire. Jade dragons - serene, monks. Shadowpan - dark, edgy, and sinester. "Panda ninjas, we wanted panda ninjas!"
11:30AM PDT The sha was influenced by their studies about feng shui, so they ended up going with it. The sha could possess pandas, they could become bosses--it grew as they researched.
11:32AM PDT The guy who does character models has taken the stage now and he's talking about his awesome team, how hard it was to come up with pandaren as a model. He's also talking about the enemies that pandaren come with as well.
11:37AM PDT They've added over 100 new armor sets in six months to WoW.
11:41AM PDT We're seeing how they did their hard animation work to identify the monk class and make the attack animations perfect.
11:42AM PDT It was sort of hard--they had to really specialize in their unarmed combat, but then they had to make it use a weapon as well. It was very hard to keep the monk feeling in animations.
11:44AM PDT We're switching to the actual world of Pandaria and how they build it, pixel by pixel. The lead environment artist has taken the mic.
11:44AM PDT There are only five people who make the tiles and exterior elements--they place and build every single flower. So the next time you see a lotus in a corner, turned at an exact angle: it was these guys!
11:46AM PDT They're talking about sky boxes; they first appeared with Nagrand. They really impact how you perceive the zone.
11:49AM PDT They actually have a brand new texture system this year and it's really helping them build their worlds better, quicker, and more in-depth. They now have texture brushes. They also have a lot more upgrades to the engines.
This is huge--they can now do secondary animations.
Pandaren belts now are animated. This was never done before, so they are going to be doing this with boots, gloves, and more. It will no longer be limited to just helmet having an animation (i.e. paladin tier 12).
11:53AM PDT The dungeon art lead is now going to show us a video about what she's working on and what her team has been doing. They come up with the architecture.
11:57AM PDT They had some big challenges representing the four cultures of Pandaria through their buildings. They either simplified or exaggerated the buildings to try to get that across.
12:02PM PDT They built a giant wall and thought of all the history behind it. It's really incredible hearing how much effort goes into every single building. They tried to go for something ghostly for the brewery; the East Temple was a huge undertaking, lots of ornate structures.
12:08PM PDT Goldfish powered mount! This panel is amazing--the prop guys are speaking, explaining how they create items to add special touches to the world indoors. Hundreds of items being shown. They have a goldfish powered mount they tried to design but Metzen said no (obviously a joke slide, but awesome).
12:14PM PDT "Country bears, city bears, universal bear"--they had to break down their props into those three categories. They feel items really make you feel at home with a culture. You may not notice it if it's there, but without it, you would notice.
12:15PM PDT They actually made their own language for the props. Of course, it doesn't actually have all elements nor is it realistic, but it ensures that everything has its own style.
12:20PM PDT The panel is ending so they're showing some of their funniest creations and how they mess around at the office. I love these!
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