Blizzard Entertainment released the latest BlizzCast # 15 which is definitely among the most extensive ranging four interviews covering Cataclysm’s different departments: Lore & Content design, Music and Sound Design, Voice Acting Direction and Class Design.
This BlizzCast contains an interview by Zarhym with Lead World Designer Alex Afrasiabi and Lead Content Designer Cory Stockton on World of Warcraft: Cataclysm lore and content design.
The second part of the interview is led by Nethaera who interviews Composer and Director of Audio Russell Brower and Senior Composer of Music and Sound Derek Duke. They explain how they got inspired to give life to the different zones of the revamped Azeroth.
Lylirra interviewed Casting and Voice-over Director Andrea Toyias. He shares some anecdotes and touching moments lived throughout the recording of some voice actors. Lead Systems Designer Ghostcrawler (Greg Street) also talks extensively about class changes for Cataclysm.
Zarhym: The way content has been developed and presented to players has changed quite a bit over the years. New tools, new systems. How did you approach redesigning old zones in Azeroth to make them engaging for new and old players alike?
Cory Stockton: I think it’s kind of hard to explain what we did specifically because there were so many things we wanted to do to those zones, but I think first and foremost, we wanted to take the level of quality we had in Northrend from a questing perspective and apply that back to all zones, all the way back. I think what ended up happening is not only did we achieve that Northrend level, but I think we probably exceeded it in a lot of ways with things that players aren’t really expecting. I think the big thing to us is so many of those zones hold a nostalgic place for players because they spent so much time there. For us, it was important to go back and rework things so that they felt better from a quest perspective, from spawning, storylines, pretty much everything, but in the same vein, being able to keep a lot of that original hit of why people liked the zone. When we went back and redid Silverpine, of course it’s got new Forsaken buildings and it looks different, but it’s got that same vibe. When you go there it’s not going to feel completely different and we definitely did that kind of stuff on purpose. We go around saying it’s completely new, everything is going to feel different, and it will from a gameplay perspective it will feel much better, but I think the nostalgia of World of Warcraft and its original zones are still going to be there.
Alex Afrasiabi: Yeah, totally, and something else that we’ve, I think, commented on dozens of times in interviews which is we’ve learned a lot. The quest team is a team, right now, full of veteran designers. These guys have been designing for World of Warcraft for some near 7 years at this point. There have been so many lessons and mistakes that we’ve made in previous expansions that we’ve learned from and all of those were applied to Cataclysm questing, content design, zone design, and all that good stuff. From Cory’s illustrator maps of how we’re going to redo a zone to our designer flow charts, everything was so, so meticulously designed. What I think, at least, that we’ve brought back to the world was a sense of story and a sense of immersion that was absent that, in my opinion, doesn’t even exist in Northrend. Northrend, amazing as which it may be, I still think that our Cataclysm zones and revamp zones are way tighter.