Following the Hollywood red carpet premiere, Perc and Panser attended the Legion Summit on Tuesday, June 7th. We conducted several interviews, watched a new animated short, and caught up with other influencers. The NDA is now lifted as of midnight Friday!
The Legion Summit started off with a short presentation and three videos:
- A video used internally by Blizzard to share the direction of Legion with staff. This included previews of all of the zones and dungeons, as well as some footage of the upcoming invasions!
- A narrated video explaining the concept of Demon Hunters and both specializations: Havoc and Vengeance.
- A first look at one of the upcoming animated shorts in the new series Harbingers, focusing on Illidan Stormrage. In this short, we follow the path of an initiate, hesitant at first, as she goes on her first battle against a demon and learns why Demon Hunters, while possessed with demonic energy, are not corrupt like demons.
In the afternoon we mingled with other streamers and fansites, and conducted a few interviews! We capped off the day with a lovely goodybag featuring the Emerald Whelpling, World of Warcraft Messenger Bag, Bonds of Brotherhood Novel, and oversized Legion mouse pad.
- Lessons learned from the Garrison and Professions
- How to keep World Quests engaging over time and to avoid burnout
- Discussion of the combat visuals revamp for melee
- Casters are getting a more detailed visual revamp in the future
- The gameplay and mindset of Demon Hunters
- Content, pacing, and giving dungeons more attention
- The Legion rewards system and increased item variation in Legion
- Artifact Weapons that were challenging to design
- Legendaries offering additional gear choices on top of ilvl variation
Cory Stockton and Julian Morris Transcript
What were some of the lessons learned in how Professions were handled in Warlords of Draenor and their interactions with the Garrisons and improvements made in Legion for Professions?:
Number 1, obviously is what I think you’re seeing is the interaction with the professions stuff integrated into the story lines that we are telling in the world. So for the Garrison, everything was completely related around a building, you know…leveling up that building, having individual reagents that worked for that building, the shipments. I think that worked really great for the Garrison part of that content. Where that doesn’t work really great is when you were outside the Garrison and doing other stuff. There was a huge desire on the team to integrate the profession content into the world in a way that felt different, unlike anything we’ve done before, fresh, but in a way that took advantage of other story lines right? So I think that’s what’re seeing in the core story line that kinda sends you down, it’s the quest progression you normally see.
But the secondary part of that is the World Quests, and that’s been huge. The World Quest system is such a huge part of Legion, and we can piggy back some content into there really pushes the professions progression way further than I think it would have in a previous expansion. Because World Quests just continue. They are very random, the idea is that you wont see the same thing many times over and over. So it gives us a chance to create more content that will kinda play out over a longer period of time.
In Warlords, materials were very abundant where as in Legion the materials feel very scarce. Is that the intention? On top of that how will effect players, for example raiding players who have double crafting, in this case Blood of Sargeras used to be BoE and now they are BoP, so people who have double crafting professions the only way they are going to get is through World Quests and fishing.:
The number one thing you are seeing is that we are involving World Quests system from the top down. And so world quests are a place where we have massive tuning to do on. How often do they pop, how many rewards are available for them and that has to be balanced against how often do you see the same one, and that’s a different thing that we haven’t had to deal with professions before. Normally we could just pick all the nodes or pick all the places that are going to drop profession reagents and just tune it and know, okay, we know how many times you can do this based on the re-pop rate and its a much easier tuning knob to turn.
With world quests it’s completely different because the content is integrated into the world and we only have a limited number of world quests in each zone that can drop certain things and we can’t just say lets just make that world quest pop up 5 times more often because that completely destroys the concept with world quests system, which is that is should feel random, it should feel that every time you do it you get something fresh and something different. So I think what you are seeing there is a tuning value that we still have to-you know that’s the whole concept of beta. But it is different from what we had before and what players have been used to but I think that’s something that we knew was going to happen. That just means we have a little bit more tuning to do before it gets to a place that feels right.
With the crafted equipped restriction removed in Legion, would crafted gear be something that you just use to prepare for the first tier only or are there intents to keep crafting relevant after the first tier? We also noticed that on the beta, Jewelcrafters have special stat gems but not as many other professions have as many combat perks like that. Is that intended or is that just the beta in progress?:
A lot of that is beta in progress specifically. But in regards to the gear feeling relevant, that’s more of a philosophy question that we ask almost every single expansion right? Cause you put up against that place where could be one profession item that could be SO GOOD that everyone wants it and it’s the only item and then you could go the complete opposite way where it’s like why am I wasting all my time that i’m never going to get anything that’s very good right?
And we’ve hit that every expansion. We’ve tried random stats, we’ve tried creating new tiers of items, we’ve tried taking raid reagents and letting you buy you know recipes that’ll let you make raid items, so I think where we are here is that we need to figure out what is that sweet spot that fits for this expansion when you take into account things like legendary’s, and the entire legendary system of how many legendary’s can be equipped at a time. Then you have artifacts and artifact power and unlocking different abilities that come with that. So I think we are kinda facing a little bit of a different tuning progression that we’ve ever had to deal with before at least in regards specifically to professions and how long those items will be relevant for. But I think in essence the main goal there is that we want it to be relevant as long possible without breaking another part of the game. That’s our general philosophy on that, that if you put the time in, we want you to be able to make great stuff but then having a legendary drop needs to still feel awesome.
As far as World Quests how do you intend to keep them engaging over time and how to ensure people pace themselves correctly and also what was the inspiration of World Quests and the inspiration to scale the rewards with the players current item level?:
Awesome question. We have invested a massive amount of time into World Quests across the whole team. From level design and building spaces that felt like they would be fun for world quests, to item guys, you know all across the board, and the key for that is the technology behind how we set up the randomness for the world quests. We developed a whole set of new technology specifically to use for world quests, we call it ‘scheduler’ internally, but what it lets us do it to make sure we are not just saying ‘okay this bucket of 20 world quests for Val’Sharah that just randomly every 3 days we pick one’ ya know? That would be like the base tech, but what we wanted do is say that ‘if we picked this one, lets put this one now at a distributed random, so you would say okay, lets not pick that one again for as long as we can possibly wait, to not have to pick it.’ If you’re in a group with people we might pick the same one, if it has to pop because of a quest then we will do it. But the idea is to distribute that in separate buckets as much as we can so that really the goal would be that you could go 2 or 3 months and never see the same world quest.
We’ve built hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of world quests across the game for professions, battle pets, pvp, world bosses, you know it you name it, but if all those things are up to you and you see the same one in a period of like a week, then you’re going to be just like well these are just like daily quests, I don’t understand what the difference is. So its a big goal on our side that when you open up the map and you’re looking at Val’sharah, you’re seeing a different place to go and you’re hopefully seeing a place to go that you weren’t sent on a questline. And when you go there, maybe you will find a vignette or maybe you will find a treasure, maybe there will be a battle pet there that you didn’t know about and a lot of that is coming back to what we all liked in original WoW which was exploration, so much more exploration to find stuff and world quests will show up on your map, so we can send you to that area and the hope is that when you get to that area is maybe you’ll look around and find different stuff. Whereas vignettes are more of a discovery mechanic, where you see a star on the map and you’re like ‘oh i’m gonna go over there and do this individual thing.’ So a key element to Legion feeling like it has a long end game, is that concept of world quests scaling with your item level, scaling rewards, scaling number of players, solo, 3 player, 5 player, world boss. We really wanna touch all the different type of players we could have to do that content.
So we wanted to talk about the legendary and artifact weapons a little bit. Were there any lessons learned from the legendary ring questline and did that impact design decisions for artifact progressions and artifacts have both hidden appearances and hidden effects that vary greatly, what was the need to add more hidden effects on top of an artifact that has so many traits.:
The ring, we learned a ton of from the ring progression. The timeline that that played out was so much based upon the patch cycle and when we could add new content to that and what we were doing. For artifacts above all, it was what could we do make each individual spec fulfill the fantasy of the class, which was by far the number one most important thing. If you were a hunter and you were using this bow, what is the fantasy behind that, obviously there is all the mechanics system-side about how much artifact power does it take to unlock each individual piece, unlock the upgrade of those pieces…I’m sure you all know about artifact knowledge with the catch up system, so if you pick a different spec, you can level up that one a little bit quicker.
So there are lessons there, but I think we have really tried to attack that system in a different way than we have before, by really trying to focus on the fantasy behind each individual class. I think that’s why you are seeing the different models, so that you know if you pick Ashbringer, obviously a lot of people think that Ashbringer is really cool, but an Unholy Ashbringer, now someone might be really into Forsaken and think that is the coolest thing. But then we offer like 7 colors, so you can pick different colors for it, so you’re kinda seeing not just item progression of how strong is your artifact, but you’re also getting a lot of that transmog vibe into it as well where you can kinda customize…and that lasts for a long time right? And we could add to that system so it’s not like what we ship with today would necessarily be what we would have at the end of a patch cycle. So overall I think its just looking at it from that perspective what fulfills the fantasy of each class–isn’t that such a huge part of Legion? With your class order hall, that is public so that you are surrounded with other people of your class, and I think a ton of that goes into the systems design side of it just as much as what the individual abilities are worth.
Luis Barriga and John Hight Transcript
What was the most challenging class to revamp from a visual standpoint? What influenced your design choices?
LB: I was not directly involved in that, so I couldn’t tell you specifically which class was the most difficult, but I can tell you from playtests and secondhand experience that Rogue went through a lot of iterations to get things right, and the main mix of – what you can get away with in a short period to feel snappy, to make moves feel brutal. I know some of the things that we tried early on looked really really good when you have a static screenshot, but once you see a mob that can move around, or a player that can move, things didn’t line up. So we tried other things. We’re happy with the way Rogue ended up, so that iteration was worth it.
JH: They all got quite a bit of love, but the Warrior probably had the furthest to go in where it was, and where it ended up. For me, that one stood out the most.
As a followup, it seems melee got a lot more love than casters in this round. Are there plans to do a caster spell effect revamp in the future?
JH: Absolutely! We felt like doing it in stages would make the most sense. Melee needed it probably the most, so wanted to start there, see how the reception was, but we do have plans to get to casters next.
Where there any classes or specs that it was a challenge to come up with the Artifact Lore for? For example, a class that seemed light on the lore currently – like Warriors.
LB: Couple things – in some cases, we had the Artifact idea, and it didn’t match what we had in the gameplay. Early on, when we were trying to figure out what an Artifact should mean in Legion, we were thinking, "well, this is the 3rd time that the Legion has struck Azeroth, how did we beat them before? What we need are weapons that were used before in War of the Ancients, wielded by great heroes, to kill demons." One weapon that came up was Eaglespear, but Hunters don’t use spears, what do we do?
So we put that wepaon on the shelf for a bit, and then separately, we started to chase class fantasy, to make that class true to what that fantasy should be. We revamped Survival Hunters to be melee, and then we had this great artifact ready to set up there. That’s an example of one, that while not difficult, didn’t match at the time but later on we made it work.
Another similar one was, we couldn’t quite give Death Knights Frostmourne. That was blown up into 1 million pieces, never seen again. It was a really really interesting solution in terms of fulfilling the fantasy of being a mini-Lich King and following the footsteps of Arthas, but it was a bit of a challenge. For a while, we were thinking of other solutions, but it didn’t pass muster.
Demon Hunters – what do you hope people learn about Demon Hunters and take away from the starting experience? Also, Monks when they came out were a new class and they’re a bit under-represented now, how do you ensure a healthy number of players pick up and main Demon Hunters?
LB: What I think players should take away from the kit of the class, and their world outlook, is they fight fire with fire by any means necessary. Taking players from here, where they saw Demon Hunters like Illidan and the Illidari as bad guys, to here, where they see how they fit into the rest of the world: "We don’t care if people spit on us, we don’t care if people call us bad guys, villains, traitors, whatever. We will do whatever it takes to beat the Legion." And later on you’ll figure out why they are so extreme, why they see no other choice. Storywise, that’s what we want people to take away, what it means to be a Demon Hunter.
Gameplay wise, what I really think people will take away is that it’s a fun visceral class to play, to move around, have mobility abilities, have a snappy set of combat abilities. The second layer is–similar to how Hearthstone is deceiving and it really takes a while to get good at it, it takes a long time to master it. Similarly, Demon Hunters feels deceptively simple because it’s intuitive and has fewer buttons, but once they see what really good Demon Hunter players start doing, there’s a lot of depth to that class.
The other thing to consider is that we’ll see lots of players playing multiple characters in Legion because there’s a lot of class-specific content.
JH: It’s very alt-friendly…just being able to go in and get an artifact for each of your alts, with a completely different questline. I have 6-7 alts, looking forward to it.
Few questions about pacing. Is the schedule for Legion on a MoP timeframe, or WoD, or something else? For new players (ie those that just started off, don’t know much about Legion), we saw some leveling hotfixes go out, are there some more changes on the way?
JH: We recognize that we could have done better in Warlords in providing content more frequently, or at least not have as long a gap without updates. We plan to address that for Legion. As to how that will be structured, it will depend on what we feel is the right content to roll out. We don’t want to put designers on some kind of schedule where it’s like "okay! every 3 months, let’s give them something." Instead, we want to look at each thing, contemplate it, and decide on the best timing for it.
The nice thing is that they put in a lot of nice systems for replayability, for continued play after 110. It’s not a treadmill of "ok, you’re going to go right into raids." You can do world quests, get significant gear via Mythic Dungeons/Challenge Modes, we have a lot of options once you hit 110.
Just going back to the leveling question for the new aka movie players – are there any big leveling changes on the way to make the experience more engaging?
JH: We have made some changes to make the leveling not quite-so-aggressive as it has bene in the past. It’s always difficult as we develop new systems to resist the temptation to change everything, spend all of our time there. We rolled out scaling zones for Broken Isles, and that allows me and say a 102 to play with you, a 108. We have a great experience, the world scales to us, I’m not underpowered, you’re not overpowered, and we need to evaluate how that works and consider it for the rest of the world. Obviously we won’t put that out immediately since we want to see it in a contained world where we go from 100 to 110, and then iterate on that.
What are some of the lessons learned from WoD going into Legion? Also some thoughts on the new rewards structure because there’s so much new item variation and RNG.
LB: One of the big lessons was that we didn’t do dungeons justice in Warlords. The dungeons were great, but they were obsolete quickly. We all wanted to keep playing them but we had no reason to. In Legion, we took a pass on the rewards structure to make sure that we didn’t just have Warforged, but things can upgrade quite aways into raiding tiers. Another lesson we took, is what you alluded to earlier with the schedule, is that any time our players feel the pain…we feel it too. The one saving grace is for us is that we’re automatically invited to the beta so we can play it, but we feel the pain in the live game. We definitely will address it with how the game is structured and how evergreen content is, and the rewards schedule for that.
In terms of itemization, we added other things. Not sure if it’s a "lesson" or not, but only looking at ilvls wasn’t interesting enough as progression, so we added legendaries with interesting effects. You’ll be able to pair legendaries up with other legendaries or specific relics that augment powers. We like that gameplay from Diablo, that idea that something exciting could drop and change the way I play.
What is your favorite legendary?
LB: I’m not sure of the final name, but it was essentially a cheat death. I die a lot, so I like that one!
Interview Highlights with James Waugh
We also had a bit of an impromptu interview with James Waugh, the Director of Story and Creative Development at Blizzard. Here are the highlights from our notes:
- The Creative Department was incredibly hands-on in developing the movie script, every edit, providing notes. They were very concerned about translating the unique aesthetic of the game world correctly into a live action space.
- The decision was made early on that the film would have a separate timeline from the game events. The Creative Department, while rereading The Last Guardian, realized that so much of the fiction was set up around combat scenarios in an RTS. The decision was made to keep the spirit of these events, but retell the events in an emotional way to make the movie stronger.
- World of Warcraft Chronicle ties together a lot of the lore, including Artifact Weapons. This required a lot of meetings with Chris Metzen, the lore team, Alex Afrasiabi, Dave Kosak, the game team, etc.
- The Creative Department is involved in creating class fantasy, but it’s usually Alex Afrasiabi driving it. The Creative Department did help develop the fiction around a lot of the artifacts since Chronicle was being developed around the same time as Legion.
- While the movie is on a different timeline, it did influence some character development in game. It’s cool to have players recognize a character in game, like many Warlords characters, that they’ve seen in the movie. However, scheduling changes both on Blizzard’s end and the movie’s end lessened the impact of this a bit.
Interviews are being released throughout the day and we hope our summaries encourage you to check out each video and article! Let us know in the comments if there’s an interview we have skipped and we’ll add it.
Watch this interview with Tom Chilton & Chris Robinson for answers to questions that include things such as:
- How long will it take to complete an artifact weapon with all traits.
- How will they keep artifacts interesting once they have been completed.
- Time frame for releasing raid tiers.
- Why the change to make it so talents can only be changed via an item or rested area.
And much much more! More information at WoWChakra and Vanion.
Watch FinalBossTV’s & Slootbag’s interview with Watcher (Ion Hazzikostas) & J. Allen Brack for answers to questions such as:
- Spec/Class balancing along with Artifact balancing.
- Keeping raids relevant longer in terms of player power gained from gear.
- Professions giving player power and perks in terms of raiding.
Some great info and questions were asked, listen for the answers!
FinalBossTV also did one more interview with James Waugh who is part of Story & Development had questions asked that involved:
- Which lore story will players be most surprised in, in Legion?
- You experience so much story while leveling, will you experience the same at max level?
- Will there be new major lore characters, once yet to be introduced, in Legion?
Learn more by listening to the answers!
Supatease got to talk about some PvP related questions in an Interview with Cory Stockton and Julian Morris:
- Do you think the new spell effects will harm PvP battles and make it confusing?
- Do you think names like Sludgebelcher which was originally a Hearthstone card, now a talent, will we see more of this joining of names across all games?
- Do you believe we will see better pacing in PvP?
Listen to the whole interview for some awesome PvP related questions!
Toweliee also interviewed Tom Chilton & Chris Robinson on questions involving Raid Tiers, Dungeons, etc. Watch to hear him go over the interview and offer his after interview insights to questions such as:
- Time frame for Raids that are casual raider vs top tier raider longevity.
- Will there be more dungeons released later in patches other than the ones we start with at the beginning of the expansion?
- There are small attunements for Court of Stars and The Arcway dungeons that feel good, can we see more of these mini attunements?
Watch Toweliee’s video for the interview questions/answers/and his commentary afterwards.
The "Pally Bro’s" also did a review of Legion summit, featuring Toweliee, Spartysmallwood, and Slootbag. They discuss the questions they asked in their interviews as well as commentary on their thoughts, praise and concerns. Watch this video to hear these raiders perspectives on various topics, or read the transcript on Icy Veins.
Many websites also had their chance to interview and ask some questions their readers were dying to hear more info about. Here are a few:
Blizzard Watch discussed new instancing technology to prevent overcrowding, and some regrets in Warlords of Draenor like lore that had to be rushed. Check out their full interview summary here
Blizzheart asked a few questions in terms of gold and gold cap, features such as Timewalking, World Quests, Extended draw distance. Check out their full interview summary here
Kotaku discussed a few things on Nostalrius, and the idea of legacy servers, how Expansions are designed, and how content patches are rolled out. Check out their full interview here
MMOGames discussed many questions involving Demon hunters, cosmetics, new features and gameplay mechanics. Check out their full interview here
PCGamesn asked various questions including where they take things that work in other games such as Diablo and make it work in World of Warcraft. Check out that interview here
MMOChampion discussed cosmetic class accessories, artifact weapons, professions, and social features. Chekc out their full interview here.
JudgeHype has an interview in French, as well as pictures of the summit.
Darrie from Method Gaming got a few quotes from various devs and compiled them!
New telemetry tracking in real time for high volume zones,
automatically will generate new instances of the DH starting zone for
example when character volume increases. Learned a lot in the past
from day 1 starting zone issues like blood elf, death knight, monk,
John Hight, Production Director
A MOBA-style battleground is something that we talk about
several times a year at least, it’s something we want to do, but we’re
handicapped by the learning curve players that aren’t familiar with
all aspects of MOBA gaming like lanes, turrets, for example. More
people have played MOBA since HOTS launch, but we still aren’t
comfortable having so many aspects to a BG when generally we try to
keep the goals simple & focused in all BGs we’ve designed since AV.
Cory Stockton, Lead Game Designer
Our goal/we fully expect, no more log-in queues even for the highest
Marcus Maczynski, Production Team
Scaling zones: we want to see how they play out for this expansion
before we consider scaling zones from previous expansions. Lets look
and see where it applies positively before taking any further steps.
Luis Barriga, Senior Game Designer
"Despite the pre-launch event being designed for max level characters,
all of Azeroth will be able to participate – even lower level
characters by grouping with max level or going to major cities."
Luis Barriga, Senior Game Designer
There will not be a new world PVP zone for Legion and no plans to
scale Wintergrasp/Tol Barad/etc for max level. This has it’s own set
of problems, we talked about the lessons we learned from instanced
World PVP and want to try something new instead of going back to the
Cory Stockton, Lead Game Designer
"There aren’t any real changes to mythic raiding. Everything from the
boss fights to the enhanced artwork makes mythic raiding very special
and we’re happy with where it’s at now. We’ve very excited about
mythic dungeons and the challenges they will give to high end
progression raiders and casual raiders alike. The scaled difficulty
levels will provide legitimate challenges to even the highest caliber
mythic raid teams and force them to go back and focus on skill and
Ion Hazzikostas, Game Director