Korean Webzine Potion Interview with Ion Hazzikostas and Holly Longdale
hace 18 días
Korean Warcraft webzine
interviewed World of Warcraft Game Director Ion Hazzikostas and Executive Producer Holly Longdale about the reception of Patch 10.1 and internal changes to how the development team adapts to player feedback with a faster content cycle.
Please note that this interview was conducted shortly before the release of Patch 10.1 and the announcement of Patch 10.1.5.
Although the video is partially in Korean, questions are also written and answered in English.
Development Philosophy and Recent Changes
The team has undergone a number of changes and grown significantly since prior to Dragonflight.
The intent is to "go to the next level," providing more content for all the ways players engage with the game - leading to more varied content for different playstyles.
Their development philosophy is listening to the community, getting their feedback, and delivering additional patches more often.
Internal Evaluation of Dragonflight and What Comes Next?
The team is tremendously proud of their efforts with Dragonflight and player's reaction. Success is judged by feedback from players and Blizzard's own data - are the things they've put time into making being enjoyed? The answers to both in Dragonflight have been very positive.
What comes next can already be seen in the
, but it should be things for all players - the big overarching story, PvP and dungeons and raids, as well as smaller pieces of fun exploring throughout the outside world.
Changing to More Frequent Patch Cycles
A lot of it is experimental, but they started with the idea of 6-10 week patch cadence - always having something ready for players to be excited about. The team has been working on some of this content since before Dragonflight even shipped.
The intent is to keep the world feeling alive and vibrant, while taking some chances with new content like the Trading Post. 10.0.7 was a good example of this idea - giving players a new sandbox to play in, geared towards outdoor, endgame-ish content.
The team is focused on trying new things and delivering more of the things they already know players enjoy. It's a learning process, but the speed with which they've been able to take feedback and immediately implement it into the next patch has made the process much more dynamic.
Is the Faster Patch Cycle Sustainable?
The development team has employees slowly return to the office for the last year and a half, still hybridized with those working from home.
Their goal has been to take advantage of the flexibility of an increased patch cadence. In the past, there might be one patch in a six-month period, which puts a lot of pressure on them to make sure every last thing makes it into that one update, or else players may have to wait another six-months before something is addressed. Now, there's always something new on the test realm, just a few weeks away, which makes scheduling easier and more flexible.
Quicker Patches and Addressing User Feedback Faster
Over the years, there's been a philosophical shift to make more frequent changes. Ion thinks action is important, and speaking back to the community to explain what they're doing and why is important.
The goal is to develop a relationship of trust between developers and the community. They're not always going to get it right and not everyone will always be happy with every change, but hopefully they can make changes quickly enough to make it clear that they're listening, so that if they do get something wrong, the community can trust that they are going to fix it.
Activity Changes - Trading Post, Account-Wide Systems, Reduction of Daily/Weekly "homework" Quests
It's a product of player feedback and listening to the community. There have been changes in the way the community approaches the game over the years - Legion was a very successful expansion seven years ago, featuring tons of things to do every day/week, and they got praise for it at the time, reinforcing ideas that those things were what players wanted. But those sentiments started to change, and the team started to hear that it felt like the game wasn't respecting its player's time, asking too much of them.
From late Shadowlands onward, the team decided to re-examine every philosophy and foundation of their game design to see if it still made sense in the modern age. Moving towards increased alt-friendliness, more account-wide systems, and increased flexibility in how or when to play in Dragonflight has been the result.
Small Group Content - Mythic+ and Solo Players
It's something the team spends a lot of time thinking about. Mythic+ is one of the most successful features the team has added in a long time, because it opened up new opportunities for challenging group content outside of large-scale organized raiding.
One group that Ion recognizes the game doesn't serve very well are solo players and those who play with only a couple dedicated friends. There's something more they could do there to give them a feeling of goals to chase and competitive progression for all group sizes.
Evolving the Trading Post - Suggesting New Categories and Features
Player participation and reaction has been really exciting and even exceeded expectations for the Trading Post.
Regarding where it will go, there's a lot of opportunity and they enjoy community ideas such as cosmetic glyphs for skills and further expansion beyond pets, mounts, and transmog.
The team will definitely be exploring more Trading Post options, because the community is enjoying it so much.
Alt Convenience & Account-wide Progression
Also driven by player feedback, they realized it could be frustrating to repeat the same content on multiple characters.
If they ask you to do something again on a character-by-character basis, they want those things to either be related to power progression or meaningfully different on various characters - dungeons feel different on various characters, but repeating the same narrative questline is usually the same story. It should be up to the player to go through that story again or skip to the parts they enjoy more.
Class Balance - Greater Frequency in Between Patches
There was a conscious and deliberate change in how the team approaches live class balance and hotfixes in between patch updates. In the past, they were intentionally conservative to avoid unsettling players by constantly changing their gameplay or performance. What they've since realized is that the feeling that changes
going to happen became very disheartening for players who saw their specs underperforming or less desirable - making them feel like they should reroll to the Flavor of the Month each patch, which isn't healthy in the long-run. Making changes more frequently achieves better balance and reassures players that even if something seems weak right now, they should be made stronger.
When it comes to determining what changes are needed, they look at both internal metrics and public data. Another big question is player representation - how often they're able to find groups for different types of content. What the community thinks of various specs is more important than what their raw tuning numbers suggest, and how often they're invited to groups (or not) is an important metric.
Dragonflight's Most Successful Content
As a player, Holly loves the story and characters, especially the themes of hope and aspiration. Looking back, Shadowlands had a much darker theme, which was also enjoyable, but the community has really rallied around Dragonflight.
The Trading Post has also been a fun surprise beyond expectations, which the team is now dedicated to growing further.
Ion is very proud of the effort that's gone into repeatable outdoor content. WoW has always had amazing dungeons and raids, but lacked content for people who prefer to play solo and adventure through magical lands. Dragonflight has really tried to change that and continue to work on it going forward.
One slightly unexpected surprise was the
, which was added late in development. All the "Yes chef!" memes coming out of it have been really fun to see.
MMORPG Crisis - Does WoW Need to Change to Keep up with Modern Trends?
The WoW team at large has a regular conversation about reinventing themselves and staying at pace with the overall industry. Now being in an era of responding to the community, they'll probably be talking about it more, but they're very aware that the world is continually changing and Blizzard games need to change with it.
The MMORPG space has evolved much over the last 25 years or so. Technology has evolved, players interact with each other in new ways, and Blizzard needs to support these new ideas for playing and communicating with each other. They're always evolving.
Response to the Korean Community
Holly wants to thank everyone for joining them in the Dragon Isles and remind them that there's a lot more to come.
Ion appreciates everyone's passion and calls it his humble duty to serve the community. He's very excited for everything coming in Dragonflight
, including the upcoming
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