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Blizzplanet Interview – World of Warcraft: War Crimes by Christie Golden

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Interviews, Interviews, World of Warcraft News, World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

Blizzplanet had the great opportunity to chat via Skype with both New York Times best selling authors, Christie Golden and Micky Neilson (Blizzard publishing lead) to discuss details of World of Warcraft: War Crimes. This interview might have a few spoilers. …read more

Blizzplanet Interview – Micky Neilson & Matt Burns Discuss Diablo III: Book of Tyrael

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzplanet Interviews, Diablo 3 News, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, Interviews

diablo-iii-book-of-tyrael-cover-full-sizeMontoya and I had a blast interviewing New York Times Best Selling author and Blizzard Lead Publishing Micky Neilson and Blizzard Associate Publishing Developer Matt Burns.

We asked a few questions about the Insight Editions’ Diablo III: Book of Tyrael which is currently available at a bookstore near you and online.

I recommend buying Diablo III: Book of Tyrael and reading my recent review which has a list of content.

I also recently posted photos of the booksigning of Diablo III: Book of Tyrael held at the 2013 New York Comic Con where I met Joseph Lacroix (DC Comics Diablo: Sword of Justice artist) and Doug Alexander (Senior Art Editor in Creative Development at Blizzard Entertainment).

Note: Added a transcript at the below the video embed. The interview lasted about 24 minutes. (Added Sub-titles to the video through YouTube CC/Closed Captions)

Transcript

This is Medievaldragon from Blizzplanet. We’re here to interview Micky Neilson and Matt Burns about Diablo III: Book of Tyrael. We also have Montoya from Blizzplanet.

Hi, everyone!

(Everyone says Hi)

Let’s start with the first question here.

MD: Blizzard Entertainment and Insight Editions published Diablo III: Book of Cain as a primer to Diablo III mythos. Where does Diablo III: Book of Tyrael fit in Blizzard’s grand design? What is the purpose?

Neilson: There was a lot of reasons for doing Book of Tyrael. Probably the main reason was — because we did Book of Cain and we came up with a ton of amazing content, and all kinds of great ideas and everything else, and backstory and characters and all this juicy stuff, and then we figured — you know, ok — we’ve a certain number of pages to be able to tell up this ending and we just didn’t have enough room for everything.

So the biggest thing for Book of Tyrael was — Ok, we’ve got all this amazing information that we want to share with people. Let’s do it in a follow up book and let’s see what other opportunities we have to convey this information. So that was one of the big ones; and then of course, tying into upcoming game content and having something that’s going to serve us to bridge to the next expansion — you know — that was also a big consideration. Matt do you want to add to that? (More after the break)

New York Comic Con 2013 Coverage – Book Signing Videos and Photos

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzplanet Interviews, Diablo 3 News, Interviews, New York Comic Con 2013, World of Warcraft News

I arrived to the New York Comic Con in Manhattan about 10:45am before the scheduled book signing at the Insight Editions booth (#1564). The place was packed with thousands of fans and I wasn’t even inside the Javits Center yet. I bypassed most of the horde of people outside the building by walking along the street to the farthest entry point (which is closer to the Exhibition Hall). Still took me about 15 minutes to get inside just to enter into yet another traffic jam of people walking the aisles. Not so easy with a Rollator Walker.

Insight Editions Booth # 1564

I got to meet Joseph Lacroix (DC Comics Diablo: Sword of Justice artist) and Doug Alexander (Senior Art Editor in Creative Development at Blizzard Entertainment) at the Insight Editions booth and both signed my copy of Diablo III: Book of Tyrael. I was delighted. It was so cool when I wrote Blizzplanet.com on the book and showed it to Joseph. He went like: “Ohh! Blizzplanet!” He explained Doug about the fansite.

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I informed him that Arthur “Handclaw” Lorenz recently interviewed him at GamesCom 2013 on behalf of Blizzplanet, and he remembered him. It was awesome to meet these guys and handshake.

Insight Editions marketing director Mark Anderson and sales & marketing manager Chris Parnell will ship a few Blizzard licensed products to me in upcoming days to giveaway here at Blizzplanet. So keep an eye for these announcements on the front page and the Blizzplanet social networks. It might be a few Diablo III: Book of Tyrael and/or the World of Warcraft® Alliance Hardcover Ruled Journal and World of Warcraft Horde Journal.

Simon & Schuster, Inc. Booth # 1828

The Simon & Schuster booth had Blizzard lead publishing and New York Times best selling author Micky Neilson as a guest to sign books for Blizzard Entertainment fans. Simon & Schuster gave away 50 copies of World of Warcraft: Vol’jin: Shadows of the Horde and 50 copies of Diablo III: The Order for free to those who came to the book signing event.

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There was a long line of fans waiting to get their books signed. The line went all around the corner.

I talked briefly with Micky Neilson at the end of the book signing. I asked him whether someone would step forward to take the role of the avatar of Justice now that Tyrael answered the call of the Crystal Arch to take the mantle of Wisdom.

Whoa? Tyrael “answered the call”? Yea — read the Diablo III: Book of Tyrael. That wasn’t something specified in-game.

Whether someone would answer the call to fill the shoes of the avatar of Justice in the future or not is unknown. It is something that has been discussed internally, but they haven’t yet come to a decision. I argued there is still Justice to be met with Adria betraying Tyrael, Leah and all of mankind. Of course, what Malthael is orchestrating demands justice too.

On another note, there is a Diablo short story or novella in progress to be released somewhere around 2014. It is based on a character mentioned in the “Figures of Interest” section of Diablo III: Book of Tyrael.

The character is named Morbed (a former thief) who roams the lands of Sanctuary helping adventurers. The description in the book is open to interpretation. Maybe players might find him in the Reaper of Souls expansion. Don’t take my word on that.

The video below shows the book signing by Micky Neilson — HD1080 available. Let the playlist run to load both videos. The sound is a bit chaotic. I cleaned a bit of it, but you can still hear it. There was a nearby booth with really amped-up music in the background on top of the thousands of people talking in the distance.

GamesCom 2013 – Joseph Lacroix interview – Diablo III: Book of Tyrael

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Interviews, Diablo 3 News, GamesCom 2013, Interviews

During his attendance to GamesCom 2013 representing Blizzplanet, Arthur Lorenz “Handclaw” interviewed french artist Joseph Lacroix to ask questions about the DC Comics Diablo: Sword of Justice and the upcoming Diablo III: Book of Tyrael.

Diablo: Sword of Justice is a story about Jacob of Staalbreak a child that became the avatar of Justice in Sanctuary when he donned Tyrael’s sword. At least three characters from this graphic novel are confirmed to reappear in the upcoming Diablo III: Storm of Light by Nate Kenyon.

Diablo III: Book of Tyrael is the sequel to Diablo III: Book of Cain. To learn more about Diablo III: Book of Tyrael watch our SDCC Blizzard Publishing Panel videos.

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Blizzplanet Interview: Cory Stockton Discusses Patch 5.4 Siege of Orgrimmar

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzplanet Interviews, Interviews, Patch 5.4 - Siege of Orgrimmar, World of Warcraft News

Blizzplanet and several fansites had the opportunity to interview the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria developers. In our case, I interviewed lead content designer Cory Stockton to talk about the Siege of Orgrimmar, and the Timeless Isle.

Some of the questions came from members of the Scrolls of Lore forums, including The RedShirtGuy (known as Insane Guy of Doom).

Note: Uploading video # 1 of 2 in about an hour from now.

Interview – Part 1

I added subtitle captions directly into the YouTube video. Click the (cc) icon in the embeded video to enable it. Transcript can be found below after the video. There are potential spoilers in the video (gameplay and a couple quests in the Timeless Isle), thus watch at your own discretion. Otherwise, the transcript is available.

Hi everyone! I am Tomas Hernandez also known as Medievaldragon from Blizzplanet.com

Today I have the honor to interview Cory Stockton, the lead content designer for World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

Hi Cory, welcome to Blizzplanet!

Cory: Hi, How are you doing?

 

Fine. My first question will likely make you sweat a little bit.

I’m beginning with two questions submited by the Red Shirt Guy. Uh-oh! (laughs)

Cory: Great!

 

So here we go. In Patch 5.2 there was a ton of build up for the Throne of Thunder outside the raid dungeon itself. There was a server effort going from Stage 1 to Stage 5. What was the reason behind this direction of not building up toward the Siege of Orgrimmar in Patch 5.4?

Cory: We’ve been planning Throne of Thunder and Lie Shen and that concept for a long time and we really felt like there was a ton of value in explaining the background story behind the mogu.

The mogu were one of the key enemies that we’ve created for Pandaria. We just felt like there is a ton to exploit there a lot of great opportunity to do unique boss fights that really fit with the kit that we were shooting for.

And I think in general it all played in to the concept that of what Garrosh was trying to do with the Horde, with him trying to gain control — essentially he was trying to gain control of the mogu as well, to use them. He didn’t succeed, obviously, but I think — be able to explain these concepts behind that was all valuable stuff to us. We really feel like it was one of the greatest raids that we’ve made along with — you know — the island and everything that went along with it.

We learned a ton … from the questing and the style of stuff that we did there — but we really felt like that was, at that time, that was the direction we really thought like that was the right way to go.

I don’t think we have any regrets about choosing to focus on the Thunder King.

 

Why aren’t the worgen nor the draenei involved in the Siege of Orgrimmar? Both have involved in the Siege of Orgrimmar? Both have their own reasons to drop the hammer on Garrosh.

Cory: I mean, in theory, everyone have their own reasons why they want to take out Garrosh. If he’s able to complete the plans that he is, as you has seen, what he is building up to do … Basically, Garrosh could destroy all of Azeroth if he’s got the power that he’s trying to get.

So I think that’s generally what we’re trying to get across. Obviously, some people have more personal vendettas against him (what he is doing), but in general all the races of Azeroth really should feel like he’s a giant threat that they need to take him out.

And, hopefully, we made that clear through the patch cycle leading up to this.

 

Is the Mogu Rune of Fate going to work on Siege of Orgrimmar, or will players use a new type of token for free loot roll? Actually, I found Mogu Runes of Fate in the Timeless Isle in the PTR.

Cory: I believe the current plan is to keep Mogu Runes of Fate. I don’t think that’s changing. We can confirm that, but I’m pretty sure that’s not changing them that’s why you are seeing them drop on the Timeless Isle.

Last minute changes: Mogu Runes of Fate can be found on the Timeless Isle, but Warforged Seals will be the new currency for bonus rolls in Siege of Orgrimmar. As with previous tiers, Lesser Charms of Good Fortune will be used to obtain Warforged Seals from the weekly quest NPC. For players still running Throne of Thunder for loot in patch 5.4, we’ve added several new ways to obtain Mogu Runes of Fate for bonus rolls, including throughout the Timeless Isle.

 

Are we going to see new recipe loot for professions in Siege of Orgrimmar? Like a new shield from Blacksmiths, new inscriptions — or something like that?

Cory: Yea, there is new recipes all across the patch and lots of different areas. There are stuff that drops from the raid.

There’s stuff that you can find as outdoor world drops. There’s things that you can buy. There’s a pretty massive selection of new stuff that is coming in 5.4; and spread across a lot of places, but yea, you’ll definitely get some out of the raid.

 

Currently in the PTR, Vereesa and Aethas Sunreaver seem to have placeholder armor. Are they getting a new model or new armor for the Siege of Orgrimmar?

Cory: At this point, I do not think, most of the art that is in for patch 5.4 is in at this point. I don’t think we’ll be seeing any — there might be some late updates that are coming but mostly what you see now should be what the final art is going to be.

 

What’s the reasoning for the developers to go with Gamon as part of Siege of Orgrimmar, and not have Alliance NPCs for Alliance players, specificly like Admiral Taylor vs Nazgrim, or Varian and players versus Garrosh.

Cory: I mean, I don’t think we’ve a specific reason necessarily other than the fact that we thought that character really fit as far as like what we were trying to get across for players for what they are doing.

I don’t think we have any sort of agenda that we’re trying to say, we are trying to say, you know, we’re building something specificly for Horde, or specificly for Alliance. We try to make sure that our content is appealing
to both factions.

Obviously, we’re raiding Orgrimmar here so there’s going to be some stuff that’s more unique to that, but in general — you know — we try to take these things into account to make sure that we’ve things that players from both factions can enjoy and feel that they fit into the game for them.

 

Each raid usually has a brand-new boss mechanics. Something new that you consider exciting in this patch?

Cory: There’s way too many brand-new raid mechanics to even pick. One unique fight – I mean there are a massive amount of bosses in this raid and a ton of new artwork.

Gameplay-wise, we are doing a lot of new stuff here but that’s going to be for players to figure out when they get in there and actually fight the fights.

 

Are there any drastic permanent changes to happen to Orgrimmar after the Siege — considering Theramore is a crater? Or even a new Horde capital to replace Orgrimmar?

Cory: You are not going to see anything dramaticly right away. We might end up doing some changes to Orgrimmar over time.

As things move forward and the story develops. There’s still a lot of things to be figured out when 5.4 comes out, and the story plays out for players.

I think then we’ll have a better sense of what we want to do; but there isn’t going to be any dramatic changes to Orgrimmar right away.

 

There is no particular daily quest hubs in the Timeless Isle. Some are found through exploration. What purpose the development team has for the Timeless Isle from its early concept to its current state?

Cory: The reason why you’re seeing that is because our big concept there is “discovery.” And allowing players to discover and find things on their own on the Timeless Isle that’s why there’s so many rares, there’s unique treasure chests, there’s tons of stuff all over the island for players to find and we very intentionally did not direct players to these things by daily quests and stuff like that, because we wanted to really explore the option of doing things that are much more exploration for the players.

It feels like a sense of discovery we do have a few simple quests there to kinda introduce people to the island, and guide them around and encourage them to check out the new places. But those are just single one time quests. We don’t have a daily quest chain. That’s very much specificly on purpose to try this new kind of style out.

 

Should fans bother exploring under the water?

Cory: There is some stuff … I mean, the majority of the content is on the island proper, but there are definitely things to be found off the shore around the island.

 

I found some stuff underneath the water, near boats. So it was cool.

Cory: Yea, I know. There are definitely some stuff in the water; but we know that water doesn’t always provides the best gameplay experience for WoW.

But in some cases, we just love the fact that it changes the environment up a little bit, and it let us ### that we can’t do elsewhere like for example the sunken ships

 

Is the Timeless Isle content aimed as an intro to patch 5.5? Or even the next expansion?

Cory: No. I mean, the Timeless Isle is really its own unique piece of content. Obviously, we’re offering the raid for our raiding players while in the Timeless Isle is single-player all the way up to raid content.

There’s tons of things you can solo in the island; but there’s also things that require a group, that require all the way up to like huge world bosses that require tons and tons of people. So really that’s kind of like we see it as the plate of content. We’ve got stuff for our raiding more hardcore of players, and then we’ve got stuff for solo players as well.

 

I really like what I have seen so far. There’s an exciting, and random way to gear up alt level 90 characters in the Timeless Isle. What motivated you to include these gear in randomly spawned chests rather than using Justice Points or other currency?

Cory: I think it just goes on with our idea where we are trying to try new things on the island and really get a vibe for something that doesn’t feel so grindy, necessarily and can feel like — “oh man, I just found this, this is a super-exciting moment. I found a chest, I don’t know what’s in it. I’m going to open it. It could have something awesome.”

Versus the idea of kind of like looong … sloooww … slug — that you know will end, and it’s a great item for you to get, but the process of going to do that might not be as fun.

 

It was kinda fun, because I was killing some frogs; and suddenly, I saw this chest and I clicked it and “Wow! I have an account-bound gear to send to my alt.” I was like: “Oh, my gah!”

Cory: Yea. It’s a cool feeling. We want to make sure that people get a chance to find — I think WoW over the years has developed to place that is not as much of that sense of awesome discovery, and I know I keep repeating that, but It’s like we’ve lost some of that. There’s always something in the map that tells you where to go.

There’s always a quest that tells you what to do.

It’s not really a cave anymore that you can go and actually think that you are gonna find something cool in there, that is hidden. And I think that’s really the key; and the point of the Timeless Isle is for people to get out there and just explore it. Find out what’s there.

Check it out, and you never know what you are going to find.

 

Interview – Part 2

The second part of the interview deals with Flexible Raid, Connected Realms, PvP and Pet Battles Tournament. Nice description of Pet Battles. Every week random rotation of bosses.

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Blizzplanet Interview with WoW Game Director Tom Chilton, Mists of Pandaria Patch 5.2

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzplanet Interviews, Interviews

It’s been nearly 6 months since Mists of Pandaria launched. How different are things now that people are playing?

I’d say that for the most part our values have stayed intact in terms of what we were trying to accomplish with Pandaria and what we ended up delivering in terms to how it feels and the breadth of content and all the stuff there is to do. That kind of thing. I think looking back and trying to evaluate it from a… if we can go back in time and do things differently there’s not really a huge list of things that we would probably do differently. The most notable would probably be a little bit… a slight change to how our reward structure in the end game worked as it relates to how mandatory daily quests felt.

 

One of the things you guys are really pushing with this expansion is getting content out quicker than you have in the past – how has your process internally changed in the last year or 2 for you guys to accomplish this? Is this pace something we can expect throughout this expansion and into the next expansion?

It’s certainly something we plan to keep doing. In fact we’re hoping that our capabilities continue to expand as this goes on. Hopefully this is the slowest you will ever see us in the future. So what we’ve done, part of it is structural, and part of it – well, I guess ultimately it is all structural. Essentially part of what we’ve done is separate part of the team into it’s own group that works on the odd numbered patches like the 5.1 and the 5.3. So there’s some team members dedicated to that content, 5.1, 5.3, possibly a 5.5. And then the rest of the team works on those big tiers, the 5.0, 5.2, 5.4, etc. So that’s part of what’s helped us achieve that. Also just staffing up a little bit more, we’ve continued to grow the team over time. We’re at an all time high with as many people as we have on the team and we expect to continue to increase that as time goes on.

 

Warlocks now have a special quest with green fire – this kind of reminds me of those old quests in Vanilla for certain classes where you did something and were rewarded with something class specific (like the old Warlock and Paladin mounts) – will you be bringing in special quests for other classes like this? Or is this a one time shot?

Well, we certainly want to. We really like that kind of thing. It adds some cool distinctive flavor to each class and any classes we’ve been able to do it on. It’s hard for us to commit to when we might be able to do it for any given class because it’s based on kind of time availability, people availablity as far as designers able to make things happen. There’s definitely a cost also with anytime a designer is spending time creating a quest for one particular class specifically that’s 10 other classes that aren’t getting content from that person. Hopefully we can do more of this as our capacity goes up but it’s hard to predict. When it makes sense and when we have a cool idea it’s definitely something we would keep chasing.

 

What starts the Warlock chain on live? On the PTR it was a pretty common drop from infernals – what will we need to get the drop from on live?

The way we have it set up for the spawns on the Isle of Thunder to be able to drop it. It’s certainly a lottery type of thing at first or something you can potentially buy from someone else. Then as time goes on we will increase the availability.

 

Players can have a farm in patch 5.2. Any plans for player Housing?

It definitely brings us closer. Obviously player housing is still a big jump from that and one of the bigger challenges is figuring out what player housing means with what you get to do with it and what makes it cool and that kind of stuff. But the tech does move us closer to it. What we’ve always said in the past is it’s something we constantly talk about from expansion to expansion and it’s certainly something that we’ll talk about again.

 

Do you have any plans with the farm for the next expansion?

It’s a little early to say definitely, but most likely the current farm will be left behind for something new in the new expansion For any information on that you’ll have to wait and see.

 

How are work orders going to work in the farm?

That’s a good question and honestly probably better for one of our profession guys to talk about because I know they’ve been doing some late stages of iterating on it. I would say that some of the information I have on it might be a bit dated at this point. The general idea there is being able to do things with your farm to get the work orders and complete them for the NPCs and get rep out of it. The exact details though of how that works out I probably have some dated info.

 

Will the farm’s work orders be available to all factions daily?

I don’t think it’s going to be available for everything daily, I believe it’s going to be on some kind of rotation, but again, this is totally a subject I might have dated info on.

 

Are there any plans in patch 5.2 with the raid bonus roll loot system?

Definitely. We’re also looking to give you valor for that and also increasing the amount of gold, right? There’s some point in which the gold becomes interesting to at least more people, some people though may have so much gold it’s never interesting, but that along with valor I think has a lot of potential to make it feel better.

 

Which tiers will benefit from this bonus roll loot system?

All raid tiers. Particularly in 5.2 the adjustments to older stuff are going to be pretty modest at first, but the bonus roll system in general is something we want to make feel really cool and rewarding. So even if you get the booby prize that that still feels pretty cool. One of the things we’ve also talked about is the potential to get some of that old goody bag kind of stuff like those older mounts you used to be able to get by let’s say running Stratholme over and over again for the Baron’s mount, that kind of thing. Sort of a grab bag of stuff we’ve used from time to time in the dungeon finder to incentivize tanks and all that.

 

Will the Isle of Thunder be similar to the gates of AQ in terms of if a realm hasn’t unlocked it they will eventually get unlocked after a certain amount of time?

There will be a point in which it becomes very easy for it to unlock to where it’s almost inevitable for it to unlock but not literally on a pre-set time schedule. It will still take some player activity to be able to unlock it. Eventually it will get to the point there where that’s very trivial.

 

Now that the game has been out for 6 months, how have challenge modes been doing? Are they working the way you guys hoped they would? Are there any plans to do more with them?

I would definitely say they’re working the way we planned them to. I actually think they’re extremely cool content and I’ve had the opportunity to do them myself. I’m still working on getting all my golds but I’ve been able to do some of them and get some gold medals so far, some silvers, and all of that good stuff. We’re certainly confident that it’s fun content. We don’t really expect it’s something most players will do so we’re not expecting to see the huge volumes of players doing them just because of the tuning involved and how soft the rewards are in terms of the touchy feely stuff like neat looking armor, mount, title, that kind of thing. I’m really kind of happy with how that feature turned out and plan to keep doing that in the future or at least as it currently stands. No real significant changes in mind, not until a lot of players start feeling like “been there, done that” which I think will still be quite a while.

 

I was wondering if you could elaborate a bit on the fabled treasure vaults of the first emperor? Could you explain how that works for those who may not be familiar with it?

As players do their 5.2 island content they’re going to come across keys that will allow them into the treasure vault of the Mogu emperor. That’s a single player scenario that kicks off with you talking to the Pandaren. They get you into the actual vault and you have a timer and the entire scenario is designed as a puzzle where you will progress through the scenario, try to unlock chests, and grab as much gold as you possibly can. There are other goodies in there along with gold. You’ll be navigating your way through avoiding traps and avoiding as many monsters as you can in order to spend as much time as you can getting stuff. If you get all the way into the final room that’s where a lot of extra bonus goodies are that you can try to scoop up. It’s an interesting time challenge that players will have the opportunity to do every so often. We really expect that most players that participate in the island content will get to do them fairly regularly – meaning on a weekly sort of basis not every few minutes or something like that.

 

10 man raids seem to be the defacto raid groups now a days – with thunderforge weapons and making them drop more often you have given some incentives for people to do 25 man raids again, but it doesn’t seem like it’s enough. Are you planning on doing more in the future to try to entice players/guilds to do more 25 man raids over 10 mans?

I can’t say that we’re happy with where things are at yet because we haven’t been able to see the thunderforge stuff in action. So we’ll see how that shakes out first before we make decisions. The thunderforge items are less about  trying to get existing 10 man groups to switch over to being 25. It’s almost more about getting  the existing 25 man groups to feel better about the fact that they carry a higher organizational burden. We’re not interested in trying to shift the population from 10 to 25, it’s really more about making it feel like it’s satisfactory when you are a 25 person raider.

 

Ghostcrawler hinted at an unannounced feature in this expansion that is going to really change how WoW is going to be played, much like the LFR feature – can we get a hint on when we might see this feature and what it might pertain to?

We will probably see it in the 5.4 neighborhood if we are able to get it done in time. As far as hints a lot of players in the past have suggested that they be able to do older content so it’s probably something that goes along those lines.

 

Out of all the things being introduced in Patch 5.2 – what is your favorite thing being brought in and what are you most excited for players to experience in this patch?

That’s really tough. Because it’s really the whole package that I think makes it such and awesome patch. It’s a huge amount of content in all different kinds of areas in terms of there’s outdoor world content, there’s raid content, there are scenarios with solo like the treasure hunting. I would say in terms of what gets me the most excited as a cool new concept it would be the treasure room. I think that’s going to be a lot of fun for players. In terms of what will probably bring the players most overall satisfaction and value – if you’re a raiding player it will probably be the raid tier which is definitely a big awesome one. If you’re the type that really enjoys the story stuff then the 5.2 island is for you.

 

Very awesome. Thank you for coming here and talking to us again about this patch. I know a lot of people are really excited about it and so am I.

Right on. Very cool. Take care.

 

Here are other Patch 5.2 interviews from around the World of Warcraft Fansite Communities:

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Blizzplanet – The Art of Blizzard Entertainment – Nick Carpenter Interview

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Interviews, Diablo 3 News, Interviews, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

DJTyrant attended the Gallery Nucleus exhibition event featuring the Insight Editions Art of Blizzard Entertainment book launch. On behalf of Blizzplanet, DJTyrant interviewed Nick Carpenter (VP of Art and Cinematic Development) to discuss details of the development of this book from early concept stage to publishing.

Nick Carpenter also talks about the design of the Crown of Glory — given to employees who have reached their 20th anniversary working at Blizzard Entertainment

Order The Art of Blizzard Entertainment. (Select Super Saver Shipping at checkout)

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Blizzplanet Interview – World of Warcraft: Curse of the Worgen Trade Paperback

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Interviews, Interviews, World of Warcraft News

Blizzplanet interviews today both New York Times bestselling co-authors of World of Warcraft: Curse of the Worgen … Micky Neilson (Blizzard Publishing Lead) and James Waugh (Blizzard Senior Story Developer).

World of Warcraft: Curse of the Worgen has gone to printing again as a trade paperback to reach the hands of fans who enjoy the lore of Warcraft. I personally read the Comixology version of the original 5-part issues back on 2010-2011. Now that this story has been reprinted as a trade paperback, I wanted to reach both co-authors to give fans (who haven’t yet read this story) a better scope of what to find within the trade paperback, and why you shouldn’t miss reading it.

Curse of the Worgen captures some of the key moments that players experienced in the Cataclysm expansion’s Worgen starting location. How was the process of matching together your story in this comic book with the in-game quests — considering the expansion’s iteration process? — For example, The Jade Forest had a complete overhaul mid-beta. Things might change overnight.

James: The beauty of developing this sort of content with in-house writers (Micky and I) is that we can be agile and are closer to the source when those changes happen. For Curse of the Worgen, the World of Warcraft team was building out the Worgen starting zone while Micky and I were writing and developing the story. This synergy was invaluable to both parties. The team was building out the zones and creating much of Gilneas—remember, no zones were ever built, the history was limited to manuals and a few books and cameos from Greymane—so in many ways they were building Gilneas for the first time.

Writing a non-game story you end up asking very different questions in order to further develop it. The questions that would help Micky and I create Curse of the Worgen came to answers that ended up informing choices the design team made and vice versa, design decisions they’d make would lead to ideas we’d never think of normally. Funny enough, at the same time, I was writing the Genn Greymane short story for the Leaders of Azeroth fiction project we did. I was going to explore Genn’s history, which of course, as the leader of his people, was Gilneas’s history. This ended up being a perfect storm, as an idea would come into fruition in the short story, get approved by Metzen, and then inform the game, and comic series. It was a pretty unique holistic experience that I don’t think could have been done if the writers of the comic were not part of the team building the fiction for the IP and a building away from the design team.

Looking back a year later, given the iteration process you mention above, we really pulled off something unique, giving you three distinct chapters of Genn Greymane’s story that paint a larger portrait.

Micky: It was an amazing experience, and a great example of cross-media storytelling. When it works, it’s beautiful. There are so many things that can go wrong. Communication is paramount. You have to be talking to the right people on the game side, and the game devs have to be willing to work with the authors and take the time to read and provide feedback. It’s a relationship. Without that close collaboration, the reader can tell, even if they’re not lore experts, that something is wrong. There will be inconsistencies and people will respond to that, and readers will lose trust in the product.

We strive to ensure that the experience of reading the comics, books, short stories, etc. is congruent with the story, tone, and environment of the game. As James mentions, the dev team was great to work with—very motivated, and dedicated to making it all sync up.

 

Who is Halford Ramsey?

James: Halford is really the creation of the one and only Micky “Superfly” Neilson. We talked about a way into this story at length. We knew we wanted to convey all the lore about the creation of the worgen and we knew we wanted to tell a story about the events of Gilneas, but we really needed a way to tether these ideas together. The Gilnean aesthetic theme is very Victorian England; and as a kid I watched a lot of Sherlock Holmes (the Jeremy Brett version)—great stuff if you haven’t seen it. I don’t know if it was Micky or I who first suggested the idea of a detective, but because of my Holmesian affinity and the tone of the Gilnean civilization, it became the key to figuring this story out. We decided that we’d move forward with a Holmes-like character; a logician. What was important to me, as to any writer crafting a linear story about a character, was figuring out what his character arc would be and letting that dictate his story. We both thought it had something to do with his rigid, analytical nature needing to change. Micky seemed to have an instinct on this and went off and wrote up a document about Halford, creating his sister, and what cut him off emotionally.

I don’t think we had the whole picture of what we created until it came together in the outline, but if the worgen experience was about finding balance, a man stuck in logic that needs to connect with his human/animal side ended up really resonating with the night elf story, the game, and the larger themes we were chasing with the worgen. But, the name, the details of the character backstory, that’s all Micky’s.

Micky: Halford was a lot of fun to write. I wanted him to be a bit of an anti-hero that would grow on people. He’s candid, he’s condescending, he’s unapproachable in many ways, especially emotionally, but he’s also a deductive genius and the further you dig into his character the more you understand where he’s coming from.

The journey of Halford finding the humanity in not only himself but in others as well was one that felt compelling to James and I, and we believed that if we could make that emotional connection with the character, readers would connect with him as well. Sherlock Holmes was certainly a big influence. I would love to explore Halford’s character more in the future.

Oh, and a fun bit of trivia: his first name is taken from the last name of the lead singer of Judas Priest, Rob Halford.

 

What will fans learn in this comic book about the Scythe of Elune?

James: Very important things! You must read it. I can’t tell you. Maybe Micky will. Maybe not. But things so important you must pick this book up! Do it. Do it NOW! It’ll change your life. . . . Or tell you the history of the scythe, one or the other.

Micky: The Scythe of Elune was one of those in-game items that was just begging for more background. The origins of the scythe are fully explored in Curse of the Worgen. Interestingly, we were also developing the story for the Alliance graphic novel World of Warcraft: Dark Riders at the same time. Dark Riders has been in development for a while; the colors are looking absolutely amazing and it’s going to be one fantastic book. For anyone who’s interested in the scythe, Curse of the Worgen is a great place to start.

 

How was the coordination between the two of you to write this story? Did you have to split topics and ideas, and mesh them together?

James: We did several meetings with Chris Metzen and Alex Afrasiabi to talk about the origin of the worgen. Alex was using a link to druidism as the root cause and had a ton built out game-wise. We liked the idea that maybe worgen were a corrupted version of a banned form. Malfurion had years as a druid to experiment that we hadn’t touched on fictionally, who knows what he tried during them? There may be a duck-billed playtypus form you just haven’t seen yet because it was banned. I digress.

After that, Micky and I did a lot of talking. There may have been beers involved. There may have not been. I don’t remember, so probably the former. We began to really talk about the themes we were seeing in our new lore and in the game and the story went from there. Halford appeared somehow. We did an outline, iterated with the dev team, and then came the task of writing. We decided we’d split up the timelines on our first pass and trade to the other person to rewrite their scenes. So, I’d write my timeline’s scenes, send to Micky, Micky would do the same. I’d edit him, he’d edit me. We’d put it together and do a pass in tandem. Then we’d send to Chris Metzen and get his notes and revise from there. It worked out pretty well. Though I believe there was an issue where this process led to us needing an extra page and for the life of us we couldn’t trim the story down to get it – we were already trying to be as economical as possible with dense material. Wildstorm was kind enough to give us an extra page for the book. Thanks DC! Won’t happen again.

Micky: James has a great story sense and he shares my philosophy regarding the importance of characters. We found a rhythm early on. Once we had the concepts nailed down, the writing process went pretty smoothly. The biggest decision we had to make at the outline stage was where to end the story. The Gilneas events in the game proceed beyond what we explored in the book.

Ultimately, we looked at the themes and the character arcs, as well as the amount of ‘page space’ we had to tell the story, and felt that we could still tell a complete story even if we ended it a little early. At the point where Genn, Halford, and the others are preparing to storm back into Gilneas, the main character arcs had reached their conclusions and the overall themes had been greatly explored. With the outline figured out, the rest fell into place. James had a clear idea of what the back story with Arvell, Belysra, and Ralaar would be and I had a direction for the Starlight Slasher storyline and Halford’s character, so splitting up the A and B storylines worked really well. And yes, alcohol consumption was part of the process!

 

What were your goals with “Curse of the Worgen”?

James: To try to get a taste of Micky Neilson’s New York Times Bestselling thunder! Actually, my goal with any story is to make you feel something. For linear narrative, I want a character change due to story circumstances beyond what they think they can handle –ultimately become better people (or worgen) from the experience of overcoming. I think we’re all trying to do that in the real world day in and day out and fiction allows us to see that it’s possible and inspires us to try harder. Sure that sounds a bit lofty; this is a comic book with purple, long eared people, after all, but it’s the only reason to tell a story in traditional mediums like this when we already have a game.

We wanted to do what the game couldn’t, and that’s really dig out character. As for the transmedia goals: We wanted to tell the origin of the Worgen, we wanted to set up franchise characters like Genn, and we wanted to tell the story of the Scythe of Elune. All of that stuff really fleshes out the world and is entertaining content. But I’m hoping that it’s accessible and lingers because of the heart.

Micky: As James mentions above, character and theme are always the top goals of our fiction. Beyond that, we really had an opportunity to explore the origins of the worgen and the Scythe of Elune at a level of detail that wouldn’t be possible in the game. There were also many unanswered questions relating to Gilneas. It was this incredible new territory—“new” simply because it had been walled off for so long. It was undiscovered country, and for a writer that’s like catnip.

On top of all that, James and I had been wanting to work on a project together, so with all those factors aligned we were in a great position to accomplish several goals with the project.

 

There seems to be a recurring complaint among readers of Curse of the Worgen who wish this cleared out. There is a conflicting name between the comic book and the in-game NPC: Belrysa Starsong and Belysra Starsong? Are both the same persona, or was this a typo? Any chance the NPC name could be corrected by the developers?

Micky: That was an error that I am happy to say will be fixed. They are indeed the same person.

 

Are there any plans for Halford Ramsey in future stories: novels, comic book sequels, online novella, or in-game?

James: I’m looking at you, quest designers! I think we’d all love to see Halford Ramsey quests. As for other content, none at the moment, though he’s a character I’m sure Micky and I would love to go back to one day. Maybe we’ll do a detective series with Halford Ramsey! . . . maybe not.

Micky: Halford’s a lot of fun. I think it’s really just a matter of finding the right story, the right fit. I have a few ideas of where Halford could go from here. With a detective character like that, there are almost limitless opportunities.

 

The Ashbringer hardcover and the Sunwell Trilogy hardcover had bonus material. In the case of the Sunwell Trilogy it retold the founding of Quel’Thalas with Dath’Remar Sunstrider. Is the Curse of the Worgen paperback including bonus material, too?

James: Not that I know of. We did a bonus/coda story for the hardcover that should help hardcore players understand quest lines relating to the Scythe.

Micky: The bonus material was the Velinde story in the back of the hardcover, which will be included in the softcover. It was a loose end that we were able to tie up, which was extremely gratifying!

 

Do you think the storyline carried over well into the game?

James: The dev team did a kick-ass job. Gilneas was a blast and I was really proud to see Belysra in game along with specific story points we talked out. Even cooler was seeing the moments in game that wrapped around the events in the comic. It seems to all fit together in a way that you really can only cross your fingers and hope for when you do this type of stuff.

Micky: The biggest benefit early in the process was really just answering the question of where the worgen came from. There were a lot of ideas, but the more we talked about it, the more the druid angle made sense. Then we were able to make connections to Goldrinn, who we had explored in the WoW monthly comic, as well as Malfurion and even the Emerald Dream. Where the worgen came from and how they came about were big questions that the designers needed to have answered so they could move forward, so the process of creating the comic certainly did inform the design of the game content. And yes, I believe it worked out really well!

 

Do you both have plans to publish more novels, and graphic novels in 2013? (Share titles or topics of upcoming untitled stories to keep an eye for)

Micky: Things to keep an eye out for: If you haven’t read World of Warcraft: Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War yet, check it out to get details regarding the fall of Theramore. Also, World of Warcraft: Pearl of Pandaria is out right now and provides backstory and cultural flavor for WoW’s newest playable race, the Pandaren. Also, you’ll soon be hearing more about an anthology of short stories which will include, for the first time ever, Blood of the Highborne (a story I wrote many moons ago detailing the origins of the Blood Knights). Beyond that, we’ll be making a few exciting announcements at a panel at this year’s New York Comic Con, so stay tuned!

 

Have you thought of the possibility of increasing the amount of stories published per year to expand the universes? Is this feasible?

James: We’ve really upped the ante over the last few years, putting out a lot of content. It’s something Blizzard does for our players and I think it makes our worlds and characters richer and gives people more to experience. I’m not as actively involved in the publishing development these days; I’m working on the games, but I think we’re doing a good amount. These things are not so easy to pull off as we really try to make sure everything fits and that takes a lot of coordination and time.

Micky: The main thing is maintaining quality. We put a lot of time and effort into each story, so there’s also the issue of bandwidth. The plan for 2013 is to focus on telling absolutely the best stories we can tell, and to continue expanding these worlds, within the games and beyond. That being said, we do have a lot of content that we’re working on, and it’s all exciting stuff. 2013 is going to be our best year yet!

 

Thanks Micky Neilson and James Waugh for discussing details of this story. Hope to read many more. Many thanks to Lyndsi for making this interview possible.

Fans can order the World of Warcraft: Curse of the Worgen (Trade Paperback). It’s already on sale and shipping.

World of Warcraft: Dark Riders — mentioned by Micky Neilson above is a DC Comics graphic novel (Hardcover) by writer Mike Costa and artist Neil Googe. Release date: April 23, 2013. Pre-order now.

Don’t forget to check out the Blizzard Publishing Panel held at the New York Comic Con. Blizzplanet was there and shares video of the panel where Micky Neilson, Dave Kosak and Michael Stackpole revealed the new novel product line up for 2013.

Artists and fans should check out the UDON panel video about the upcoming World of Warcraft Tribute Art Book.

Filmmakers/Machinima fans should learn more about Mega Bloks upcoming plans for an ongoing animated webisode and the contest here.

Thanks to Bluesnews and N4G.

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Best Buy – Developers Chat on Mists of Pandaria Transcript

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzplanet Interviews, Interviews, World of Warcraft News

Several Blizzard Entertainment developers and community managers answered questions to fans during the Best Buy developer chat held

Zarhym: Hello, all, and welcome to the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Developer Chat, presented by Best Buy! Blizzard community manager Crithto and I will be helping facilitate the discussion today and filter as many of your questions as possible for our developers to answer.

Crithto:: That’s right! Thank you, Zarhym, and welcome everyone. On the panel to answer your questions today we have World of Warcraft lead designers Greg Street, Cory Stockton, Dave Kosak, and Ion Hazzikostas. Questions are pouring in and our developers are preparing their initial responses, so let’s get started!

Is the second son of Deathwing going to be the Second Prince? The achievement two Princes says that Wrathion and another ‘Prince’ will settle something important, is that true?

DaveKosak:: “Two Princes” is a placeholder name that may or may not reflect the final achievements in later patches. Suffice it to say, Wrathion’s story will continue!

What was the idea with Monk healing? what mix of elements inspired it and defined it?

GregStreet:: Mostly we wanted it to feel different from existing healers, so there is an emphasis on a channeled spell as the main heal. We also wanted to emphasize movement and damage-dealing to heal, because those were core to the monk class.

Do you feel the way of nerfing Dragon Soul, by nerfing the bosses. Was more successful than the Icecrown Citadel version, by buffing the players health and damage?

IonHazzikostas: Yes, one of the awkward things about the Icecrown Citadel buff was that, over time, it caused players to feel weaker when they were doing anything other than raiding Icecrown. It also had some potentially distorting effects, benefiting some specs and roles more than others. Weakening the enemies instead, as we’ve done in Dragon Soul, is more in keeping with how we’ve traditionally handled our tuning adjustments, going all the way back to Vanilla raids.

Where is N’Zoth? He was mentioned at Blizzcon, then was talked about in Dragon Soul. What is going on with him?!

DaveKosak:: N’zoth is still lurking. The Titans couldn’t defeat it… maybe someday we’ll get our chance? Don’t expect to hear anything about him in Pandaria, though!

drwuky: Hello. If someone from a CRZ hits Level 90 as first player on my realm, will he get the Realm First! Level 90 achievement for my realm or for his realm?

IonHazzikostas: His realm

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parrjj01: It seems like PVP never gets much attention from the developers during these type of events. As a hardcore lover of PVP and the many people that are in my guild, we have really gotten frustrated, bored, etc with how PVP is handled. Will you guys ever be implanting anything like how LFR system works. Were there will be healers on each side, for a better chance of your team succeeding? I don’t know about anyone else but I really hate being on my side with 0 healers and the horde have 4 in E…

GregStreet:: Our BG queueing system was built a long time ago. Since that time we’ve engineered the much more powerful system that we use for Dungeon Finder and Raid Finder. We’d now like to reengineer that system to work for BG queues as well, which would give us the ability to better balance healers, item levels, and perhaps even pre-made vs. PUG. No promises, but it’s something we’re working on.

The Theramore event was a little… Underwhelming. Developers have previously stated they spent more time on the content in Pandaria than the Theramore event. Will we see more diversity and excitement in the scenarios in Pandaria?

DaveKosak:: There’s a LOT of diversity in the scenarios. For example. there’s a monkey pirate island where you’re running around fetching up brew and fighting randomized bosses, and other insanity. We really tried to experiment with some different mechanics, and we got bolder as development continued.

Gehn: Any chance we will ever see attunements or rep based dungeons again or is that strictly a in-the-past type thing?

IonHazzikostas: There’s something a bit like a traditional attunement in the 5.0 raids: Players must defeat Grand Empress Shek’zeer in the Heart of Fear raid before they may begin the Terrace of Endless Spring raid. It’s definitely something we’re open to exploring further in the future.

Hi. I’ve had a lot of concerns regarding hit / expertise with tanks. Currently in MoP it seems tanks would reforge most their defensive stats into hit / expertise. It’s extremely annoying design

GregStreet:: We felt like previously tanks could just ignore even hitting targets because threat was easy to maintain and survivability was based entirely around cooldowns. Now you’ll need to hit the target, but you’ll gain resources for doing so, so we hope the experience is more engaging to tanks. More *fighting* less standing there.

Will the ability to obtain legendary mats on LFR mode make it required for raiders, at least until they complete the quest?

IonHazzikostas: “Required” is one of those tricky words. We understand that for many players anything that gives even an incremental power gain is seen as mandatory. Progress on one portion of the early steps of the legendary questline may be made in LFR mode, so players who want to obtain their gem from Wrathion as quickly as possible will likely benefit from doing LFR alongside their Normal or Heroic raiding. LFR wings will unlock incrementally, after Normal mode, so when someone in a top progression guild is defeating up to 16 bosses when Heart of Fear and Terrace open, doing LFR will only add 6 to that total (from Mogu’shan Vaults LFR). While in the long run, we’d like to minimize players’ obligation to run LFR if they are part of progression raiding guilds, that’s challenging at the start of an expansion when everyone is using the same dungeon blues. We hope it’ll be different for future tiers. Finally, the true power of Wrathion’s gem lies in the combined effect of the weapon and the gem itself; an LFR player’s Sha-touched weapon will be significantly less powerful than a Heroic raider’s.

As the Cataclysm Expansion is now over. As a team what were your take aways both good and bad?

DaveKosak:: From a quest perspective, we thought that the storytelling in Cataclysm was very strong, but that the zones were very linear. For Pandaria, we wanted to swing the pendulum the other way and open up the game more, rewarding exploration. I think we found a much better balance. Kun-lai Summit, for example, is pretty open-ended, even though it’s got some great stories in there. That’s just one example – we’re always learning from expansions. The other big takeaway was that we wanted more things for players to do, depending on what sort of challenges they want. Challenge Modes, Pet battles, and the new Daily Quest structure all appeal to different people, hopefully with the goal of giving everyone more content no matter what your playstyle!

How much game time do you think will we get in exploration of the continent of pandaria?

CoryStockton:: We really packed in the content with Mists, that being said the amount of time it takes you is really going to depend on your playstyle. We have so many different things for players to do. Quests, reputations, dailies, scenarios, pet battles…. The idea is to let players make progress doing whatever kind of activity they like best.

Amd11394: Prior to patch 5.0.4, When we still had the cataclysm ‘revised’ talent trees, Elemental shamans gained an addition to one of their talents entailing that when flame shock was dispelled we gained a temporary buff entitled ‘Lave Flows’ This most recent patch, with the new Mists ‘revised’ Talent trees highlighted the removal of the cataclysm talent system, and with it went Lava Flows, what is your reasoning for removing this valuable ability?

IonHazzikostas: Defensive dispels are significantly more limited in 5.0 than they were previously. Passives like Lava Flows were designed as an answer to an environment in which defensive dispel magic was spammed constantly, and it was nearly impossible to get a buffed Lava Burst off against an attentive dispeller who could remove your Flame Shock while you were casting the spell. With an 8-second cooldown on dispels now, a healer who dispels a Flame Shock may find that they are unable to dispel the Fear or Polymorph that targets another teammate immediately thereafter. We’ll keep an eye on the evolving PvP metagame in light of the new dispel changes, and consider re-adding something like Lava Flows if it proves necessary.

drwuky: Will the storyline of the Sha continue with Patch 5.1 or later patches?

DaveKosak:: For the most part, the Sha issues will be tackled by players in 5.0. BUT… not everyone wants to let sleeping Sha lie. Someone might start stirring up trouble beginning with the patches…

samich: Can we expect mailboxes on the wandering isle on release? was the removal of the one that was there for quest testing purposes?

DaveKosak:: Pandaren Neutrality caused a lot of design issues we had to solve. Mail ended up being a headache. What was easiest — for us AND for our users — was to remove mail entirely until you choose a faction. That’s nice and clean and prevents a lot of issues people saw on the beta. So, no mailboxes on the Wandering Isle – sorry!

I know you guys recently changed the LFR loot (weapons) from the last boss in a LFR instance, are you guys going to do any other changes to LFR to make heroic raiders not feel as they have to raid 2 formats a week to be competitive?

IonHazzikostas: As I mentioned in reply to an earlier question, it’s a goal of ours but it’s a tough one to realize in a world where everyone is starting out in dungeon blues and looking to get their hands on any and all epics. It’s our expectation that by the time Heart of Fear and Terrace of Endless Spring LFR unlock, most heroic raiders will have replaced their dungeon gear and have less to gain from also running LFR mode. In future raid tiers, people who are already in Heroic gear from the prior raid zone should not find the next tier’s LFR gear to be an improvement over what they have.

Will there be an appearance of the Burning Legion in the end of MoP?

DaveKosak:: The threat of the Burning Legion is still out there, and it’s very much a threat to Azeroth. The mortal races are mostly focused on the current war, but not everyone has forgotten about what’s out there and the challenges to come… Wrathion, in particular, is already trying to look ahead.

Would say that the new challenge mode dungeon gold times are going to be the “Gladiator” equivalent of PVE?

IonHazzikostas: That would be our hope. Seeing someone sporting a set of challenge mode armor in town should be akin to seeing someone on a Gladiator mount — you know they did something extremely skillful to earn it, and it’s not the sort of reward you can outgear and obtain later on.

CoryStockton:: That’s probably a pretty close comparison. Beyond gold times we will have server and guild leaderboards too. That’s probably where the highest level of competition will be.

Christie Golden mentioned in an interview that she worked closely with the quest team when she wrote Tides of War to make sure everything was very close. However, there are some notable differences between the book and the scenario during the Alliance side of it. Did the storyline of the scenario change late into the book’s writing?

DaveKosak:: We worked hard to sync with Golden during development. The Alliance side of the scenario went through LOTS of iterations, including when it happened (before the attack? During the attack? After the attack?) Ultimately we went with the one that gave us the greatest gameplay. We want the events of the book and game to match as closely as possible, but we want the best book possible and the best game possible, so they won’t be word-for-word identical. This can create some fun arguments. “Well, according to this book…” “YEAH, but I WAS THERE, MAN!” We work hard to make sure the discrepancies are minor, but we definitely don’t struggle for perfection.

Will we ever see cross-server mail or non-boa cross faction mailing feasibly within the 5.0 content?–Gorebane of Eonar

CoryStockton:: It’s on our list and something we really want to do. It’s really just a matter of the engineering time it takes us to get it in.

im_a_rockstar: WoW has always been a mostly raid or die game. The changes in MoP to Justice Points, the item level difference on gear obtained outside of raid, are kind of steps backwards away from alternatives, pushing us back to having our only choice to be a raid. Are there any plans to give the non-raiders / people with random availabilities any form of meaningful character progression in terms of player power, besides only raids?

IonHazzikostas: We have a number of gear acquisition routes that do not involve raiding. We’ve broadened the avenues for acquiring Valor Points, which can now be earned by doing dungeons, daily quests, scenarios, and so forth. That gear will be at least item level 489 (compared to 476 from LFR). There’s also crafted gear. And of course future content updates will continue to provide upgrades outside of raiding. All of that said, I’d encourage you to check out the new raids as well — the addition of the LFR system makes them more accessible than ever.

NinjaFox: To Dave Kosak: The reddit AMA gave some teasers that Sylvanas, Vol’jin, and Thrall (specifically in 5.1) would be integral parts to the story. Rexxar and Koltira were also mentioned. On the Alliance side, other than Varian, Anduin and Jaina are there any notable leaders/lore figures we can expect to see active through the Pandaria storyline?

DaveKosak:: Great question! Many of the Alliance leaders will come into play. Tyrande has a couple of moments in 5.1. We also want to do more with the dwarven storyline (we’re still kicking around ideas of how best to do that.) The trick is making sure those characters have meaningful moments. We’ll definitely spend a lot of time with Jaina and King Wrynn.

DeathFish1: With the creation of the farms at Halfhill, the base structure for player and guild housing has subsequently been created as well. Is this the direction you have chosen to go with for player housing or was this even considered as an option. One very good point about this option is that multiple locations for housing can be placed throughout the game world, preventing the issue of removing players from the world.

CoryStockton:: To DeathFish1 It’s certainly a baby step in that direction. We are really excited to see how players react to it in Mists. We already have lots of ideas on how we can expand this kind of content in the future too!

DaveKosak:: (Love the name, Deathfish!) when we think about things like player-housing, we really want to look at how this can contribute to gameplay. The farm is awesome because it ties into a lot of systems, it creates some fun crafting opportunities, it impacts the economy, etc. It’s a great experiment for us because if it’s popular, it gives us a lot of data into how to create this type of content in the future.

Gosu: What is the design philosophy behind PvP balance and how satisfied are you with PvP balance in Mists of Pandaria?

Ghostcrawler: One of the main ones was to allow more cross-over of gear at the lower end but not the upper end of content. (In 4.0 it was more of the opposite.) It’s not fun to die in PvP over and over until you get decent gear.

How come with this expansion you choose to go with Pandas and not something that was already in the game, such as The Emerald Dream, maybe going into the Dragonflights, or even something more with The Demonic legion.

IonHazzikostas: The pandaren are a race we’ve been looking to introduce into the WoW universe for some time now, since their introduction as a neutral hero back in the Warcraft 3 expansion. They were originally a top contender for the Alliance race back in Burning Crusade, but we ended up going with the draenei at the time because they better fit the Outland-focused story we were trying to tell, and because it didn’t feel right forcing a historically neutral race like the pandaren into one specific faction. When we were looking to make an expansion centered around themes of exploration and discovery against a backdrop of Alliance-Horde conflict, the pandaren just seemed like the right fit: Noble and enigmatic race caught in the middle of the war between the Alliance and Horde as it spirals out of control, forced to choose sides as the outside world descends upon their homeland.

The Rogue’s shadow blades visual effect is lacking, and needs more of a pop. Paladins get Ashbringer; could rogues get something equally cool looking?

IonHazzikostas: We agree that some rogue visuals (Shadow Blades, Shadow Walk, etc.) could use some more love. That’s something we’d like to do in a future patch.

bocasha: In Pandaria will we see another 9 month period where we will have no new stuff coming out?

CoryStockton:: We are doing everything within our power to avoid this. We all feel that 9 months without content is pretty much unacceptable to our players. A glimmer of hope: we are already knee deep into both patch 5.1 and 5.2. Our plan is to deliver these much faster than anyone is expecting.

When will we see Sargeras, it’s one of the reasons I’ve stuck around for so long…

DaveKosak:: Sargeras would be one monstrous raid boss! He’s one of the most iconic, key villains of the franchise. Believe me, when he comes to Azeroth, you’re going to feel it LONG before he even gets there.

khalanil: Have you thought about implementing zones or battlegrounds where players are normalized by level, similar to the gear level normalization in the upcoming challenge mode dungeons? This could allow players to quest or PVP with lower-level friends, and it could be fun to see a trio of level 20s take down a level 90.

DaveKosak:: This is a tremendous question, because it’s something we’ve been talking about and exploring. With Challenge Modes, we now have tech to scale your item level, so that we can guarantee the right level of difficulty. Having this tech opens lots of doors for us down the line. We don’t have anything to announce, but it’s a step toward a lot of the features you’re describing.

 

parrjj01: I really love the real ID system, which has helped me communicate with my cousin who lives in Hawaii. The only downfall is, he’s horde. Neither of us want to change fractions but we’d love to run toghther doing something. Will you guys ever consider letting us ‘group’ together and duke it out in battlegrounds, but disabling chat (even in real ID terms) so the no communcation rules still apply?

Ghostcrawler: We don’t have huge design problems with letting you play with friends from other factions. The biggest challenge is the game was never designed with the concept of letting you be allied with the opposing faction, so it would be a tremendous amount of work. I won’t give up hope for it though! (We always joke about a tauren having the Hallow’s End 2D gnome mask when you’re grouped with him.)

Can one stand anywhere in Orgrimmar(including right next to the questgiver that sends you to the gunship) when MoP is activated or do we have to be outside the Garrosh building? Good to know for us who are rushing as fast as we can!

Ghostcrawler: If you are online, you should get the quest pushed to you no matter where you are. We don’t want to over-promise though. This is technically challenging stuff and it might be the case that we need everyone to relog. /crosses fingers

The story of Tides of War is really interesting. I don’t think players can get engaged if they have no idea what’s happening, the bomb dropping is really anticlimactic. I felt a bit disappointed so little got included in the scenario. Was this because of lack of time, of developers or because you rather keep all that info in the novels.

DaveKosak:: I’ve been watching the Theramore feedback closely, and this comment seems pretty universal. We tried to keep everything all in the scenario, to make it really self-contained, but not burden it with lots of story that you have to slog through every time you played the scenario. It’s pretty clear from the feedback that people wanted more story. We should’ve surrounded the scenarios with more quests or explanations to help round out the story for the people who wanted to know what exactly was happening. Lesson learned!

Dude7198: Will there be a Realm First achievement that involves Pet Battles?

CoryStockton:: We did not make any realm first achievements for pet battles. Our intention for the feature is that its more of a casual activity and a realm first just did not feel like a good fit.

Nobody I know is impressed with the promise of an extra piece of loot for normal 25 mans. What we would be impressed with is separate realm first achievements for each raid format. Any chance of seeing something like this?

IonHazzikostas: Possibly. On several servers that have one top 25-player guild that’s far above the rest of the server in progression, that might turn into incentivizing them to split up the week after their 25-player Realm First to snag the 10-player one. Not sure that’s great gameplay for anyone. That said, we recognize that there’s interest in making it a bit easier to distinguish between 10-player and 25-player kills in statistics or achievements.

Were the stained glass windows in Ulduar foreshadowing of the Sha? They look very similar to the Sha.

DaveKosak:: I’d like to say we planned that. [Long pause] But I would be lying. I think it’s just a happy coincidence that fits wonderfully into our lore.

When will transmog rules be loosened up a little. Main hand/one hand weapons, for instance.

Ghostcrawler: If I had to guess, we will loosen them at some point. We would probably wait until some time after the MoP launch when players will appreciate it more. It’s easy for smaller features to get lost when there is so much new content. The designers will discuss it soon ™.

We saw some of the animations on the challenge mode gear, will the druid set animations be visible when the druid is shapeshifted?

CoryStockton:: The custom effects are based on the armor itself so they will only be visible when you are in caster form.

Will content come at a faster rate in MoP? It seems that we might be pushing thought content at a much faster rate.

DaveKosak:: That is definitely our goal! As we speak the quest team is simultaneously working on patches 5.1 and 5.2. Our hope is to keep the story and content rolling forward. It’s definitely a focus for the team – I can’t make any promises, but I guarantee we’re trying and I hope you’ll notice the results!

CoryStockton:: I know we sound like a broken record on this but we are really pushing hard to deliver content to you guys faster than ever with the Mists patch cycle. As Dave mentioned, we are already making awesome progress on the first set of patches.

Zawani: Hey, I had a question regarding arms warrior pve rotation. It feels like there is to much ring involved with the rotation very rarely do I get more than 2 stacks of taste for blood and sometimes I can use overpower 5 or 6 times without a single proc of it, which then will leave me rage starved and without buttons to press, I was wondering if you could lower the damage bonus of the buff or damage of OP while also increasing the proc chance as well.

Ghostcrawler: Think of getting a high stack for Taste for Blood as a random bonus, much like getting enraged from a bunch of crits in a row. You shouldn’t hold your whole rotation waiting for a 4 or 5 stack, because it won’t happen that often. If you’re at risk of rage capping, try to Slam. If you don’t have the GCD to Slam then it’s probably worth just using the Heroic Strike unless you think you’ll be able to Colossus Smash really soon.

Will we ever see Magni Bronzebeard return from being frozen under Ironforge?

DaveKosak:: Magni is like the definition of BLING. :smileyhappy: If we continue his story, we’ll make sure to handle it in-game. I wouldn’t count on seeing him return during the Pandaren story arc, though.

Greg just said on twitter that the 25s versus 10s situation was handled in the AMA a lot, but nothing came from that apart from an understanding that 25s do have it harder now and could use some more compensation, Don’t you have concrete plans for that, more than the tiny bit of extra loot 25s will have? The issue will only get even more pronounced the next weeks during progression.

IonHazzikostas: It’s something we discuss frequently internally. We don’t have anything final to announce just yet, but we love 25-player raiding and intend to do what we can to preserve it.

Windwalkers have been very upset with a couple things in particular with their spec. The first is Fists of Fury, we don’t like being rooted and channeling an attack when our kit is supposed to be mobile. Can we please get this mechanic revisited? As well, we don’t have literally any useful raid utility. Zen meditation is very weak. Will this be addressed at all post-launch?

Ghostcrawler: “Mobile” doesn’t mean “never, ever stops moving.” Like many specs, Windwalkers will do more damage when stationary but can still do some damage when moving. Deciding when you should FoF and when you can’t is one of the decision points that separates good monks from great ones. We’re not inclined to change it at this time. As far as raid utility goes, we’re really reluctant to hand more “must have” buffs. We don’t want Windwalkers to be mandatory, especially for smaller, 10-player raid groups. If they are never taken at all, we’ll take some kind of action, but I’d be very surprised if that’s the case.

Are there plans on fixing the broken Engineering Flying Machine that has been broken since patch 4.1?

CoryStockton:: We will look into this and make sure we get it fixed.

Is there a chance we might see class specific factions developed more? Kirin Tor, Ebon Blade, Argent Bros, Ravenholdt…Could we see something similar arise for Warriors, Hunters etc?

DaveKosak:: We’re cooking up some cool Warlock stuff we can hopefully announce soon. In a more general sense, we LOVE class-specific content, but to do it right takes development time (believe me, I have to somehow schedule all this stuff.). When it came down to deciding between more zones of content and more faction content OR class-specific stuff, we opted to create more content for everyone. But, again, we love class-specific content, we’ll try to squeeze in some cool challenges for the various challenges in the patches to come…

Are we going to get more story-telling in scenarios? The Theramore scenario was lackluster compared to the book, key story elements haven’t even been address in-game yet.(Kirin Tor leader)

DaveKosak:: I addressed this earlier, but keep in mind that we want scenarios to be replayable. We definitely didn’t want to burden them with tons of story that you have to wade through every time you play it. As I said for Theramore, people obviously wanted more context, which probably was best served by some one-time quests on either end of the scenario. That’s a lesson we’re pulling forward. :smileyhappy:

Will Wintergrasp ever be added as a max level battleground?

Ghostcrawler: Potentially, if there is enough demand for it. We would introduce it as you suggest as a true Battleground to avoid faction imbalance issues.

Beside the lifting on the mist with the clock strikes midnight on the 25th. We have come to expect events to complement the expansion. They have been fascinating and very fun. Should we expect events over the next 6 days? Or was the Scenario it?

CoryStockton:: The Theramore scenario is intended to be a preview of what players can expect from scenarios in Mists. It is by no means a launch event and thats intentional. We made a call early on to put that time into developing more content for Mists that will last and not be over in a week.

I loved the “Visions of the Past” quest-line in Vashj’ir. Will we see anything similar in upcoming content?

DaveKosak:: This is the “Battle-Maiden” questline, where you got to play as a naga badass for a while. I think these are a great break from the standard gameplay if they’re well-designed, but we would want to use them sparingly. (After all, it’s not WoW if you’re not playing your class and kicking butt!) That said, there’s a couple fun moments in Pandaria that have similar gameplay. In the Valley of Four Winds, you get to play as Chen Stormstout for a little bit. After kicking around a lot of ideas, we ultimately decided to give you a single ‘Chen-Fu’ button that makes him randomly do awesome kung-fu moves. It’s a short sequence, but it’s fun for storytelling and gives you a chance to Chen it up.

Gehn: Any updates on future guild leveling past 25?

CoryStockton:: We are totally open to increasing guild levels and the associated rewards but only when the game feels like it needs more of that content. A large number of guilds are still nowhere near level 25 so Mists did not feel like a good fit to add more guild levels.

Mists of Pandaria features an ambitious number of 18 raid bosses and I’m very excited about that. I’m curious though as to how many bosses we can expect to see in future tiers? Firelands and Dragon Soul felt like small tiers with only 7 or 8 encounters in the tier.

IonHazzikostas: We like big raid tiers too, and will do our best to continue delivering them. We’re planning for the next tier after Heart of Fear/Terrace to be a fair bit larger than Firelands or Dragon Soul were.

Whats would your answer be to the players who feel that by making multiple classes bring similar buffs and abilities, that the classes are losing their ‘uniqueness’? Introducing combo points to ShadowPriests/Ret Paladins for example

IonHazzikostas: Ultimately, there are only so many distinct resource mechanisms, and many of them are not great from a gameplay perspective. We’d rather differentiate our classes and specs on the basis of their overall feel and unique capabilities such as Death Grip for Death Knights or shaman’ totems. I don’t think many people are likely to mistake a shadow priest for a rogue just because they build up a resource and then consume it to deal damage.

Will the gear in Theramore’s Fall 85 version be available in the 90 version?

CoryStockton:: The gear and the rewards for the 85 version are only available now. The 90 version has standard scenario rewards (Valor and a chance at a dungeon blue)

Lansuer: Where do you see races that are neutral leaning like the Blood Elves going within the Horde? They seem rather separate from the Horde story since Cata’s launch.

DaveKosak:: Stick around for patch 5.1 – we pick up the Blood Elves’ story and propel it forward. Finally, a chance to interact with Lor’themar! Most players don’t even know who he is. :smileyhappy:

What are your thoughts on healing classes in MoP? Are you seeing the type of balance you want in the new expansion between all classes/specs? I ask because we are seeing a lot of blending of healers into one unit, instead of variety. All healers can do everything now to state it plainly which is making certain classes stronger choices than others for non-healing reasons. Sure some do slightly better in certain situations, but the classic archetypes are no longer as valid. It removes the need fo…

Ghostcrawler: We strive for harmony with the healer design. If healer niches are too well-defined, then you are encouraged to stack Resto druids for one fight and then Holy paladins for the next fight. We’d rather see a diversity of healers. As far as healer balance is currently, we’re pretty happy with it at 90. We still need to see Disc priests really figure out all of the nuances of Spirit Shell and we want to make sure all of the healers are really strong for Challenge Mode gold runs.

drwuky: Will you guys decrease the experience needed from 88-89 and 89-90 or increase the experience gained in Townlong Steppes and Dread Wastes before release? At the moment you can NOT hit Level 89 if you start with Level 88 and 0% experience in Townlong Steppes (~10% experience missing) and also Level 90 is impossible with Dread Wastes quests only (~5% experience missing). These are datas with the 10% experience guild perk and yes, I’ve got both zone completed achievements.

CoryStockton:: We are still actively tuning the XP. We will look into it.

Velenor1: Question for Dave Kosak. I have always wondered why the Alliance has continuously frowned upon the Scarlet Crusade. Their main purpose was to simply eradicate the undead. With their return in MoP, we are tasked with eliminating them -again- with the aid of Lillian Voss. Why is it that we have turned their organization down for so long when we more or less have the same goals in mind?

DaveKosak:: The complexities really aren’t in the game, but the Scarlet Crusade was very much a rogue organization. Great priests and warriors who would’ve otherwise served the Alliance disappear into the crusade, who serves its own ends. (In Northrend, it was clear their leadership had succumbed to demonic influence. It’s hard to make up for that.) To be honest, the main reason to revisit the Crusade in 5.1 was a gameplay reason and not a story reason – it was a favorite dungeon that we really wanted to revisit with new mechanics. We didn’t think a lot of story was needed.

Question from Munich, Germany. As the Octoberfest here and Brewfest in WoW are coming up, I wondered whether anyone at Blizzard did “field research” for designing Brewfest at the real Octoberfest ? The costumes and music are done really well.

CoryStockton:: We do field research on Brewfest every Friday. :smileyhappy:

DaveKosak:: Sorry – meant to say 5.0 in that last question

Why is the theramore event so boring? Its way too easy and if you didn’t read the book then you have no idea what’s going on, you also wouldn’t know why Jaina isn’t dead and why azeroth isn’t completely destroyed. Do you think it would’ve been smarter to put more lore in the scenario and would’ve made it more fun?

Zarhym: Dave already spoke to the story part of your question (if you missed it Best Buy will be providing a full transcript after the chat). To address your concern of difficulty, we agree it was too easy on release. We pushed a hotfix recently that increased the HP of all enemies in Theramore’s Fall. The fact is that Scenarios in Mists will be more tailored for players in quest gear and dungeon blues. But players at level 85 were steamrolling through it in Dragon Soul gear, and the hotfix was to compensate for this a little.

Do all designers use the same in-house editor? Or do you have different tools for different jobs? How do you handle collisions in your edits?

IonHazzikostas: We all use a massive proprietary tool called WoWEdit, which has been showcased a couple of times at Blizzcons in the past. We all use this tool to create and edit everything from creatures to spells to quests, and our level designers use it to actually shape the terrain of the outdoor world. At the end of the day, there are countless columns and rows in tables that define the properties of the game world and the players and monsters that inhabit it. We’re only able to do the work that we do because of our amazing Tools team, a dedicated group that is constantly refining and updating our editor to enable us to create content more quickly and with fewer bugs.

On the World of Warcraft website, it lists tradeskill patterns, plans, etc. that the player is missing. Some of those items are no longer in game. Are there any plans to reincorporate those missing plans back into the game so the players have an opportunity to try to get all of their missing tradeskill plans?

Ghostcrawler: I’d hate to add back plans with no real game purpose just for sake of completeness. To be honest, I’d rather get rid of more of the older recipes that don’t have a strong purpose.

Compared to designing dungeons, how difficult is it to design scenarios? Does it take more or less resources to make scenarios?

Ghostcrawler: The biggest challenge for us was just figuring out what scenarios should be. How long should they last? Should they be hard? How much variability should they have from run to run? Now that we’ve gone through that process, they should take much less time to design than dungeons. The biggest time expenditure on dungeons is the amazing art that goes into them.

 

Amd11394: Considering Dispels remove ALL magic effects, even if they dispelled Fear the Flame shock would go with it, regardless of if they intended to dispel it or not. Would this not constitute it’s reinstatement?

IonHazzikostas: Guessing this is a follow-up to my earlier reply. I meant that if you dispel Flame Shock off yourself, or off Teammate A, maybe you can’t dispel Teammate B’s Fear or Polymorph a few seconds later, and now they’re stuck in CC for its full duration. In general, we expect that players have to be much more careful about how and when they use their magic dispels.

Rogues are famous for using daggers, and that’s all that we seem to be able to use, but I like to play Combat Spec, and it’s described as being a swashbuckler spec. As such, I’d like to use 1handed swords along with daggers, but there are next to no 1handed rogue compatible swords, will we ever get to use swords as part of a rogue’s arsenal? Afterall, there is no longer a block on what weapons a rogue can use on their abilties.

Ghostcrawler: It’s less of a design concern and more about how many different items we can drop. Things like e.g. Intellect axes don’t have a lot of customers, so we just don’t make them very often. This might be the kind of thing that transmog can eventually help address too.

basketballer259: I assume I ask this question on behalf of thousands of vanilla WoW fans: Do you ever plan on bringing back “Server-wide” Events? An example would be the Opening of AQ, which allowed the entire server to collaborate their efforts. An event of the same theory would be an incredible experience for all players to witness. It was incredibly rewarding when the whole server gathered enough materials for the opening ceremony!

DaveKosak:: From the standpoint of, “Everyone gather at the same place at the same time to see a big event and if you miss it its gone forever assuming you all don’t crash the server,” then no, no more events like that. :smileyhappy: BUT, we love the feeling of server progression, similar to the Isle of Quel’denas. Is there a way to build that progression into the game such that players who come in a couple months later don’t miss out on all the fun? We think there is. And we’re planning something that we’d like to try in the 5.0 patch cycle… so stay tuned! [No guarantees here, but we’re actively tinkering with something.]

Shnitzel: With the pet battle system, pets which you can acquire multiples of, have lost the ‘Already Known’ tag. This is pretty annoying when shopping for pets for example, as you constantly have to search through your journal (“Do I have the red tickbird or the white one?”). Will this be changed? perhaps add an ‘Already Known’ tag in a different color?

CoryStockton:: Sorry for the inconvenience on that, we have already redesigned the tooltips to fix this in patch 5.1.0. Tooltips will display if you already own the pet in addition to how many.

Have you thought of introducing titles to reward realm 1st times for the new challenge mode dungeons. Something similar to how the PvP titles work now.

CoryStockton:: We actually have! The idea was that you would only have the title for as long as you held the top time. Main issue we ran into was that the title could be changing hands so fast that you might only have it for a few seconds. It’s an awesome idea though and we want to explore it more.

Can we have a rough timeframe on when we can expect the Trials of the High King questline to be implimented? Are we taking around patch 5.1 or something closer to the Siege of Orgrimmar patch?

DaveKosak:: Varian Wrynn’s first trial will happen in 5.1. But to set expectations, the development of Varian’s character happens across the entire patch cycle and beyond – it doesn’t all happen in one event or one scenario. His trials are many.

Transmog has become a very important part of my gaming fun. Will we be able to farm Dragon Soul LFR recolor gear at level 90, since the LFR tool won’t work for it at that level ? This goes for future expansions and MoP content, of course.

Ghostcrawler: We aren’t going to support Raid Finder for content that is much lower level than your character, but we are going to allow you to enter old raids solo without being in a raid in a future patch (ideally the next major one, but standard no promises). That should facilitiate a lot of transmog farming.

The Reliquary is an interesting faction (at least in my opinion), but it hasn’t been really visible in Cataclysm. Any chance we’ll see them in Pandaria, as a counterpart to Brann ? Or at least some way to get their tabard ?

DaveKosak:: No plan for a tabard, but starting in 5.1 they’re going to start poking around Pandaria for relics…

Were Ogres ever thought of as a playable race, at one time? (Greg marry me /kiss) Irth

Ghostcrawler: Yep. We considered them for Cataclysm instead of goblins. Figuring out the females and the two-headed mages would be (fun!) challenges. Maybe someday.

Zarhym: Way to ignore that marriage proposal follow-up, Ghostcrawler. ;p

Cueball: First: Hi guys, including Zarhym (didn’t know you’d be here). Anyway, is there anything to Jaina’s words that it is “time to bring Dalaran down” to the land and that she is still in support of fighting against the Horde?

DaveKosak:: Jaina’s story will continue starting in patch 5.1. We’ll try to catch players up with where she is at the end of the book, and then move on from there.

With the introduction of Pet Battles, do you think we can see pets dropping in raids again? There hasn’t been a pet drop in a raid since Karazhan IIRC so a prime example in today’s standing could be Ragnaros dropping Mini Ragnaros instead of it being on the store.

CoryStockton:: I don’t see why not! We just need to make sure it’s a good fit with the content.

Is there any plans to allow players to have more then one Death Knight per server?

Ghostcrawler: We agree that it feels like an antiquated rule at this point. We’ll see how hard it is to remove that restriction.

sdk: I am wondering about the incentives to 25 man. This game is a social game so why does it seem that 25 man guilds are dieing off and they are going to 10 mans. Paragon recently posted that they were going to 10 man. Is there any other way to fix it so that people are drawn to do 25 mans because they want to raid with friends and get the good gear?

IonHazzikostas: In Paragon’s specific case, I suspect they’d find no lack of capable people more than willing to raid with them, but maintaining a Finnish-speaking roster is a core part of their guild culture, and they’ve made what was no doubt a very difficult decision to scale down to 10-player raiding rather than compromise that culture. As I noted in the Reddit AMA, ultimately there are heavier logistical burdens, particularly placed on the officers and raid leaders, in sustaining a 25-player roster versus only needing 10 players. We’re actively discussing ways of ensuring that 25-player raiders feel properly incentivized and rewarded without necessarily elevating one raid size over the other. We definitely welcome ongoing community discussion and feedback on that topic.

Alablaster: As Developers, what was your biggest hurdle in building the new features we will see in Mists and how did you overcome them? Also I want to send kudos out to the art team – the beta was visually stunning!

CoryStockton:: Our biggest issue with new features is adding more complexity to the game. It’s somethign we struggle with every expansion. I will pass your kind words on to the art team too!

Wamogri: Will the baby shark pet ever get added back into the game?

CoryStockton:: Yes! That’s what those sweet new water bubbles are for!

Recently in Twitter Ghostcrawler mentioned the possibility of making subraces such as Maghar orcs and Wildhammer dwarfs available with the player character model updates, how high chance is there that this would also allow us to play as Broken or Taunka?

Ghostcrawler: If we ever opened up more races, I suspect we’d be pretty liberal about it, but to be clear, that feature is no more than a twinkle in some designer’s eye at this stage.

artimadours: Are there any plans to allow for heirloom items to be sent cross realm?

CoryStockton:: We want this as bad as you guys do. It’s on the list and we are looking into it.

Nize: You mentioned in a previous Q&A that legendary weapon components would be done in a manner to lessen drama within in a guild. One step was the implementation of components achievable through LFR. My question is how will components from normal and heroic raids be distributed. Will it be distributed similarly to how Deathwing’s essences or new LFR are, or will the raid leaders still choose who to give those components to?

Ghostcrawler: In 5.0 it’s not a competitive issue at all. In Raid Finder, it’s a random drop for some players. In Normal and Heroic there is a chance of a drop, at which point it is multi-lootable and every player on the quest will get it.

There has been some speculation as to whether Turalyon and Alleria might make a triumphant comeback in Mists of Pandaria. Any comments on this, or are they saved for a later expansion pack? The Alliance sure could use something to turn the tide of war.

DaveKosak:: There’s no plan to continue their story in Pandaria … and also, I think the Alliance can take this!

Are we going to have the ability to remove players who dc or log off from scenario groups and add in new players from the queue?

CoryStockton:: Not at launch but we hope to have it in for the 5.1 patch. We understand the concern.

lilm123: Do you guys plan on giving out title for challgenge modes, like how you do for PvP (0.0% – 0.5%: Gladiator 0.5% – 3%: Duelist 3% – 10%: Rival 10% – 35%: Challenger)

IonHazzikostas: If and when we move on to future challenge mode “seasons”, titles to recognize players’ past accomplishments are definitely something we’ll consider.

With all these new changes to get players out into the world (great idea), is it a goal of the development team to possibly bring back World-PvP? Coming from someone who plays on a PvP Realm, I would love to relive the old days of huge scale open world PvP battles. I’m sure many others feel the same way.

Ghostcrawler: We are trying to encourage it. Spots like the Black Market and the shrines (the faction “cities” in the Vale) will probably have a lot of PvP on PvP servers. Remember, guards are much weaker on PvP servers now and there are no sanctuaries in Pandaria.

At the end of the Klaxxi questline, the mantid mentioned that at one point in time, they worshipped Y’shaarj, an old god. However, he was slain by the Titans and was split into “shadows of his former self”. Is he, in some way, in relations with the Sha and will we see Y’shaarj in future content patches?

DaveKosak:: Y’shaarj breathed love and exhaled hate, inhaled peace and breathed violence… Plus, his name was y’SHAarj. It’s pretty safe to connect the dots. :smileyhappy: But Y’shaarj itself is very, very, very dead.

WIll we see a Heroic Version of Ragefire Chasm?

CoryStockton:: Certainly not out of the question. Heroic versions of classic dungeons have been some of our most popular content. We will keep doing them as long as people keem playing em’.

What exaclty (If you can answer without spoiling the story line!) has turned Garrosh Hellscream into the monster we all hate now?

DaveKosak:: Garrosh is not a monster. He has a very clear vision of the Horde, and the future of the orcs, and he gives very little thought to anyone who stands between him and that future. As he gets more powerful, and gets away with more, his vision becomes clearer. This has put him in conflict in the Alliance, and ultimately will cause problems within the Horde.

Ünseen: I love the little mana bomb received from the Theramoore scenario, but the cooldown is making it really hard to have fun with. Any chance this will be reduced to allow a bit more spammability? Maybe like a 30 second cd?

CoryStockton:: Glad you liked the reward! Unfortunately, that kind of mana power takes a long time to recharge!

The new LFR system you have in WoW now seems like a great way for people who dont have alot of time to donate to raiding guild environments a chance to see content that was most of the time closed to them, however im not a big fan of 25man raids. Is there any plans to add a 10man choice to the LFR system?

Ghostcrawler: We think 25 works better for Raid Finder. The ratios of DPS to non DPS more matches the player population and there is less risk of getting an unviable group. In 25s you can afford to have a few deaths and you can even pull if you’re backfilling a few players. Both really make you stop in your tracks on 10s. In 25, it’s easier to fade back into the group if you’re still not 100% confident in what you’re doing. In 10s, it’s harder to be a wallflower.

“Turalyon and Alleria” is it possible in anyway to know if there are any plans to continue their story? I had HUGE hopes to see them in game when BC came out and their SON poped out of nowhere saying they where alive. anything would do!… plz!?

DaveKosak:: Oh, their story will continue!!

How are group compositions gonna work into Challenge Modes? Surely every group would want to have a Bloodlust. And atleast a kings buff.

IonHazzikostas: Realistically, if you’re aiming for Gold, you’re going to want a shaman or a mage or a hunter in your group, though Gold is absolutely possible without using Heroism/Bloodlust or equivalent effects. Realistically that probably saves you 15-20 seconds at best, and we’ve seen groups beat some Gold times by more than that. When constructing a 5-player dungeon group, you’re inevitably going to have some strengths and some weaknesses in your composition, and players may find that the sorts of abilities they find invaluable are not the ones they’re used to viewing in that light. (Pop quiz — Which is likely to help you more in an 18-minute challenge mode run: Bloodlust, or an AoE stun that you can a couple of times a minute?)

Vaengence: Ok, I am going to be the one to ask the dreaded question, mainly because my guild members know that I continue to fight for them and have asked me to still chase this question. 25 mans – GC you have said it would be a good topic for a Watercooler, which is good, and recent tweets say not enough is being done for them.The only change we know about is the loot change and that is onl 1 item different for Normals from the majority of Cata which, excuse the sentiment here, seems a little underwhelmin…

Ghostcrawler: Sadly, we don’t have any details to announce yet, but we have a couple of ideas that should make the 25 players happy. We’ll talk about them when we’re confident that they are good ideas. Remember, the result can’t be that all the 10 players stampede back to 25.

DeathFish1: Any chance we will see the option to upgrade out current legendary to be maybe not the equal to the current ilvl but maybe raid finder ilvl or just a little below so that they are not just taking up space in out banks, or bags in the case of dragonwrath.

Ghostcrawler: Not sure we would let you upgrade a legendary, but we could potentially allow you to transmog them. Our reluctance has always been that Thunderfuy feels less special when you see 30 of them running around AV.

If some gamers are thinking about coming back to WoW to exp Mist of Pandaria content, is there any special program “come back” that will launch with the release?

CoryStockton:: Scroll of Resurrection is awesome for returning players!

Bolting: Have you changed your design philosophy of the quest flow in mists of pandaria? In previous expansions, moving to a new zone as soon as you are eligble left enough experience to cause no issues. Do you intend for all zones to be finished from beginning to end in order, and if so why did you feel the need to add breadcrumbs to the next zone prior to being able to go without issues further down the road?

DaveKosak:: To Bolting Pandaria is like a huge novel that you can read in any order. You can skip ahead to other chapters as soon as you’re eligible. It’s worth it to stick through a full zone to wrap up the storylines and maybe get some blue quest rewards, but you’re welcome to play through however you want. We definitely put in the effort to make this expansion much more open and non-linear.

Crithto:: That about wraps things up, everyone. Thank you so much for joining the Best Buy Dev Chat, sending us really great questions, and for your patience. On behalf of Greg, Cory, Ion, Dave, and Zarhym, we truly appreciate your time and passion for World of Warcraft. Have a GREAT rest of the week, and we’ll see you in Pandaria next Tuesday!

DaveKosak:: This was a lot of fun. Thank you everyone! Only days to go… Pandaria awaits! :smileyhappy:

CoryStockton:: Tons of great questions guys, that was a lot of fun! Can’t wait to see everyone in Pandaria in just a few days!

Ghostcrawler: We can’t wait for you guys to see all of the new Mists content. We are really proud of what we’ve been able to deliver with this expansion. It’s going to be good. Hugs, GC.

Dorothy-BBY: Thanks guys!

Zarhym: Thank you, everyone! For those who got here late or weren’t able to follow along for the whole chat, Best Buy will be providing a full transcript here momentarily: http://bbyurl.us/MistsofPandariaChat

Kyle-BBY: Great chat everyone! Thank you everyone for joining us and Blizzard for totally rocking!

 
world-of-warcraft-pearl-of-pandaria-cover-600x449

World of Warcraft: Pearl of Pandaria – Blizzplanet Interviews Micky Neilson & Sean Galloway

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Interviews, Interviews, World of Warcraft News

Blizzplanet’s Eldorian and Medievaldragon had the opportunity to speak with New York Times best-selling author Micky Neilson and Sean “Cheeks” Galloway to discuss details of DC Comics’ World of Warcraft: Pearl of Pandaria graphic novel. The transcript is available afterwards. Listen to the interview. Subscribe to Blizzplanet Gaming (YouTube).

Hey there, Wacraft fans! I’m Eldorian from Blizzplanet.com

We have a special episode today. We are going to talk about a new graphic novel that’s coming out. It’s called WORLD OF WARCRAFT: PEARL OF PANDARIA.

With me today is my partner in crime to help me ask some questions, Medievaldragon, and today the two of us will be interviewing the masterminds behind the book itself … Micky Neilson and Sean Galloway.

I just want to say guys thanks for taking your time out, today, talking to us about the graphic novel.

Neilson: Absolutely. Thank you.

 

Eldorian: First question for both Micky and Sean. For people who may not know who you are and what you do, Micky, what’s your title at Blizzard Entertainment and your general duties there? And Sean, what are past projects that you have worked on?

Neilson: The title is Publishing Lead, which means I run the Publishing Team. And the Publishing Team is responsible for Novels, Comics, Short Stories, a lot of lore-related Web Content, and some other fun projects that we get to work on.

Galloway: Past projects I have worked on was lead character designer for THE SPECTACULAR SPIDERMAN ANIMATED, the character designer for HELLBOY ANIMATED, I did covers for DC Comics for TEEN TITANS GO for two years, I did some design for HASBRO, MATTEL, and most currently I wrapped up a 3 year stint of leap frog designing a game for them called Leap School.

 

Eldorian: How did you become involved with this book?

Galloway: I became involved with the book, because Blizzard had reached out to me, as well as DC Comics and they asked me if I’d be interested, and I tried to do my take on their universe.

 

Medievaldragon: When in the timeline do the events of PEARL OF PANDARIA take place in relation to World of Warcraft: Cataclysm?

Neilson: The events actually take place before Cataclysm. They are a little bit before the events of WORLD OF WARCRAFT: STORMRAGE — as well as before the Emerald Nightmare stuff.

 

Medievaldragon: We’d like to know more about Table Taffy Studios since its foundation and the role it plays.

Galloway: Table Taffy was founded by me, and I brought in my buddie Ryan Benjamin to be part of that. Basically, Table Taffy is a group of creative artists that I hand-picked that could potentially expand over a larger volume the way I draw, and also to bring in other styles. So basically, the way that we played for the PEARL OF PANDARIA was that because it was such a big project, and we wanted to have an animation type of approach, the group of artists and I basically made sure that were able to capture my style throughout the whole graphic novel.

 

Eldorian: Pearl of Pandaria likely began its early development like a year or two ago. With all the iteration and revisions, why did you decide to keep the core of the story pre-Cataclysm?

Neilson: That’s a very interesting question. We started development on PEARL OF PANDARIA quiet a while ago. I want to say we did the brainstorming around the Burning Crusade era. So at the time that we were brainstorming the book, there were no plans for an expansion that would have Pandaren in it, or Pandaria in it.

At the time the book was really going to be a way to explore Pandaria, Chen Stormstout, and the Pandaren culture, because we didn’t believe that there was going to be an expansion. So the story was created back then, and it was written largely all before the events of Cataclysm, and then as the development of the book progressed, we finally found out that there would in fact be an expansion that would include Pandaria, and so we went back and we made some changes to the script.

Luckily, the majority of the story takes place on Azeroth. The first part and the last part are where you see the turtle, Shen-zin Su, which is separate from the island of Pandaria itself. But still that’s something that was being developed for the game. So we had to make a few changes there.

But it worked out, Sean and his team were really great about making artwork changes as well because as the game evolved, that became necessary at few points also.

 

Eldorian: How were you approached to work on Pearl of Pandaria and what are your early memories talking with Blizzard and DC Comics to draw the initial concept artwork?

Galloway: Basically, I was approached by Jeremy Cranford (Blizzard Art Director). He asked if I’d be interested in hearing about a project and if I liked what I heard if I’d be interested in coming down for a meeting.

Once he told me what the project was, of course I was onboard, wanting to be part of the project. So Blizzard and DC Comics setup a meeting where myself and the editors and the Creative Team at Blizzard sat and we discussed what my role would be for the book.

Of course, I was nervous, but I had an idea of how I’d like to try to approach the project with my art style, but I knew if I did it just the way I normally do it, it would be a little too clean — our art style, so that’s why we came up with the animation type of approach where we could attach the background with a more aggressive type of feel — but before we could go to that point, Blizzard and DC Comics wanted to see what kind of idea I had instead of producing new artwork.

I was already approaching that type of technique with my own personal properties: Bastion’s 7, and Gunshoes 4 Hire. So I sent them this stuff I was doing for my own projects, and it seemed everybody was onboard for that approach.

Once we kinda had an idea of what type of style we’d want to develop the book in, I showed them how I’d like to interpret their characters in my style. For the most part, it was pretty easy to draw them in my style; but there was always the fear: “would they reject it?”, but I had really good support with Blizzard and DC Comics with what I turned in.

 

Medievaldragon: Micky, who is Li Li Stormstout, and what’s her role in the story?

Neilson: Li Li is the window or the lense through which we see not only the Pandaren culture, but Azeroth as well. One of the many interesting things about Li Li is that she is young, and she is unbiased, and she is unprejudiced, and she has this wonderful innocence about her — especially when it comes to venturing out into the big bad dangerous world of Azeroth, and she’s certainly a bit naive as far as that goes, but she’s also experiencing everything to the upmost, and one of her earliest purposes and goals of this book was to serve a little bit of a travel guide to Azeroth .

Especially for folks who maybe haven’t played the game, or they haven’t played it in a long time, to be able to see the world of Azeroth through the eyes of Li Li; and she’s really the physical embodiment of the theme of the book.

There are a couple of themes:

1. Life is an adventure.
2. Acceptance for other cultures, beliefs and religions.

And so, we get to see all that through Li Li.

 

Medievaldragon: I really liked the character. In-game and also in the graphic novel — she has a manner of speaking it’s like slap talk. I’m not sure how to describe it. She’s very smarty.

Neilson: Right … Sassy. Sarcastic. Yea, she’s a lot of fun to write.

 

Medievaldragon: I was clicking her in the game and she starts talking really sarcastic and stuff. It was cool.

Neilson: (Laughs)

 

Medievaldragon: I heard in another interview that Li Li was based on your daughter?

Neilson: A little bit, yea. My daughter is age 9, and Li Li’s character is supposed to be kinda a tween age, but I certainly did model her behavior and some of her dialogue after my nine-year-old daughter.

 

Medievaldragon She’s so sweet.

Neilson: Thank you.

 

Eldorian: This is coming from the Scrolls of Lore — basically the forum that spawned the Red Shirt Guy. So this is going to be an interesting question. Just warning you now. One of the revisions of the concept art found in the back of the graphic novel was the change of the pandaren characters’ eyes from green to gold, and we think it kinda made sense to be jade-like since jade is part of the pandaren culture. We were guessing it was revised because green eyes are also associated with fel corruption and Blood Elves. Why gold eyes instead of the normal black eyes?

Neilson: The theory is very interesting one regarding fel corruption, and in a way, that’s kinda correct. Actually, what we found out in the development of the story was that some cultures, and I believe this is specific to some Asian cultures, believe that green eyes are a sign of demonic corruption — so that’s why when you say fel energy and fel being demonic you are not so far off the mark. So in the interest of being sensitive to other cultures, we went in and we decided to change the eye colors.

The MISTS OF PANDARIA cinematic actually had Chen with green eyes, originally, and they went in and they changed that; and we decided to request the change for PEARL OF PANDARIA — and another interesting little tidbit is that Sean and his team had already completed pretty much the entire book at that point — when we found out about this, and this speaks volumes about Sean and his team that they were dedicated enough to go back in and change just about every panel in the graphic novel and make that conversion from green to gold eyes.

 

Eldorian: *Sarcastically* That’s easy in Photoshop, right? Just find and replace colors?

Neilson: [laughs]. Find and replace.

Galloway: We were fans of working with many layers. Sometimes finding that red layer was very tough, but we are all in it to produce a great book, so it was a no-brainer. So we’d go back and make those changes.

 

Eldorian: At the end of Pearl of Pandaria, fans can visualize some of your early concepts and revisions. Could you share some of the core changes the project suffered throughout the evolution of the project?

Galloway: Everybody knows about the expansion, so we had done the first 10-pages, and then we put a hold on it so that we could have the pages reflect the new expansion, so there was that, and then design-wise for Chen it was just a matter of putting the ponytail on Chen to give him a nod to Samwise for creating such a fantastic race, and then for Rahjak I went all overboard and tried to redesign him — respecting what the fans’ reactions would be. So we pulled that back and designed more toward what fans are used to, but just in my style.

 

Medievaldragon: What can you tell us about the villains in the story? Why did you choose Zhahara, Brokk, Rahjak and Rumblefitz?

Neilson: That came from the early brainstorming sessions that I had with Chris Metzen and Samwise. We knew that we wanted to have new unique villains for Li Li to be going up against in the book, and those were characters that you just dont see that much in the game. I don’t remember the last time we saw a goblin alchemist. I think it might have been Warcraft III. I’m not even sure.

And the Blademaster they are not in the game, and if they are it’s very rare that you’d see these characters. We thought it would be very interesting to choose characters that you don’t see very often.

With Zhahara, you definitely see a lot more of the naga and sea witches and things like that, but she was more a part of the plot and that’s where her character arose from.

 

Eldorian: I was wondering, it seems like a Warcraft III neutral heroes party there. Was that intended?

Neilson: That was certainly a little bit of it, because one of the things we thought was — ok, “What kind of characters do we really love and that we connect with that we haven’t really been able to revisit in World of Warcraft?” — and that’s actually a big part of where the whole idea for the book came from. Being able to go into the pandaren culture. Like I said before, we wouldn’t be able to do that in an expansion, and so the villains were kind of a reflections of that and being able to explore those types of characters a little bit more.

 

Medievaldragon: Were you able to play World of Warcraft for the sake of getting acquainted with scenarios like Booty Bay, Ironforge, and the Valley of Heroes in Stormwind? Your renditions look really great and detailed. How was the research and learning process for you?

Galloway: Unfortunately, no. I had a busy schedule. I wasn’t able to. I was familiar with the project, but not as familiar as one should be for the project itself, so I brought in my Table Taffy studio mates to work on the project.

Dave played the game for quite some time, so they knew the property like the back of their hand. They had my back while were on the project.

 

Eldorian: The final pages of Pearl of Pandaria shows some changes made to the villains’ outfit and weapons. What was the process here, and how did it end up?

Galloway: Basically, as a designer you go in with a vision and respect to how the designs are. I’m very minimalistic when I draw to begin with. So working on this it stretchs me a little bit to add more details — which is great because I never really took the opportunity on my own personal stuff to do that.

 

Medievaldragon: I’m sure fans are pretty intrigued by the fel orc blademaster, Rahjak. He seems to have been originally a normal orc from Azeroth. What clan was he from?

Neilson: He’s a very interesting character, and another one that we sit down and we thought ok the blademaster was certainly a very cool unit type and one that we wanted to revisit, and then we thought “What’s even cooler than that?” … a fel orc blademaster. It’s just keeping cool over cool. We did a little bit of research on that, and the thinking is that he’s probably from the Burning Blade clan, and he went into Outland — and this is probably after Illidan was defeated, but he was able to figure out a way to have demon blood infused into him probably tying into [The Maker] (The Blood Furnace) and those questslines from the game.

In a very broad and general sense the idea was simply, he went to Outland, he figured out a way to be corrupted by demon blood, and he became a fel orc.

 

Medievaldragon: What’s his ultimate goal and motivations to undergo all these drastic changes in his body?

Neilson: His ultimate goal is to be the best fighter, the best combatant or martial artist on Azeroth. So to him, defeat is unacceptable, and he fought Chen at some point previous to the events of the book, and he was defeated by Chen, and so he couldn’t take that. He couldn’t accept that. So he decided then to kind of buff himself up even more by going to Outland and being corrupted, and he believed that that would raise him to the next level to be able to defeat Chen.

 

Eldorian: For those who haven’t watched The Spectacular Spiderman animated series, or Hellboy: Sword of Storms, Your art looks like a cel animation as seen in Disney animated films. what technique do you use in Pearl of Pandaria and what’s the process it undergoes?

Galloway: What is special about this book is that every page — the background is drawn separate from the characters. Any time, Blizzard and DC Comics would be able to utilize the art as clip art for whatever reasons that they want. That was the approach. Because there were some changes that needed to be made due to the expansion, it made it not as tough to make some edits.

So basically there’s a couple guys, myself and Derrick, that would be on backgrounds, some on layouts, and then a couple colorists because with this kind of process it’s like an assembly line. That way each page every day could be accomplished with all of us working together. We also had a studio mate who would come in and put the characters on model as well. It’s like animation on paper.

 

Medievaldragon: I think fans will enjoy some of Li Li’s adventures. She’s in search of her uncle Chen Stormstout going all around Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. You managed to add some in-game elements like professions and the backstory of some holidays. How was the process of thinking, selection, and writing of these type of details into the story?

Neilson: It was all a part of the brainstorming process in just trying to pick out little areas where we could add history, and details and lore that didnt exist. One of my favorites is Brewfest, and being able to for the first time kind of explore where that came from, and how it all came about and everything else. The dwarves are always so fun to write for and to work with. The hard drinking, scottish characters are always a blast. So those kind of things it was such a fun project and being able to step away from what I normally do — books like the WORLD OF WARCRAFT: ASHBRINGER or co-writing WORLD OF WARCRAFT: CURSE OF THE WORGEN with James Waugh. They are very dark. They are very somber. It was a nice departure. It was very fun.

 

Eldorian: At the end of the book, it says fans should expect a continuation of Chen and Li Li’s adventures in a free online novella titled Quest for Pandaria. Will the online novella gap what happened between Pearl of Pandaria and Chen and Li Li’s appearance in-game?

Neilson: Yes, it does — and one thing I wanted to mention is the graphic novel PEARL OF PANDARIA. I think is now scheduled to be released on September 25th — so PEARL OF PANDARIA will be released a little bit after the first installment of QUEST FOR PANDARIA is posted on the website.

We’ll actually put up a message for people saying if you want to avoid spoilers we recommend that you read PEARL OF PANDARIA before starting QUEST FOR PANDARIA — which is going to be a four-part, a series of short stories.

It will detail the events that happened after PEARL OF PANDARIA, and leading up to the game and where you see them in the game.

 

Medievaldragon: Micky, there’s a cliffhanger in the story that is not concluded in Pearl of Pandaria, concerning the whereabouts of the Pearl and the Fisherman. Will this be concluded in Quest for Pandaria, or will fans have to wait an see in-game?

Neilson: The story of the Pearl will be continued in Quest for Pandaria!

 

Eldorian: This question is for both of you on the story and artistic aspects. Why should fans of the game get a copy of World of Warcraft: Pearl of Pandaria?

Neilson: For me it’s really different, and I fell in love with the character of Li Li, and I fell in love with the lot of the other characters. There is also a lot of history that is conveyed — a lot of history about Chen Stormstout, a lot of history about Pandaria and the turtle … Shen-zin Su. It’s sort of a time-capsule glimpse into Azeroth before the Cataclysm, before the game changed. So there’s all kinds of reasons, and of course, fantastic writing. Number one reason.

Galloway: Of course, that’s the number one reason. (chuckles)

 

Neilson: Hehehehe! … and good artwork too!

Galloway: It’s ok — why wouldn’t they want to pick it up? Like Micky said, the writing is fantastic, and his track record writing these books is fantastic too. I think fans would want to take their chance with the book. It’s different from what Blizzard has done in the past, and I think it’s a nice different approach to the property. We intended to approach it as if it were an animated feature. So we hope people will pick it up and enjoy it.

 

Eldorian: Thanks a lot for this interview, guys. It was a lot of great information. I really enjoyed hearing all of your answers. I just wanted to say it was a fantastic book, I loved it, and everyone should go out and buy it. Absolutely.


Pre-order DC Comics WORLD OF WARCRAFT: PEARL OF PANDARIA.

Read our recent review of this graphic novel.

Other Pearl of Pandaria interviews held by the community:

Blizzplanet Interview: Diablo III: The Order – Nate Kenyon

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Interviews, Diablo 3 News, Interviews

Blizzplanet interviewed Nate Kenyon in a live chat to discuss details of Diablo III: The Order (took place Wednesday, May 16th at 6:00pm EST / 3:00pm PST).

There is no Diablo III spoilers in the book, but the story helps you dig the single player storyline even more. Check out the transcript:

  Diablo III: The Order – Nate Kenyon Interview (05/16/2012) 
5:32
Medievaldragon: 

Hi Nate. Welcome.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 5:32 Medievaldragon
5:49
Expand
Wednesday May 16, 2012 5:49 
5:53
Medievaldragon: 

Those who are following us, all comments are moderated. Don’t worry, we can read all of your questions and comments in the admin panel.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 5:53 Medievaldragon
6:01
[Comment From Luís Luís : ] 

Just came here to say I have it pre-ordered but I’ll just ask this: Have you read the previous books or were you working with Blizzards notes.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:01 Luís
6:03
Nate Kenyon: 

Hi Luis–thanks for the question. Absolutely, one of my most important goals was to get this book right for the fans, and I read everything that has been published, read Blizzard’s documents, wikis, talked to fans…I spent several months just researching Diablo before we began the writing. In fact, you’ll see when you read the novel that there are a number of nods to former books and to those who know the history well–although it certainly not necessary to know that to enjoy the book!

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:03 Nate Kenyon
6:03
[Comment From Luís Luís : ] 

Side question: have you played the games?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:03 Luís
6:04
Nate Kenyon: 

Yes, I sure have. I played the first two when I was younger, and I was lucky enough to play the beta when I visited Blizzard’s campus last year.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:04 Nate Kenyon
6:04
Medievaldragon: 

Welcome, Nate and Lyndsi. Thanks for coming. Diablo III: The Order is your debut to the Diablo franchise. You have a great background in Horror novels. Could you introduce fans to some of your previous works, style, and background?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:04 Medievaldragon
6:06
Nate Kenyon: 

Sure. I’ve written four original novels, Bloodstone, The Reach, The Bone Factory, and Sparrow Rock. I’ve written a sci fi novella called Prime. And I’ve written a bunch of short fiction. I’ve also written a novel in the StarCraft universe, StarCraft Ghost: Spectres.

I consider myself a dark thriller writer, I guess. I’m less interested in genre, and more in each story itself–what does the story need to be told well? That said, I do tend to lean toward dark and creepy. :)

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:06 Nate Kenyon
6:07
Medievaldragon: 

It’s been twenty years since the destruction of the Worldstone, and Diablo III. When does Diablo III: The Order takes place?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:07 Medievaldragon
6:08
Nate Kenyon: 

It takes place in between Diablo II and Diablo III –about ten years before the new game. Leah is eight, and Cain…well, he’s a pretty old man. :)

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:08 Nate Kenyon
6:09
Medievaldragon: 

Something fans might wish to know. Is this book canon, was the Blizzard creative team and you in contact throughout its development?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:09 Medievaldragon
6:11
Nate Kenyon: 

Oh, absolutely. Blizzard is very intent on doing things the right way–and that includes their novels. We worked very intensely, hand in hand, from the beginning of the process. It’s actually an amazing experience to work with them–the creativity, the brainstorming and throwing ideas back and forth–really inspiring. They know their stuff, and it shows.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:11 Nate Kenyon
6:11
Medievaldragon: 

How did the plans to develop Diablo III: The Order come about and who from Blizzard assisted you?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:11 Medievaldragon
6:14
Nate Kenyon: 

I had written StarCraft, and we really clicked on that project–they had read my novella Prime and loved it, and contacted my agent to ask if I’d like to write for them. The process for that book was eye opening for me, for all the reasons I’ve mentioned–the creativity, energy, freedom to create within such a fully realized world–and so doing Diablo was a natural next step.

If I listed everyone who assisted me it would take the rest of the night. :) But people like James Waugh, Micky Neilson, Chris Metzen and many, many others were so essential to the process. And they are all great people!

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:14 Nate Kenyon
6:14
Medievaldragon: 

What did Blizzard wanted you to portray and flesh out in this book? In short, what was your mission? (or quest)

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:14 Medievaldragon
6:17
Nate Kenyon: 

I had several. First, they wanted to “reboot” the franchise–use this book as an opportunity to do something darker, more horror based, gritty, while informing new fans as well as older ones about the back story and the lore. It was a chance to tell the core story from Diablo I up to Diablo III, while keeping a riveting current plot.

Another goal was to tell Cain’s story. He’s an iconic charater, everyone knows him–but nobody knows his real background, who he is and where he came from, his personal history. He’s never held center stage before. So one thing I really wanted to do was make him a fully realized character, with great trauma and guilt and the need for redemption.

We also needed to explain Cain and Leah’s relationship, and how that leads into Diablo III.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:17 Nate Kenyon
6:18
Medievaldragon: 

We actually have a question about writing freedom. Did you have creative freedom in Diablo III: The Order, or did you have to stick to Blizzard Creative Team’s guideline?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:18 Medievaldragon
6:20
Medievaldragon: 

The previous question, I see the need to clear that up for fans. In the Diablo III beta all we know is that Leah calls Deckard Cain uncle, but she’s Adria’s daughter. So it was a bit confusing for some fans.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:20 Medievaldragon
6:22
Nate Kenyon: 

Blizzard had a story idea, and they knew what they wanted to accomplish with this book. But what I really love about them is they do give me quite a bit of freedom to expand upon that, to find things I want to explore and throw ideas out there. For example, Blizzard knew they wanted a quest novel, with Cain on the road looking for a lost group of Horadrim. They knew they wanted Leah in the middle of it, and they knew they wanted certain evil elements, shall we say. But I was able to develop the specifics of Cain’s history, and figure out some of the events that happen along the way. I created the secret that’s at the core of the novel, and where they end up. So it’s a true collaboration, and the only time they tend to say no is when the idea just doesn’t fit with something they want to do down the road, or really doesn’t work with existing lore.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:22 Nate Kenyon
6:22
Medievaldragon: 

Neinball asks: Besides the previous Diablo games and books, where did you draw inspiration for writing this novel? I always love hearing what other works the authors use when writing.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:22 Medievaldragon
6:25
Nate Kenyon: 

I think it was really mostly about the existing properties and my own imagination and Blizzard’s ideas. I did listen to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack through much of the writing of it, to get me in that epic frame of mind…and I definitely drew some inspiration from the “road” novel format of King’s The Stand, as well as the duality of the good and evil in the novel. I wanted to set up The Dark One as Cain’s alter ego, of sorts, a man he could see himself in, and someone he might have become, in other circumstances.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:25 Nate Kenyon
6:25
Medievaldragon: 

How will reading Diablo III: The Order impact those who look forward to playing Diablo III?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:25 Medievaldragon
6:28
Nate Kenyon: 

A lot. I think players will gain a much better understanding of a number of things. I don’t want to spoil anything, but a lot of groundwork is laid in The Order that leads up to the game. And of course Cain and Leah’s relationship is established in the novel. I think people will see the reasons for some things that they might not otherwise understand quite as clearly. It makes for a richer, more satisfying game experience.

That said, it could just as easily go the other direction. If they read the book after playing, they’ll gain those insights after the fact, and things might click in a different way. There are no real spoilers, so whichever way fans read and play, it’ll work out just fine. As long as they do read the book sooner or later!!! :)

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:28 Nate Kenyon
6:31
[Comment From jean jean : ] 

Hello Diser know when will be the release of Diablo 3 in Brazil

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:31 jean
6:31
Nate Kenyon: 

I’m not sure on that one…I’m sorry!

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:31 Nate Kenyon
6:31
[Comment From Zülfü Topçu Zülfü Topçu : ] 

what do you feel writing about something for diablo? and sorry my english i live in turkey..

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:31 Zülfü Topçu
6:32
Nate Kenyon: 

It’s an incredible experience. I feel very lucky to have been able to contribute to such an enduring franchise that is so beloved by millions of people. It’s a thrill, to say the least.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:32 Nate Kenyon
6:32
[Comment From Meh Meh : ] 

How much time per day did you spend writing the book?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:32 Meh
6:34
Nate Kenyon: 

I spent over a year of my life writing The Order, all told. The first few months were spent on intense research, developing the outline with Blizzard, brainstorming new ideas and coming up with character points. Once I started writing, it took about 4-5 months of writing a couple of hours or more a day to finish the first draft, and then another 3 months of rewrites with Blizzard to get it just right.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:34 Nate Kenyon
6:35
Medievaldragon: 

To Diablo III beta testers, Leah only has the Horadrim teachings and a bow in her arsenal to fight evil. However, due to her lineage she is more than meet the eye. Can you elaborate on that? (Note: fans will see a totally different Leah during the game storyline. The book prepares fans to some of that).

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:35 Medievaldragon
6:36
Nate Kenyon: 

Leah is Adria’s daughter, and she has some talents of her own. Her travels with Cain introduce her to a number of things that strengthen her already remarkable resolve, and she learns much about the Horadric ways. Cain is a good teacher, and she has a natural ability for these things…she’s pretty unique, pretty special.

As for the bow, in The Order we see the origins of that. I won’t say anything more–you have to read the novel to find out!

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:36 Nate Kenyon
6:36
[Comment From Zülfü Topçu Zülfü Topçu : ] 

shall we read your book in turkey?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:36 Zülfü Topçu
6:37
Nate Kenyon: 

I believe so, but you’d have to check with Blizzard on that to be sure…

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:37 Nate Kenyon
6:37
[Comment From hi hi : ] 

hi

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:37 hi
6:37
Nate Kenyon: 

Hi! :)

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:37 Nate Kenyon
6:37
Medievaldragon: 

Do readers need to have played the previous games to understand what’s going on in the book, or are there flashbacks to highlight key events?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:37 Medievaldragon
6:38
Nate Kenyon: 

No, that was another goal of ours–we wanted to make sure this novel was accessible for both new fans and hardcore players, and even people who didn’t know the games at all. We did this through tight, intense flashbacks that focused on important plot points, both in the games and for the plot of The Order. I think it works pretty well, actually!

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:38 Nate Kenyon
6:39
[Comment From Ashley Ashley : ] 

Did you spend a lot of time with the Diablo III creators to help develop your story to make it as accurate as possible to the game?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:39 Ashley
6:40
Nate Kenyon: 

Yes, I did–I spent time with them when I flew out there to have a creative working session with everyone, and I kept in constant contact with the Blizzard Creative team. I think readers will find a high level of detail that meshes with the game, and that helps them understand the game in a different way.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:40 Nate Kenyon
6:40
Medievaldragon: 

Note: all comments are moderated. We can see your submissions. Thanks for your patience. Nate will answer.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:40 Medievaldragon
6:40
[Comment From Adam Adam : ] 

Is this book will be avalible in Polish leanguage?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:40 Adam
6:40
Nate Kenyon: 

I believe so, but you’d need to check with Blizzard to be sure.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:40 Nate Kenyon
6:40
[Comment From Meh Meh : ] 

Oh! Did you ever, at any time experiance writer’s block and how did how deal with it if that was the case?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:40 Meh
6:42
Nate Kenyon: 

I have experienced it to some degree before–it hits me during most of my projects to some extent. I just write through it. I find it’s not actually anything to do with what I’m writing, but more my state of mind–often I find that what I’ve written during those times, as much as I hated it then, ended up being some of my strongest work.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:42 Nate Kenyon
6:42
Medievaldragon: 

I created a monk named Mikulov (level 17 now). Loved this character, and how you portrayed his combat in the story. What can you tell us about Mikulov and his role in the story?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:42 Medievaldragon
6:45
Nate Kenyon: 

Sure. I don’t believe Mikulov was in the final outline Blizzard and I worked on. But as I began writing the novel I just felt like I needed someone else. What I realized was that although I had taken great pains to include the D1 and D2 stories with various characters, I didn’t have a new character that would bridge the gap to D3. And I wanted a strong, physically gifted hero to contrast with Cain, who was an old man. I found that pairing fascinating to write–and when you add in an eight year old girl, it made for a really strange, and really interesting traveling group.

Mikulov is also driven by visions of the coming invasion, and his and Cain’s role in it. He’s on a mission of his own, and he becomes very important to the core of the story–and to Cain and Leah.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:45 Nate Kenyon
6:46
Nate Kenyon: 

BTW I think its VERY cool that you’ve created Mikulov to play in D3!

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:46 Nate Kenyon
6:46
[Comment From Zülfü Topçu Zülfü Topçu : ] 

so nate can you sign your book for me this gonna be awesome for my diablo collection.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:46 Zülfü Topçu
6:46
Medievaldragon: 

thanks. In honor to your story. Amazing.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:46 Medievaldragon
6:46
Nate Kenyon: 

I am happy to sign copies of The Order, if you contact me offline. I can be reached through my website.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:46 Nate Kenyon
6:46
Nate Kenyon: 

Thank you!

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:46 Nate Kenyon
6:47
Medievaldragon: 

http://www.natekenyon.com

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:47 Medievaldragon
6:47
[Comment From ] 

Can you tell us more about hero classes included in the Diablo III game? Who is responsible for them and why can’t we see old characters besides the Barbarian? Which one is your favourite?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:47 
6:48
Nate Kenyon: 

The classes are all included on the D3 website. I can’t answer you about the old characters, I’m sorry–that’s a question for Blizzard, not me.

As far as my favorite? The monk, of course. :) I loved the character I created in The Order, and I have to play the monk in tribute to him…

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:48 Nate Kenyon
6:49
Medievaldragon: 

Noticed there are a few cameos from past Diablo novels. Which Diablo novels and other sources did you read during your pre-writing research? i.e. Captain Hanos Jeronnan, Norrec, and Kara Nightshadow (Diablo: Legacy of Blood)

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:49 Medievaldragon
6:50
Nate Kenyon: 

All of ‘em. :) Yes, there are cameos, intentional little “Easter eggs” I wanted to throw in for the fans who would recognize them. I thought that would be really cool, and I wanted to do it as a little tribute to some of the great novels that have been written in the Diablo universe.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:50 Nate Kenyon
6:50
[Comment From Jeananne Jeananne : ] 

I’m pretty excited to read it, thank you for dedicating so much time into writing. It’s exciting to know that there’s even more to the story line, now.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:50 Jeananne
6:50
Nate Kenyon: 

I’m glad you’re excited! I think you’ll really love the novel. It was a labor of love for me, I really had fun and I think it shows.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:50 Nate Kenyon
6:51
[Comment From jason jason : ] 

Is this a stand-alone novel, or does it pick up where another story left off?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:51 jason
6:51
Nate Kenyon: 

It’s a stand alone, although of course it is true to the timeline of Diablo, and what had come before…

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:51 Nate Kenyon
6:51
Medievaldragon: 

Who are this Horadrim cell Deckard Cain is investigating?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:51 Medievaldragon
6:53
Nate Kenyon: 

That’s a good question. I don’t want to spoil things for the reader. But basically Deckard comes across a growing number of signs that there is some kind of Horadric cell still operating in Sanctuary–although who they are, and what their goals are, remains unclear. He thinks that finding this cell holds the key to saving Sanctuary–and he’s going to do anything he can to find them, before it’s too late.

Let’s just say that when he does finally find them, there are some major surprises in store for him.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:53 Nate Kenyon
6:53
Medievaldragon: 

Hallideadly asks: Why have the other Horadrim remained hidden from Cain?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:53 Medievaldragon
6:54
Nate Kenyon: 

Again, I don’t want to spoil the read…but they have their own reasons–some intentional, others perhaps not. Things are not always as they might seem in Sanctuary, as you know. :)

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:54 Nate Kenyon
6:55
[Comment From darksoujah darksoujah : ] 

Cain is known to be a Wikipedia of some sorts; however, does he teach/pass down Horadrim techniques to Leah that even Cain himself cannot accomplish?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:55 darksoujah
6:56
Nate Kenyon: 

Cain’s abilities are limited solely to those artifacts he can find, and his scholarly knowledge. He does pass down a number of important things to Leah–although in terms of The Order, we don’t see much of that, because she’s still very young. This novel takes place over a fairly short period of time, except for the flashbacks–and so it’s really focused on the beginning of their relationship, and how that bond began.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:56 Nate Kenyon
6:57
[Comment From DanStann DanStann : ] 

Did you have much input about the Audiobook production? Did you help choose Scott Brick yourself or was he used because he had done some Blizzard audiobooks previously?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:57 DanStann
6:57
Nate Kenyon: 

I did not have input into the audiobook, but I think the choice was a good one!!!

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:57 Nate Kenyon
6:57
Medievaldragon: 

Throughout all these years, the Diablo III team has seen a lot of iteration and gameplay changes to fit the story and the other way around. Zealousangel asks: Were there instances where you had to modify certain parts of the novel to fit the game storyline or viceversa?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:57 Medievaldragon
6:59
Nate Kenyon: 

Yes, there were last minute changes to the game that had some impact on the novel. It was mainly about timelines, who knew what at a certain time, that sort of thing. We wanted to be careful not to reveal anything TOO huge, while hinting at things so that the novel really laid a foundation for the game. We were all very intent on getting things right, so we worked closely together as things evolved.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:59 Nate Kenyon
6:59
[Comment From DarkSouJah DarkSouJah : ] 

Is it possible to buy the book directly from you and have it autographed?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 6:59 DarkSouJah
7:00
Nate Kenyon: 

I don’t sell books directly, but I’m happy to figure out a way to have you ship your copy to me for a signature…just contact me through my website and we’ll work it out.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:00 Nate Kenyon
7:00
Medievaldragon: 

What aspects of the world of Sanctuary did you personally grew fond with?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:00 Medievaldragon
7:02
Nate Kenyon: 

Many of them. I love the entire feel of the world Blizzard has created. There’s such an overall sense of dread, of mood–threats lurking just out of sight. I love the way magic and the supernatural exist side by side with humanity, and the worlds lurking just beyond the “mortal” soil. It’s a really fun, really creative universe to play in as a writer.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:02 Nate Kenyon
7:02
[Comment From Sin Sin : ] 

If I were to pick up your standalone books what should I lookout for that might finally reel me into horror fiction?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:02 Sin
7:03
Nate Kenyon: 

That’s a good question. Sparrow Rock is one of my personal favorites of my own work. It’s a very, very intense and horrific thriller, with a major twist that I guarantee you won’t see coming. I’ve had more fans commenting on that novel than anything else I’ve done.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:03 Nate Kenyon
7:04
Medievaldragon: 

Eroldren asks: Are there other facets of the Diablo universe you would like to pursue after in the near future? Or is there another Blizzard book in the pipeline? — **Me personally? I wish to see more Nate Kenyon in Diablo.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:04 Medievaldragon
7:05
Nate Kenyon: 

I’d love to do another Diablo novel. I think it’s a good fit for me. But I loved my StarCraft experience too. I’m really focused on characters, making them deep, real, people–and I think the Blizzard franchises offer some great opportunities there.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:05 Nate Kenyon
7:05
Nate Kenyon: 

I’m sure we will work together again–nothing’s set quite yet, though…

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:05 Nate Kenyon
7:05
[Comment From Jason Ozee Jason Ozee : ] 

Where’s a good place to start if you want to read the books in order? The Sin War novels? Thanks in advance!

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:05 Jason Ozee
7:07
Nate Kenyon: 

The Order, of course! In all seriousness, I do think it’s a great place to begin, because we wanted to tell the story of Diablo from D1 through D3. And it’s a great read–great, fun story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. But you can’t go wrong with any of the books, they’re all great.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:07 Nate Kenyon
7:07
[Comment From Jason Ozee Jason Ozee : ] 

I just bought Sparrow Rock on my nook–thanks for the suggestion!

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:07 Jason Ozee
7:08
Nate Kenyon: 

Great! You’re gonna like this one… :)

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:08 Nate Kenyon
7:08
Medievaldragon: 

I can’t spoil the first act of Diablo III, but I wanted you and our visitors to know that Diablo III: The Order radically changed my perception of the game story. Specially the ending cinematic of Act 1. I think you captured the essence of Deckard Cain for us to further love and care for the old man at the personal and human level. Thank you.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:08 Medievaldragon
7:09
Nate Kenyon: 

Thanks so much! That was a goal of mine, and I’m glad to know it worked for you. I want readers to really understand and come to love Deckard Cain–faults and all…

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:09 Nate Kenyon
7:09
[Comment From Sin Sin : ] 

For someone who just getting interested with horror books are there any general advice also for upstart writers who would like to explore into the horror / thriller genre?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:09 Sin
7:11
Nate Kenyon: 

Well, if you mean what to read–you can’t go wrong with King’s early works–The Shining, The Stand, Salem’s Lot. Jackson’s Haunting of Hill House, brilliant. Matheson’s work. Peter Straub. Blatty’s The Exorcist. There are so many brilliant works in so many different styles.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:11 Nate Kenyon
7:12
Medievaldragon: 

What locations do Cain and Leah visit throughout the story? What are their importance?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:12 Medievaldragon
7:13
Nate Kenyon: 

This is a quest or a “road” novel, so they visit quite a few different places. Many will be familiar to Diablo fans, like Caldeum, Kurast. Others are new, like Lord Brand’s village. I intended to build the feeling of horror and darkness as the novel went on–so each place they go tends to ratchet up the horror and despair, bit by bit.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:13 Nate Kenyon
7:14
Medievaldragon: 

TheDerpalator asks: Were you at all concerned about pleasing such a large group of passionate fans as you were writing? In other words, was it difficult to cater to a passionate fan base while staying true to your own creative process? Have you ever written a book for something so specific before?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:14 Medievaldragon
7:17
Nate Kenyon: 

Very much so. I really, really wanted to get this right for the fans. That was hugely important to me, so I spent a lot of time making sure I knew the history and the Diablo universe. That said, I also knew I had to be true to myself and what I wanted to do with the novel–if I did that, I knew it would be a good book, and fans would be happy. So that was my focus.

The only other time I’ve done something like this was for StarCraft Ghost: Spectres, which I think turned out really well. That helped me feel more confident writing The Order.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:17 Nate Kenyon
7:17
[Comment From Ladislav Ladislav : ] 

I dont know a lot about Diablo story but I’d like to change this stance.. how should I became to get things from birth, maybe in chronological line..

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:17 Ladislav
7:18
Nate Kenyon: 

The Order will give you a decent idea of the timeline, at least from D1 to D3. Book of Cain would also be helpful, I think…

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:18 Nate Kenyon
7:21
Medievaldragon: 

Any more questions? We are going to wrap up shortly.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:21 Medievaldragon
7:21
[Comment From Dewilcry Equilibrium Dewilcry Equilibrium : ] 

so which character you suggest for new diablo players?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:21 Dewilcry Equilibrium
7:21
Nate Kenyon: 

The monk, of course! :) I love that character, both in the novel, and in the game. I think you’ll enjoy playing it…

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:21 Nate Kenyon
7:23
[Comment From Sin Sin : ] 

Have you consider expanding your tie-in fiction writing outside Blizzard and venture with other (game) IPs?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:23 Sin
7:23
Medievaldragon: 

If I was a witch doctor, I’d cast a special voodoo spell so Nate sticks with Diablo for quite a long time. ^_^

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:23 Medievaldragon
7:24
Nate Kenyon: 

I haven’t thought much about it, Sin. I’ve had a couple of offers, but right now I’m so busy it’s tough to imagine. I’m finishing up my next original novel now, a thriller called DAY ONE that’s going to be amazing. And I want to do another project with Blizzard too.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:24 Nate Kenyon
7:24
Nate Kenyon: 

Sounds good to me! :)

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:24 Nate Kenyon
7:25
Medievaldragon: 

Hope Chris and Micky are reading. ;p

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:25 Medievaldragon
7:25
Nate Kenyon: 

They know…and I think we’re all pretty happy about how this book turned out.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:25 Nate Kenyon
7:26
Medievaldragon: 

ok, thanks for coming Nate, and Lyndsi. Fans should pick up Diablo III: The Order by Nate Kenyon at a bookstore near you or online.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:26 Medievaldragon
7:26
Nate Kenyon: 

Well, I guess that’s it…thanks so much to everyone for talking with me, this was great!

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:26 Nate Kenyon
7:26
TheLyns: 

Thanks for stopping by everyone!

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:26 TheLyns
7:27
Nate Kenyon: 

Night all…

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:27 Nate Kenyon
7:27
Medievaldragon: 

Don’t forget there is a Diablo III: The Order audiobook at www.simonandschuster.com and maybe Amazon too?

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:27 Medievaldragon
7:28
Nate Kenyon: 

Yep, you can order the hardcover, Kindle or audio versions on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Diablo-III-Order-Nate-Kenyon/dp/141655078X/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:28 Nate Kenyon
7:36
Medievaldragon: 

Thanks everyone for coming. Hopefully, you have time to read this book before or after playing the game. There’s so much to learn from Diablo III: The Order. You will meet Deckard Cain at a personal level through his eyes and mind thoughts in ways never seen before. You will deeply fall in love with the character, and care for him and his mission. There aren’t really Diablo III spoilers. Nothing to lose. Jump in and immerse into the story. Just a warning. Beware of Belial and his web.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 7:36 Medievaldragon
7:41
 

 

 
 

Other Fansite Interviews

Other fansites had the opportunity to interview Nate Kenyon during the week Diablo III: The Order officially launched:

Reviews

chris-metzen-flint-dille-interview

IDW Transformers: Autocracy # 3 : Blizzplanet interviews Chris Metzen and Flint Dille

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzplanet Interviews, Diablo 3 News, Interviews, StarCraft 2 News, Transformers: Autocracy, World of Warcraft News

Last summer, during the BotCon 2011 celebrated in Pasadena, CA through June 2-5, Chris Metzen and Flint Dille revealed they would launch Transformers: Autocracy — an 8-page digital format comic book spanning 12-parts. It sets the ground that ignited what will later be known as the great civil war of Cybertron. A world ruled by Zeta Prime. This is where the Optimus Prime we love and cherish was forged. At the time, he was the best officer of Zeta Prime. But things weren’t black and white in this era, and back then Optimus Prime was still known as Orion Pax.

Transformers: Autocracy launched on January 18th, and it’s published every two weeks in Comixology (PC/Mac), and the iPad and iPhone mobile platform.

In the eve of the launch of Transformers: Autocracy # 3 (available Wednesday, February 15th) I had the awesome opportunity to ask Chris Metzen and Flint Dille some questions about the digital comics.

When did you get hooked up with Transformers, and what’s your geek out story around the franchise?

Metzen: Well the opportunity to write a Transformers story for IDW popped a few years ago now. It’s taken awhile to get it (all) together. Thankfully the editors at IDW have been very patient!

As for favorite geek-out? There’s no question (IMHO) that the franchise’s greatest moment (across all media) is the throw-down mega-fisticuffs slug-fest between Prime and Megatron in the animated film. “Why throw away your life so recklessly?” Heh. Still makes me smile like an idiot?

Which Transformers stories did you read as background for Autocracy prior to writing the 12-part story?

Metzen: Ooof. Everything I could get my hands on! I had been reading the ongoing series/All Hail Megatron/etc. since it started, but needed to brush up on all the one-shots. Loved Maximum Dynobots and the Last Stand of the Wreckers tales as well. There was a lot to take in and I see lots of places where we missed a few notable details. ? It was a lot to cram for. My biggest inspiration (apart from the animated film) is Furman’s body of work on Transformers. That man paved some serious ground.

Some people are confused with what little they have read in the past 16 pages (spanning Transformers: Autocracy # 1-2) and what they know from Megatron: Origins. Especially concerning Starscream. In Megatron: Origins, Sentinel Prime is still alive. Starscream fights alongside the Deceptions against the Autobots and kills Kaon senators in front of everyone. Yet, in Autocracy, Starscream is a delegate with freedom to walk among the Senate and Zeta Prime as if no one knows what he did. Are fans going to get a clearer picture of what’s going on, or is there a retcon?

Metzen: Ok, lemmesee if I can clear this up… (fingers crossed)…

Autocracy takes place AFTER Chaos Theory, Megatron: Origins and Spotlight: Blurr. You’ll see it’s AFTER everything IDW’s tackled in that era. It’s the story of the end of that era – and the start of the WAR we all know and love.

As for Starscream and the senate of Kaon – no one survived that (very brazen) attack and all video coverage was quickly disposed of. Decepticons are very clever… and thorough! Thus, Starscream’s role as a Decepticon is still largely under wraps as Autocracy gets underway (at least as far as Zeta and these remaining senators are concerned). That entire attack was covered up pretty quick – so one has a clear picture of exactly which Decepticons were specifically involved.

I’ll also go out on a limb here and address the other lingering break – Sentinel WAS Zeta’s immediate predecessor – NOT Nominus. That was my bad… the mention of him getting whacked at the start of Chaos Theory was etched in my head as I was scripting Chapter 2 and I referred to the wrong guy… (do I get a last cigarette before the firing squad does away with me?)…

Why did you choose to write a story set in that time period? Whose was the initiative to do so, yours or the IDW editorial team?

Metzen: Well, Flint and I had pitched a really cool ‘present day’ hook that took a deep look at Optimus and what made him tick. It had some heavy flash-back elements from the old days. Some of the themes and hooks we pitched seemed similar to those that were being developed for Chaos Theory (which no one had seen yet), so the editor, Andy Schmidt, walked us through what Chaos Theory was going to be. We were hooked – and knew immediately that our story would fit far better into that pre-war era. From there – Autocracy really started to find its feet.

What can you tell us about Zeta Prime and his extreme measures to combat the Decepticons?

Metzen: Well… I believe Zeta started strong and wanted to be a Prime that really maintained order and security for the people. But Megatron really stoked the fires of unrest. I think there was a crazy escalation between Zeta’s conventional tactics and the Decepticons’ terror tactics. Over time, he concluded that fighting fire with fire was the only reasonable response to what Megatron represented. He wasn’t always a monster – but he sure became one in response to an increasingly lawless and darkening world.

Sounds like there’s a good story to be told there… :)

Autocracy # 2 was very harsh. How does Orion Pax copes with his orders knowing his duty to Zeta Prime makes him a harbinger of mass destruction upon the very citizens he’s sworn to protect?

Metzen: He doesn’t know yet how bad things are. He doesn’t know the extent of Zeta’s plans (he wasn’t in the room to hear any of this). In general, since he’s having trouble FEELING/Hearing his conscience – one could argue he’s operating through intense tunnel-vision. He doesn’t yet see how bad things are out there in the world – or what that means to him personally.

Obviously, he was in the zone when he stood up to the Senate… clear-minded, compassionate, selfless… But when his ‘heart’ got ripped out… Well, he just ain’t been the same since. However, can you imagine how PISSED he’d be if he saw that video footage Soundwave made off with???

I have been a subscriber of Marvel Digital for a few years. I love the digital library concept. Let’s say that fans — best editors when it comes to continuum inconsistencies — find some retcons, or mistakes in Autocracy. Are you actually able to correct these in Transformers: Autocracy digital at any time? If so, how do you feel about having that sort of control?

Metzen: See answer above regarding said Sentinel/Nominus snafu… Hell yes, I’d like to FIX bits and pieces of this!!!! ? We’ll see about modifying digital content. Not sure what IDW’s plan is for that.

You are working on Diablo III, and both StarCraft II and World of Warcraft expansions, and the next-gen MMO. How do you stretch time to fit writing Transformers: Autocracy?

Metzen: Well, I recently bought a new Mac for home use, so the timing was perfect. And hey – where there’s a will, there’s a way!

There’s a lot of good and awesome critic in the forums around the Transformers: Autocracy’s digital format. It’s only 8-pages, but it crams in so much from panel to panel. The story rolls out. No pun. How does your experience in video game storytelling this past fifteen years converges with comic book storytelling?

Metzen: With 8-page chapters, there’s no room to screw around or get self-indulgent. We have to make every page, every panel, every line count – and tell this story as effectively and excitingly as we can. In that way, it’s not all that different from writing games – where a player/viewer’s time is a precious commodity. The pacing does keep things tight. :)

Chaos Theory, Autocracy, and other relaunch stories — all of them seem to be leading to a major event set in the present borrowing from events and characters from the long past. Is this really what’s going on? Will you be part of that project or follow up projects?

Metzen: Well, IDW’s big relaunch event was CHAOS – and the two new ongoing series (More than Meets the Eye and Robots in Disguise, respectively) are keeping their hands full. That’s the only mega event I’ve been aware of. As for more down the line… well, let’s see how Autocracy does as it picks up steam. :)

What should we expect to see in Autocracy # 3, and how do the events affect the remaining issues of this 12-part story?

Metzen: Well, Orion’s going to be busy hunting down Soundwave… shenanigans certainly occur.

Soundwave, Soundwave, Soundwave… for those of you who are fans of this character – buckle up! This is HIS chapter! (maybe my second biggest franchise geek-out…)

Blizzard’s roots started developing DC The Death and Return of Superman in 1994 and DC League of Justice Task Force for Super Nintendo in 1995. If Activision asked Blizzard to work on one of their IP, is that door open?

Metzen: Geez, I dunno. I think we’re doing pretty well with the franchises we’re currently developing. From a story perspective, we’ve still got miles and miles to go with each of them!

Grab a digital copy of the Transformers: Autocracy #3 for only $.99 cents via iPhone, iPad or Comixology (PC/Mac)

Note: Check back later for Flint Dille’s answers.

Transformers: Autocracy # 3 – Chris & Flint Teaser (Video)

Meet the Writers

Chris Metzen is Blizzard Entertainment Senior Vice-president of Creative Development — responsible for developing and expanding the Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo universes and directing the team of story writers for upcoming game content and licensed products such as novels and manga. Chris Metzen is loved by the lore community, and he has identified himself as a geek. The Transformers franchise is in a dear place near his geeky heart.

Transformers Theme Song (G1, 1980s)

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Blizzplanet Interview: Blizzard’s Micky Neilson Talks Diablo III: Book of Cain

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzplanet Interviews, Diablo 3 News, Featured Stories, Interviews

Blizzplanet and other Blizzard fansites had the opportunity to individually interview Blizzard Entertainment Publishing Lead and Senior Story Developer Micky Neilson over the phone. Eldorian forwarded most of the questions submitted recently by our visitors.

In our interview, Micky Neilson talks more about the mysterious Zoltun Kulle — for those who got to watch the BlizzCon 2011 Diablo III Lore Panel, and reveals the main theme of Nate Kenyon’s upcoming Diablo: The Order (Slated: May 29, 2012).

Insight Editions will release Diablo III: Book of Cain on December 13th, 2011. Grab your copy. It has become Amazon’s # 1 Graphic Novel Best Seller.

Read our interview with Micky Neilson to find out why!

Note: Post on twitter a comment about this interview using the hashtag #bookofcain plus @blizzplanet for a chance at a free Diablo III: Book of Cain giveaway. Deadline: Thursday, Dec 15, 2011. (example: @blizzplanet I <3 Blizzard, gimme #bookofcain)

Interview

Why is Deckard Cain so important in Diablo history?

Neilson: Why is Deckard Cain so important? Well, he’s one of the most identifiable characters. I would say that stems from him being chosen as the NPC you deal with the most in the series. So, I think as a character he resonated with fans early on so he had some longevity and some staying power. Over the course of the different games he’s become certainly a marquee character. He worked really well for this book specifically because he’s the guy gathering all the information, lore, text and all of that stuff. It really made sense that he’s the one to put this book together.

Where did the inspiration come from to make the Book of Cain a real item that people could buy?

Neilson: Early on the idea came from Chris Metzen as far as he came to the publishing team and said that he really wanted to do a book that is kind of a history of the universe and also an art book. He described it as a hybrid between a source book and an art book. So we went forward from there. As part of that process we had discussions if this is part of Cain’s journal from the game or something completely separate. So we went back and forth a few times and through the course of identifying what the book would be and kind of nailing down the vision of the book, we settled down on the in game artifact aspect of it. We felt like that was the better way to go. I mean as far as the cover and maintaining continuity within the IP it felt like a cool hook for it to be something actually within the game.

Does the Book of Cain take any information from previous Diablo books such as those written by Richard A. Knaak or Mel Odom?

Neilson: Yeah. There is definitely. A lot of the Sin War trilogy is covered in here. You can get kind of a condensed version of the events from the Sin War Trilogy, and it touches on some of the other books as well.

Given that this book is set as the source book for Diablo lore, does it contradict or change any of the major events that have taken place in the game? And if so can you elaborate and be specific on any of the changes?

Neilson: It does clarify a lot of things. We have a lore team who basically pour over all of this material. We knew going into the creation of this book that there were already some contradictions that existed in the lore and the history. So we took this as an opportunity to set the record straight. We definitely identified a few things. One specific example is Tal Rasha and the Soul Stone; and Zoltun Kulle being the one that suggested that the essence could be trapped within a human. There were already a couple of differing accounts and who made that suggestion. I think in one account it was Tal Rasha made the suggestion and another account that Tyrael made the suggestion. So we went in with a different option that Zoltun Kulle was the one who made the suggestion and the purpose of that was to set up that character more because he’s a main character in the next game.

Does Book of Cain go into any post-Sin War details after the trilogy by Knaak? A lot of the other lore in the games and other novels make it seem as if the Sin War didn’t end until a few hundred years before the events of Diablo 1.

Neilson: It does go into detail and we’re trying to nail down the timeline right now. I don’t remember if it nails down exactly how many years before the events of the game that the Sin War takes place but we are in the midst of nailing all of that down for a more refined timeline.

Book of Cain talks about the Angels, and Demons, but Does Trang’Oul get mentioned in the book?

Neilson: Trang’Oul is mentioned briefly. He actually has a gorgeous double page spread and as part of that there’s a little side bar written as a handwritten note from Deckard Cain. There’s a little bit of information, but it’s almost more like a teaser for Trang’Oul.

Are there any potential Diablo III story spoilers in Book of Cain for those who wish to read it before playing the game?

Neilson: There’s no spoilers for the game. Information in the Book of Cain certainly does inform what is in the game. When you read the book you will certainly be more informed of the lore perspective when you play the game.

Are there examples of Deckard Cain and Leah’s research throughout the years searching and piecing together the fragments of the new Prophecy about Azmodan and the comet?

Neilson: There is a lot of that covered in the book. The prophecy is kind of an amalgam that Cain put together on many different prophecies that exist. Some of the different cultures around Sanctuary have some of their own prophecies and a lot of these prophecies point to the comet and the end of days. Deckard Cain put together one all encompassing prophecy based on everything he’s read. So there’s the one he put together but there are a lot of different ones as well.

In Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, Tyrael opens a portal for Cain and the hero prior to the destruction of the Worldstone. Do we get to read about the explosion of Mount Arreat from the point of view of any surviving Barbarians? For example, the upcoming DC Comics Diablo mentions a survivor.

Neilson: We do have a section on the destruction of the Worldstone I believe, I’ll have to double check, but I believe it’s told from Deckard Cain’s perspective. So I don’t believe it’s told from the Barbarian perspective.

Does Cain mention Abd al-Hazir, and if so, does his research help Cain piece together the prophecy? Have they met or worked together?

Neilson: I don’t believe we mention Abd al-Hazir in here and if we do it’s just a really brief mention of the many sources Cain is drawing from. We don’t suggest in the book that they have been hanging out and sharing information.

Are all lands of Sanctuary featured, and given in-depth background story?

Neilson: There wasn’t enough space in the book to go in depth giving all the other information we put in the book. There is a section near the end of the book called Lands and Cultures that does cover all the main areas and cultures in sanctuary. It also covers all the new classes that will be showing up in Diablo 3.

Does Cain uncover new history of his Horadrim heritage and learn the background stories of NPCs/Bosses/lore figures met in the previous games? (for example: Leoric’s pre-Tristram reign, Warriv, Wirt, Anya, mythical stories of possible Tyrael encounters across time.)

Neilson: Yes. For sure we get into Leoric a lot more. We do touch into a lot of the history of the Horadrim, the hunt for the three, we get into a lot more detail as far as the events that took place back then. We’re also working on another book, Nate Kenyon is writing a book for us called The Order and that is really going to go into a lot more detail also into the history of the Horadrim and Cain’s involvement and how he learned about the Horadrim and the events at Tristram.

What was more interesting or challenging about compiling the lore for Book of Cain and working with Flint Dille?

Neilson: Flint Dille was great. Flint really understood the character so he nailed that character voice, that scholarly voice of Deckard Cain. I’d say the biggest challenge was just codifying everything. Just putting it all together identifying contradictions that existed and clarifying which direction we wanted to go. There’s a lot of history in the Diablo universe. It was a mammoth task just to put distinctly. What did we end up? 140-some pages? So just trying to the entire Diablo history in that amount of pages, and a significant amount of that was art, was not the easiest thing in the world.

What inspired this mythological background for the Diablo universe concerning Anu and Tathamet the dragon?

Neilson: A lot of that came from Chris Metzen and early on we had meetings and we talked about what would different mythology be for the universe. And we knew there was one we wanted to back and enforce as canon at least from Cain’s point of view and the information that he discovered. A lot of those ideas came from Chris Metzen, and we hashed out the rest of it in brainstorming sessions.

Is Tran’Goul somehow related to Tathamet considering both are dragons, but both seem to be different: the former good, the latter evil?

Neilson: I think there’s more information that will be revealed in the future about Trang’Oul – right now I can’t disclose anything.

How do you feel about the mood and story of the Diablo series? What do you think makes it stand from other dark fantasy universes?

Neilson: Interesting. So the biggest theme that we face with Diablo is heroism facing absolute terror. I really think that sets it apart. You have humanity that is caught in the middle between these cataclysmic forces of light and dark, but light and dark aren’t exactly what you expect them to be. The angels aren’t exactly what you expect angels to be – most of them want to destroy humanity. So it’s a really kind of an interesting dynamic and humanity has the ability to become powerful in its own right, and to upset the balance of the Eternal Conflict between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells. I think that is really a cool hook.

Thank you, Micky Neilson, Eric Yco, Bashiok, Lyndsi, and Blizzard Creative & Public Relations Teams for your awesome support to fansites and lore fans.

Order Diablo III: Book of Cain now (Release date: Dec 13, 2011) or gift it to a friend or family member.

We recommend reading our BlizzCon 2011 Diablo III Lore Panel Transcript to learn more about Zoltun Kulle, and other mentions of Diablo III: Book of Cain made during the Panel.

Other Fansites – Diablo III: Book of Cain Interviews

Links of Interest

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Blizzplanet Interview: StarCraft: Ghost — Spectres Interview with Nate Kenyon

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Interviews, Featured Stories, StarCraft 2 News, Starcraft: Ghost News

Blizzplanet journalist and network manager Eldorian interviewed author Nate Kenyon by phone to dig more into the storyline of StarCraft: Ghost–Spectres, a novel many fans of the StarCraft Universe have been anxiously awaiting for almost three years and a half (title revelation: May 10, 2008).

The StarCraft: Ghost–Spectres was originally assigned to be written by Keith R.A. DeCandido. For reasons only the Asgardian Norns might know, the direction of the book landed on the good hands of Nate Kenyon, a Bram Stoker Award finalist for both Bloodstone and The Reach. Nate Kenyon’s most recent novels (The Bone Factory and Sparrow Rock) have received great recognition by the American Library Association’s Booklist Magazine and Publishers Weekly.

Listen to the phone interview, and don’t forget to order StarCraft: Ghost–Spectres.

Interview

Other interviews around the web:

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World of Warcraft: Wolfheart – Blizzplanet Interviews Richard A. Knaak

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Interviews, Featured Stories, Interviews, World of Warcraft News

Blizzard Entertainment hosted a live phone call interview between Richard A. Knaak and Blizzplanet member Eldorian. Questions were hand picked by Medievaldragon from the Scrolls of Lore community. Thanks a bunch, folks. Many thanks to Blizzard Entertainment, its Public Relations staff and to the Creative Team.

Eldorian: “The sound quality is decent enough. I’d just remind people that this was done over a cell phone and the sound quality is a little distorted due to that.”

Transcript in english and spanish will come at a later time. Stay tuned. Listen to the phone call interview below:

Order your copy of World of Warcraft: Wolfheart — available as Hardcover, Kindle, or eAudio.

EPIC Weapons Interview – Frostmourne Replica

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzPlanet Articles, Blizzplanet Interviews, Interviews

Blizzard Entertainment recently announced their partnership with EPIC Weapons to create a limited edition replica of the legendary rune blade Frostmourne – measuring over 47” long and 12.5” wide, weighing a massive 16 lbs., and is now available for pre-order. For more information, please visit the Frostmourne replica site.

Frostmourne is the legendary evil rune blade that bound Prince Arthas Menethil’s soul to the will of the Lich King in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.

Many fans around the world are awed with the care to detail by EPIC Weapons in crafting this Frostmourne replica, while others wonder how many of these replicas will be made, or why the first ninety-nine replicas are going out on auction bid this March 31st.  For this matter, Blizzplanet contacted EPIC Weapons Chief Executive Officer Gina L. Bennett to unravel some answers.

1. Can you introduce Epic Weapons to fans who are new to your company, your goals and when was the company founded?

Gina: Since its inception in 1998, EPIC Weapons has positioned itself as a premiere designer and manufacturer of officially licensed swords, weapons, and other collectibles. Our team’s designs have appeared in blockbuster television with “Deep Space Nine”, “The X-Files”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, and numerous films to include “Spider Man 2”, “Star Trek: Nemesis”, and “The Chronicles of Riddick”.

Our management and creative team has more than 75 years experience as it related to product development, design, manufacturing and distribution in many different business verticals transaction business throughout the world – including the gaming and entertainment industries.

EPIC Weapons strives to protect the brand and integrity of all products, it designs, and manufactures for its strategic partners and customers. One of our main goals is to successfully transition digital weapons from all types of media online and console video games, anime series and movies while keeping the original artist concept intact.

2. How was born the idea of crafting the Frostmourne replica? Did Blizzard approach Epic Weapons, or the other way around?

Gina: Our company approached Blizzard Entertainment in early 2006 regarding the development of Frostmourne. EPIC Weapons focuses on unique weapons when deciding on product development and Frostmourne certainly proved to be the ultimate challenge to design and manufacture.

3. Who designed the Frostmourne replica produced by EPIC Weapons?

Gina: Frostmourne’s development was a collective effort between our design team and Blizzard Entertainment. Our company works extremely close with our partner throughout the product development process to ensure the products’ original integrity remains intact through the design stage. Kit Rae, our Director of Product Design, is an intricate part of EPIC Weapons we’re very proud that his illustrative and creative expertise was part of designing the Frostmourne replica. Kit is an award-winning Knife designer and fantasy artist with a worldwide following for his unique weapons and sporting knives. Kit Rae’s knives have appeared in blockbuster television shows such as “Deep Space Nine”, “The X-Files”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, and numerous films such as “Spider Man 2”, “Star Trek: Nemesis”, and “The Chronicles of Riddick”. In addition to designing the Indiana Jones Khyber Bowie and the Swords of the Ancients Collection, Kit Rae has also supervised many licensed movie knife reproductions for such films as: “The Shadow”, “Total Recall”, “The Mask of Zorro”, “Blade”, and “The Lord of The Rings Trilogy”. He has also created custom knife designs, for brands like United Cutlery, Harley-Davidson, and Colt. In 1996 he won the Blade Magazine award for his Colt Knife/Axe Combo. In 1997 Kit created the highly successful Kit Rae Fantasy Art brand, a line of his edged weapons with companion fantasy art prints.

4. What material was used to craft the Frostmourne prototype that would be used to mass-produce the replica, and why?

Gina: The primary cast material that was used in the manufacturing process is Zinc. EPIC Weapons chose this material because it can be plated to give the aged look that Frostmourne demanded. Additionally, there are fewer issues with miscellaneous structural defects such as loose parts and irregular textures during the manufacturing process.

5. What material is each Frostmourne replica made with?

Gina: The blade is made of 420J2 Japanese milled stainless steel, the other detailed parts are made of cast metal, and the wrapping of the handle is made from leather.

6. What is the process made step by step to craft this replica? It is not exactly a common design since it originates from a fanstasy-setting.

Gina: The design and manufacturing process of Frostmourne truly is cutting edge from a technology and manufacturing perspective. The entire process took nearly two years to become a reality bringing the sword to life from a digital environment was a tremendous challenge and a true labor of love for all parties involved. A major concern of EPIC Weapons is the protection of the brands of its clients. Our company manufactured Frostmourne utilizing the most technologically proven factories we took extraordinary precautions during the tooling and production stages by splitting up the manufacturing deliverables and engaging three separate manufacturing plants to complete the sword’s final production. EPIC Weapons included Game2Gear Authentication RFID technology in each sword produced to protect Frostmourne from illegal duplication, while providing the sword’s owner with a tracking and verification method – ultimately increasing the collectible’s value. Never before has any weapon designer been able to successfully manufacture such a complicated designed collectible weapon at the level of detail and quality that Frostmourne has possessed.

7. How many replicas will be available for purchase?

Gina: The initial production run is for 5,000 swords.  EPIC Weapons has had such a strong initial response to Frostmourne that we plan on manufacturing the sword far into the future.

8. Many fans will ask, why is there an auction bid for the first 99 replicas?

Gina: It has been our experience that many sword collectors want access to the 1st production run of a weapon of this kind. We decided to hold the auction to accommodate these serious fans as well take the opportunity to introduce Frostmourne to the World of Warcraft fans.

9. Winners of the Auction bid are automatically drawn as members of the “Arthas’s Army of Disciples” Club. What are the benefits of this club?

Gina: EPIC Weapons and Blizzard Entertainment wanted to acknowledge the auction winners and we thought this would be a great way to do so. The auction winners will be part of a special group which include very special Blizzard Entertainment principals and special guests. This club is to commemorate the first fans that wielded Frostmourne through this historical event.

10. What is the technical reason the Frostmourne replica is not crystal-encased to mimic the shape of the ice-crystal encasing the Frostmourne rune blade from Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos?

Gina: EPIC Weapons original design intent was to create a real weapon that was sturdy, could be held and touched without fear of damage under normal circumstances producing the sword blade in steel accomplished this. One of our company’s and Blizzard Entertainment’s top priorities was to manufacture Frostmourne at a reasonable price point had we gone down the road of adding high end facades or treatments the price would have put the sword out of reach for many fans. In the end while these types of treatments may look cool EPIC Weapons did not feel the technology was available today to sufficiently accomplish the design and manufacturing high standard required for Frostmourne.

11. Does Epic Weapons only focus on swords? Or do you craft medieval armor and axes as well?

Gina: EPIC Weapon is an equal opportunity designer and manufacturer. We welcome the opportunity to design and manufacturer a varied assortment of weapons, including armor, helmets and costumes.

12. I really have to ask on behalf of those who have purchased or will purchase one of these Frostmourne replicas. Are there any plans to craft the helm of the Lich King, and/or the chestplate-shoulders set which are part of the in-game Frostmourne set and/or the ornamented knee-boots set? If there are no plans for these, would you consider it if members of the Arthas’s Army of Disciples Club request it?

Gina: EPIC Weapons is not currently in the process of designing or manufacturing the helm of the Lich King, or the chestplate-shoulders or the ornamented knee-boots set. We would absolutely consider bringing these items, or any other agreed upon item that Blizzard Entertainment desires our company to design and manufacture, from its digital game into reality.

13. World of Warcraft and Diablo games have a wide range of in-game weapons with epic-characteristics not usually seen in real-life. Would you consider crafting them if fans or even Blizzard requested it? Let’s say … The Ashbringer, the Blades of Azzinoth (Illidan) or Gorehowl (Grom Hellscream’s Axe).

Gina: A resounding yes!

Blizzplanet: Many thanks to Gina Bennett and EPIC Weapons for this interview that may be informative to those World of Warcraft and Warcraft III fans who were curious or undecided about purchasing the Frostmourne replica.

Wow: Night of the Dragon – Richard A. Knaak Video Interview

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzplanet Interviews

Kazo (Returner @ Dragonmaw) and Rafo(video camera) interviewed Richard A. Knaak, New York Times Bestselling Fantasy Author. The interview took place early today directly from Istrocon Event at Slovakia, on behalf of Blizzplanet.  Richard A. Knaak was a special guest at Istrocon 2007, which expected over 4,000 visitors.

In our interview, Richard A. Knaak reveals a few details of the upcoming World of Warcraft: Night of the Dragon and the Wow: Burning Crusade Tokyopop Manga. Diablo fans get some spotlight during the interview with certain details of the last book in the Diablo: The Sin War Trilogy (due September 25th). A certain Diablo 3 topic was pitched at Richard A. Knaak. Find out if it was a strike or a home run. Hope you enjoy the video interview.

NOTE: Many questions about different novels were asked in this interview.  There is probably a mistake, I am sure Knaak would wish to correct from the interview.  Warcraft: Day of the Dragon takes place around year 10.  Warcraft: Night of the Dragon takes place somewhere near year 26, which is anywhere between Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King’s timeframe. Check out the Warcraft Timeline at the official website.  In World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, World of Warcraft starts at year 30, however. Take this in mind when you watch the video. Thanks.

Visit and bookmark Richard A. Knaak’s homepage, and subscribe to his newsletter.

Most of the questions were submited by the World of Warcraft and Diablo community: Blizzplanet’s Wow Lore Forum, Scrolls of Lore, and Diablo3.com.

A big thanks to Kazo and Rafo. Great job! Visit their Wow Fansite: worldofwarcraft.sk (Slovakia)