World of Warcraft’s Hazzikostas on content creep and the future of the game

    
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Hey, it turns out that designing long-term MMORPGs that aren’t pump-and-dump schemes is hard!

That’s the takeaway from a new PC Gamer interview with Blizzard’s Ion Hazzikostas, during which the World of Warcraft game director admits to what the developers of the dozens of MMOs that came before WoW could’ve told Blizz had it, y’know, ever considered asking.

“We are becoming increasingly aware of the cost of any change we make that has ongoing maintenance and the risk of design bloat,” Hazzikostas says. “If we keep adding and adding with every expansion, eventually what we end up with becomes very unwieldy. It’s an issue that we weren’t cognizant enough of early on because we were in uncharted territory, but we are now.” Yeah, he said uncharted territory.

This is why Blizzard has put a moratorium on adding new systems like farms and garrisons and legendaries and class halls. Just kidding. That’s never gonna happen.

As to the future of the game, Hazzikostas says work on the game’s next expansion has indeed begun, but declined to comment on the community speculation about a final confrontation with the Legion, possibly on a new planet — actual uncharted territory. “Story-wise, we try to think two expansions ahead at this point. We’ll see what the end of Legion brings, but we’re trying to make it a cohesive narrative that flows and segues from one expansion into the next.”

Source: PC Gamer
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Polyanna

This reads to me like very early spin-casting for the theme of the next expansion: Timewalking Everything!

Zones? Where we’re going we don’t need zones.

It sounds to me like this is just prepping people for the idea of an “expansion” that is something other than a content dump, where the centerpiece instead is some sort of comprehensive overhaul to old content, like adding end-to-end level scaling and “world quest” mechanics throughout the entire existing game world, and maybe pulling “normal mode” for all existing dungeons and raids into a new, universally level scaled instance finder.

Add in some sort of account-bound progression system similar to Champion Points from ESO, maybe a first attempt at real, actually interesting player housing; people probably would go nuts for it. Toss in a raid at launch, and one more at mid-expansion just to pretend that they care; a couple dungeons maybe . . . they could call that an “expansion” and get away with it. They’ve sold “expansions” on a whole lot less.

It might not even be the worst idea, actually, never making a new zone again. There are a ton of new-ish players in the game at this point who have never seen 90% of the existing content, because they started in WoD or Legion, boosted or powerleveled past all the old stuff, and went straight to the latest expansion where all their friends were playing.

They could get a lot of mileage for relatively little investment if they did a really good job of making all that old stuff actually relevant and fun again, for those who never have seen it, or those who have seen it and would love to have a good reason to go back.

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chriskovo .

How about not gating flying behind these stupid pathfinder achievements and making all the rep grinds and other activities all optional like it was supposed to be? Im sick of the current devs trying to force feed us what they consider fun and not letting me do what I want to do. Blizzard has lost touch with that fact its supposed to be about customer satisfaction and not what the devs or the corporation wants. Forced time locks on quests, the force rep grinds, the forced stealth of Suramar make me hate a game I used to love. I used to think Blizzard was a great developer no Im half wanting them to just burn to the ground now, so that WOWs legacy could stay intact.

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Pedge Jameson

The writer of the article wrote:
“World of Warcraft—a seemingly novel idea for a game that’s almost old enough to start dating.”

Apparently it’s former Subway spokesperson Jared Fogle.

…I’ll show myself out. :P

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Armsman

Yeah, right – The Blizzard Devs are indeed full of it. Meridian 59, Ultima Online, EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot were around from 1997 – 2001. I believe a few of the WoW devs even played EQ for at least a year before starting work on WoW,

For Blizzard devs to say; “Who knew feature bloat was a thing?” is just plain ridiculous.

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It Didn't Take

we were in uncharted territory

And people wonder where the kids get the whole “WoW was the firs tMMO” bullshit. Blizz appears to believe no other MMOs were around to learn from during the early days. Good thing they learned later and have “invented” every mechanic and feature from every other MMO has released since.

ceder
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ceder

Book title:
Blizzard Spin Spin Spin

By:
Has-it-cost-us

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MeltWithYou

I’ve caught myself wishing Blizzard would just reboot the whole franchise…completely start over from scratch. The story these days is just so damn ridiculous, the simplicity of elves in the woods, wild dwarves in the north that ride griffons…gone. Every expac they’re inching closer and closer to space lol yea no…start over. But that probably won’t happen any time soon.

I had a feeling for a while they’d try a cataclysm 2.0 styled revamp of the old world, but their art director Chris Robinson has stated pretty plainly that they don’t want to touch the old world for ‘nostalgia’ reasons [blizzcon 2016]

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Jeremy Barnes

WoW will gradually morph into Worlds of Starcraft!

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Hurbster

Well they already mullered the Old World (or at least the Alliance bits) once – why not again.

Nostalgia ? Went out the window with Cataclysm.

wandris
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wandris

No way they are finally getting to the good part. The backstory was always the legion destroying the universe to save it from the voidlords. Next on the table is galactic conquest and extra-dimensional incursions.

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Eamil

They’ve already ruined the Legion for me. Remember when the Legion didn’t have spaceships and the entire plot of the first three games was fueled by the idea that the demons had to be summoned into the world with help from the other side?

I honestly do think the Warcraft franchise would benefit from the type of reboot EQNext was supposed to do. Reboot the whole backstory, change whatever you want, and make the new story you craft supplement the game you want to make.

wandris
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wandris

That hasn’t really changed, even those ships are being transported via portal. They may not even be space worthy or actual spaceships. Fel energy has long been used or cause levitation in objects. Even then both information and matter can be transported faster than light. Magical portal VS wormhole is nearly indistinguishable in effect. If the technologically backwards races of azeroth can build flying air carriers out of spare gyrocopter parts, it doesn’t seem too far fetched that the legion could do the same after its endless crusade over countless worlds. No doubt the legion has had many millennia to pilfer and develop advanced technology. You would think they would get at least a few war prizes after endless conquest.

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Phubarrh

It’s not like Nostalrius was unique though…it’s just the one that decided to make waves.

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Rottenrotny

Yeah they need to stop adding so many bells and whistles and get down to MMO 101 basics.
Huge open world. It seriously cannot be big enough. Ever. None of this tiny, pathed and corridory zone crap.
Exploration. See giant open world.
Story.
Smooth combat.
Community. This is all but gone in the game. Bring back servers. Stop phasing everything to death.
Unpopular opinion time: Get rid of the LFD/LFR tool in it’s current incarnation. Keep it to help create the group/raid, but make them goto the dungeon again. This encourages communication in the group and helps forge alliances and rivalries. See: Community above.
Stop adding more levels and create horizontal progression. The number are just ridiculous.
Remove race/class restrictions.
Remove artifact weapons. I would like to be a Shadow Priest with a staff again. Kthx.
Stop making the player the savior of Azeroth over and over. Make players the grunt in an ongoing struggle again.

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MeltWithYou

I ran LFR for the first time since MOP yesterday…I thought it was bad back then, but yesterday was a total shit show. The hunter would kick off a boss fight with half the raid still zoning in, there was a healer that literally stayed mounted…the entire xavius fight…didn’t do a damn thing…we took him down, thought maybe they were AFK or disconnected, nope, moved right to the exit and grabbed the loot then dropped. shit show lol all i could do was laugh

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Paragon Lost

He’s full of it. It’s not a problem for Blizzard because at the start of each new expansion they toss a majority of what they designed and released in the previous expansion. One of my seriously big beefs with them is that nothing matters and it’s all going to get tossed out with the bathwater come next expansion.

Seriously, why bother to invest in anything but achievements in WoW? The looks for druids from the artifact weapons will go away at the time of the next expansion as one example. Why?Because you won’t be able to keep that cool feral kitty look without keeping the artifact equipped.

And like legendary items before, you won’t be able to use those looks in other gear, which has been started with Blizzard from the start. They build shit then they tear it down and start again with the next expac. (sigh)

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Iain B

“And like legendary items before, you won’t be able to use those looks in other gear, which has been started with Blizzard from the start. They build shit then they tear it down and start again with the next expac. (sigh)”

Blizzard has already confirmed that the legendary appearances will be transmog-able on weapons for future expansions. Just like you can currently transmog the legendary cloak appearances from Pandaria.

It was also announced at the last BlizzCon on a panel but I can’t find it atm.

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Paragon Lost

Transmog the cloak all you want too. The “cool effect” doesn’t happen. :(

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Iain B

So? Since when are transmogs anything other than just for visual appearance? The system has only ever been intended for appearance-only.

Just like “dozens of other MMOs that came before it have done.” /wink

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Eamil

He’s full of it. It’s not a problem for Blizzard because at the start of each new expansion they toss a majority of what they designed and released in the previous expansion. One of my seriously big beefs with them is that nothing matters and it’s all going to get tossed out with the bathwater come next expansion.

This is the problem. You literally described the problem. WoW is a massive hodgepodge of systems they designed and abandoned. It’s felt like a mess for so long now.