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Monday, April 13, 2009

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Tom Chilton Discusses Upcoming WoW Changes
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Games On Net recently posted a new interview with Tom Chilton, lead game designer for World of Warcraft, Blizzard Entertainment's ever popular fantasy MMO. In the interview Chilton discussed changes in the upcoming 3.1 content patch, including the addition of harder battles for veteran players and changes to the arena system.

Another game element that started off small and has grown to be a major part of 3.1 is the addition of hard mode, which Chilton was pleased to describe as being an extension of an experimentation started in Wrath of the Lich King. Taking inspiration from the Sartharion encounter, where you can fight Sartharion directly or take on the three drakes that protect him. Chilton continues:

You could choose to kill any of those drakes before you fight Sartharion, but if you don't kill the drakes and you fight him, you get additional rewards. So - we used that as a kind of template, we'd also experimented with it a little bit in the past with the Zul'Aman raid instance before Lich King came out, in Burning Crusade. Players cleared it more quickly essentially rescued different prisoners that were being held captive in the instance, so that you would get bonus rewards, bonus items, all the way up to the special bear mount. We used those as our template for Ulduar.
One of the reasons why we're doing this so heavily now is that one of our philosophies for Lich King was that we wanted to make the content more accessible, we didn't want raiding to be a hardcore-only activity, and a lot of that was in the tuning. Not only is it harder to get 10-25 people together than it is for a 5-person dungeon, but the encounters and all the tuning and level complexity for raids went up a lot, over the Burning Crusade and also the original World of Warcraft. We wanted to make sure that the tuning didn't make it impossible for pickup groups to be able to go through raiding, because we figured that's how a lot of our more casual players would approach it, but at the same time, we wanted to have the hard-to-master element without having to suddenly just say we're going to triple the amount of content!

There's some big changes coming to the arena system with 3.1, which Chilton is pretty excited about:

The change that we're making where teams will start with zero rating, and then progress upward from that should be a much better play experience for those that are new to the arena system. One thing that we found over time was that players would create teams, and they would start off with a 1500 rating... 1500 is the median skill, which means that half the people who experience the arena system are actually going to -mathematically- be below 1500, by some amount. They might be close, they might be way below 1500. Their experience always felt very negative: you started at the highest rating you were almost ever going to achieve, and it just went down from there. That's not very fun psychologically - you don't feel like you're working towards something, it's like you're working your way away from something.
I think that the general experience for players that are new to the arena system, and who come in for the first time now and start at zero rating, say they lose a bunch of games, they're not losing any rating at that point, but when they gain rating, they're going to go up a whole bunch. I think they'll have a much more positive experience.
Head over to the site below for the rest of the Q&A.

Games On Net: Tom Chilton Interview
Blizzard Entertainment
World of Warcraft
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Archives  News  Tom Chilton Discusses Upcoming WoW Changes