WoW Diary Kickstarter - AMA on r/ClassicWoW, Realm Maintenance
The WoW Diary Kickstarter has only a few days left, and we wanted to highlight a few more Classic discussions surrounding the Kickstarter--an AMA on r/classicWoW with four ex-Blizzard devs and a Realm Maintenance interview.
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Rho from Ream Maintenance interviewed
author John Staats (starts around the 35 minute mark):
John Staats was taking notes on Classic WoW as he was developing it! When Overwatch came out, he was inspired to clean up his "unfinished business" notes and turn it into a book. He wanted to be brutally honest writing the book.
Razorfen Downs and Kraul were tough to design from a technical perspective--boars underneath a gigantic thornbush. If he could rebuild one dungeon, he'd like to do that one over again.
The Karazhan Crypts wasn't finished because when the leveling curve was sped up, Blizzard realized they didn't need as many micro-dungeons and leveling content. A lot of places he started to build then didn't get fleshed-out like Badlands and Deadwind Pass. A lot of temporary names in the Crypts, like Upside-Down Sinners, were pushed to the live game without approval.
He started to build raid dungeon in space at the top of Karazhan which was not used. You were meant to teleport into a space area, with a spiky asteroid populated by demons. It was too high-concept and didn't feel right for Karazhan. There was also meant to be a flooded section of Karazhan in the sub-cellar basements.
Thanks to John Staats for writing up this recap for Wowhead! Below is the summary of the AMA in his own words:
hosted an AMA about Vanilla WoW, with for ex-devs who worked on the original game. They were:
created zones such as Loch Modan, Duskwood, Moonglade, Thousand Needles, Silverpine Forest, and Durotar.
was a monster, dungeon, and raid designer who joined the company soon after the game launched. He worked on event design, monster design, spawning, boss fight design, pet battles, and overhauling warlock spells.
was a lead gameplay engineer on WoW. In addition to creating the WoW UI addon system, he worked on spells, AI, and gameplay systems like phasing and battlegrounds.
built half of Vanilla WoW's instanced dungeons and is promoting the Kickstarter of his book
The WoW Diary
Blood Elves were based on a STRONG request from a poll of players were non-creepy to play
Early class balance was focused on raids. Class imbalances were never intentional. Little consideration was given to PvP as far as balancing...it was all about the raid.
Originally, there was going to be a huge quest line where Warlock Players needed to perform a global collection effort to rebuild Medivh's spellbook and perform a group ritual to open the Dark Portal while players on the server protected them from enemy attacks. However, that idea didn't get very far after they saw what a world-changing event caused on the server in Silithus. It was an amazing effort, but ultimately, wasn't a show everyone could enjoy
There were plans to do a raid zone inside of Hyjal, vaguely connected to the Emerald Dream line. However, it ended up canned before any significant work happened on it. It was much like the PvP zone that got cancelled in Azshara Crater. They didn't see the point in doing a second Alterac Valley.
A lot of content was planned for the Emerald Dream from very early, and it just never materialized. Metzen admitted he wasn't really sure what was going to happen in the zone.
Things were usually cut when we didn't need them. By speeding up leveling, we found out that it wasn't necessary to have as many zones and dungeons. Most weren't cut, they were saved for later. Grim Batol, Tol Barad, Karazhan are good examples. Some places weren't ideal for Warcraft lore, or well-built (like Dragon Isles) will unlikely see the light of day.
Lordamere Lake was always planned, but the islands weren't. Exterior level designer Bo Bell came across a previously released map that showed an island in Lordamere Lake. It was closer to Silverpine than any of the other zones so I just figured I'd build it out myself. Art Director Bill Petras asked him why he put islands out there and Bo showed him the map. He was like, "Oh. Good catch."
Gameplay programmer Sam Lantinga says writing a good addon system was remarkably easy. Once the actual glue between the game and the scripting system was put together, and we nailed down what functionality we wanted to add, everything from there fell out naturally and from addon developer feedback. Preventing people from automating the UI and breaking the game was actually the hardest part of the whole thing.
Blackrock Depths was built long before there were any quests or stories associated with it. The only dungeon concept was "an evil dwarf city inside a volcanic mountain." The throne room was tacked, so it was natural to end the questline by dealing with royalty.
The Island of Doctor Lapidis and Gillijim's Isle were just test areas for developers.
The number of debuffs on raid bosses was a tech limitation (memory allocation), not an intentional design decision.
Devs observed raiders taking on raid content (although they couldn’t reach chat logs or listen into conversations). Designers called it WoW TV and wished for a spectator mode to randomly watch raid groups, but the tech team declined to invest months of time for just devs to enjoy.
City Arenas were only for flavor, not a core system. Orgrimmar got one because it had orcs. Stormwind was going to have gondolas at some point (which is why the canals were there) but they weren't worth the trouble. Devs tossed around the idea of play-controlled ships, but no one could think of a reason to have them.
The tools programmer, David Ray put in a special button for exterior level designer Bo Bell once. Bo asked him, "Could you just, like, give me a button that just takes what I see in my brain and put into the editor?" Said button was labeled, "Bo's Brain Button." When you clicked it, it said something like "This function is empty." Eventually all of the exterior level designers got their own button.
The warlock and paladin got class mounts for thematic reasons and because they were easy to do.
The Linux version of WoW was scrapped Blizzard didn't have the support resources to handle the Linux client.
Deeprun Tram was always supposed to be a North-South connection between Ironforge and Stormwind had water just to break up the repetitiveness. The devs didn't realize until it was too late that it was East-West, after the file was rigged and placed in the world, only later did we realize the orientation was off.
Some zones and dungeons had a ton of lore, and others had very little. Duskwood had so much lore some got cut just because there wasn't enough room to shove it all in there. The lore for WCIII wasn't really locked down until close to ship for that game, and even then, there were lots of questions that had no answers. Like what happened to Illidan? Where's Arthas? Lore changed constantly until something was built, then it was usually fixed, however the NPCs and bosses often changed after places were built.
The close gates in Blackrock Depths gave an excuse to have a road/gate leading into the city. It was thought the door could be expanded into another raid zone, or something. The point was also to make the city feel bigger than it actually was.
The Karazhan Crypts were additional quest areas because devs were afraid players would need more content. As it turned out, they were unnecessary so they were never finished. They were only "half-baked"; play spaces
Onyxia’s Deep Breath was a random event. It has nothing to do with raiders standing close to one another.
Eyes of the Beast was cut because it was disrupted by crossing server boundaries. With technology improved since then, the WoW team might add it back for WoW Classic.
The battles in Hillsbrad Foothills were utterly unpredicted.
The Night Elves were never considered for the Horde, which was considered the "evil" side by most devs. The undead were often going to be dropped, but every time the devs looked at concepts/in game assets they balked and kept them in. Chris Metzen rewrote the concept of the Forsaken in, which made them part of the lore, so they were kept.
Trinkets were game mechanic that were too powerful to put on a spell. Any idea that needed to be nerfed by a long cool down, that became a trinket.
Originally, character animation was done in world coordinates, which worked in the dev test zones and starting human zones, but once players got to Booty Bay, animation would be incredibly jerky because floating point errors.
Designers wanted minigames but that would have cost too much programmer time. Engineers were SLAMMED with tasks in Vanilla WoW, so nothing of that nature was indulged.
Hunters were the last class added and they barely made it in.
LBRS was a LotR Moria tribute, BRD was built before the films, so similarities are a coincidence.
Originally, druids were meant to be constantly switching forms, during a battle, but mana costs for shape shifting dissuaded players from doing so. Mana casts were the trade-off for the fact that druids could do everything.
Devs were given a lot of autonomy and freedom, it was often "the wild west." Metzen explained the backstory and lore for the zone. He and Art Director Bill Petras would stop by frequently and check out stuff, and give feedback. But it was mostly, "That's cool. I really dig it." or "That's bad ass." or (when being critical—and this is a direct Metzen quote), "It needs more pepper."
3D Level design for MMOs was easier than FPSs, once we knew how combat worked. Devs were mostly focused on immersion and art-related aspects of building. 3D level designers were always conscious of providing a variation of terrain, just to keep things interesting, and the gameplay designers retrofitted different combat into that terrain. There was almost no planning between level designers and gameplay designers.
Outland was NEVER part of the Vanilla-WoW plan. Some early outland assets accidentally shipped with Vanilla.
This recap of the
marks the final week of
The WoW Diary
. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.
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