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PC Gamer Interview with Game Director Ion Hazzikostas

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PC Gamer also had the opportunity to talk to Game Director Ion Hazzikostas about lessons learned from the mistakes of Battle for Azeroth and Ion also hinted that Patch 8.2 should be up on Public Test Realms fairly soon.

Check out the full article here and don't forget to also check out Ion's preview interview with Buffed.de here.

Interview Highlights

  • Not too long after this interview, we're going to have a huge Patch 8.2 info dump and Public Test Realms up and then, they're going to talk about Rise of Azshara in more detail. In the meantime, you can find out more about everything that's coming in Patch 8.2 in this post.
  • Patch 8.2 is going to bring two new separate outside zones-- Nazjatar & Mechagon.
  • A new avenue of progression will be implemented into the Heart of Azeroth itself in Rise of Azshara, allowing you to unlock new active and passive powers as you level it up.
  • Re-earning access to traits whenever you get a new tier of gear will be completely gone in Patch 8.2. All Azerite powers will be immediately unlocked when you earn a new piece of Azerite gear.
  • Ion's proud of what the team has done to improve the Azerite system. The first round of changes came with the introduction of the fifth ring in Tides of Vengeance to make individual traits more accessible and add customization. Forcing you to re-earn the things you already had was beyond the scope of Tides of Vengeance for a solution and it's something they're fixing in Rise of Azshara.
  • Legion Artifacts had tons of customization, but it was very frontloaded. Once players unlocked all Artifact traits, the system grew linear with only small incremental upgrades (infinite Concordance) and with the Azerite system they wanted to fix an alternate advancement at max level, which sounded great on paper, but the execution has seen a lot of negative feedback.
  • Azerite traits were playtested internally, but they didn't give players enough chance to test them out on Beta, so they missed out on important data that would help tune the system before launch.
  • There are always two sides to every coin. On one hand, there are players who want to unlock flying right away at max level; others don't want flying at all, so they came up with the current system, where flying is introduced not immediately, but later in the expansion.
  • Portal rooms have been introduced to provide more convenience and they are going to reintroduce the Caverns of Time portal soon.
  • Ion admits they need to be more willing than they've been to make permanent additions to the game, because they're exciting for players (not constantly come up with new systems when older worked out just fine).
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Here's the question about flying: Will it be something you can use in Mechagon/Nazjaar?   

Otherwise the "Compromise" is a flat out lie and red herring, and they're only willing to give flying to out of date/irrelevant zones just like in Legion.

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22 minutes ago, Migol said:

Here's the question about flying: Will it be something you can use in Mechagon/Nazjaar?   

This is a really interesting question. Hopefully, it won't end up like Argus, without flying.

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29 minutes ago, Migol said:

Here's the question about flying: Will it be something you can use in Mechagon/Nazjaar?   

Otherwise the "Compromise" is a flat out lie and red herring, and they're only willing to give flying to out of date/irrelevant zones just like in Legion.

I'm a firm believer that flying is one of the worst concepts they added to the game. The thing were running into more and more now a days is people who don't have the time to play a RPG but want the game to adapt to them. Flying is just another one of those things that takes away from the epic feeling of a giant world, and player interaction. Also plenty of flight paths in convenient locations in modern wow. The compromise is that they are even putting it back in the game. If you recall in Warlords, they planned to scrap flying entirely.

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59 minutes ago, Nightwinds said:

I'm a firm believer that flying is one of the worst concepts they added to the game.

I agree. As awesome as it is to ride dragons, and as well implemented it has been in zones like Stormpeaks or the high level areas in Outland, the impact on gameplay flying had was very detrimental. World PvP is just a mess in zones where you can fly, you either get divebombed out of nowhere (preferably by a shaman who then just pushes you off a cliff) or you both just hover awkwardly in front of each other. And like you said, it makes the game feel much smaller and less exciting to explore.

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1 hour ago, Nightwinds said:

I'm a firm believer that flying is one of the worst concepts they added to the game. The thing were running into more and more now a days is people who don't have the time to play a RPG but want the game to adapt to them. Flying is just another one of those things that takes away from the epic feeling of a giant world, and player interaction. Also plenty of flight paths in convenient locations in modern wow. The compromise is that they are even putting it back in the game. If you recall in Warlords, they planned to scrap flying entirely.

 

So...don't fly!  You can RP walk around the whole world and it will feel even more epic and giant.  I accept that there are people that may like that.  But if I prefer to do something in game more than I like traveling somewhere to do that something, maybe I should be able to play the way I want to play as well?  It doesn't impact your slow RP walk across the continent in any way.  But don't ask me to play the game the way you enjoy, and I won't ask you to play the way I do.

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The problem is not whether we can fly or not but if we have anywhere to fly to or not. It wouldn't change much to me if I could fly to a dungeon not to mention I'd summon everyone so they don't have to fly themselves or I could get summoned myself. I didn't do a world quest for like four weeks. It's not even relevant to herbalists because the prices will drop because of flying. There is nothing to do in this game and flying won't fix it.

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3 hours ago, Nightwinds said:

Flying is just another one of those things that takes away from the epic feeling of a giant world, and player interaction. Also plenty of flight paths in convenient locations in modern wow. The compromise is that they are even putting it back in the game. If you recall in Warlords, they planned to scrap flying entirely.

I want to examine this actually for a moment. Flight paths are just... on rails flying. You can't meander, you can't explore on a flight path. You just end up seeing the same things every time.

Flying doesn't make the world smaller than flight paths. If anything, it makes the world feel BIGGER. Like let's think of this, most people just alt tab or afk when they're on a flight path, leading to just... Not seeing anything anyways. Where as if you have flying, you're more likely to be there (so you don't fly too far). You can stop, drop down for a rare you see. Maybe pick up a treasure? With flight paths you just can't do that. You're stuck on a rail, that you must wait for the end.

Saying that flying makes the world smaller is baffling, especially when we've been in an expansion long enough to have all the flight paths before flying anyways. So we've seen the zones, we've seen the flight paths (How many times can I take the flight path from the Great Seal down to dazar'alor omfg) so at this point flight paths just remove player agency. You take away choice for... what the trade off of being stuck to a set path?

 

"The thing were running into more and more now a days is people who don't have the time to play a RPG but want the game to adapt to them"

This is honestly a really bad argument. It just goes to show that flight paths are time wasted NOT playing the game. I really don't see how people wanting to spend more time playing the game, opposed to stuck on a flight path, makes the game better. As was said before if you like that, great. You can use flight paths and don't have to fly and no one is stopping you. But please don't say that people NEED to spend their time the way you want to play.

Edited by Aegrotat
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7 hours ago, MikeyD said:
 

So...don't fly!  You can RP walk around the whole world and it will feel even more epic and giant.  I accept that there are people that may like that.  But if I prefer to do something in game more than I like traveling somewhere to do that something, maybe I should be able to play the way I want to play as well?  It doesn't impact your slow RP walk across the continent in any way.  But don't ask me to play the game the way you enjoy, and I won't ask you to play the way I do.

I would still fly, it's more efficient. I'm not telling anyone to not fly, I just think it was a bad addition to begin with... The last bit of my statement simply said this is the compromise. People are acting like there is no compromise at all from blizz.

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10 hours ago, Stan said:

This is a really interesting question. Hopefully, it won't end up like Argus, without flying.

My understanding behind the lack of flying on Argus is because of how the zones were designed. There are two types of outdoor zones in WoW, the first is the stage set and the second is the movie town.

The stage set is something that looks good from one or two angles, but completely falls apart if you look at it from the side or behind. This is much easier to develop, but it means that you can't use it for flying because those mountains? They aren't mountains, they are a flat texture that gives the illusion of depth.

The second type is the most common now, the movie town, where they actually build everything, it takes a hell of a lot more time, but give you more options to work with later.

They obviously could have built Argus to work with flying but it would have taken much longer and people really don't like content droughts.

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4 hours ago, tkioz said:

My understanding behind the lack of flying on Argus is because of how the zones were designed. There are two types of outdoor zones in WoW, the first is the stage set and the second is the movie town.

The stage set is something that looks good from one or two angles, but completely falls apart if you look at it from the side or behind. This is much easier to develop, but it means that you can't use it for flying because those mountains? They aren't mountains, they are a flat texture that gives the illusion of depth.

The second type is the most common now, the movie town, where they actually build everything, it takes a hell of a lot more time, but give you more options to work with later.

They obviously could have built Argus to work with flying but it would have taken much longer and people really don't like content droughts.

Argus would have been designed and built long before it was released so they could have built it for flying if they so desired without creating a content drought.

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17 hours ago, Migol said:

Here's the question about flying: Will it be something you can use in Mechagon/Nazjaar?   

Otherwise the "Compromise" is a flat out lie and red herring, and they're only willing to give flying to out of date/irrelevant zones just like in Legion.

Given that they compared Mechagon to Timeless Isle and it's an indoors settings anyways...probably no.
Now Nazjatar may be a bit different - we've seen flying mounts obtaianable from the area, but it's kind of weird to just fly around in a dry seabed, so I think we will be able to fly in that zone, even though we may need special mounts or an introduction quest to do that. Or as it was with Broken Shore: you will be able to fly there, but since the zone reputations are part of the flying achievement you will surely explore the area on foot first.

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18 hours ago, Aegrotat said:

Flight paths are just... on rails flying. You can't meander, you can't explore on a flight path. You just end up seeing the same things every time.

Exactly this, which leads to...

18 hours ago, Aegrotat said:

most people just alt tab or afk when they're on a flight path

 

Don't get me wrong, flight paths are essential to immersion. What better way is there to explore the world than to discover all the "checkpoints"? You venture out and perhaps overcome obstacles (this is when PVE/PVP servers really dictated your in-game experiences), find the flight path, and you've now achieved progression (or at least what felt like progression).

In my opinion, flying was one of the most FUN concepts they've ever implemented into the game! Generally speaking if flying mounts has left you with a negative impression, I am going to take a guess that you played on a PVP realm/play in Warmode, where getting jumped by someone who just flies away is indeed truly annoying and made for unappealing gameplay.

But the core of the problem being is the different systems that have come about as a result of reworking the flight system from one expansion to the next. Ion himself admitted that there have been systems in place that weren't broken and didn't need fixing, I wonder if he feels this way in regards to having replaced purchasing flight for gold to the Pathfinder system? He isn't wrong that there are players who want flight immediately and some who don't want it at all.

So basically, flight paths/Pathfinder are a time-gating system. That seemingly trivial amount of extra time that the flight path costs you as you meander and circle around doesn't seem like much, but, it does add up. And in the end, it takes you just that much longer to get to where you go; keeping you involved in and playing the game.

For example, let's take the Argent Tournament grounds from WOTLK. You zone in to Northrend and there is a flight path directly from Dalaran to the grounds. Okay, so just a "quick" flight from point A to point B. Well, the flight path actually takes you longer than if you were to mount up and fly there yourself, even flying you in a complete circle around the grounds.

 

I don't typically make these kinds of posts, but having been one of those guys that has played the game since Vanilla, observing the different approaches that have occurred throughout the game's history, flight is one thing that I thoroughly enjoy and the Pathfinder system is one thing that I thoroughly dislike.

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12 hours ago, tkioz said:

They obviously could have built Argus to work with flying but it would have taken much longer and people really don't like content droughts.

Sadly, this is the reason we might never see a rework of Draenei/Blood Elf starting zones. My main issue with Argus was how cramped everything felt, you couldn't travel from objective to another one without pulling extra mobs. I think they are going to stick with these bonus/final zones not having flying because they are way smaller, and to increase time players have to spend there. Timeless Isle could have flying, at least there doesn't appear to be a visible untextured or flat area anywhere, but it was designed like that for people to engage on the ground. Nazjatar zone is going to serve the same purpose as Isle of Quel'Danas, Isle of Thunder, Timeless Isle, Argus etc., so they will never bring flying there.

Personally, I have nothing against flying mounts. Sure, it reduces chance of meeting people on the ground, but part of that fault also lies in that there are no objectives in zones to fight over, other stuff for larger amounts of players to engage into etc.

Edited by Arcling
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21 hours ago, Calysia said:

Argus would have been designed and built long before it was released so they could have built it for flying if they so desired without creating a content drought.

I don't think you understand just how long it takes to do what you are asking, nor do I think you understand design pipelines and planning. Making those zones capable of flying would have added two-three months at very least, and the content we had at the time was already getting stale.

I think the main problem with flying is that Blizzard has stopped designing around it, like they did in TBC/Wrath.

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On 4/4/2019 at 9:27 PM, Arcling said:

Nazjatar zone is going to serve the same purpose as Isle of Quel'Danas, Isle of Thunder, Timeless Isle, Argus etc., so they will never bring flying there.

well, Watcher just confirmed flying for Nazjatar and Mechagon in a Polygon interview.

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2 hours ago, jinsu2301 said:

well, Watcher just confirmed flying for Nazjatar and Mechagon in a Polygon interview.

That's good then! Perhaps in another location, if there is one for patch after this.

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