World of Warcraft devs on droughts, team size, and lessons learned

    
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Gamespot has a new interview out with four members of the “300 strong” World of Warcraft live team this week, and while the quartet bring up micro-holidays — kind of a lot — there’s also a bit of insight on what the team has learned over the years. Unsurprisingly, they don’t like the word “drought.”

“We know and remember well the narrative or the sentiment from Warlords, where people were very happy at the start and then after that, there were the concerns we heard, that you described, about droughts,” Class Designer Jay Gill says. Senior Designer Paul Kubit explained that the team is trying to address those criticisms with content.

“When working on WoW, we constantly learned from the past expansions–we learned things from Cataclysm going into Pandaria, Pandaria into Warlords, and so on. The big one that we learned from Warlords is we just need to do more patches. We need to keep the game vibrant with content, and the way we do that is by making sure, every couple months or so, we have something new to do. And that’s the point of these .5 patches–it’s to have, even if it’s not the giant raid tier and outdoor farming zone, something new that you can play.”

Lead Class Designer Adam Kugler suggests that the large size of the team is a strength rather than a weakness:

“The nice thing is there’s so many people that work on the team, and they’re all working on something to make the game better, so they have their own spin on what’s making the game better. Sometimes, when we’re looking at what’s coming up in the next patch, I’m like, “Oh, I didn’t even know we were doing that.” There’s so many people that are making new content that I think that there’s just a giant initiative for different directions, different plans of attack to come in and create a different style of content than any other person on the team, and that’s what makes it so strong.”

There’s also a bit on iterating on legendaries, class balance, and front-loading content, and no one says the words “class fantasy” at all! Bonus.

Source: Gamespot
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Dug From The Earth

what ever their new outlook and plan is for avoiding past issues/droughts/etc, it hasnt seemed to work for me.

Just like Cata/Panda/Warlords… i played the expansion for about 3-4 months, and no longer have any desire to play due to the game feeling like there isnt anything new. A new raid wing every couple months, or random 2 day “event holidays” dont cut it for an game most people play on a daily basis.

Blizzard just doesnt seem to get that players like me want more quest/story/exploration content on a more frequent basis. They are stuck in this notion that after an expansion, 50% of new content should be daily quests/rep grind, and 45% should be new raid content. Leaving only about 5% for anything else. Sorry, but thats not gonna keep me subbing to the game.

Back to waiting 15+ months for the next expansion for another 3 month long adventure.

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Sally Bowls

That is certainly not the way I remembered the past (a much politer version of my original sentence.)
Prior to Legion, there was little to no talk from Blizzard about needing more patches; the talk was on shorter expansions. WoD was designed to have fewer expansions and raid tiers than predecessors, which would not have been a content issue if WoD had hit Blizzard’s long enunciated and never-delivered-upon goal of annual release. Two big patches in a 12-month expansion and four in a 24-month expansion are the same content delivery pace. The recent change at Blizzard is they acknowledged that they practically can’t make quick expansions, ergo they need more patches.
P.S. a common project management example used to be that you can’t hire nine women and get a baby in a month.

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Schmidt.Capela

To do smaller, annual expansion releases without a backlash they would need to cut the expansion price in half, though. WoD instead hiked the price.

wandris
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wandris

Grats Blizz it only took you 10 years to get the message. Part of the problem seems to me is how every two years they release an expansion essentially making everything that came before irrelevant. They have been their own worst enemy having to compete with previous releases and leaving players with a small island of content. The game is massive, but not as large as it could be. Legion though is easily the best expansion they have ever done, especially with the rest of the content in the next 2 or three major patches. If they can keep up this level of content in the future then I think WoW has managed to overcome its number one issue.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

What we don’t know is that every night, a Goblin drops a tablet of Young Again in the water cooler and the dev team spins back to when they were young and un-learned. This allows them to re-learn everything they just learned and be able to say so with a straight face.

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MesaSage

In other news, Ford just announced they’ve learned that people like new car models.

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Dirty Ape

Did they say it with a straight face?

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Dreema

Every expansion we hear the same thing: they’ve learnt from their mistakes, they know what they did wrong, they know how to improve things… and every expansion they make the same mistakes. The mind just boggles over how many times they can reel off the same lines and still expect people to believe them. You’d think even Blizzard must get tired of their bullshit after a while but apparently not.

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styopa

It’s astonishing to me that a THREE HUNDRED PERSON team can’t get more content rolling out the door. Even granted, let’s say, that 2/3 are working on the next expansion – that still leaves a 100 person team that doesn’t have to spend a moment on creating mechanics, balance, terrain, anything character-wise, but simply has a toolbox and the direction to make adventure.
And let’s be clear: I’m *actually* talking about content, not just the tired grindy dailies (do the ogre quests 30 days in a row for a kite!) that show up after every expansion right about now.

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Brother Maynard

Yeah, I don’t think it’s the best PR move to brag about their 300-strong team, seeing the quality of their content. Especially when there are companies doing about the same with (and sometimes more) with a fraction of that.

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Dirty Ape

Oh shit ogre kites are in? *resubscribes*

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Carlo Rossi

Oh c’mon, every xpac they repeat “We’ll release more content” and every time there’s almost one year between the last raid and the next xpac with nothing in between…

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Shaun Shaungbr

Wow been going for 12 years. Expansion comes out then for the next 2 years some mediocre content and patches with promises of sorry we won’t have a content drought again we have learned our lesson BS. ESO 2-3 years old new content and updates every few months. Guess where my money is going.