MMORPG: Hey everbody, this is Bill Murphy, Managing Editor of MMORPG.com and I am here with a very special guest today for Game On: Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street of Blizzard Entertainment and World of Warcroft Warcraft... let's try it without a British accent. Let's get right to the questions: Thunder King is out, living and breathing on the live servers. Have you slept yet, or is 5.3 right there on the horizon?
Greg Street: Always more to do, and once we ship a patch as large as 5.2 there's always more to fix. There's always more to do, and everyone behind the scenes is still pretty busy, and that'll probably keep going for the next couple weeks until everything is running smoothly.
MMORPG: What sort of things have cropped up that you guys have noticed, which need fixing, as it were?
Greg: There's a million things. Like, a certain dinosaur is not dropping the right loot table, or a piece of loot is flagged wrong for the raid, or a boss encounter needs a little tuning, or a DPS class needs a little tuning, just stuff like that. There are a million little bugs, and you can never rest with a job like this.
MMORPG: I've heard that more often than you can imagine, probably. Let's talk about some of the goals with 5.2 and the Thunder King: to entice players to come back and see what the team's doing to bring back the old WoW flavor. Can you give us an overview of how you did that?
Greg: For starters, it's just a gigantic raid. Think probably the largest we've ever done, with a whole bunch of different bosses, and we wanted to get that epic old world feeling that people really missed. And we packaged it up with this island of trolls and dinosaurs, lots of little hidden secrets: summonable bosses, rare spawns - we didn't want players to feel like "Oh yeah, I've seen it all in a week I'm done." If someone wants to spend a little time in the game there's something they can find to do.
MMORPG: It's a massive patch, with tons of content all over the place, right?
Greg: Yeah, this is probably the biggest patch we've ever done.
MMORPG: To that end (bringing old players back), do you think it's working? No numbers necessary, as I know I couldn't squeeze them out of you if I tried. But how have former players responded? What have been the chief likes and dislikes?
Greg: Well Raid Finder wasn't open until yesterday in the US on this one, so for some players this will be the big new feature that'll get people to see the new content. I actually haven't seen numbers either to know what's going on, but anecdotally, when I run around there are a lot of players out there (Thunder Isle).
MMORPG: As well there would be, because it's a lot like Quel'Danas from The Burning Crusade. The new dailies, the way they're unlocked... what made you want to revisit that system with this patch.
Greg: We try to vary the daily quest system so that you're not doing the same exact ones every day... we did too much of that when Mists first shipped. 5.1 stepped away, and 5.2 goes even further. We like how progressing through these dailies worked in Quel'Danas and the Sunwell patch, and on top of that having the Horde and Alliance in the same space encourages some open world PVP as well.
MMORPG: I was just going to ask that. World PVP on Thunder Isle, is crazy right now across the board. Was that intended?
Greg: Yeah, that's always been the goal with the Pandaria expansion. There's this pristine unspoiled world, and then you get in there and spoil it and then start going at each other. We knew that having tight questing space, no flying, and PVP quests would encourage that kind of fighting. That was our hope, and it seems so far like it's working out.
MMORPG: I remember at the last Blizzcon when (Chris) Metzen was up there, roaring to get the crowd going: the idea was to recapture those battles from places like Tarren Mill. What's the ultimate goal with this war? Can you talk about making it Warcraft again? Is this all part of that goal?
Greg: Yeah, absolutely. We felt that, like, every time there's some great evil the Horde and Alliance have to get together... that's cool, but it's not like the original genesis of Warcraft. So there's this really big climax coming up outside the gates of Orgrimmar, and we wanted to build up to that a little. We haven't left the Mogu or Pandaria behind yet, but that's coming.