Long sequences of talking, exposition, explaining, character interaction, that's not what WoW is best at. People are in there to play to advance their characters and to experience stories, of course, but standing around watching NPCs, characters in the world talking to one another, that's not our strength. For example, the Three Sisters comic that we released recently, we knew that it made sense from a story perspective that after we got Alleria Windrunner back from the Argus Campaign against Sargeras, that there would have to be a meeting between the three Windrunner sisters. The story demanded it. If we had put that in game, it would've been following these three NPCs around, watching them do stuff. Then it's weird that you're eavesdropping on this family reunion that happens after all this time.
That was a natural case where we said, "Look, let's put this in a medium where it will make the most sense and where we can tell the best story." The comic where you can see those characters come to life, where you can see what they were doing, and how they looked at one another, how they reacted when Sylvanas banshees out, or when Alleria goes into void form, we can see tangible looks on their faces that told the story for us. That was just a great example of where we could leverage another medium that helps us tell the story in a better way than we could within the game.
One of the interesting things is that a lot of our character animations were created back when the camera was really far away from characters all the time, and so you had to have that overly theatrical presentation. Now with a lot of these cut scenes, the camera is right in close on characters, and those kinds of things don't hold up as well. We're always talking about how can we improve on that, how can we evolve the storytelling techniques and technology to improve that. That's something you'll see us continue to work on going forward.
Newman: In the new Azshara short today, are you treating her as a new character? Are you assuming that folks will know the lore of what her role as been to date in Warcraft? How do you approach a character like that, that's likely to be a major player in the future, but perhaps not as memorable for players as other characters that they've gotten to interact with on a more frequent basis?
Burke: Hopefully the Warbringer cinematic will help refresh people's memory a little bit about where our character came from. I've been here for a lot of releases, and it's always, "When are we going to play with Azshara?" That time finally getting here is really exciting for me. It's a really interesting character. I think that we'll be able to bring people up to speed pretty well. We're at war right now. It's a really special time. It's the first time in the history of World of Warcraft that we've been able to play in that environment, story-wise. We've still got a little bit to tell there, leading up to some reveals. We wanted to make sure that players were aware that she's watching.
Danuser: There's a reason that she is the third of our Warbringers in this series. We did really want to feature her here. Without giving anything away about the cinematic, once you see it, I think you'll have a much deeper understanding, as Steve said, about what she is and what that history is. It's going to be a really fun opportunity to see her storyline advance in the content patches that will be coming.