Cataclysm has been explored to the very end, patch 4.3 is out – how is Azeroth going to evolve until Mists of Pandaria arrives? We sat down with the lead quest designer Dave Kosak and talked about Blizzard's future plans.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm - Cinematic Trailer75 weitere Videos

gamona: Let's talk about Patch 4.3 and at first we would like to ask you some things about the new Darkmoon Faire. It's a really great revamp of the Darkmoon Faire with all this funny minigames. But there are still some places that are under construction. Tents, which are closed for the visitors, etc. Can you tell us something about these places?

Dave Kosak: Yes, sure! We had many new ideas when we started to revamp the Darkmoon Faire and we explored most of them in the revamp. But we also wanted to make sure, that we didn't have to keep rebuilding the Darkmoon Faire when we have new ideas so we left some spaces intentionally blank. There are some empty tents there for the future but we have not anything planned right now, but there is some stuff that might happen there in the future.

gamona: Some of our users complain about the prices at the Darkmoon Faire, especially for the heirlooms and the Replica stuff. With an eye on how many tickets you can earn in one Darkmoon Faire Period, they seem to be very expensive. Is there a chance to see some lower prices in the near future? And will there be Tier 3 Set-Replicas at the Faire?

Dave Kosak: So, about the ticket prices: we haven't really talked about tweeking them yet, but we think, the Darkmoon Faire is a long-term content, so you will be there for a long time. We will keep our eyes on the prices and the peoples’ reaction about it, but I'm ok if it takes a little time to get some of this Tier items from the Darkmoon Faire. About the Tier 3-Set: Now that we have Transmogrification, it is a very exciting time for us, going through all our previous art and looking what's really cool and brainstorming new way of getting it back into the game. And if you remember any Set from the past, chance is always there for getting it back into the game so that you can use it for transmogrification in the future.

gamona: Ok, let's talk about the Dragon Soul Raid. When we saw the cinematic after defeating Deathwing, we had an interesting question in mind: Was this ending in your mind, when you began working on Cataclysm or were there other ideas of how Deathwing could "leave" Azeroth?

Dave Kosak: When it comes to such big world events like this, it comes to working together with Chris Metzen and we have to look where we want the story to go. But I'm not certain when we had the idea of the aspects turning over the responsibility to the mortals but I think we always had the idea in mind, that the death of Deathwing will be a huge transition for Azeroth. As Alextrasza says in the ending scene, this is the age of mortals now, the aspects are no longer responsible for magic or time or all the other things. So, mortal organisations are taking this over and it's pretty exciting for the franchise.

gamona: Yes, that’s really exciting. At Blizzcon you gave us a sneak peek on the new setting in Mists of Pandaria, where the mortals and their war takes a bigger place in the story. But let's talk about the aspects again: Will they play a big role in MoP again or will their presence fade out with Cataclysm?

Dave Kosak: They will continue to be important, but they may not be the super central characters. In Cataclysm they really stood in the spotlight because one of their own is Deathwing and one of their own had gone bad. So they are very important for Cataclysm and they will still be around. For example Kalecgos, the blue aspect has been elected to the blue aspect before a week I think.

Obviously he is still a dragon and he is still a very powerful mage, even if he is not immortal anymore. And he will still play a role in the world and will advise the Kirin Tor, he is just no longer the aspect of magic. So all the characters are still important and their story will continue, even if they are not in the spotlight for the next expansion.

„Save the world, come back home, be a daddy“

gamona: And what about Aggra? When Alextrasza touches the belly of Aggra, who is obviously pregnant, is this a kind of godly blessing for the unborn child?

Dave Kosak: I think Alexstrasza is mortal at that time and I don't think that there is anything special by this touch. But Thrall will definitely be a daddy and that's the big thing. So, save the world, come back home, be a daddy.

gamona: And retire?

Dave Kosak: I don't think, that he ever has a chance to retire.

gamona: Ok. So, we think you did a great job with Patch 4.3. There is a huge amount of content with transmogrification, three new Instances, Darkmoon Faire and the Dragon Soul Raid.

Dave Kosak: Thanks! We hope you enjoy it!

gamona: We do, but many people in our community are afraid, that this won't last long enough until Mists of Pandaria or even until the MoP-Beta. How do you want to fill this long time?

Dave Kosak: We already said, that we want to accelerate our cycle of releasing new content and expansions. I can't give you a date when we will be shipping Mists of Pandaria, but I can tell you, that we are working hard to put it out sooner than later. So I can tell you if you were lucky enough to be at Blizzcon or at least watched the Blizzcon coverage: when we normally announced expansions, there were a few slides on a powerpoint presentation talking about, what we were going to do.

And this time, when we announced Mists of Pandaria, we had a whole starting zone, we had much models there, we had dungeons at the show, we are really better on our way. So, we are very good in time with our expansion. We have no release date yet and we will surely not ship it, before it's ready, but it's definitely one of our goals as team to bring out the content faster.

gamona: So we don't have to raid Dragon Soul for one year now, like we had to in ICC with Wrath of the Lich King?

Dave Kosak: That's the hope, but we cannot figure it out yet. With that said, it's a whole lot to do with this expansion. We know that with raidfinder it's very easy to get into the raid, but Deathwing is a very tough guy and guilds will have much to do to beat him in normal raids. And also the transmogrification adds some great content to the game and there is a good reason to go back to our older content and doing a kind of shopping for the perfect look of your character. So we think there is quite a bit to do.

gamona: One question about mounts in Cataclysm: We had no mount like the Traveler's Tundra Mammoth in WotLK so far and we are wondering if we will see such expansion-specific mounts again in the future?

Dave Kosak: Yeah, we like such special mounts to be special. So it was very cool and we like this special Northrend kind of mount that's so iconic to Northrend and so you should not be surprised to see something very epic in Mists of Pandaria.

„WoW is a worldwide phenomenon“

gamona: And what about such great server-wide events like the opening of Ahn'Qiraij, Sunwell or even the day, when Deathwing came. Will we see this in the future again?

Dave Kosak: Yes! We are definitively planning more of these world events. As you saw, with the introduction of cataclysm there was a global crisis, but the things like Ahn'Qiraji and Sunwell, well, they were great, but very few people could join them. Because they were server-wide, you had to be on the server at the right place at the right time to see some of the big moments.

One thing that we really liked in Cataclysm was in patch 4.2. We did the molten front daily questing and that was a very personal progression. You can see the whole story as you do the daily progression and you can follow over some weeks the buildup of the hub and we liked that very much. It turned out, that it's a lot of fun and the player reaction too. It was great, so you will see a lot more of that sort of individual progression.

gamona: Ok, let me ask you one more question: Many people are excited about the way, Bioware tells its story in SWTOR. And when we take a look at the Diablo 3 Beta, there is very much voice-acting for NPCs. What do you, as Lead Quest Designer, think about this kind of storytelling? Will we see this in WoW too?

Dave Kosak: I hope you understand, that I will not comment on other games. Blizzard is about gameplay first. So what we want to do is to surround the player with story while you are playing through the content. I think we did a pretty good job with Cataclysm and we have a lot of plans for the future with that kind while you immerse in the story. Like the opening of Vashj’ir or the Twighlight Highlands. If you start adding a lot of voice-acting to our game, that tights our hands a little bit so that we can't iterate the content as quick or as fast as we want.

And we iterate a lot, we are constantly playing through the quests and we are giving each other feedback and we tweak it again and the company as a whole has a so called “Striketeam”, which has lead designers from all of our games like Star Craft and Diablo. And they also play through our content and we get another round of feedback from that. So Blizzard is very iterative and when you do real voice, that kind of locks you in. We are trying to mix it up.

What we are doing with Cataclysm and in the future is, that we voiceover the key story moments which we want to make a big deal of. That's when you have the voice actors in these amazing, epic cinematic scenes. And otherwise we are trying to surround you with story and immerse you. Does that make sense?

gamona: Sure! And it also depends on the costs. You have to do a lot of voiceover in more languages, than any other game provides.

Dave Kosak: Yes, thats true. World of Warcraft is definitive a worldwide phenomenon. We just launched in Brazil and we are proud about that. And we are so excited that all those Portuguese people are coming into the game right now. That’s really cool.

gamona: Mister Kosak, thank you for this interview!