Dragonflight Pre-Launch Interview on Lore and Questing - Titans, Tuskarr, and Time-Travel
18/11/2022 à 18:52
Leading up to the launch of Dragonflight, Wowhead participated in a group interview to discuss lore and quests with Narrative Director Steve Danuser and Lead Quest Designer Maria Hamilton. The other participating sites asking quests were MMORPG, Get Good Gaming, Blizzard Watch, Dot Esports, MMO-Champion, and BlizzPlanet.
We've transcribed the interview below, which covers interesting topics such as:
Malfurion's story in Dragonflight
Clarifications on WoW's timeline
Why Lor'themar and Thalyssra's wedding isn't in game
Possibility of timey-wimey things happening with the Bronze Dragonflight
Khadgar's role in the expansion
The nature of the dragons' loyalty to the Titans
Why Tuskarr are on the Dragon Isles
Do note as this is a lore interview, Dragonflight topics are discussed which can go into spoilers.
Timeline of WoW
Robin, from MMORPG: I wanted to confirm the general timeline of my understanding of the order things at the beginning of Dragonflight happens. So from what it seems like the dragons get called back to their Dragon Isles and then after that happens is when Nozdormu goes and visits ember fall and that's where we get the legacy shorts, and then after that, well around the same time Dracthyr wake up and that's the intro scenario we play as Dracthyr and then after that the rest of everybody else goes to the Dragon Isles. Is that the right general timeline?
Steve Danuser: The events that you saw in the original pre-render cinematic that we released with our friend Koranos, aka Stony Tony, climbing the titan building and lighting the beacon is kind of the instigating incident, and so you can think of that kind of happening first. So dragons start coming back to the Dragon Isles, they begin visiting some places that they haven't been to for a long time. Imagine some off-camera time of them just kind of coming, getting the lay of the land, that sort of thing. In amongst that, we have Ebyssian and Wrathion who also come back to the Dragon Isles, and they get this feeling, they can sense something is going on, something related to black dragons, and that's what kind of draws them to the Forbidden Reach, and they find that as these primalists have come back, it's started kind of an alarm that was setup by Neltharion long ago that causes the Dracthyr to start waking up. So the Dracthyr awaken, there's all the events of the Dracthyr starting experience, and which culminates, you can play through it now so it's not a spoiler anymore, with Raszageth getting unleashed, and once she is and word gets back to the dragon aspects, that then makes them say, okay, we need to do some stuff here and Kalecgos go and meet with Khadgar in the tower, we've seen that cinematic, and just the sense that we need to send word to our mortal allies and they're gonna need to come help us. So that's kind of where we are in the timeline in terms of events now with the pre-patch that launched this week. We get to play through that, we have this feeling of like hey we need to get ready for this expedition, and that's the staging ground for when Dragonflight launches in less than two weeks now.
One more detail; it's in the aftermath of the Forbidden Reach. If you played through that experience, before you get to the end and talk to Nozdormu, you see Emberthal kind of walk off and say how she's gonna linger here for a while and she doesn't go with the other Dracthyr. So the events of the Legacy Cinematics take place after the Dracthyr have left and then Nozdormu can sense that Emberthal is there and he follows her into one of the creches and that's when those stories unfold.
Dom with Get Good Gaming: I've seen very different answers from different sources on this, but how many in-game years has it been since the event of Vanilla WoW to Dragonflight?
Steve: So I made a post about the timeline a bit on this, you'd have to make look up the exact number of years for each of these things, so Shadowlands started in the year 35 after the Dark Portal. Which obviously dates back to the events of Warcaft 1. Dragonflight starts in the year 40, so 5 years since the start of Shadowlands and the start of Dragonflight. The year that .
Time Between Shadowlands and Dragonflight
Liz from Blizzard Watch: I have what I think is the most important lore question of the expansion: why weren't we invited to Lor'themar and Thalyssra's wedding and will there be any quests where we get to see this?
Steve: Well you know you did get the reference to it in game, and we do have a short story coming that will give us some of those events and give us a peek into those moments. But you know, we talk about stuff like that and there's certainly we like to have major events happen in game, especially when it comes to action and things that are big drivers of the story. But there's also, we wanna tell the right stories for the right mediums, and you know we've maybe had some wedding stuff happen in-game before and it's not super compelling gameplay, no question RPers and stuff would love to have events play out, but the average player, that's not as great a gameplay experience for them. But it is something nice that people can read and really get into the minds of characters and what their perspectives are at events like this, which is something the game can't do very well. So that's what made us decide to do it in a short story versus having it be this kind of an in-game thing, which honestly would just involve a lot of clicking, a lot of standing, a lot of listening, and again, we weigh what's the most compelling thing to do in gameplay versus what could be told better in another medium.
But, that said, who knows some quest designer might come up with a pitch for doing a flashback to at least part of that wedding. They're very good at coming up with ideas for that sort of thing. So who knows, down the road there may be a reason for it, but it's not currently in the cards at least.
Michael from Dot Esports: I kind of want to follow up on Dom's question about the timeline and the post in particular you made Steve back in August. You mention that about three or so years are going to pass in between the end of Shadowlands and the start of Dragonflight. Just so the people of Azeroth can, you said here, have a slice of normal life for a little bit. If you are taking WoW literally it is hard to imagine that all of this stuff has happened in such quick succession, and I think that brief pause for normal life is very welcome for people of Azeroth. Can we expect that three year time period where things are quiet and normal to be referenced at all in Dragonflight?
Steve: Well you know there were the little asides that you get in some of those stay a while and listen conversations and the content that was released just this week with, whether it was Lor'themar and Thalyssra talking about the fact that they got married, or Baine reflecting on how he hasn't heard from Anduin in a while, or some discussions there between Shaw and Greymane for example, there's some references there. And, you know like, there may be cases where people had something individual characters, not necessarily big franchise characters but even just smaller ones, might spend some time reflecting on that. But you know again by and large we didn't want it to make it feel like, like you know people use the phrase time-skip because that gets used in a lot of media, and a lot of times shows or books might use a time-skip to hide some things, or to tuck some story away that will get revealed later, and honestly that was not our intent here at all, and that's why I never used that phrase because it's not a skip in the sense of like we're skipping over some story that we'll then drop on you later, it really was just a desire to move the chronology forward, give the world a little breathing space and let some of our younger characters age up a bit so they can play a bigger role in storylines to come. So there's no subterfuge or hiding things away and so in that regard we really didn't want to hide a bunch of stuff that would come up later. I'm not ruling it out that people won't have some individual takes on that time based on what happened to them, but we wanted to make clear that it wasn't a driving story thing that we were doing this in order to tell some specific agenda. It really was just about letting the world breathe and letting things move on, and letting some of those younger character become more prominent in upcoming storylines.
Quest Design in Dragonflight
Dom: So for the expansions that have involved new hero classes with Death Knights and Demon Hunters and now the Evoker, it's always felt pretty balanced with quests that really make you feel like that class, and an expansion that really seems to value a certain type of hero that's stepping into it. As somebody that's played a rogue it's always kind of been fine to like find my way into certain situations, but it seems like this, obviously it's an extremely dragon-centric expansion and there's going to be everything we do centered around dragons and what have you, how is the quest design and layout unfolded as to not like make it so Druids or Monks or you know anybody else is not playing as big of a part in the overarching story.
Maria Hamilton: Yeah, good question. I mean obviously we want to support this new people, new class race combo, we want to learn more about them. Their story arcs will pan all of Dragonflight in patches and beyond, so we are making them a bit of a star, but at the same time when we build quests, and we build content, and we think about the flow we're thinking about everyone. We want to make sure that everyone is enjoying as they move through, and one of the ways we can do that is in some of our local stories in our various zones where we try to feature different things that might be of interest to people, we leaned really hard into local stories for Dragonflight, we really had these vast areas and we wanted you to feel like there were a lot of stories to learn about and to get different perspectives and angles on things, and that's how you end up getting quests where there's a whelp who's distressed because their stuffed duck is broken and damaged and needs your help, from a dragon who's come home and it's not quite what they remember and they have regrets, to a very good quest with some Dragonmaw orcs where they've come back and there's one that's quite elderly who's done some very bad things to whelps in the past and is feeling pretty bad about that.
So we're trying to get sort of that range for people that are interested in different things as well, while still telling that story of the Dracthyr who don't really know their place, they've been out of it for a very long time. So we try to balance that and we leaned really hard into telling these local stories, trying to give life to these cultures and to the places, the people that are visiting, everybody has a different reason for why they wanna go here, check things out, maybe there's money to be made, maybe there's vast treasures or archeology, well not archeology, but relics and things like that. There's all sorts of different angles to go at it from, so we just tried to spread that out as much as possible.
Michael from MMO-Champion: As a quest designer is it difficult to find new ways to engage players that aren't the standard kill collect escort and delivery quests? And related to that, are there any new or exciting questing mechanics in this expansion?
Maria: I think bread and butter WoW questing, and really questing in most games is those things, but what you're trying to do is you're trying to tell a story through the gameplay, so you're trying to make sure that the gameplay you're asking the players to engage in compliments that story, compliments the step and makes sense, so forth. We have other kinds of quests that we do from time to time, and we save those, we pace them out, we save them for those cool moments where we want players to have a particular feel, so whether its firing a turret at something and you've got some extra powers, or you're doing a bombing run of some sort, or you've got some extra special powers because you've consumed something and now you have new powers and new abilities, whether you're driving a vehicle, all those kinds of things are things that we will lean into for those high moments, for those exciting pacing moments that we want to have. As far as new things, one of the biggest things that has changed questing, or changed the field of questing, has been Dragonriding. So we knew that we were going to have Dragonriding, we knew that we were gonna have the ability to take advantage of vertically and distances in a way that we never have been able to before, because with momentum and with the ability to have our quest objectives in difficult to reach places, or set you up for an amazing vista so you can see something ahead of you, we tried to lean into that and we have some quests as well where you will use your Dragonriding to do things, to reach places. In particular, there's also an entire dungeon, the Nokhud Offensive, where you'll be able to use your dragonriding to move around that area, and this let us have very very big zones, very big areas to tuck content into and make quests interesting. So, for us it's all about finding a cool way to pace things out and tell the story. That's kind of our job, collaborate with our narrative partners, figure out what the story is that we're going to tell, and then figure out what the gameplay is that complements that, and gives you those high moments, maybe it leads you into that cool cut scene where you get that cool moment. So that's pretty much what we do!
Robin, from MMORPG: One of the things that I liked, having played the alpha and beta, I noticed that in general there was more room for smaller slice of life kind of questing with the main story questing, especially in the Ohn'ahran Plains, that seemed to happen a lot. I was just curious if you could talk more about if that was a conscious shift that you guys wanted to mix in more of that with the main storyline, or what the thinking on doing those kinds of quests are?
Maria: Yeah, it absolutely was. It was one of the areas that we felt would help us make this place feel inhabited and real, and a place where cultures have been growing and changing over time, you get that entire centaur culture hidden in Ohn'ahran Plains for example. We intentionally sat down and figured out let's devote a fair bit of effort to those smaller local stories, that talk about the place. They aren't directly related to the main story, but maybe the show a reaction to the main story, or maybe they're just their own little thing that's happening off on the side. So we very much did lean into that, it was an important part of our plan for Dragonflight, and we tried to let a collaboration of quest designers and narrative designers, come up with what those things were based on their own experiences, based on their own cultural experiences, their own backgrounds, which is why you see a lot of personality and a lot of heart there, because these are coming from people's experiences or something that they care deeply about, and that's how we get such an incredible variety as well in themes, and in feels basically. So yes, that was an intentional choice that we made.
Steve: It's easy when you're dealing with such big fantasy elements, like dragons, and big battles against evil dragons, and there's good dragons, and there's time-travel and all these things, those are the broad strokes of the setting, and the story, and some of the bigger characters, but what makes a world feel real is the personal stories, and knowing what some of these characters who live in these places, what they're experiencing when they're surrounded by all this change and all these new forces of some good, and some adversarial coming into the picture and how does it affect their lives? It's those things that make a world feel tangible and real, and so it's really awesome to see like Maria said, to see so many people bring their personal stories to that gameplay experience, and tell some really compelling things that may not have the big spectacle of some of these bigger things that get big cinematics and stuff like that, but the amount of personal feeling and sentiment that comes through in these local stories, is on par with anything else that we tell in the game. So really proud of the designers for bringing all of that to bear in Dragonflight.
Jeremie from Wowhead: With the last two expansions, we had weekly story quests with the release of each patch. How do you feel like these have worked out in getting players involved in the story, and can we expect to see something similar in Dragonflight?
Maria: Typically in patches, we did pace out content over the last two expansions in weekly chunks as you're saying, and we did it because we wanted to control how we were unlocking other gameplay, often the raid was part of that, and making sure that people had an opportunity to be prepared for some of those moments. We tried something a little different when we got to eternity's end in Zereth Mortis where we tried to make that unlock, for some of the content, that players could choose to do. So for example, by choosing to put Cyphers of the First Ones into certain categories they unlocked some content. Not main story content, but content. It was a bit of a test to see how that felt, we don't have that sort of unlock for content based on weeks in Dragonflight, at least for launch, I can't really talk about what we're doing for patches, but we're busy trying things, experimenting, learning lessons, and figuring out what's best. So, again, we really want to hear what you think as you get an opportunity to see how we're unlocking content. Don't want to do any spoilers, but hoping to hear that we've got some cool ideas and we should move forward them, or maybe not. A lot of game design is about trying things and iterating, and trying things and iterating. We're taking some steps along that path, there are some reasons in the past why we tried to pace content in the way we have, and we're wondering what else might be a way we can pace content. Hopefully that's not too spoilery but also answers your question.
Shadowlands vs Dragonflight
Liz from Blizzard Watch: I'm wondering what kind of lessons have you taken away from Shadowlands that you're carrying into Dragonflight, as far as quest design and storytelling?
Maria: I think one of the big ones that we took was looking at how we could make sure that we were being as alt friendly as possible, particularly with questing and having players play through the whole campaign, and so forth. We took a look at how Threads of Fate worked out and what we liked about it, and what we didn't like about it, and now we've got a setup where once you've played the main campaign on one of your characters on your account, any later character can play the campaign quests in any order they want, if they want to play them, if not that's fine too, they can level a different way. So we've tried to make it very very flexible and very alt friendly in that regard, and that's just one of the things quest design has done, there's other things too like tons of account based unlocks around renown and repeatable activities with your Dragonriding progress and progression systems, we really leaned into making it as alt friendly as possible because that went over so very well, right, in Zereth Mortis we had a chance to try things that were more account based as well and we learned from that, and thought, oh let's make that a bit better. We also really liked the unlocks in Zereth Mortis again where once you had reached a certain point you could understand the Jiro and so then you could do the Jiro stories. We liked the idea of that and building that into the Renown track, such that when you do certain things you unlock the ability to do some more content. As Steve mentioned we have managed to hold some things back, we very much liked being able to hold back the Lordaeron Forsaken story for 9.2.5 and we said "Hey, what if we could do more of that? Let's try to do more of that and see if we can keep that stuff hidden" and so far, so good. So we'll see how that goes as well.
Steve: In terms of story stuff, by its very nature Dragonflight is very different tonally than Shadowlands was. Shadowlands had been built up to for a while, and there was a lot of dark stuff happening in the world and characters who were going through some very dark things, and the story was being told in the realms of death, and that's some heavy stuff. When conceiving of the Dragonflight expansion, obviously we started that process a while ago, we knew we wanted to tell a story that was really rooted in adventure, and optimism, and something that would feel like: hey, we're back on Azeroth we're seeing the effects of the stuff that happened in the past, but in a positive way, because the world is moving forward and it's a time of hope and optimism. The whole fact that the Dragon Isles have come alive with energies again is a sign that the world has survived some of these traumas, like a big sword being plunged into it, big wars and invasions and all that sort of stuff, and has taken a little step forward in it's growth, and some of those energies are surging as a result. I think that spirit is reflected in both the story and the questing and the systems of Dragonflight as well, like Maria mentioned the fact that Dragonriding is part in parcel of the experience, we have these huge vast zones where you get to soar through and dive and really feel the world around you as this tangible thing, all of that is about the tone of the story, and we're adventuring beside some beloved characters, the dragon aspects, and we get the chance to help them become awesome again. They gave up those powers back in Cataclysm and they've faced some dark times too in the years since, and this is a chance to re-unite with them and stand together, and help them out. There's a lot of storyline stuff that I can't spoil for you but as we've planned out the rest of the Dragonflight story into the patches, we really want it to feel like it ends on a strong note, of feeling like hopefully we have helped our allies out, we have achieved some things, and the dragon isles are an even better place when we're finished with the story, than when it was when we first got there.
Michael from Dot Esports: My question kind of pertains between the dichotomy between Shadowlands and Dragonflight, you mentioned it before Steve that we're kind of getting back to these fan favourite characters and trying to make them feel more awesome. From a literal standpoint, does the narrative team feel more in their wheelhouse when you go back to these concepts and characters that fans and players are so attached to? And if so does that make the story creation process a bit easier?
Steve: Well I don't think it's so much the particular characters involved, because we've got a big team and everybody has different characters that they're drawn to or gravitate to, and we aren't all of one mind that it's easier to write for this kind of character than another. There's just different points of view and different perspectives and that's part of building a diverse team, is having those different points of view so that you can offer lots of different kinds of content. What I will say is that one of the challenges with Shadowlands was we're going to a place that wasn't pre-established, it was a mystical realm and we had to guide players around and show them lots of things and teach them lots of things about why things were the way they were. When you're back on Azeroth, even going to a place that wasn't defined in the lore, we knew there was a place called the Dragon Isles, and we knew that it probably had something to do with dragons, but just the fact that you're on Azeroth, you're going and seeing things that feel familiar to you, vast mountains, vast forests, grasslands spreading out everywhere, and even the look of the places that the dragons live, while being new architecture there's still something rooted in the familiar about all of that. So that creates less overhead for you as a storyteller, that you don't have to build up as much, and explain as much to the player to get these locations through to them, and then that in turn just frees you up to spend more time on the characters and the world and what they're experiencing as you're playing, without as much to explain. So that's certainly an advantage to having the Dragon Isles as a setting.
Uldaman Lore Books - Dragon Loyalty to Titans
Ian Bates from BlizzPlanet: Hello, in the new Uldaman legacy of Tyr dungeon, you can find the book that says the keepers used waters from Tyrhold to keep the dragons loyal to the titans, does that mean the dragons are literally being mind controlled like we saw with Neltharion's gauntlet and the Dracthyr, or is it more of a figurative loyalty and how they said the waters were also inoculating them against getting them corrupted by Yogg-Saron like Galakrond did?
Steve: Yeah so, the wellspring upon which Tyrhold was built was a naturally occurring phenomenon, with waters that are akin to some of those that we've seen in places like the Well of Eternity, the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, and so forth. These are waters that are kind of touched by the energies of Azeroth, and as we've seen, Azeroth's energies are a force of change, and sometimes change can be a good thing and sometimes change can be a bad thing. Change on it's own is an uncontrolled phenomenon and the Titans and their servants don't like uncontrolled phenomenon, they like controlled outcomes, they like to put guard rails around things, and make sure that they get the outcomes that they want. And so, part of the reasoning for building Tyrhold where it was, was to be able to say hey, these energies need to be controlled. We can't just let random outcomes happen because those can be bad sometimes. And so, by putting Tyrhold over the top of it and having the Halls of Infusion by which they could infuse order magic into those waters, and then in turn feed those waters out to the life pools of the red flight, that ensures that from their point of view the proper kind of water is being fed to them. It still has the positive energies, it's good to feed to you know put the eggs in, helps them grow strong, all that sort of thing, but it also has that dose order in there, which is like putting fluoride into water, where it has an outcome that you want to have happen, which means that the eggs and so forth that would be put in that water would be more inclined to be orderly in their thought. And again, that's something that the Titans and their servants would be very interested in having happen. So you don't have to look at it as a sinister thing, you could look at it as oh they're trying to help the little whelplings. But the Titans want to serve the Titans agenda at the end of the day. And so, to have an orderly outcome is something that they would very much be in favor of.
no, the dragons are not being directly mind controlled. Influenced, and certainly Tyr want to nudge them towards certain things, but it's not as Draconian if you'll pardon the expression as direct mind control.
Raszageth and the Primalists
Jeremie from Wowhead: Raszageth doesn't have much build-up in Dragonflight, particularly for players who haven't been through the Evoker starting zone, yet she's primed as kind of the first big villain of the new expansion. Why exactly are players going after the Primalist and is there any story still yet to be shared regarding her role?
Steve: Yeah I mean Raszageth plays a prominent role throughout the level-up storyline in Dragonflight, and there's a lot of scenes that haven't been datamined yet, and that haven't turned up in terms of cinematics and some of our content that reflects on the past, and that's really where if you watch the cinematic that comes in the aftermath of the pre-patch, when the aspects gather and Alexstrasza talks about why she dreads the release of Raszageth so much, that starts giving you some of the hints about this history that they share and what a great battle it was before, long ago when they fought the incarnates, and what they fear now that the aspects are without the powers that they gave up to defeat Deathwing, and all that that means for them, in terms of being able to fight for their legacy, for the Dragon Isles that they love and the threat that Raszageth represents, especially if she can do what she wants which is to release the other three incarnates. So her story will build up through the course of as you're playing, and yeah if you're playing a Dracthyr Evoker obviously you get that big moment of her release, but her presence will definitely be felt elsewhere in that campaign, and no spoilers but there's a pretty big moment in the waking shores, the first zone that you're adventuring through, where Raszageth and Alexstrasza have a very personal moment that is pretty thrilling to watch, so look for that.
Khadgar in Dragonflight
Tomas from BlizzPlanet: We saw Khadgar in the recent cinematic in a dragon centric story, what role does Khadgar play in the expansion and possibly in 10.1 and beyond?
Steve: Well, besides just being Khadgar and being awesome and being a fun character to have in an expansion and fun to write for and fun to adventure with, he does have a pre-existing relationship with one of our dragon aspects, Kalecgos. Kalecgos is also on the Dalaran council just like Khadgar is, and so you can imagine that they've spent a lot of time together and have gotten to know each other pretty well, so when Kalecgos is facing the fact that he doesn't have many blue dragons around him anymore, what remains of his flight really dispersed throughout the world and he's feeling a little alone and isolated and he turns to a familiar face to help him. The other great thing about Khadgar is that he's our stand in as the audience in a way, where he gets to hear the story and he gets to experience what Kalecgos is feeling, and he gets to say, alright, lets go, let's do the thing, and when Khadgar summons his staff and says "Yep, we're gonna answer the call" that's us, getting able to say "Yep. we're answering the call with you, we're with you aspects." So we thought that was awesome and if you play through again the level-up campaign you'll see Khadgar in the Azure Span, he plays a big role there in helping Kalecgos out, and that's really what he and the Kirin Tor are there for, because Khadgar realizes that Kalecgos needs a hand right now, and they have mutual interests, obviously the blue dragons: their love of magic, their knowledge there, the arcane power that we're dealing with, it's a natural fit. So you can look for that role for Khadgar and he can appear in other places in this expansion when he needs to fulfill a similar function of just being there for a friend of his and trying to help him restore the blue dragonflight to be the strongest it can be.
Night Elf Story
Robin from MMORPG: There's been a lot of talk in the community about Ysera and the sacrifice she made saving Malfurion and all that, and I'm assuming you can't make any comments about what might happen with that in the future, butit feels like, from my perspective, that her sacrifice of trying to save Malfurion was kind of a wasted sacrifice because it doesn't feel like he's done anything in the interim and I was wondering if you could maybe talk on if there are things that have gone on that we haven't been aware of or you know?
Steve: Certainly since the battle of the Darkshore, you got to see Malfurion get some anger in that, during Battle for Azeroth, and that was cool to see. But, you're right in that a lot of the events that followed it were really focused on Tyrande and what she was doing, and some of that is just part of the economy of story telling, you only have so much time with so many characters and you've got so many storylines you can follow, while it would be nice from being fans of these characters, that we would like to see everyone involved in everything, you know what is Maiev doing, what are all these characters doing? There's only so much time that we have to really focus on things, and because of the nature of their relationship, Tyrande and Malfurion occupy the same kind of space, they're both leaders, they both have the love and respect of their people, and so when we do use them together it's usually because one is in a slightly situation than the other, and that just didn't work that way in terms of the pacing of the story that we've dealt with to this point. I want to make clear that this is not us saying "Malfurion doesn't matter, we just want to get him out of the way" it's not that at all, if anything its a set-up for his eventual return, because the way to think of this is that if you look back on mythology there is this story of Persephone and she was this nature Goddess who got tricked into eating some berries that caused her to have to spend part of her time in the underworld and that's why there was winter and why there was spring, and that kind of metaphor really fit the story we were telling with Ardenweald and the cycle of life and death, and how the night elves are intertwined with that. We kind of used a version of that for in order for Ysera to come out of the Shadowlands and do some things that she needs to do someone has to take her place, someone has to take that end of the bargain. So that's what Malfurion is doing, but there can be some benefit from that time that he spends in Ardenweald, Ardenweald is a place of restoration, of recovery and now that the anima drought was dealt with, Ardenweald is getting back to what it was supposed to be in the first place, and it has ties to the Emerald Dream, so there's every possibility that Malfurion can come out of this with not only a new perspective on some things, but perhaps some new energies that he can tap into. We look forward to continuing that storyline when it makes sense to do so.
Liz from BlizzardWatch: Considering that the Forsaken got a quest line late in Shadowlands to clean up Lordaeron, I'm wondering if there's any chance we'll be seeing something similar for the Night Elves or the Gilneans in the future?
Maria: I think there's always hope.
Steve: Anything we say would be too spoilery. The important thing to remember, the fans and the community, we see your discussions, we see your talking about these things, you care about these races and characters in the world, and we care about them too. For us it's always about trying to find the right place to do some of these things, but as the story unfolds we'd love to revisit some of these things, and that's about all we can say. We definitely have some of those things in mind.
Dragonflight UI Rework
Dom from Get Good Gaming: We've seen a lot of popular add-ons end up becoming implemented as native features into WoW, like new map tools and bag tools, stuff like that, to have a more robust interface. Are there any plans or considerations for more native tools or systems to support the role-playing aspect of the game, maybe even character last names or a bio panel? I feel like that's the one area of add-ons that we haven't seen be adopted natively by the game.
Maria: I think some of the intent of some of the UI rework was to bring us to a more modern look across the board. Experienced players know how to put in add-ons and make things look exactly how they want it, and really customize their experience, where as newer players don't really understand how to do that effectively, so we wanted to get a nice baseline in place and then from that baseline, build off of it. I know that the UI team is continuing to look at options and things they can do to continue to improve the experience for people, and look at places where we can definitely expand. I don't know specifically about those add-ons and whether those are something they're considering but it's definitely something we can pass along as an area of interest. They're not done, they're absolutely not done and they're very committed to making improvements and continuing to make improvements, really interested in feedback as people get in and start playing with the UI, especially people who have never really been able to move things around or understood how to do that. That's what I know about that subject and I'm hoping we'll get lots of great feedback from players so that they can focus in on the things that matter.
Origin of Dragonkin Creatures
Ian from BlizzPlanet: There are many creatures classified as Dragonkin, but aren't really part of the Dragonflights or dragons themselves, like fairie dragons, cloud serpents, the veilwings from Ardenweald, the storm dragons from Legion, the new velocidrakes and wilderdrakes that we get as Dragonriding mounts. With Dragonflight being so much about dragon history will we perhaps learn about how they fit into the dragon family tree?
Steve: Part of what we think about is like how much of these things do we want to reveal and explain, versus how much do we want to leave for fans to speculate about. I think with a lot of those dragon-adjacent creatures, it's more interesting to just kind of show how they might relate to other draconic characters and let players think and draw some conclusions there. It wasn't like we felt this mission to fill in the history and give a detailed assessment, but I think that having some of those dragon-adjacent creatures in the world just makes it more interesting and more textured, and it makes you think about how they might have come to be. Maybe we touch on some of those things, maybe we leave them lingering mysteries.
Michael from MMO-Champion: Timewalking was a great way to make old content relevant. Are there any plans to make this a more permanent staple or extend it to world content?
Maria: We do talk about timewalking a fair bit, and especially in an expansion where we're dealing with dragons, especially bronze dragons, it feels like there are opportunities for timey-wimey shenanigans and things to develop, but I couldn't really speculate further.
Tomas from BlizzPlanet: In Thaldraszus we have the chance to visit different time eras as part of the zone's story, but is time-traveling limited to the level-up story or will we get the chance to time-travel in end-game quests or get to see characters from other times come to the present?
Maria: Timey-wimey things can happen when bronze dragons are around, and I can't really spoil, so I can't really say much on that one other than: you're right, there are timey-wimey things that happen and can happen.
Steve: Certainly if you looked at the pre-patch stuff that got released this week, one of the things is going to Uldaman and going to a new part of it and seeing that the infinite dragons are up to some no good and trying to thwart the aspects goal of reclaiming the powers that they lost. Knowing that the infinites are afoot, and thinking about some of the things they've done in the past, it's safe to assume that they're not stopping there, and that there's more to come, and you see some of that if you played level-up content on the beta. The story definitely does not end there, but what the particulars are you will just have to wait and see unfold. It's definitely a significant story in the Dragonflight expansion.
Future Class/Race Combos
Dom with Get Good Gaming: Speaking of other cultures in the world, I can definitely respect the lore barriers that restrict class-race combos, but my best friend has been slowly dying on this hill since 2018, can we expect Kul-Tiran paladins in the future? They can already wield the light as priests, they look awesome in plate, can we get some righteous thickness please?
Steve: Well as you're probably aware, in the Dragonflight pre-patch now, you can play some combinations that you couldn't play before, something like a Tauren Rogue, while kind of out of the box a little bit, is not a big stretch of the imagination when you think about how, yeah it's a little weird for big cow people to walk around stealthily, we know that players are heroes in this world and that they are connected to Azeroth in a way that makes the impossible possible. There are other race-class combinations that over time we may revisit as well, some of them take more story setup than others, again with Taurens and rogues for examples it wasn't something where we needed to tell a big story about the rogue order hall infiltrating Thunder Bluff and teaching or whatever. It just kind of worked to introduce it into the world, but there are other storylines where we would want to spend some more time to build them up to do that. Certainly paladin is one of those classes that has a lot of history behind it, so to roll it out to others would probably take some additional work and thought, but not ruling anything out for future content.
Mysterious Copper Coin
Michael from DotEsports: If you look at the adventure guide and scroll all the way to the last page of suggested content, there's a tab that says copper coin, there appears to be a copper coin tucked into your adventure guide that triggers this quest, that's an autocomplete quest, and it says it's not immediately clear who put the copper coin in your adventure guide, is it eventually going to be clear who put this in your adventure guide? This has been a wild goose chase that I have been scratching my head over for days now, and this is completely pointless and totally off base let me know.
Maria: We hope so, we hope that it becomes clear for you. You might have to wait a little while, it's a bit of a tease, a bit of a hint, that's really all I can say.
Steve: Never look a gift copper coin the mouth is what I always say.
Jeremie from Wowhead: Tuskarr were introduced 14 years ago in Wrath, but haven't really been seen very often. How did they get to the Dragon Isles, are their gods different from those in Northrend, and will they play a larger role in Dragonflight?
Steve: Just to be clear, I know there's a lot of love for Tuskarr in the community and that same love permeates our design team. As soon as we started talking to the team about going to the Dragon Isles and the cultures that could be there, people were like "there's Tuskarr right, there can be Tuskarr right?" Sure enough we had a bunch of very enthused people who told some incredible stories about Tuskarr. I think in that regard we got way more Tuskarr oriented questing, it's one of the reputations that you can pursue with them and spend a lot of time with them, and spend a lot of time with them, you can help them cook cool stuff, there's some very charming moments among the Tuskarr, so absolutely there's some great lore you can delve into there, and you can learn about their background and how these Tuskarr differ from some of their Northrend counterparts, but very much in the same vein, and care about the same stuff: fishing, family, and food. The magic triad of Tuskarr life.
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