Blizzard Development Chat About Cataclysm & WoW Classic

December 12, 2023

Following the Community Council Live Chat on December 8, a member of the Community Council asked a series of questions on the forums.

Blizzard Forum Response

Hi Manny,
Sorry you couldn’t make the chat! I’ll take a stab at answering these.
Previously, there was talk about picking up storylines that might lead to dead ends. Will the story of SoD explore alternative storylines from other titles in the Warcraft Franchise, similar to Hearthstone?
Early on in Season of Discovery development we met with Chris Metzen to talk about the narrative in the season. In that meeting we mutually agreed not to treat Season of Discovery as any sort of alternate history for World of Warcraft. The term that Chris used to describe our narrative approach to Season of Discovery is “found photographs”. This basically means you are finding little bits of information about characters or locations that fleshes them out a bit more as fixtures that are part of the living world of Azeroth, but doesn’t change characterizations, motivations, or reframe any storylines in a major way.
The way I’ve described this to people is this; say you are going through family photos and find a picture of your parents when they are very young on vacation in Italy. You realize you never knew they traveled in their youth. Does knowing this now change your relationship with your parents or how you view them as people? Probably not, but it’s just a fun detail you now know that you didn’t before. That’s what we’ve tried to do when touching any established lore characters or storylines. Simply create a situation where you get to learn about some other adventure that these established characters were part of that maybe didn’t bubble up in a novel or in-game story previously.
Players often gather around runes. Will future runes have multiple sources? Will more sources be added? Do current runes have undiscovered sources?
We did allow many runes to have multiple sources in the lower level (1-10) areas simply because travel is more restrictive and difficult when you are lower level. As far as higher level runes go, we don’t have specific plans to have multiple discoveries, but we do want to acknowledge that some rune discoveries were frustrating for the Horde side as there was a somewhat disproportionate number of discoveries in Eastern Kingdoms or “Alliance-favored” contested zones vs. Kalimdor or “Horde-favored” zones. On PvP realms we definitely like creating opportunities for conflict between the factions, but we can recognize that it maybe frustrating if one faction needs to travel more than others so we are going to be keeping this in mind going forward.
What are the team’s priorities for the future given the positive reception SoD has received? Do you have any plans you can share?
First off just want to say how thrilled we are that players are enjoying Season of Discovery. We thought we had something special when we were developing this season, but we took a lot of chances on this season and are relieved it was received as well (or better!) than we hoped it would be. So huge thank you to the community for that.
As for future plans, its hard to say too much without spoiling things but we do definitely plan to take some lessons we learned from this first phase forward. I mentioned rune discovery locations above, but we’ve also learned a lot from the Ashenvale PvP event and how it interacts with layers and some frustrations around that. One thing we mentioned in the community council live chat was that the level 40 pvp event will be dramatically different from the Ashenvale event and we hope that it is able to run as smooth as possible. Past that we’ve also learned a few lessons from the “Merchant” faction/Waylaid Supplies reputation process and while we are overall pleased with how that played out and the length/difficulty of gaining honored rep, it did have some frustrations and pain points that we hope to improve upon going forward.
“Have Guild, Will Travel” will forever be fondly remembered by players. Would there be any chance to have some incarnation of this beloved guild perk returning in Cataclassic?
Hard to say for certain which perks will carry forward, but overall our philosophy with each of these expansions has shifted to a point where we are less interested in applying (vanilla) classic or modern design philosophies to these different eras of WoW history and are instead focusing on the design space and vibe of the expansion at that time. We want to focus on the things about each of these experiences that people enjoyed and retaining them, even if they aren’t super congruent with what came before or the decisions made after. We went into Wrath with the mentality that the classic players would naturally not want things like Random Dungeon Finder and its safe to say that we were wrong there, so lesson learned.
LFR arrived with the original Dragonsoul. Is the team currently planning a similar introduction in Cataclassic?
This is a good question. I think if you had asked the Classic team a year ago how we felt about LFR for Dragonsoul we would have pretty emphatically said “No”, but as I mentioned above, our philosophy has shifted quite a bit after seeing how players approached Wrath. I think we are still keenly interested in hearing player feedback about this, so if you are an LFR enjoyer, let us know. If not, we’d really like to hear that too.
One thing I will say however just to set expectations is that its almost a certainty that we’d not be able to deliver LFR versions of any of the earlier tiers of raiding before Dragon Soul. That is very simply out of scope for the launch or early patches of Cataclysm Classic. Building LFR versions of these raids would be a major undertaking and our team has already committed our time and resources over the next year to other areas of development on the various flavors of WoW Classic. If we do LFR, it will only be for Dragon Soul. We’d still love feedback from on how you feel about that raid though!
Initially Cata dungeons shifted and ratcheted difficulty up from where they were in Wrath. In Cataclassic, where does the team intend to have the difficulty initially? Will the Titan Rune system be returning in some form? If so will this system maintain the envisioned difficulty relative to the increased rewards?
This is another area where it might be a bit too soon to say. We’ve had discussions about this and I think we are still exploring the right way to approach it, if we approach it at all. As we move later on in WoW’s history with classic expansions, it becomes more and more difficult to reverse engineer the “pre-nerf” versions of things like dungoens and raids because we became more proficient at hotfixing the game outside of major patches. These hotfixes are much much more difficult to track than major patch changes due to sheer volume and also how we read and compare the data between different patch database schemas. If we did do some sort of pre-nerf for Cata dungeons, it would almost certainly focus on bosses and other major aspects of the dungeons, and less on trash and other smaller adjustments.
A good example is Stonecore. Ozruk in particular was very well known at launch as being very difficult and saw a lot of difficulty adjustments over the course of Cataclysm and is well remembered for that. However, another oft-overlooked aspect of Stonecore is how brutal some of the trash packs were. I think if we were to do any kind of “pre-nerf” it would likely focus more on the boss adjustments themselves and we’d likely leave trash in their 4.3.0 state or close to it.
As for rewards, we do plan to implement something similar to Titan Rune Dungeons in later patches of Cataclysm Classic, and you can likely expect to see additional rewards for that. A so-called “Heroic+” mode also seems like a good vector to increase difficulty while also adding additional player power mechanics that are fun for players to utilize as well.
Thanks for the great questions, Manny! Hope to see you in the next live chat! 

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