Starym

Pre-patch Drama Interview with Ion Hazzikostas and John Hight on PC Gamer

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It seems everyone has taken note of the community reactions surrounding the burning of Teldrassil and following events, as PC Gamer talked to Game Director Ion Hazzikostas and Production Director John Hight about everything pre-expansion related. The Warbringers: Sylvanas > Old Solider reactions from the community were expected and even planned, as the Horde players were supposed to be thinking to themselves if this act had to define them as well as the Horde leaders, and then Old Solider showed them that it didn't. The rest of the interview delves into just how much more unknown story there is for beta players, how setting up expansions has changed over time, the problems of the stat squish in the pre-expansion patch, and the BfA launch itself.


You can check out the full interview here and here are some interesting excerpts as well.
You can also check out today's other interviews on the subject, like the Daily Mail one featuring Principal Exterior Level Designer Gary Platner and In-game Cinematic Project Director Terran Gregory and Chris Metzen's audio interview on fan toxicity.

Quote

PC Gamer: The pre-expansion event has been pretty explosive and divisive. When you first set out to craft The War of the Thorns and its story, did you ever imagine it being as controversial as it was?

Ion Hazzikostas: We had some inkling that it would be. I think the Jaina Warbringers [cinematic], for example, is one of my favorite things our cinematics team has ever done. I was super excited to have the world experience that and that was received as we expected. Once we dug into the actual events around the Burning of Teldrassil—the attack and the response—there's a lot of emotional investment. It's one of the things that's powerful about World of Warcraft. There's attachment to one's faction—it matters, and people have different views of what it means to be a member of the Horde.

The Horde in particular is this patchwork collection of different races with very, very different motivations. The Forsaken versus the goblins versus the tauren versus orcs: They are fundamentally different in their ethos, their world outlook, and priorities. But they've banded together for strength and camaraderie to claim land for themselves and to eek out a place in this harsh world of Azeroth. And that is what has kept them bound together over the years, but those differences can and will emerge. It was very interesting to see the point and counterpoint unfold as we saw the pragmatic ruthlessness of Sylvanas on display countered by the focus on honor and justice, values embodied by Saurfang most of all. Both of those are still encapsulated within [that question of] "what is the Horde?"

 

Was it frustrating to have players criticize and take what happened and chalk up to bad writing before they've seen the whole picture?

Hazzikostas: It can be a bit frustrating, but it's also understandable and expected and natural. It's human. Emotions aren't rational. When you're feeling anger—or grief even—you lash out. Some people channeled those emotions in ways that are maybe more constructive in giving feedback than others, but I mean… think back to the internet the evening after the Red Wedding episode of Game of Thrones aired. How many people were like, "I'm done with this. I'm never watching this show again! I don't understand how they could do this?" It's because they just watched something they had an emotional investment in struck down before their eyes. That's part of good storytelling. Clearly you can't just alienate people and never let them back in, but there are ups and downs and those complement each other. They combine to make a coherent and effective narrative.

Hight: One of the fun things about WoW is that we really can tell episodic stories. It's not like we push out the game and people burn through it and the spoilers are available. We can absolutely trick you. If you think that we're doing something that's blatantly obvious and repeating itself, just stay tuned because we're probably setting you up for a surprise. 

 

Speaking of tricks, one thing I noticed is how many people felt like the Burning of Teldrassil was supposed to be this big mystery. People expected a twist and felt like Blizzard set it up that way. Going back and watching some older developer Q&As, though, I couldn't find much evidence of that. What happened there, from your perspective?

Hazzikostaks: On the internet, as this giant game of telephone to some extent, things can definitely take on a life of their own. At Blizzcon 2017, I remember Alex Afrasiabi teed up the question of who struck first: The Burning of [Teldrassil] or the assault on Lordaeron? But that was before alpha. That was at the very initial announcement of Battle for Azeroth. From the time the game was in alpha, beta, and beyond, the order of events was manifestly clear through the contents within the game.

At the same time, it ties back to a little bit of potential cognitive dissonance. People have an emotional attachment and you don't want to think the worst. You want to think there might be some other explanation than one that you find personally unappealing because it's uncomfortable. But sometimes storytelling is uncomfortable.

If we had our druthers, we wouldn't actually reveal any of the story before the game was launched. Players would experience it all sequentially for the first time with twists and turns and surprises as they go. The reality is that the benefit we get to the overall quality of the experience from having a robust beta testing program and continuing to do that every expansion far outweighs the potential upside of the story being more of a surprise for those who care most. Where possible, we're trying to safeguard the most impactful moments. Those are often our cinematics and a few other things that we really keep under lock and key throughout the whole beta process. There is more stuff that players will see for the very first time in just a few days—some really big story beats that we cannot wait to share with the world.

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So, in all honesty...he admitted that they are going to always focus on the Horde having internal issues that become global issues, while the Alliance's conglomerate of races that have diverse history and origination, are "ok" kneeling to a King because they feel morally obligated to? Just say its Bad vs Good...and that everything the game kept too since prior to Cataclysm with no side being right or wrong, just politically different is now in the past...instead of leading us on to believe at one point the Alliance will have "their" moment of darkness...

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I love how Ion acts as if we didn't just go through a whole "what it means to be horde" story line in MoP, was anyone asking for it again? He also just flat out says basically that the alliance are uninteresting golden boys, as if the alliance isn't comprised of different races with different morals? did we play the same WC3? cause the NIght elves aren't just purple humans in that game, granted since WoW they really ruined them. I also KNEW he would bring up game of thrones at some point because that's what this expansion feels like, a very very poor man's game of thrones, They figured out people love to hate cersei so they just earsed slyvanas's character and made her into cersei also to have the nerve to act as if the burning of teldrassil is even remotely similar to the red wedding. You know the biggest difference, the red wedding had good writing it was a consequence to a character making bad choice after bad choice, and although you may not have liked Him dying, you could TOTALLY see why it happened. Here slyvanas just threw a hissy fit, threw away her grand strategy because some Nelf threw shade her way. Sorry blizzard but believe it or not, you guys aren't writers, if you could pull off something like the red wedding you'd be published authors not working on a story on an MMO, probably the worst of the worst genres when it comes to stories in gaming.

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50 minutes ago, Nazamber said:

So, in all honesty...he admitted that they are going to always focus on the Horde having internal issues that become global issues, while the Alliance's conglomerate of races that have diverse history and origination, are "ok" kneeling to a King because they feel morally obligated to? Just say its Bad vs Good...and that everything the game kept too since prior to Cataclysm with no side being right or wrong, just politically different is now in the past...instead of leading us on to believe at one point the Alliance will have "their" moment of darkness...

No, he admitted, that people, who don't read the lore may think like that. But if you finished Good War and Elegy you can perfectly see that the Alliance has the same problems. Anduin is still referenced as a "boy king" - not a "High King" his father was. He's trying to unite his nations, but has very weak control over all the races of the Alliance and is on the verge of becoming a puppet to Greymane, the elf leaders and others.

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7 minutes ago, Badadada said:

No, he admitted, that people, who don't read the lore may think like that. But if you finished Good War and Elegy you can perfectly see that the Alliance has the same problems. Anduin is still referenced as a "boy king" - not a "High King" his father was. He's trying to unite his nations, but has very weak control over all the races of the Alliance and is on the verge of becoming a puppet to Greymane, the elf leaders and others.

That all sounds interesting, but when was the last time you had to read a comic book to understand and enjoy Marvel or DC movies?

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8 minutes ago, Badadada said:

No, he admitted, that people, who don't read the lore may think like that. But if you finished Good War and Elegy you can perfectly see that the Alliance has the same problems. Anduin is still referenced as a "boy king" - not a "High King" his father was. He's trying to unite his nations, but has very weak control over all the races of the Alliance and is on the verge of becoming a puppet to Greymane, the elf leaders and others.

There is a significant difference between a King being undermined and called a "Boy King", which doesn't cause global crisis than two faction leaders entities causing genocide, just saying.

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1 minute ago, Nazamber said:

There is a significant difference between a King being undermined and called a "Boy King", which doesn't cause global crisis than two faction leaders entities causing genocide, just saying.

Have any alliance leaders actually called him boy king by the way? that seems more like an insult the horde leaders use to describe him, as far as we've seen all the alliance leaders treat him as if he's his father, which he isn't even close to, they all agreed Varian would be their "high King" but now it just goes back to a monarchy? screw it, even though Anduin isn't even remotely ready to lead the alliance, his father was so we'll all just accept him.... The alliance races are so boring, they even took their one evilish race, the dark irons and made them carebear followers to Anduin. There must be posters all around Blizzard's office saying "Reminder: Alliance can not be interesting. NO differences between races culturally or ideologically"

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1 hour ago, Badadada said:

No, he admitted, that people, who don't read the lore may think like that. But if you finished Good War and Elegy you can perfectly see that the Alliance has the same problems. Anduin is still referenced as a "boy king" - not a "High King" his father was. He's trying to unite his nations, but has very weak control over all the races of the Alliance and is on the verge of becoming a puppet to Greymane, the elf leaders and others.

We saw in the cinematics and scenarios that Genn is definitely trying to turn Anduin into a puppet. So, there's a little bit of showing some of that stuff in-game, something they have been struggling with for a while, it seems. I do somewhat wish that they would allow all of these important details from outside the game to show up ingame, as many of us don't go through every single lore-related media they give us.

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Sounds like he forgets his own lore or ignores it. Both sides are kind of a patchworks, Alliance has Draenei, Night Elves, Void Elves who stand out more from it's other cultures. Also, huge parts of Horde should have been more unified as well, mostly Orcs, Trolls and Tauren since they have been there the longest, brought together by Thrall, and they share similar cultures and values. So on both sides, those arguments are rather unfounded. They don't have to be locked into one type of unified/having constant internal struggles. 

And of course, they are usually represented by humans and orcs (and sometimes elves, undead humans and elves, rarely anything else), so they should give more spotlight to others, but that's unlikely, so we are stuck with human and orc (even with Sylvanas in charge) aesthetic.

If anything, Horde should have been more unified within it's people by now, considering most of it's races live in Orgrimmar now (only tauren, blood elves and zandalari have their own "main" capitals).

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No mention of how this is turning into Siege of Orgrrimar 2, the reckoning?     It's following the same dot to dot plot path of bad choice for warchief predictably makes things go wrong and conflict escalates while the "good" horde plot a coup.    And it just happened like 2 expansions ago.   

 

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22 minutes ago, Migol said:

No mention of how this is turning into Siege of Orgrrimar 2, the reckoning?     It's following the same dot to dot plot path of bad choice for warchief predictably makes things go wrong and conflict escalates while the "good" horde plot a coup.    And it just happened like 2 expansions ago.   

 

As mentioned i the quotes above
" We can absolutely trick you. If you think that we're doing something that's blatantly obvious and repeating itself, just stay tuned because we're probably setting you up for a surprise.  "

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1 hour ago, Starym said:

That all sounds interesting, but when was the last time you had to read a comic book to understand and enjoy Marvel or DC movies?

When was the last time an MMORPG expansion lasted 2 hours of playtime? They tend to be more like around 2 years. I understand your argument, but Stan just posted an interview with some Blizzard guys in the news section, and I quote:

7 hours ago, Stan said:

Vanilla story had a hyperbolic fantasy and comic book-esque story and over the course of time, the audience has gravitated towards more compelling narratives.

Add Ion's Game of Thrones reference in this post and you'll see that - luckily - they have no intention to make WoW lore look like all those blockbuster Marvel or DC movies. I get it that some people don't like reading, but 2x 90 pages is not that much compared to a George R.R. Martin novel. Trust me it's worth it - but if someone is really lazy just read the first chapters of both.

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1 hour ago, Badadada said:

No, he admitted, that people, who don't read the lore may think like that. But if you finished Good War and Elegy you can perfectly see that the Alliance has the same problems. Anduin is still referenced as a "boy king" - not a "High King" his father was. He's trying to unite his nations, but has very weak control over all the races of the Alliance and is on the verge of becoming a puppet to Greymane, the elf leaders and others.

"People who don't read the lore may think that way" While this may be true, that creates a dangerous way to tell stories. If you want a certain narrative in a game, you can't expect everyone reads or watches the content outside of the game. If we see that a person is righteous and just at one moment then suddenly they're slaughtering children and it's not explained why except in a book, it's going to create dissonance for people that haven't read that book and suddenly the lore looks all over the place.

Having lore outside the game is fine, but if people are getting the complete opposite impression because they just play the game... that's a story problem.

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3 minutes ago, Badadada said:

When was the last time an MMORPG expansion lasted 2 hours of playtime? They tend to be more like around 2 years. I understand your argument, but Stan just posted an interview with some Blizzard guys in the news section, and I quote:

 

This is even more of a reason to not HAVE to explain things outside of the game. The expansions and game lasts a lot longer than 2 hours, you can tell a lot more in that time without needing an outside source.

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56 minutes ago, Aegrotat said:

This is even more of a reason to not HAVE to explain things outside of the game. The expansions and game lasts a lot longer than 2 hours, you can tell a lot more in that time without needing an outside source.

I must admit, it's probably rightful to criticize Blizzard on their cross-media preferences, but this does not justifies the whining of the drama queens about Sylvanas following the War of Thorns events. It's like saying something does not exists, because you can't find it on Wikipedia.
On the other hand - books were always quintessential to the fantasy genre, and I believe they will always be - so think about these novels that they just gave away for free before the BfA launch.

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love how he is upset by players complaining . what did u think was gunna happen ur turned gameplay into shit then did the same with story tellling . ion needs to go work somewhere else . 

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2 hours ago, Badadada said:

When was the last time an MMORPG expansion lasted 2 hours of playtime? They tend to be more like around 2 years. I understand your argument, but Stan just posted an interview with some Blizzard guys in the news section, and I quote:

Add Ion's Game of Thrones reference in this post and you'll see that - luckily - they have no intention to make WoW lore look like all those blockbuster Marvel or DC movies. I get it that some people don't like reading, but 2x 90 pages is not that much compared to a George R.R. Martin novel. Trust me it's worth it - but if someone is really lazy just read the first chapters of both.

I'm sorry, so it's my fault if I don't want to read a C grade short story and just would like the game's story be in the game? That's what you call lazyness? When I want to read a book I'll read something actually well-written and with a little more depth than "hurr-durr the Alliance will attack us 100% within the next millenia or so so we must attack in the next 5 minutes, also let's commit genocide while we're at it cos we're basically terrorists now".

You can't justify parts of the story that are needed to show how your main character's arent actually dumb and clueless being removed from the game. It doesn't matter if it's a 90 page booklet or 2 sentences, it simply cannot be removed from the game. Take highlights from the 90 pages and put it in the damn game it's not that hard, truly.

 

Or actually, let me put it to you another way since you decided to completely ignore my point about Marvel movies and cherry picked my meaning:

If i bought a BOOK that I wanted to read and the book was missing key plot and character parts and I was then asked to go play a game of super mario to get those missing pieces, would THAT be ok with you?

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16 minutes ago, Starym said:

I'm sorry, so it's my fault if I don't want to read a C grade short story and just would like the game's story be in the game? That's what you call lazyness? When I want to read a book I'll read something actually well-written and with a little more depth than "hurr-durr the Alliance will attack us 100% within the next millenia or so so we must attack in the next 5 minutes, also let's commit genocide while we're at it cos we're basically terrorists now".

You can't justify parts of the story that are needed to show how your main character's arent actually dumb and clueless being removed from the game. It doesn't matter if it's a 90 page booklet or 2 sentences, it simply cannot be removed from the game. Take highlights from the 90 pages and put it in the damn game it's not that hard, truly.

 

Or actually, let me put it to you another way since you decided to completely ignore my point about Marvel movies and cherry picked my meaning:

If i bought a BOOK that I wanted to read and the book was missing key plot and character parts and I was then asked to go play a game of super mario to get those missing pieces, would THAT be ok with you?

No, your problem - in my humble opinion, based on your comments - is that you can't decide between playing the game as a regular gamer or a roleplayer knowing the world in-depth. Casuals can perfectly enjoy the game without ever reading any additional media - the game will provide you every sufficient information, in time. The point of superhero movies is the same: every man from the street can watch them without ever opening the comic books they are based on.
However, if you are actually concerned how your character should feel about the story, what's your role in the world or you are enthusiastic about why Sylvanas does things she does, I see no reason why any fan of the franchise would refuse reading additional material, just because it's not in the game. Do Marvel and DC fans skip certain informations just because they are not in the movies? Those companies employ the practice of product bundling too - mabye even more than videogame studios, since the information on their characters are scattered around various formats.
And knowing how much work they put in the expansion prelude playable content I think it's nonsense to ask for even more. We had the Silithus zone revamp, War of Thorns, Battle for Lordaeron, Allied race content and Magni will also hand out the new artifact amulet in a dedicated quest. I think it's safe to say that so far BfA has the most eventful launch - I doubt it's phisically possible to produce even more lore-related quests they can put in the game. But even if they would have the resources to do that without a drop in quality - what's the point of creating so much temporary content? Most of those will be removed soon - or players will never again return to them. It would be just wasteful to turn all that 180 pages into in-game material (or even just the highlights of it). Not to mention, that MMORPG is not the kind of genre where players tolerate long and slowly advancing cinematics, in which their character plays no active role.

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36 minutes ago, Badadada said:

Not to mention, that MMORPG is not the kind of genre where players tolerate long and slowly advancing cinematics, in which their character plays no active role.

It comes down to a few kinds of people: People who want all the lore, that read outside, people who want lore but don't want to read a bunch of externals because they want stuff in game, and people who don't care. the people who don't care will just skip cutscenes, the others will have no issue watching them.

The end of the day, this is a game and they have to appeal to the lowest common denominator, being the people that want lore, but don't want to have to read books to find it out. They can keep making books about lore, but if a character makes some kind of big decision or character development, it SHOULD just be available to see that in game. I love lore, I love reading it all. But some people just want to be able to see it in game.

Destiny for example, suffered the same problem. It had a deep, awesome lore that people didn't know about because it was external for the most part. External is fine, but it should not be MANDATORY to understand what's going on. It should supplement it. You said that  books were always quintessential to the fantasy genre, but books were not quintessential to fantasy VIDEO games. You don't need to read deep Diablo lore to understand what's in the game and enjoy the story but it's still fantasy. Multimedia story telling is fine, but mostly if it's a choice.

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2 hours ago, Badadada said:

No, your problem - in my humble opinion, based on your comments - is that you can't decide between playing the game as a regular gamer or a roleplayer knowing the world in-depth. Casuals can perfectly enjoy the game without ever reading any additional media - the game will provide you every sufficient information, in time. The point of superhero movies is the same: every man from the street can watch them without ever opening the comic books they are based on.
However, if you are actually concerned how your character should feel about the story, what's your role in the world or you are enthusiastic about why Sylvanas does things she does, I see no reason why any fan of the franchise would refuse reading additional material, just because it's not in the game. Do Marvel and DC fans skip certain informations just because they are not in the movies? Those companies employ the practice of product bundling too - mabye even more than videogame studios, since the information on their characters are scattered around various formats.
And knowing how much work they put in the expansion prelude playable content I think it's nonsense to ask for even more. We had the Silithus zone revamp, War of Thorns, Battle for Lordaeron, Allied race content and Magni will also hand out the new artifact amulet in a dedicated quest. I think it's safe to say that so far BfA has the most eventful launch - I doubt it's phisically possible to produce even more lore-related quests they can put in the game. But even if they would have the resources to do that without a drop in quality - what's the point of creating so much temporary content? Most of those will be removed soon - or players will never again return to them. It would be just wasteful to turn all that 180 pages into in-game material (or even just the highlights of it). Not to mention, that MMORPG is not the kind of genre where players tolerate long and slowly advancing cinematics, in which their character plays no active role.

So again you decided to ignore my overall point that I made clearer with the book example. Ok, I guess you don't actually want to discuss this but rather just have this need to defend Blizzard at every turn. That's fine.

But if you think adding 5-10 lines of dialogue into the game from the novellas is some kind of huge undertaking that would bury Blizz in development you either don't understand what I'm saying or don't really understand how development works. Sylvanas should have had those 5 sentences (as silly as they are) in the game before the Teldrassil event, Saurfang should have had his reactions to the burning in the game. These are the MINIMUM requirements for storytelling on this level, that your characters don't appear to be doing things for either no reason or terrible reasons, and it's extremely irrational for you to demand and expect PLAYERS of a GAME to have to go outside the game to actively LOOK for explanations. I had no idea that Sylvanas even had specific reasons for attacking the Alliance, let alone which novella I should "look into" as a dutiful follower of the story, I just happened upon that info on reddit as part of my job. Most players don't read reddit or the forums or even a lot of news sites, so basically you're saying they don't deserve to know what's actually happening in the game they play and pay for because adding 10 lines of dialogue is too hard and too resource-expensive for Blizzard. That makes sense to you? Really?

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2 hours ago, Starym said:

But if you think adding 5-10 lines of dialogue into the game from the novellas is some kind of huge undertaking that would bury Blizz in development you either don't understand what I'm saying or don't really understand how development works. Sylvanas should have had those 5 sentences (as silly as they are) in the game before the Teldrassil event, Saurfang should have had his reactions to the burning in the game. These are the MINIMUM requirements for storytelling on this level, that your characters don't appear to be doing things for either no reason or terrible reasons, and it's extremely irrational for you to demand and expect PLAYERS of a GAME to have to go outside the game to actively LOOK for explanations. I had no idea that Sylvanas even had specific reasons for attacking the Alliance, let alone which novella I should "look into" as a dutiful follower of the story, I just happened upon that info on reddit as part of my job. Most players don't read reddit or the forums or even a lot of news sites, so basically you're saying they don't deserve to know what's actually happening in the game they play and pay for because adding 10 lines of dialogue is too hard and too resource-expensive for Blizzard. That makes sense to you? Really?

Fair point. I absolutely loved the "Old Soldier's" cinematic that Blizzard put out, though it was great showing that Saurfang actually disapproved of Sylvanas's action I was rather puzzled as to why Blizzard didn't bother implementing those same actions in-game once the tree was burned.

They should have also changed the Sylvanas Warbringer cinematic to something more impactful other than her getting killed and becoming the Banshee queen. I agree with you that the short cinematic just made it seem like she waged war just because she died in battle and became who she is. 

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3 hours ago, Starym said:

Sylvanas should have had those 5 sentences (as silly as they are) in the game before the Teldrassil event, Saurfang should have had his reactions to the burning in the game.

I think this says a lot even. I know people who legitimately thought Saurfang just... was completely ok with the burning of Teldrassil because in game there wasn't really anything that showed it (You know until the Lordaeron stuff). But then the Lordaeron cinematics came out and people were specifically able to point out that Jaina clearly didn't know about the burning purely by her facial expressions.

So much can be shown without a character dumping exposition, or outside sources. And I know Blizz is capable of doing it and would be completely fine putting a bit more in game.

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If you have to tell your story through novels, comics, and whatever else for it to make sense, and not through the actual main attraction which is the game, you have failed as both game developers and story tellers. It's the exact reason why I gave up on understanding what the actual frick is going on around 8 years ago.

Edit: Novels, comics, w/e should EXPAND the universe with side stories of characters, worlds, cities, etc. Not explain the main plot and characters of the game you're already playing. The game should hook you on the universe, not leave you confused and dazed because the story of the game is a mess. It shouldn't force you to go to outside sources for the main  game to make sense.

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On 8/10/2018 at 11:07 PM, Starym said:

some really big story beats that we cannot wait to share with the world.

Waiting, waiting and waiting....

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      This year's Hallow's End comes with a new toy Headless Horseman's Hearthstone that can be purchased with Tricky Treats. The Headless Horseman should drop ilvl 335 gear.
      The meta-achievement Hallowed Be Thy Name is required for What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been and the Reins of the Violet Proto-Drake mount. You can find more details about the event in our Hallow's End guide.
      Blizzard (Source)
      It’s time for Tricky Treats, costumes, and—of course—the return of the Headless Horseman during this year’s Hallow’s End!
      Hallow’s End celebrates the break of the Forsaken from the Scourge.
      Fun and mischief reign as the Innkeepers of Azeroth give treats, and tricks, to whomever asks.
      The spookiest time of year has arrived once more, and the Headless Horseman rides forth to strike terror into the hearts and minds of Azeroth’s citizens.
      When: October 18–November 1
      Where: Trick-or-Treat throughout the inns of Azeroth, Northrend, Pandaria, Outland, Draenor, and the Broken Isles (Dalaran) for tasty treats and currency to buy Hallow’s End delights.
      All together now! —the Headless Horseman is back to set fire to Razor Hill and Goldshire once more. You’ll need to lend a hand on the bucket brigade to put them out and face the infamous rider.
      Prepare yourselves, the bells have tolled! Shelter your weak, your young and your old! Each of you shall pay the final sum. Cry for mercy, the reckoning has come!
      THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN It would be a lovely time of year to take a stroll through the Scarlet Monastery’s Graveyard if the Headless Horseman hadn’t decided to make it his new lair. If you're lucky and succeed in routing this menace from within, you may ride off with his steed.
      Throughout Hallow’s End, characters level 23-120 will be able to queue up for this ghoulish encounter in the Dungeon Finder.
      This year you’ll be able to exchange your Tricky Treats for a newly added toy:
      Headless Horseman's Hearthstone Head to Val’sharah to undertake a quest that begins with the Hag of the Crooked Tree in Bradensbrook. Follow the tale through to its culmination and you’ll receive some Tricky Treats and a chance of receiving one of four utterly bewitching hats.
      Hat of the First Sister Hat of the Second Sister Hat of the Third Sister Hat of the Youngest Sister ACHIEVEMENTS
      There are a total of 21 achievements that can be earned during this event. Completing the Meta-Achievement, Hallowed Be Thy Name, rewards the title: The Hallowed. The eleven Achievements that need to be completed to earn this title include: Trick or Treat!, Out With It, Bring Me the Head of... Oh Wait, The Savior of Hallow's End, That Sparkling Smile, Rotten Hallow, G.N.E.R.D. Rage, Check Your Head, The Masquerade, Sinister Calling, Tricks or Treats of Azeroth.
    • By Stan
      Tides of Vengeance is available for playtesting and our hub contains all the latest information!
      Welcome to our Tides of Vengeance hub. Here, you'll find all the latest information about Battle for Azeroth's first content patch 8.1. We will keep the hub updated throughout PTR testing with the latest coverage.
      Introduction
      Patch 8.1 called Tides of Vengeance was pushed to PTR on September 21. Players are still unable to log in to the game right now (September 26). The patch will be released later this year.
      Latest Coverage
      This section contains contains the most recent coverage. Whenever there's a new PTR build, we'll move the previous builds down to the "Datamining Archive [PH]" section.
      Patch 8.1 Build #28151
      Patch 8.1 Build 28151: Overview Patch 8.1 Build 28151: Blood Elf Heritage Armor Patch 8.1 Build 28151: Marksmanship Hunter Changes Patch 8.1 Build 28151: Restoration Shaman Changes The Story of Varok Saurfang in Patch 8.1 Orc Running Animation Updated Patch 8.1 Content
      Heritage Armor will be added for non-Allied Races; Blood Elves & Dwarves are first on the list. There's no reputation grind behind this. If you're at max level and Exalted with Ironforge/Blood Elves, you can start the quest and complete a scenario to get your Heritage Armor. Reputation Paragon for BfA factions is coming. Champions of Azeroth reputation will be made account-wide. Incursions are a new feature similar to Legion assaults. Darkshore Warfront (Night Elves vs Forsaken theme) The outdoor zone will be updated just like Arathi Highlands with new quests, rares, etc. War Campaign continues with the Alliance leading a direct strike at the Zandalari Fleet. We can expect two new raids in 8.1: Siege of Zuldazar is a nine-boss raid where the foe is the opposing faction. Alliance players will join Jaina and her forces to fight their way up to the pyramid to confront Rastakhan. Horde players will try to defend the pyramid, fighting Jaina in the High Seas as the final boss. Crucible of Storms is a two-boss raid located under Shrine of the Storm that hints at Queen Azshara. It's Battle for Azeroth's "Trial of Valor" raid. Allied Races: Kul Tirans and Zandalari Trolls will become available for gameplay after the Siege of Zuldazar raid. You can find more details about how to unlock them here. Two New Islands: Jorundall (Vrykul-themed Island) & Havenswood (Gilnean-themed Island) Gnomeregan Pet Battle Dungeon Profession Changes New Scenarios Tyrande's Ascension - players will unlok new Night Elf Warrior customization options with dark eyes. Cooking Scenario with Nomi Unknown Tol Dagor Scenario Heritage Armor Scenarios Vol'jin's Story Continues - The Shadow Hunter is looking for answers s in 8.1 as he tries to figure out why he appointed Sylvanas for Warchief. Allied Races
      You will be able to unlock Legion Allied Races faster in Patch 8.1.
      Class Changes
      Multiple Classes are subject to changes in Patch 8.1. These include Elemental Shamans, Shadow Priests, and Protection Warriors. So far, Blizzard outlined plans for Elemental Shamans. They haven't decided what to do with Protection Warriors just yet.
      Elemental Shaman Changes Model Updates
      Draenei totems received new models with a higher polygon count in 8.1.
      Draenei Shaman Totems Model Update Interviews/Livestreams
      Game Director Ion Hazzikostas unveiled Patch 8.1 on September 18.
      Tides of Vengeance Livestream with Game Director Ion Hazzikostas Tides of Vengeance Live Developer Q&A with Game Director Ion Hazzikostas Datamining Archive [PH]
      As with previous patches, there's going to be a new PTR build every week and to keep things organized, we're going to post build overviews below.
      Patch 8.1 Build #28048
      Patch 8.1 Build 28048 Overview Patch 8.1 Build #27985
      Patch 8.1 Build 27985 Overview Patch 8.1 Build 27985: New Creature Models Patch 8.1 Build 27985: New Paladin Animations Patch 8.1 Build 27985: Solo Queue for Legion Raids Enabled Patch 8.1 Build 27985: Dwarf Heritage Armor Preview Patch 8.1 Build 27985: Siege of Zuldazar Weapons Patch 8.1 Build #27826
      Patch 8.1 Build 27826 Overview (Datamined Broadcast Text, Zones, Strings, Scenarios) *Spoilers* Patch 8.1 Build 27286: Vol'jin's Story Continues (Datamined Broadcast Text Analysis) *Spoilers* Patch 8.1 Build 27826: New Creature Models Patch 8.1 Build 27286: New Night Elf Warrior Customization Options Patch 8.1 Build 27286: New Druid Forms (Highmountain Tauren/Kul Tiran Moonkin Forms, Zandalari Aquatic Form) Patch 8.1 Build 27286: Kul Tiran Horse Racial Mount Patch 8.1 Build 27286: Nightsaber Mounts Patch 8.1 Build 27286: The Hivemind Mount Returns Patch 8.1 Build 27286: Vicious PvP Mounts Tides of Vengeance is Battle for Azeroth's first major content patch and we created a hub to keep track of everything.
    • By Starym
      There's a fair amount of changes and buffs for Marksmanship that have arrived on the PTR. The first part of the changes are to enhance Marksmanship's tools for keeping a target at range, so we're seeing Bursting Shot and Concussive Shot buffs.

      There's also a change to Rapid Fire to bring it in line with most other channeled spells in regards to line of sight, so it will now continue to do damage even after a target has broken LOS, and you can also Disengage during the channeling of it. The other big changes are to Trueshot, reducing its cooldown and making it also reduce Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire cooldowns during its duration, as well as to Careful Aim, making it more consistent by having it always trigger.
      Marksmanship (source)
      The Public Test Realms (PTR) are seeing several changes for Marksmanship Hunters. Here’s some context on those changes.
      One goal of ours for Marksmanship is proficiency in keeping targets at range in PvE and PvP situations. Marksmanship plays best when you have distance from your target, so we’re emphasizing some of the tools that help you either move a target away from you, or keep your distance.
      - Bursting Shot has had its knockback range increased, can no longer be dodged, and snares targets for 6 seconds now.

      - Steady Shot will now increase the duration of Concussive Shot on the target by 3 seconds. This will work on a Concussive Shot from any friendly Hunter, not just your own Concussive Shot.

      Rapid Fire has had some usability problems in PvP. Most other channeled spells will continue to deal damage when your target runs behind a pillar and breaks line of sight, but Rapid Fire requires constant line of sight. We’re changing that, and now it will behave like almost every other channeled spell that players cast, and will continue to damage a target, even if the target is no longer in line of sight. We also think it’s cool to be able to use Disengage while channeling Rapid Fire, so now you can.


      Aimed Shot is a driving force behind a significant amount of the damage a Marksmanship Hunter deals. There are a lot of different stacking bonuses you can get from various Talents and Azerite Armor that can swing the damage of Aimed Shot by a huge amount. Some of these bonuses are entirely uncontrolled, which made Aimed Shot an unreliable source of damage. We want Aimed Shot to feel like an impactful and more reliable source of damage, so:
      - Careful Aim is now a guaranteed bonus to Aimed Shot damage against targets above 80% health or below 20% health.
       
      Trueshot has changed a lot over the years, but it’s currently not a very exciting button, and it could feel much more impactful when you use it. We like that it makes your Aimed Shot cast time reduced, so we’re keeping that, and it now additionally causes your Rapid Fire and Aimed Shot abilities to recharge significantly faster while Trueshot is active. The new version of Trueshot is a significant pacing change for its duration, allowing you to cast multiple Aimed Shots and Rapid Fires during its duration. We’re also lowering its cooldown from 3 minutes to 2 minutes.