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BlizzCon 2011: World of Warcraft Dungeon and Raids Panel – Epic Raids

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This is a transcript of part two of the World of Warcraft Dungeon & Raids Panel led by WoW Lead Encounter Designer Scott Mercer.

Epic Raids

Scott Mercer: Three new amazing raids in Mists of Pandaria. We really liked how the Cataclysm raid dungeons were developed where you had two raids, and a third one with a couple end bosses. We got multiple end bosses out of that. We got multiple times during the week you’d get that really nice exhilarating feeling of yeah, I beat this entire raid.

Will go with that philosophy again. The raids are going to feature predominantly two of our new enemy races: The Mogu and the Mantid.

All of these raids are going to have the raid finder: normal and heroic difficulties. We’ll talk about it more in depth. The raid finder difficulty we’re adding with Dragon Soul in patch 4.3. It will be in every single raid of Mists of Pandaria as well.

Here we have one of the early looks at what the Mantid might look like.

There are going to be different types of Mantid. We talk about with wings, maybe much larger Mantids that would act as tanks.

Then we have a look at the Mogu. These really huge beefy guys, but also very mythical. They are a very magical race.

The first raid dungeon we’re going to look at here would be Mogu’shan Palace. It’s located on the top of Kun-Lai Summit which is the center of Pandaria and it is a six boss raid.

Inside that you go in and explore the hidden secrets of the ancient Mogu empire. It’s been locked away, most of it a secret. Even the Pandaren don’t go into this place. The Mogu empire was very ancient even before the Pandaren empire. It’s very ancient. Lots of old secrets.

You’ll go in there and discover all of them. Here we’ll show you a layout that we have already changed. We’re reiterating all the time.

This layout has five bosses. You’d start on the right and head over to the left of the map. We don’t have video to show because it’s still in production. We have awesome concepts to show off for you. One of the rooms you’ll go along there will probably be a boss in front of here.

It will have a boss in front of this right here.

This is this crazy library where these huge scrolls are on the wall. Ancient Mogu scripts. You can see over on the far bottom right corner see the scale of this place. This place is huge.

Another beautiful concept of this entry. This grand entrance into the temple, and it’s just gorgeous. We really looking forward to expanding and making creatures for this and really giving you guys a great experience in this raid.

Raid Finder

Cory Stockton: What is the Raid Finder?

We’ll talk a little about our Raid Finder for Patch 4.3, but we thought of giving you guys a little more details talking specifically on dungeons and raids.

Essentially the concept came up from what we did with the dungeon finder and being able to see how successful that’s been with getting a lot more players into the dungeon contents that we billed.

What we found with raids though is that we aren’t seeing as wide of an audience as we would like in our raid content.

We spend a lot of time on the raid content, and it’s just got some of our coolest fights, some of our best creatures, and really feel like everyone should have a chance to see that content.

It’s one of the main reasons we decided to get it in with patch 4.3 instead of waiting until Mists of Pandaria, because being able to fight Deathwing in the Dragon Soul raid, we just thought: “What better place to put it in so as many people could get a chance to experience that fight and be able to finally put down Deathwing for good”.

Now what we’re doing with it specifically is a lower difficulty level than normal difficulty, and that doesn’t mean we’re just going to go and tune the hit points down and damage down a little bit — 20% or 30%.

Instead, we’re going to go in, and look at the mechanics see how complicated they feel, talk about a group of 25 people that haven’t played together before. Be able to figure this out, and actually build something that works for them.

If we took the shortcut route about literally just changing numbers, that’s still not going to tune down the complexity of the fight.

Yes, it might make it easier, but you’re still then not going to know why you beat it. You’re not going to pick up on these mechanics.

So We’re actually going to go and make sure these fights feel right for this difficulty level.

Like I mentioned, this is going to be in patch 4.3 with Dragon Soul, but in Patch 5.0 (Mists of Pandaria), it’s going to be for every single dungeon on launch date.

So it’s going to be cool because starting out early on in the expansion, so many people are going to have more access to more content.

They’re not necessarily going to be done when you finish heroic dungeons, and challenge modes, and you feel like you’re ready, but you don’t necessarily have a group to raid with. Being able to use the Raid Finder is a way to get in quickly. Now, on the opposite side for Raid Finder we’ve made sure that the loot and the rewards you get from it feel appropriate to that level of player that’s doing it.

For instance, you’re not going to be able to get vanity items out of the normal raid finder — things like mounts that would drop off the final boss. We keep those in normal or heroic. Things like achievements for a specific bosses, are going to end up staying in the normal and heroic.

We’ll have an achievement that says you’ve done raid finder, but that would probably be it. And then all the rest of our achievements would end up staying in the normal and heroic modes. There’s a lot of people that play those modes and take a lot of pride in the fact that they can finish that content.

We think that’s awesome. We want that to still exist, but we want also to be able to open that content up to more people and that’s where the Raid Finder slots in.

So we got a couple of mockups of how this would look like.

We’ve been talking about how to get people more motivativated to do raids. So we thought, along with Valor Points, a side of fries would be sweet. So tasty. (note: joking about the icon beneath the Valor Points which looks like the McDonalds French Fries tagged as Side of Fries).

This would look very much like the dungeon finder we have now. You’d be able to open it up, pick your role, and queue up for it. And one really important point about the Raid Finder is that it works for 25-player Raids, not for 10-player.

We did that specifically because it’s going to be so much queue times we did only 25. We can fill it up with 17 DPS players and the 10-man would use a smaller number and the queue times would be bigger. 25-player raid finder would work much better than 10-player.

And now Scott Mercer is going to hit on some of the goals we have for the expansion as a whole.

Goals for Mists of Pandaria

Scott Mercer: One of the things we’re trying to do with Mists of Pandaria this time is keep the experiences short and focus.

I think a few of the dungeons in Cataclysm actually got away from us. Halls of Origination had seven bosses and that takes a while to get through.

Deadmines got six bosses. That took a long time to get through. We had to go back in and take some of the trash out to keep it a bit more focused, because — again — we want you to be able to not just like make it to where at the end — for a night — “Oh, I’ll make a dungeon”.

They should be short enough so you want to do a couple dungeons, or a dungeon plus some dailies, a dungeon plus some pet battles, a dungeon plus some battlegrounds.

Try to keep these short and focused, and give you more opportunity to do more things inside our game, and we think that’s very, very important.

Another one we talked about was to make dungeons more understandable, so we don’t setup groups to fail. We released Dungeon Journals, and one of the main reasons for that was tryng to make it so — you get into a group, you go alone, you get into a boss fight, all of a sudden you are all dead — and you’re like: “What just happened?”

And then the healer gets blamed. So you go to the Dungeon Journal and read to see what’s happening in there. The Dungeon Journal is great for that, but what we need to do as designers is to make sure visually that you understand what’s going on, that we telegraph these abilities so that you aren’t out of the blue hit by something really deadly.

It’s something we’re really going to try to focus on. Making all of the encounters super understandable, because — as I just mentioned — how bad it was if you don’t understand why you died or failed. It’s almost just as bad if you go into an encounter, everyone goes: “I got this!” Everyone fight, fight and fight, and suddenly everyone goes: “What just happened?” … “I don’t know, but we won.”

That’s pretty bad too. That means you didn’t actually understand what the game mechanics were. There wasn’t enough gameplay there. We put in abilities that if there’s damage spike to a tank, use your shield wall type ability. Things like that.

If you can ignore those kinds of things, and don’t understand them, that makes for not as much fun, and that’s what we’re trying to hit for is upping the fun quotient for the dungeons.

Another thing we like talking about is flexing our creative Kung-fu.

This expansion is awesome for us. We’ve been over the last few expansions had these really heavy dark themes when you think about it.

You’ve gone up to Northrend to stop the Scourge and the Lich King. The Cataclysm just happened, and now you’re killing Deathwing in patch 4.3.

Here in Mists of Pandaria – you saw the dungeons earlier, you’re trying to make sure the beer doesn’t stop. This is amazing. A little bit light-hearted, more friendly, and also, a lot of the — like all these culture and things, we are like super geeks, kung-fu movies, asian culture, anime. All these things that all of a sudden is like: “We can dragon-punch people in WoW? Awesome!”

You’ll get dragon-punched and all other kind of crazy moves, flying guillotines, all kind of new stuff.

It’s really exciting us as designers to work on this, and I think you’ll really see when you guys finally get your hands on this, all that layout, all that tender love and care.

And another like interesting thing, the three dungeons you’ve seen before, something that’s actually really cool about them that we’re doing is that they are actually in the world at a 1:1 scale.

A lot of our dungeons are actually just holes in the wall, and behind that wall like time and space sort of changes and if you like — if you actually walk the same distance inside the dungeon as outside you would go through a mountain or something.

These places are all in the world which opens up a ton of cool things. Our quest designers are super excited about being able to send you into these dungeons.

I can see here this is the Jade Temple. Again that’s actually in the world. It’s gorgeous. We’re giving you a chance to see it.

Like Cory was talking about the indoor / outdoor really feel amazing. Go into that more light-hearted feel if you can see the sun. That’s amazing.

And again, so many of our dungeons have been very dark, very heavy themes. So many of these, you know, just gorgeous.

Thanks for listening, we wouldn’t be here without all of you!

And now it’s time to listen to you guys. We’ll go to the Q&A.

Tomas Hernandez is owner of Blizzplanet.com since 2003 posting news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Next-Gen MMO, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film.

Blizzplanet is a leading fansite covering news about upcoming Blizzard Entertainment licensed products. I also post previews and reviews. I have interviewed book writers and Blizzard game developers.

I was previously an employee of the OGaming Network (2003), and IncGamers (2008-2010). I was a guest newsposter for GosuGamers (World of Warcraft) a few years ago and for Diablofans.com (formerly Diablo3.com)

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