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What Shadowlands Is Learning from Classic

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In an interview with Kotaku, executive producer John Hight and senior game designer Johnny Cash talked about how the success of Classic has affected the development of Shadowlands and what they learned from it, mostly focusing on the social aspects and difficulty.

The way social interaction works in Classic seems to be the biggest takeaway for Shadowlands, the way people are actually cooperating without being forced to by a game mechanic or system, as Hight put it. Specifically he talked about how people were lining up to do quest objectives in Classic, even though there was nothing preventing them from pushing through and just ignoring everyone else. And with that, they realized that maybe you don't need to force the way things work to make it fair for everyone, that some complexity and friction is good as long as there's a solid social system to support player interaction. And as for what that means for Shadowlands development, Hight had this to say:

Quote

“As we look at Shadowlands or even talk about the future, I think we’re challenging ourselves to think more about, ‘OK, this has to be fun as a solo experience, because sometimes you just want to go online and not be bothered by anyway, but how can it be more fun, more engaging, or more rewarding with others?’ If you have forced systems that bring people together, they seem to be more reluctant to stay together. Whereas, if they have a common goal they have to chase and we create a lot of situations where they bump into each other and keep crossing each others’ paths, they wind up being like ‘Oh, you’re also doing this thing? Wanna do this together?’”

Further on Cash talked about how Classic's world and skills really promote exploration and a "stop and smell the roses" approach, despite the fact that some of the skills themselves aren't that useful or have a specific role in gameplay. He seems to have perhaps missed the mark on the world design side of things, as he mentions that having a more linear and faction-based narrative in Shadowlands will make the world feel more like a cohesive whole - which may be the case, but doesn't really have much to do with Classic's world design.

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The other big focus of the interview and what was learned from Classic is the feeling of danger in the world and how the max level Maw zone will be bringing some of that feeling back. As Cash put it:

Quote

There are some people who want something a little more approachable and people who are super hardcore. A great example of that influence and where we’re taking it is the Maw, especially the outdoor area. It’s an unforgiving place where there are a lot of mobs with really nasty abilities and combinations of mechanics. There’s no safe haven. There’s not a hub. You’re not binding your Hearthstone there. There’s not flight points. It’s a place where you’re gonna dip in and see how long you can last.

We also found out even Blizzard still aren't sure whether Classic's current player base is stable or if it's still in the novelty phase, as the game has only been out for a few months. They finish the interview by reiterating that Classic and retail really are two distinct experiences and should remain that way, as each has something unique to offer, but both can learn from each other and improve.

Check out the full interview over on Kotaku.
 

For more details on Shadowlands, check out our BlizzCon 2019 Content Hub!

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...Is that guy's name actually Johnny Cash? ?

As mostly a solo player myself, usually joining a guild only to chat in gchat while I'm soloing "thangs," I like the approach they're taking. Even though I play alone, I never have an issue with joining up with someone if we both hit the same objective at the same time. Classic has a *lot* of that due to the slow leveling process - you would regularly bump into familiar faces over the course of hours, days, sometimes weeks. I hope they can set the world up in a way that allows seamless weaving in and out of joining with players - that way if you get a nice vibe or had a blast, you can make a new friend, and if it was awkward beyond measure: you can move on, no strings attached.

I dig having areas tailored towards casuals and hardcores. Why not?  I love dabbling in both. Sometimes you crave that challenge, and sometimes you just want to have a coffee (or beer..) and relax pew-pewing things.

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Interesting read. I'm glad they are bringing a difficult world back, especially where you need or should cooperate with others. MMORPGs for me have always been social. I stopped playing seriously around Legion..I started late with MoP so..I never got to experience wow back from 2004 - 2011.

 

I also love the fact they want to bring back exploration and  "stop and smell the roses" back to the world. I'm also looking forward to the 60 level cap. I've always thought MMOs that have levels above 80 look too grindy or you get the feeling of "I'm way behind". 60 looks and sounds great. I'm genuinely excited for Shadowlands, time to reunite with some old wow buddies.

 

 

Edited by Knoxtane
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14 minutes ago, Knoxtane said:

Interesting read. I'm glad they are bringing a difficult world back, especially where you need or should cooperate with others. MMORPGs for me have always been social. I stopped playing seriously around Legion..I start late with MoP so..I never got to experience wow back from 2004 - 2011.

 

I also love the fact they want to bring back exploration and  "stop and smell the roses" back to the world. I'm also looking forward to the 60 level cap. I've always thought MMOs that have levels above 80 look too grindy or you get the feeling of "I'm way behind". 60 looks and sounds great. I'm genuinely excited for Shadowlands, time to reunite with some old wow buddies.

With the Torghast rogueline dungeon thing and the Maw being more like classic I'm really liking what' they're going for. Hopefully the linear nature of the story will also improve it (although I've given up on wow's story and lore, they've taken a dump on it far too many times - mostly with Sylvanas).

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5 minutes ago, Starym said:

With the Torghast rogueline dungeon thing and the Maw being more like classic I'm really liking what' they're going for. Hopefully the linear nature of the story will also improve it (although I've given up on wow's story and lore, they've taken a dump on it far too many times - mostly with Sylvanas).

Yeah, I'm excited. I want to group up with other players and engage with them instead of a party invite to a random name and then leave 2 minutes later. Also, I never really liked Sylvanas, even as a Horde player..she just doesn't fit in anymore, she seems way to OP and is starting junk everywhere. We will see where Blizzard goes, so far so good (how it looks and sounds).

Edited by Knoxtane

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I did play WOW back in 2004 (2nd day it went live) and honestly, folks were piggys then and they still are now in classic with the first hit, first serve.  Others are still doing it, grabbing everything they can before others,   I call this, "mightier than you, so I go first and gather mobs for me" mentality.  One of the reasons why I stopped playing classic and removed it from my system.   Maybe it depends on one's server, but to be honest, I believe it is human nature.    When blizzard introduced the sharing of resources, I believe it was a grand idea (the best they ever had and still do).

Edited by roo
huh?!? LOL, I have no idea why I wrote this.

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48 minutes ago, roo said:

I did play WOW back in 2004 (2nd day it went live) and honestly, folks were piggys then and they still are now in classic with the first hit, first serve.  Others are still doing it, grabbing everything they can before others,   I call this, "mightier than you, so I go first and gather mobs for me" mentality.  One of the reasons why I stopped playing classic and removed it from my system.   Maybe it depends on one's server, but to be honest, I believe it is human nature and do expect expect Blizzard to control and force running dungeons/raids.    When blizzard introduced the sharing of resources, I believe it was a grand idea (the best they ever had and still do).

 I take the first step by whisping to the player who would compete with me otherwise, works at 90 percent.

Sometimes i see people choking on their greediness when they pull more than they capable of handling because they want to tap the mobs first. So there is a learning curve involved.

 Occasionally I cooped with the opposite faction too when a mob was so challenging like Araj in WP. (PvE serv)

I do silly small talks waiting for the zeppelin just to entertain the people around there and hit the time. I love it when someone plays along. 

My wife said she wants to play with me. Due to the slow pace and this kind of cooperation I'll do classic with her not retail.

Edited by Odi
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45 minutes ago, Odi said:

My wife said she wants to play with me. Due to the slow pace and this kind of cooperation I'll do classic with her not retail.

That's an interesting point.

My partner is already on board to play Warcraft 3 Reforged with me when it releases. She's been ready since it was announced (she knows how much of a blizzard nerd I am).

If she ever said she'd be down with dabbling in WoW with me, I probably would choose Classic as well. There's tons of content available in Retail, to be sure. But there's something about the slower pace of Classic, that makes you feel like you're actually traversing a world.

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5 hours ago, Starym said:

There are some people who want something a little more approachable and people who are super hardcore. A great example of that influence and where we’re taking it is the Maw, especially the outdoor area. It’s an unforgiving place where there are a lot of mobs with really nasty abilities and combinations of mechanics. There’s no safe haven. There’s not a hub. You’re not binding your Hearthstone there. There’s not flight points. It’s a place where you’re gonna dip in and see how long you can last.

For about three weeks until people have completely outgeared everything just like they did on Argus. 

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8 hours ago, Starym said:

If you have forced systems that bring people together, they seem to be more reluctant to stay together.

Simply wrong. And the result of the total opposite of this can be seen in Retail to this day. A Singleplayer game with some chat. Just because no one should be feeling forced to do something. Thats the path to toxic behavior.

Classic has "forced systems" like long pre-quests (Ony etc.), elite quests you cant do alone or the need to stay in (friendly) touch with people when it comes to crafting.

For me, back in the days of Vanilla, this created some of the most unique and enjoyable experiences with other players, I still remember today.

The "forced systems" slowed the pace and in turn made the achievements more meaningful. The statements of Blizzard doesnt convince me that they truly understood what went wrong with WoW.

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27 minutes ago, Helvorn said:

Simply wrong. And the result of the total opposite of this can be seen in Retail to this day. A Singleplayer game with some chat. Just because no one should be feeling forced to do something. Thats the path to toxic behavior.

Classic has "forced systems" like long pre-quests (Ony etc.), elite quests you cant do alone or the need to stay in (friendly) touch with people when it comes to crafting.

For me, back in the days of Vanilla, this created some of the most unique and enjoyable experiences with other players, I still remember today.

The "forced systems" slowed the pace and in turn made the achievements more meaningful. The statements of Blizzard doesnt convince me that they truly understood what went wrong with WoW.

Not only that, social normatives also went under changes over the years. Hell, it is not considered polite to have a seat beside a stranger on the bus, even when there are no free double seats. (At least where i live). People live in close to total isolation of each other, their social interactivity is on FB/IG. I once met a girl in a bar, tried to strike a conversation with her but she seemed unfriendly to me. Days later, i was reviewing my T**der, saw the same girl, swiped right. It's a match! Like wtaf. Tried a cheesy, but really over used pickup line. And it worked. Lol. 

The point is, Wow tries to be up to date to social norms and networks. (Remember WoDs Garrisons? It's Farmville but Wow.) But the pool of people who like Wow and like social networking is very small, and, to be honest, uniqueness is what sells a game, especially Wow. 

That uniqueness went away when devs integrated social conveniencies, like Dungeon/Raid Finder and non-tagging bosses to the game, effectively killing the dire need of socially interact with group(s) of people, and giving way to toxic behaviors. 

 

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7 hours ago, Starym said:

With the Torghast rogueline dungeon thing and the Maw being more like classic I'm really liking what' they're going for. Hopefully the linear nature of the story will also improve it (although I've given up on wow's story and lore, they've taken a dump on it far too many times - mostly with Sylvanas).

Pretty much this, instead of building upon already developed lore (and there is plenty of that), they usually tend to introduce something that didn't exist before. Often at the cost of forgetting about certain characters or things, because "this is not the story we want to tell". Recently, they talked about how we'll now see that the versions of what we've known so far on Azeroth (like Val'kyr, spirit healers and so on) aren't the "true" versions of those beings, instead, we're going to see "more primal" versions of these species in the Shadowlands (like Kyrian and Jailer). This even cheapens some of existing villains like Arthas/Lich King, because Jailer is considered as something "more primal". Totally unnecessary, they could always introduce them as their own thing, without needing to sort of downgrade previously established characters. It was similar with Old Gods, instead of them being powerful on their own, they have introduced their masters and creators, the Void Lords.

Anyway, hopefully they will strike a right balance when designing the content, as I'm now mostly playing this game in solo mode. Probably like majority nowadays, usually forums give wrong impression what players might want, as vocal minority tends to support classic more.

Edited by Arcling

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The problem with things that require social activity is that another person isn't always available. And when that happens, it can really highlight a dwindling population.

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5 hours ago, Arcling said:

Pretty much this, instead of building upon already developed lore (and there is plenty of that), they usually tend to introduce something that didn't exist before. Often at the cost of forgetting about certain characters or things, because "this is not the story we want to tell". Recently, they talked about how we'll now see that the versions of what we've known so far on Azeroth (like Val'kyr, spirit healers and so on) aren't the "true" versions of those beings, instead, we're going to see "more primal" versions of these species in the Shadowlands (like Kyrian and Jailer). This even cheapens some of existing villains like Arthas/Lich King, because Jailer is considered as something "more primal". Totally unnecessary, they could always introduce them as their own thing, without needing to sort of downgrade previously established characters. It was similar with Old Gods, instead of them being powerful on their own, they have introduced their masters and creators, the Void Lords.

Anyway, hopefully they will strike a right balance when designing the content, as I'm now mostly playing this game in solo mode. Probably like majority nowadays, usually forums give wrong impression what players might want, as vocal minority tends to support classic more.

We've known pretty much everything you've mentioned so nothing is cheapened. We just didn't know the who, what, or why of it all. And they are now explaining it now. You don't have to like the lore but they are literally expanding on it. The Shadowlands has always existed and now we are having to fix death since Sylvanas has been plotting this for almost a decade. WoW's lore is vast and it sucks that some of it is outside the game but most of it for damn sure can be found inside and plenty of it as you said. Through this story telling we are actually getting more characters back that were under utilized making thier characters often times more compelling.

Also they never said true versions of existing beings. That was just your intrepration. All they said is we will go to zones where the spirits of the fallen go and that we will learn about them. The Kyrian just happen to be where souls go who still feel purpose and they become Spirit Healers and Val'kyr. Not all of them do though. And the Jailor is just someone who gaurds the souls of the unredeemable. Arthas isn't cheapened. He just took souls for himself and stopped a natural flow. And then you say they could introduce them as their own thing when you previously complained about not building upon existing lore? I don't get it, quite contradictory there. 

Anywho, the lore is there just not fleshed out. They are trying to do part of it now and Blizzard said as much. I was fortunate enough to be at Blizzcon and was able to see all this first hand. It's ok if you don't like the direction they are heading currently but that doesn't mean they aren't doing exactly what you asked. I'm still enjoying it because it's their story not mine. A big reason I don't like large speculations or "leaks" like we saw, they end up being wrong and people always get dissapointed. But to each their own.

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1 hour ago, TheWizard said:

We've known pretty much everything you've mentioned so nothing is cheapened. We just didn't know the who, what, or why of it all. And they are now explaining it now. You don't have to like the lore but they are literally expanding on it. The Shadowlands has always existed and now we are having to fix death since Sylvanas has been plotting this for almost a decade. WoW's lore is vast and it sucks that some of it is outside the game but most of it for damn sure can be found inside and plenty of it as you said. Through this story telling we are actually getting more characters back that were under utilized making thier characters often times more compelling.

Also they never said true versions of existing beings. That was just your intrepration. All they said is we will go to zones where the spirits of the fallen go and that we will learn about them. The Kyrian just happen to be where souls go who still feel purpose and they become Spirit Healers and Val'kyr. Not all of them do though. And the Jailor is just someone who gaurds the souls of the unredeemable. Arthas isn't cheapened. He just took souls for himself and stopped a natural flow. And then you say they could introduce them as their own thing when you previously complained about not building upon existing lore? I don't get it, quite contradictory there. 

It's this interview, if you are interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlOwrv8YKEg

 

As for Sylvanas, she barely appeared, even in books and short stories, so there is a lot that we don't know yet (and that's why her powerups look so sudden). Last book had more Anduin in it, than Sylvanas. Most of Shadowlands is completely new lore, since originally Burning Legion had created the Lich King, without any sort of "inspiration". Even that helmet was supposedly forged by Nathrezim, as there was no background for Shadowlands back then. Kyrian are also sort of new, since previously spirit healers and Val'kyr have been former Vrykul, now it seems most of them, or their "original" versions, come from Kyrian. 

As for Jailer, what I meant is they had sort of introduced him as "upgraded" Lich King, with LK being sort of based on him (in lore). At least we don't know much about him, so hopefully there will be something more. It all depends how this story is going to turn out in later patches, whether it will all just serve as interlude to fighting Void Lords, and we're going to spend whole expansion chasing after Sylvanas and Jailer, or they are going to appear much earlier.

Edited by Arcling

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There are some people who want something a little more approachable and people who are super hardcore. A great example of that influence and where we’re taking it is the Maw, especially the outdoor area. It’s an unforgiving place where there are a lot of mobs with really nasty abilities and combinations of mechanics. There’s no safe haven. There’s not a hub. You’re not binding your Hearthstone there. There’s not flight points. It’s a place where you’re gonna dip in and see how long you can last.

Okay, this excites me enough to likely pre-order now.

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